Self-censorship bane of Nigerian media, says Iredia

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A former Director-General, Nigerian Television Authority, Dr. Tonnie Iredia, has highlighted the need for the Nigerian media to be courageous in discharging its duties as the 2019 elections draw near, describing self-censorship as a major problem.

Iredia stated this on Wednesday during a courtesy visit by the Media and Publicity Committee of the International Press Institute Congress 2018 to The Punch Place, headquarters of Punch Nigeria Limited in Ogun State.

He said the IPI Congress, slated to hold in Nigeria for the first time on June 21 to 23 in Abuja, would be an opportunity for international journalists to know more about Nigeria.

Iredia, who chairs the committee, said, “The media in Nigeria, as you know, is not respected, and one way of ensuring that we raise the standard of journalism is not necessarily through the verification of practitioners. The verification is good because it enables you to know who is who. But having verified, how do you certify that those you have verified have quality knowledge?

“So we need to do more than verification. We need to raise the ethics of the profession and we need to ensure strict adherence to these ethics. I hope that you (PUNCH) will continue to take the lead in this regard.

Iredia described the world congress as “the first opportunity international journalists will have to see, hear and feel Nigeria, and to stop writing rumours about Nigeria.

“They are going to find out that many of those negatives that take the headlines in the international media about Nigeria are not exactly true. The congress is going to give Nigeria an image and a name. It is a meeting of all influential journalists throughout the world.”

Sharing his experience during the 2007 elections as NTA DG, Iredia said the first thing he did was to take his management team to the headquarters of all political parties “to tell them that the Electoral Act says equal time for equal parties.”

He said, “So if you are a political party and you want to participate in our political programmes, it is not only free, you have the same time. In fact, we must sit down together and draw the timetable of participation. So to that extent, I will say if anybody who is purely professional manages a government establishment, the control that is so obvious to the public will not be there.”

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The Institute for Media and Society is an independent, non-governmental organization based in Nigeria. The institute was established in April 2000. In establishing the organization, we considered and were convinced of such issues as: the inter-relationship between the well-being of a society and its media as well as between the state of the media and the responsiveness and growth of societal institutions. the institutionalization of democracy and development in Nigeria being nourished by a free and pluralistic media structure, culture and environment.

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