The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has approved the proposed partnership with the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) on tackling quackery in the profession.
This is contained in a statement by Mrs Hadiza Umar, Head, Public Affairs, NITDA, and issued to newsmen on Saturday, in Lagos.
Director General, of the NITDA, Mr Kashifu Inuwa, gave the approval at a courtesy visit by some members of the NUJ, led by its National President, Mr Chris Isiguzo.
The director general noted that the development would help in checking quackery and the rising cases of fake news, in the practice of journalism.
He added that it would also provide eligible journalists with the latest technological tools, with which they would carry out their jobs professionally based on international best practices.
While emphasising the relevance of emerging technologies in journalism, he decried the adverse effect of fake news.
Inuwa described as unimaginable and a huge threat, the fact that anybody could be a journalist without knowing the journalistic ethics which should be addressed through such engagements, by training and retraining.
According to him, it was time for journalists to understand the need for digital journalism.
“For one to engage in that, one needs to understand the technology and be able to verify information and its source, before publishing or broadcasting.
“We need to always reskill, update our knowledge and understand how the technology works, in order to harness the potentials and use it for better things.
“It is because technology could be used as either a tool or a weapon; so it is left for the user to decide what should drive the purpose.
“So, everyone has a part to play in ensuring that unscrupulous elements do not misuse the technology to mislead people,’’ he said.
According to him, although saddled with the mandate of regulating the use of Information Technology (IT) in the country, in recent times, the responsibility had gone beyond establishing the ‘Dos and Do nots’.
The DG said that this was due to the dynamic nature of technology, which had further necessitated the need to raise the game in making journalists acclimatised with requisite skills and ‘technological know how’.
While describing journalism as the best medium to sensitise the public on what the Federal Government was doing to achieve a digital Nigeria, Inuwa said the partnership would greatly be beneficial to both parties.
He said that government had an ambitious target of achieving 95 per cent digital literacy by 2030, even though it was not possible for the agency to train 95 per cent of the population, hence the need to be innovative.
He noted that there was need to find a way of leveraging bodies like the NUJ, to achieve people writing about digital literacy, noting that by this, the reach would be wider than what could be done as a government.
According to him, trainings had commenced for journalists in various states of the federation, sensitising them on the need to assist government address the challenges of fake news, misinformation and disinformation.
On the forthcoming National Executive Council/ Workshop on Digital Journalism organised by the union, the NITDA boss expressed interest in the planned programme and assured of the agency’s support.
He also encouraged the team to work out the modalities for the interventions and trainings as requested, in order for NITDA to know the number of participants so as to make adequate provisions for the process.
Also speaking, the National President of the NUJ, Chris Isiguzo applauded NITDA for the various training sessions held for journalists in different parts of country, observing that the trainings were usually accompanied with working tools.
Isiguzo said that the visit was to formally meet with the DG and also express the union’s gratitude to the ongoing training packages so far, and to seek for partnership at the national level.
According to him, a journalist that is not exposed to constant training and retraining programmes was dangerous to the society.
The NUJ president then appealed for the training to accommodate and benefit more journalists, in a bid to effectively tackle issues of fake news, misinformation and disinformation.
He also appealed for digital facilities to be provided at the union’s national secretariat and the International Institute of Journalism, in order to aid optimal operations, saying that this would demonstrate some level of control as well as help in government’s fight against fake news.
“The belief is that the partnership forged at the meeting will ultimately be a step closer to making journalism practice in Nigeria more technologically-driven.