By Joy Odor
Over 150 Nigerian journalists have been trained on how to report conflict crises and Peace Journalism by the U.S. Embassy in collaboration with Channels Academy.
The 3-day training via virtually Zoom were held in American Spaces in Abuja, Kano, Bauchi Sokoto, Maiduguri, Awka, and Ibadan.
Others joined from Channels Academy Abuja and the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) secretariat in Port Harcourt.
During the training , it was showned that Nigerian journalists do not report actual narrative of conflict victims, rather they suffer lack of objectivity and high sensationalism.
The Journalists also discovered that Nigerian journalists use more of nagative language that often indicate blame game which contribute to the escalation of the conflict.
The 150 Nigerian journalists were enjoined to be proactive, examine the causes of conflict, look for ways to encourage dialogue before violence occurs and explore solution while reporting conflict to achieve peace journalism.
They were also told that a peace Journalists should reject propaganda from any source instead seek facts from all sources, give more voice to the voiceless than reporting for the elites and those in power.
It said Peace journalists provide depth and context rather than superficial and sensational blow by blow account of violence and conflict, they consider consequences of their reporting, carefully select and analyzed the words they use to avoid inflammatory.
In her opening remarks, the U.S. Embassy Spokesperson/Press Attaché Jeanne Clark noted that the United States recognized that security challenges exist in many forms throughout the country.
According to her, journalists are confronted with responsibility to prioritize physical safety in addition to meeting standards of objectivity and integrity in conflict.
She urged the journalists to share their experiences throughout the course of the three-day seminar and encouraged participants to identify new ways to address these security challenges.
The trainer, Professor Steven Youngblood from the U.S. Center for Global Peace Journalism – Park University defined and presented principles for peace journalism in conflict reporting.
He cautioned journalists to refrain from what he termed war journalism.
He said, war journalism is a pattern of media coverage that includes overvaluing violent, reactive responses to conflict while undervaluing non-violent, developmental responses.
The Provost of Channels Academy, Mr Kingsley Uranta, showed appreciation for the continuous partnership with the U.S. Embassy and for bringing such training opportunities to Nigerian journalists.
He also called on conflict reporters to be peace ambassadors.