I must apologise to the executive and members of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) for my inability to be physically here with you. When I accepted to chair this ceremony I did not reckon that my trip to the UK and US would last longer than it has.
I am happy that your association, Guild of Corporate Online Publishers, is holding this event, for three intertwined reasons. The first is that it is a welcome and noble task where two or more people are gathered to reflect on challenges facing our country. The second is on the theme of your conference, ONLINE PUBLISHERS’ ROLE TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE ECONOMY, CREDIBLE ELECTION AND SECURITY IN NIGERIA. Since your parley touches on the media, the economy and security, you have chosen a topical subject that deserves serious consideration at a very important period in our national life. The third is that as someone whose career path was nurtured in the media before going into politics, I am delighted that your association, a new development in the media, is waxing stronger as an important player in the industry.
So for all aforesaid reasons, to wit, your patriotic concern for the progress of Nigeria, the topicality of your theme, and your steady march in media development, I am happy to convey my best wishes to you through one of us, Mr. Lanre Idowu, fnge, a distinguished media professional.
I want to stress that online journalism has come to stay. What was seen as the future has indeed become the present. At the touch of a laptop or tablet keyboard, information travels across geographical space and time zones. What was deemed impossible has become real. The world is only a click away. The development is both exhilarating and bewildering. It is positive as it opens the world to greater exploration. It could also be negative as the ease and race to share information is open to great abuse if met with lack of sufficient careand diligence.
It is this abuse manifested in the shape of fake news, unverified information and the inclination for mischief and blackmail by some bloggers that threatens the integrity of the online medium. It is a global concern that you need to continuously look into. How can we reduce the proclivity for this errant behaviour? How much training and retraining can you put together for your members and other online practitioners to ensure we do not allow the menace to grow?
I am aware your association is made up of responsible journalists but all it takes for your reputation to be sullied is a handful of the deviant people, who have other objectives for their presence in the public sphere. Whilst I will be looking forward to the outcome of your deliberations, I note that when the subjects of discourse touch the economy, credible elections and security of our country, there is no doubt that there is a lot to chew upon. Precipitate publications on the economy without appropriate contextual analysis are not the forte of responsible journalism. Naked partisanship that downplays the views and positions of some candidates so as to promote our biases is not the way to build credibility for our news organisations or the electoral process.
The media have a major role to play as impartial arbiters who should present the issues, the candidates and their positions on these issues in a way that helps the public to make sense out of the contending views. It is good to get the news first but it is certainly better to get it right. Your association should drum this point into the hearing of your members for if there is a medium that has the greatest potential to stoke conflict through precipitate and unverified information, it is the online media.
In a country with still a large population of the uneducated, we must be careful not to unwittingly stoke violent conflicts, stunt economic development and imperil the future of our people.
I urge you to remain apostles of good journalism where facts remain sacred and informed commentary is free. I wish you a successful deliberation.
HE, Chief Olusegun Osoba, CON, fnge