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OPAN moves to reinstate ethical standards in online journalism

OPAN moves to reinstate ethical standards in online journalism

By Tare Youdeowei

The place of internet in modern day living cannot be easily dismissed. The level of communication and family reunion that internet has fostered is unprecedented. In the business sector, internet has also played major transformative role.

Twenty years ago, a business opened a storefront, put ads in the local paper, joined a local networking organization and hoped the local customers needed what they had to offer.

Austyn Ogannah

However, all that changed with the inception of the internet. A business is no longer dependent on its local customer base for its survival; it now has a worldwide audience for its goods and services. The internet has changed not only a business’ customer base, but how a business communicates with its employees, and finds and manages the competition.

Same goes for the media industry. News becomes common, information becomes more accessible.

However, the down side of internet has brought about social vices which need to be checked.

OPAN intervention

That what the Online Publishers Association of Nigeria, OPAN, is advocating in the online publishing business.

The group is gunning for high ethical standards in online journalism in Nigeria so that eroding public trust can be restored.

President and Member of Board of Trustees of the association, Mr Austyn Ogannah, at a recent press conference decried the collapse of ethical standards in the industry and vowed that something must be done to address the anomaly.

While revealing the association’s upcoming annual New Media Conference billed to hold in February 2018, Ogannah highlighted some crucial points, stating that: “At inception, the internet news media was highly respected and revered by the public for its doggedness, fearlessness and resilience in bringing to light events and news that ordinarily may never be published by the traditional print media. Today, almost everyone runs a news site, blog or digital media.

“At will everyone is an online entrepreneur or about to set up shop without understanding the basic tenets of journalism; truth, trust and fairness. They write poorly, publish fake and disseminate unsubstantiated information, lack the capacity to create original content, plagiarise the works of others, extort and blackmail people with threats to publish stories that are often times fake amongst several other odious practices.

“These have brought damage to the credibility of the genre and threatening to destroy the hard and noble work of the pioneers of this space.” He added

Independent media

Stating OPAN’s quest to set the online news space aright, Ogannah continued; “There have been growing calls from the public for something to be done urgently to curb this negative trend and responding to the call head-on, the Association has expressed readiness to work with the federal, government to enact an enforceable law that is fair and just and does not impede the independence of the media.

“OPAN’s vision, which is to restore eroding credibility, professionalism and trust once enjoyed by the digital media when it started over a decade ago, is to be achieved by instilling the required high standards of quality, content and professionalism in the internet news media.” He said

He noted that OPAN was formed in November 2011 by some discerning professionals who recognized and understood the shift in the mode and means of social engagement, disruptions and changes that was coming which would overlap with current laws and rules guiding conduct and practice and therefore sought to create a self regulatory body that would provide the means-tested standards for users and practitioners to operate by.

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