The International Press Centre (IPC) has selected WikkiTimes, a Bauchi-based data and accountability platform and four others to join 20 media houses that would monitor the 2023 elections.
WikkiTimes, Qualitative Magazine, Next Edition, PenPushing and IKENGA would join other 15 platforms that had been selected for the exercise.
The centre’s Executive Director, Dr Lanre Arogundade, disclosed this in Abuja on Tuesday during stakeholders’ Roundtable on Media Monitoring Report On Election Coverage of 2023.
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Arogundade stated that the roundtable was in furtherance of the objectives of Component 4: Support to Media of EU-SDGNII Project being implemented by the IPC and the Institute for Media and Society [IMS] to enhance the role of the Nigerian media in promoting democratic governance through Fair, Accurate, Ethical and Inclusive Coverage of Electoral Processes and Elections in Nigeria.
He noted that the scope of activities under the project; which include improving the capability of journalists to give issue-focused, factually accurate and conflict-sensitive reporting of elections and the use of media engagements on countering disinformation and misinformation; are designed to ensure that journalists and their news media apply ethics, professionalism and inclusivity in their work.
According to him, the Nigerian Media Code Of Election Coverage (Revised Edition 2022), had been amended and improved with an emphasis on curbing disinformation and misinformation, to ensure the credibility of electoral information.
In light of this, the centre urged the government, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to help provide an enabling environment for the media to perform its functions during elections. Similarly, law enforcement and security agencies were enjoined to ensure safety and protection of journalists covering the election.
Arogundade explained that monitoring helps to measure the amount of professionalism, ethical compliance and access to parties and candidates, especially in the context of the guidelines relating to media’s role in elections; which include the Electoral Law, statutory regulations such as the Nigeria Broadcasting Code and self-regulatory like the Media Code of Election Coverage.
“In view of the importance of the exercise, IPC has over the election cycles always monitored media coverage and reportage of elections,” he said. “Over a two-year period under EU-SDGNI, from May 2018 to April 2020, it monitored media coverage of the 2019 elections by twelve print and online newspapers. These were: The Punch, The Guardian, Daily Sun, Vanguard, ThisDay, Nigerian Tribune, The Nation, Leadership, Daily Trust, Blueprint (online), The Cable (online) and Premium Times (online).”
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According to him, results of the 2019 monitoring exercise facilitated the design and the approach of the current monitoring exercise for the upcoming 2023 elections.
As a result, the number of print and online newspapers was increased to fifteen from twelve, consisting of 10 print newspapers — Punch, The Guardian, Daily Sun, Vanguard, ThisDay, Nigerian Tribune, The Nation, Leadership, Daily Trust, and Daily Independent — and four online newspapers namely: The Cable, the Premium Times, Eagle Online, RealNews and Authority. WikkiTimes and the other four outlets earlier mentioned made the number 20. They were considered “based on feedback from the field.”
In addition, a reward system has been launched under the current exercise, says the centre. It notes that news media that excel in the coverage of the issues of women, youths and persons with disability (in terms of the volume of reports and the prominence given to the reports), shall be recognized and presented with awards every quarter of the year. The winners for the first quarter (October to December 2022) will be announced soon, it says.
In her remarks, Professor Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika presented a review of the media monitoring report on coverage of the 2023 electoral process stating that the report was part of 18-month media monitoring activity involving the examination of the trends in print/online media coverage of the 2023 electoral/democratic governance process including the reportage of post-election issues, campaigns by candidates/political parties; issues of the elections/voting; and post-election/democratic accountability issues.
Ten print newspapers (Punch, The Guardian, Daily Sun, Vanguard, ThisDay, Nigerian Tribune, The Nation, Leadership, Daily Trust, and Daily Independent) and four online newspapers (The Cable, the Premium Times, Eagle Online, and RealNews) were sampled and monitored. Also monitored were the News Portal (website) and the Twitter handles of Nigeria’s election management body, INEC.