Communique Issued At The End Of The Seminar
A seminar on ETHICS AND REGULATION: FORMULATING A WORKING AGENDA FOR JOURNALISTS, organized by the Media-for-Democracy-Project was held at the Conference Center, University of Ibadan from 26th-28th July 2000.
The seminar drew participants from a broad spectrum of the Media and the Civil Society, including the Print and Broadcast Media, Media Associations, Nigeria Union of Journalists, the Human Rights Community, Public Relations, Mass Communication Institutions, and the Nigerian Press Council. It also had in audience an international participant from the National Union of Journalists, Britain and Ireland representing the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
The seminar deliberated extensively on modern trends on ethics and self-regulation and the functions that journalism/mass communication schools, journalist associations/unions, media proprietors, editors, reporters, media NGOs and the public should perform in promoting professional standards.
Consequent upon exhaustive discussions, the following was adopted as a working agenda for journalists and the media.
It is agreed that there should be a regulatory body. The Nigerian Press Council should continue to perform this function but with some modification of its structure to secure its independence and effectiveness. The seminar also recommended that since the Nigerian Press Council is created by statute, the government should continue to fund the body while the Nigeria Press Organisation (NPO) - made up of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) and the Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE) - should endeavour to meet their financial obligations to the council.
For the Nigerian Press Council to be able to carry out its functions without unnecessary governmental interference, it is recommended that the Chairman of the Council must be appointed by the Nigeria Press Organisation (NPO) and that the choice of the NPO should be sacrosanct.
The Council shall have the right to appoint its Executive Secretary.
Section 26(A) to 26(G) of the Nigerian Press Council Decree No. 85 of 1992 as amended by Decree No. 60 of 1999, should be expunged because of the inherent contradictions contained in it and ambiguity.
The letters of the laws of the NPC should be more precise and should not be nebulous.
The four representations allowed the public by the NPC enabling law is considered adequate. It is hereby recommended that such be thus appointed: 2 representatives of the labour; one from the Nigerian Bar Association and another one representing students.
To reflect gender balance and in accordance with the rule that women be represented on the NPC board, it is hereby recommended that any organisation/group with more than one representation on the board shall have at least one woman nominee.
For effective internal regulation, all media houses are enjoined to establish the office of the Ombudsman.
ETHICAL STANDARDS AND PROFESSIONALISM IN THE MEDIA
The Code of Conduct should be popularised amongst journalists and students of journalism by media houses, schools of journalism, the NUJ and the media NGOs. This is to be done by making copies of the Code available to the relevant individual and libraries. The Code of Conduct should also be incorporated into the curricula of journalism schools.
Media proprietors should give priority attention to economic empowerment of the journalists in their employ, improve the conditions of service and make provision for working facilities to enhance respectability of the journalist and dignity of the profession.
The employers and the NUJ should give priority to the training and retraining of media employees and managers.
The press centres and the out-station offices should be adequately equipped with modern communication facilities to reduce cases of dependence on news sources and government offices for the filing of reports.
While specialisation should be encouraged, journalists on special beats must not constitute themselves into cartels to determine what stories are filed to newsroom as news. There should also be a review of the desirability or otherwise of the beat associations.
Any journalist found guilty of unethical conduct by the Press Council should be further sanctioned through the ethics committee of the relevant organisation to which he/she may belong, i.e. NUJ, NPAN or NGE.
The Nigerian Press Council should publish its findings on the violation of ethics of the profession immediately such cases are determined.
In view of the desirability of self-regulation over statutory regulation, it is hereby noted that there is a need to encourage all journalists to have confidence in the NUJ, while the leadership of the NUJ should intensify efforts at winning such.
Signed in Ibadan, Oyo State, this 28th day of July, 2000.
Media Rights Agenda
International Press Centre