Journalists have been cautioned that they need to be careful about what they write, as one careless sentence from them could spell doom for an entire country.
Professor of Mass Communication, Umar Pate, made the point in Yola on Saturday as a guest speaker at an awards ceremony, stressing the need for journalists to always be sure of their facts before going to press.
According to Umar Pate, who is currently the Vice Chancellor of Federal University, Kashere, if an engineer makes a mistake, it might lead to a building collapse, but if a journalist makes a mistake, the whole society could collapse.
Pate made the point in his presentation of a paper titled “The Media, Social Media and National Security: Balancing the Free Flow of Information with Responsible Journalism in Nigeria” at the TGNews Awards 2024, a ceremony organised by an online news medium.
Prof. Pate who asserted that fake or unbalanced news has been doing much harm already, added that the situation is worsened by the advent of social media, which has led to the rise of “emergency journalists.”
He said: “Emergency journalism is responsible for many security issues. The coming of social media, by which anyone with a phone and N100 data can post any material they receive, irrespective of the nature, quality and source of the material, has made a bad situation really bad.
“The dangerous messages we put on Facebook create crises online and offline, and we are continually battling such problems. Wrong information poisons the psychology of our people and creates avoidable conflicts.”
He suggested that, as a country, Nigeria needs to radically deal with quack journalism and the careless bandying of false news.
Governor Ahmadu Fintiri, former governor Jibrilla Bindow, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation Boss Mustapha, Nigeria’s first female admiral, Jamila Malafa (retd), Archbishop of the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria, LCCN, Musa Filibus (who doubles as president of the Lutheran World Federation), some politicians and businessmen, as well as a cobbler and a groundnut seller, were among those honoured at the TGNews awards.