Umar Faruk Jibril, a professor of Mass Communication at Bayero University, Kano (BUK) has cautioned journalists to always prioritize personal safety in the conduct of their duties in the era of COVID-19 pandemic.
DAILY FOCUS reports that Mr Jibril said this during a one-day titled ““Ethical Journalism and Best Practices in the Time of COVID-19,” organized by the PRNigeria Centre to train reporters on coverage of health issues on Tuesday.
“Journalists covering COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria are close to being endangered species professionally as most media organizations care more about reporters raking in stories and revenue more than their safety while covering stories under the epidemic,” he said.
“Apart from Doctors and Para-Medics, the Journalists are the most victim for COVID-19 . The worst is that there is no health insurance for Journalists, but the media organizations insure their equipment, buildings and properties.” he added.
The professor encouraged journalists to look beyond statistics issued by the government to understand the extent and impact of the coronavirus infection in Kano state.
On his part, Dr Sule Yau Sule, also a lecturer at the Department of Mass Communication in BUK said policymakers need to design strategies to engage the media in time of crisis in order to handle situations effectively.
“You have to fashion out how the crisis is to be handled. When you have a strategic plan, you don’t stick to one aspect of communication because you are in crisis, depending on the circumstance and target audience, sometimes you may use religious scholars, Jumma’a Mosque sermons, adaidaita (tricycle) riders and any other means to reach your audience.
“Communication should be centralised in order to avoid conflict of information. The problem of so many spokespersons in a crisis situation means that there is bound to be contradictions because people think differently,” Mr Sule said.
In the same vein, Abdulaziz Abdulaziz, an investigative journalist with Premium Times lectured journalists on the basic principles of investigative reporting that corresponds with ethical standards.
“We are in the age of alternative facts, we need go deeper, scratch beyond the surface for accuracy,” Mr Abdulaziz said.
The training was organized by the PRNigeria Centre for Public Relations and Investigative Journalism in Collaboration with the Adamu Abubakar Gwarzo Foundation in Kano.