Dr. Isa Pantami, Minister for Communications and Digital Economy, on Monday said responsible journalism was key to the success of democracy.
Pantami said this at the opening ceremony of the training of National Information Technology Reporters Association, organised by the National Information Technology Development Agency, in Abuja.
The theme of the five-day training programme focused on: “Digital Skills in News Reportage for ICT Journalists.”
Pantami said the training was in line with one of the pillars of the National Digital Economy for Digital Nigeria, which focused on building digital skills, signed by President Muhammadu Buhari in November 2019.
He said: “Digital Nigeria cannot be achieved without training people that will play key role in ensuring the digital economy.
“Responsible journalism is key to the success of democracy in Nigeria and the world and that has to do with journalism based on fairness, and all the components of journalism.
“If journalists understand their work and do it professionally, they will be in the forefront of catapulting democracy and good governance, if not they pull down democracy.”
The minister added that current journalism was beyond being in print form but had migrated to multimedia, which was all encompassing, consisting of pictures, video, audio, among others.
He further said that ICT reporters needed to acquire the expertise required for conveying real time information, adding that they should engage internet search engines for enhanced work.
He also said that the Federal Government would build digital skills among rural dwellers who could read and write, farmers, disabled people, public servants and many more to ensure the digital economy.
Pantami added that the FG also launched the National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 to ensure cheaper data plans and accessibility to citizens.
According to him, if the government is serious about its digital economy strategy, it must put policies in place, cheaper data and security of internet infrastructure for the masses.
Kashifu Inuwa, Director General of NITDA, said that ICT was a sure way of escaping the COVID-19 pandemic and the training was important towards achieving digital economy.
“Digital skills can open new opportunities for you because there are challenges everywhere, but less opportunity, so when the skill you have created the opportunity, you grab it,” Inuwa said.
Dr. Abimbola Alale, Managing Director, Nigeria Communications Satellite Limited, said digital skill was required of every professional journalist, adding that journalists should not allow the social media override the responsibility of the mainstream media.
Blessing Olaifa, President, NITRA, commended the Minister for championing the training and urged journalists to appreciate it, adding that some journalists had lost their jobs during the period of COVID-19.
Olaifa said the training would open new opportunities for participants and pledged that the trained journalists would ensure the efforts of the Federal Government through the ministry, were projected.
Peter Oyeneye, Chief Executive Officer, Advanced Management Academy, while facilitating the training, said reporting in the COVID-19 pandemic era was the new normal and journalists should acquaint themselves with the changes.
According to Oyeneye, journalists as change agents should use their mediums to educate their audience using ICT facilities.
He added that there were more than 100 human activities going on online and they engender digital economy.
He said: “Despite the benefits of digitalisation, the challenge of change remains potent and people prefer to stick to the known than the unknown.”
He said that media organisations should embrace change in the style of communication, sponsor roadmap, train journalists on the new normal, and be ready to build resistance management.
Oyeneye advised that journalists should lead the change, sell benefits of digital economy, research into challenges of digitalisation, base their stories on their research and do comparative analysis of Nigeria’s digital economy to others.