The media and 2015 elections – The Sun

By The Citizen
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As tension builds up across the polity in the run-up to the 2015 general elections, it has become necessary to highlight and harp on the critical role of the media, as a key partner in the quest for free and credible polls next year.

The importance of the organs of the mass media in the coming electoral contest rests on the fact that they can, to a large extent, make or mar the exercise or even throw the nation into turmoil, with the tone and bent of their report ing.

Happily, media stakeholders in appreciation of this fact recently launched the Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage, with guide lines for the conduct of journal ists and their media houses before, during and after the polls.

With the balance of forces on the political landscape, which has a robust and vibrant oppo sition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), squaring up to the dominant and ruling politi cal party, the Peoples Democracy Party (PDP) and the incumbent president, who is seeking a sec ond term in office, the contest for the presidency is sure to be keen, both parties are sure to enjoy copious reporting. However, the challenge of the moment is for journalists and media organs to ensure that their reporting of the candidates and parties is fair, professional and balanced.

We, THE SUN, unreservedly com mit ourselves to these irreducible requirements. We are resolved to be fair, neutral and unbiased in the reporting of all the political parties. We will be factual and objective in all our reports and project all shades of opinions canvassed by our writers and contributors within the limits of the nation's laws. We shall not stifle any legitimate opinion of either our journalists or our contributors since they remain personal, while our cor porate opinion will remain within the bounds of our Editorial Comments. The freedom of expression of ordi nary Nigerians, including that of our writers, will remain sacrosanct, while our editorials remain fair to all parties and candidates.

We are, of course, eminently aware that the fact that our publisher is a po litically exposed person lays us open to expectations and suspicions of subjective reporting in pursuit of his real and imaginary interests. But we will, in all circumstances, abide by the best practices of our profession, and enjoin all other media organs to do likewise. Media professionals must strive to be above board at all times and unequivocally demonstrate to all Nigerians the fine tenets of our pro fession.

We are, however, not unmindful of the tendency of the dominant politi cal actors and parties to be over-sen sitive to media reports at this time. The politics of 2015 is a high-stake one to which these parties and can didates are committing their all and expecting the best.

We, therefore, appeal to them for temperance, in realisation of our un­mitigated commitment to fair report ing of all sides in the contest. We and the other media organs in the country have a stake in the unity and continu ing peaceful existence of the coun try and we will do our utmost best to maintain these. Both the public and private, print and broadcast media have codes regulating the coverage of elections. We must all strive to ad here strictly to these and all the other rules of engagement guid ing the practice our profession with regard to election coverage.

Section 1.1.2 of the Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage provides that 'a media organ isation shall regularly apply the principle of equity in the cover age and reportage of campaigns and other activities of parties and candidates contesting elections.' There are other provisions relat ing to issues such as accuracy and impartiality of reports. We promise to abide by these and advise all media houses to do the same.

The approaching polling season is coming with ominous fore boredings in different parts of the country. This should not be so. Elections, which are contests to choose the people's representa tives at different levels of govern ment, should not put the fear of hell in the electorate as 2015 ap­proaches. It should not have the similitude of Doomsday. The polls should be about development and the quest to bring a better life to the people. It should give the people the opportunity to express their opinions and wishes about candidates who put themselves forward for elections. It ought not to be a 'do-or-die affair' as it is fast becoming in the country.

Let the traditional and new me dia commit themselves to play ing their part in Nigeria's efforts to have credible elections. We, at THE SUN, have resolved to do this alongside other media stake holders. It is a responsibility that we owe ourselves and the Nige rian people. If we all do this judi­ciously, the present fear of the na tion disintegrating or becoming a failed state in 2015 as predicted by certain authorities in the Unit ed States of America (USA) will be unfounded.

It is our sacred duty as the Fourth Estate of the Realm to up hold all that will redound to the unity and progress of Nigeria, especially regarding the coming elections. This is exactly what we will do with fairness to all, and fear of none.