Delta State Governor Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa on Tuesday tasked social media operators to constantly cross-check their facts if they were to earn a reasonable reputation like the conventional media.
Okowa gave the charge in his remarks at the 2nd edition of the Delta State Strategic Communication Workshop held for media aides, journalists, social media influencers, and bloggers held at the Orchid Hotel, Asaba.
The workshop with the theme “Effective Communication and Media Crisis Management in Governance: Challenges and Solutions was designed to enhance the potentials and skills of participants.
The Governor who was represented by the State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, said the theme of the training was apt and would help to a very large extent reduce the friction between the government and social media operators.
He stated that the ethical standards in conventional media were absent in social media platforms and thereby portraying the new media, as a battleground for all kinds of rumours, fake news, half-truths, and propaganda are peddled against persons, organisations, institutions, and governments.
He urged media practitioners, both in public and private sectors, to go about their duties diligently but with a deep sense of responsibility and patriotism.
He said his administration has taken advantage of social media to communicate to the people of the state especially the young and upwardly mobile people.
“I am pleased to be part of this workshop aimed at sensitizing, improving and sharpening the knowledge and skills of media aides in this administration, including social media influencers and bloggers in line with government agenda in the area of human capital development, skills acquisition, vocational training, and effective communication through appropriate channels.
“The media can be very powerful and play multi-faceted roles in nation-building as the watchdog of the society. Its relevance is buttressed in section 4 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
“The theme of this year’s strategic communication workshop, Effective Communication, and Media Crisis Management in Governance: Challenges and Solutions is apt, because there is need for media practitioners, both in public and private sectors, to go about their duties diligently but with a deep sense of responsibility and patriotism,”
He said the workshop provided ample opportunity for those who are not trained journalists in addition to their trained colleagues, to upgrade and freshen up their skills and be able to use their time and data on social media to earn a living.
He stated that his administration had enjoyed tremendous good working relationships with members of the press, adding that the synergy between the government and the press will continue to flourish while also ensuring objectivity and constructive criticisms in the discharge of their assigned responsibilities.
He said such partnership is mutually beneficial as society is better served, because of the unanimity of purpose, shared visions of sustainable development, and a peaceful clime.
“The social media has become vibrant and almost competing with the conventional media, except for the fact that there are no gatekeepers in the social media platforms.
“The ethical standards in conventional media are also absent in social media platforms and this has portrayed the new media, as a battleground for all kinds of rumours, fake news, half-truths, and propaganda are peddled against persons, organisations, institutions, and governments.
“There is, therefore, the constant need for cross-checking so that social media will earn a reasonable reputation like the conventional media,” he stated.
Chief of Staff to the Governor, Chief David Edevbie says communication is a very essential and integral part of the government and called for the development of a communications policy in the state.
He said as members of one government there was the need for government information managers to always speak with one voice to avoid multiple reports of government activities.
Chief Trainer at the workshop, Professor Ralph Akinfeleye said communication and information was a catalyst for any successful government, adding that it can provoke and unprovoked anyone to act in a manner that could cause a crisis in the society.
He said as government information managers, it was their duty to adopt the gatekeeping theory to ensure that sensitive information going out to the public does not cause damage or crisis to the society.
Earlier in his welcome address, Executive Assistant on Communications to Governor Fred Latimore, thanked the governor for giving the participants the opportunity to learn.
He said the essence of the programme was to train the social media bloggers to work in line with the ethics of journalism.
He said instead of enacting more laws to muscle freedom of speech and freedom of the press, Governor Okowa opted to train these media influencers in order to avoid fake news and other tendencies.