By Nkechi Odumosor
LAGOS/Nigeria: As world marked the 2021 World Press Day, the United State of America had again said the place of the Free Press can never be over emphasized, as it’s the only means democracy can be sustained.
This was stated by the countries Consul General, Ms. Claire Pierangelo in her opening remarks during the 2021 World Freedom Press Day, webnar organised by the American Consulate, Lagos, with a Theme: “Frontiers of Health Reporting: New Insights, Fresh Perspectives.”
According to her “As we celebrate World Press Freedom Day today, the role of a free and independent press is more important than ever. The theme of this webinar “Frontiers of Health Reporting: New Insights, Fresh Perspectives,” sets the tone as the global community unites to fight against COVID-19.”
She said the United States government will continue to emphasize the value of promoting and protecting a free press, because the media plays such an essential role in preserving democracy and, as we can witness these days, in providing information that saves lives.
“We all know that a free press is essential to a healthy democracy. The news media can be a powerful force for change. It can effectively fulfill the roles of watchdog, gatekeeper, and agenda-setter.”
“It can improve governance by raising citizen awareness of social issues, enabling citizens to hold their governments to account, curbing corruption, and creating a civic forum for debate. I challenge you to continue to play an effective role in amplifying important issues that affect citizens.”
She called on media professionals to continue to track political and institutional processes at local, state and national levels, as the public depends on their reports.
“As media professionals, you must continue to track political and institutional processes by which decisions are taken and implemented at the local, state, and national levels. Your reports must critically analyze the methods and the effectiveness of projects in the field.”
“The public depends on your reports in print, audiovisual, and online to assess how their elected representatives are performing. As journalists, you can assess how health budgets are managed and whether there are adequate checks and balances in place for effective governance.”
“This is what allows citizens to know whether their local officials are fulfilling their promises and meeting their obligations.”
Ms Claire Pierangelo stated that the U.S. government is committed to initiatives that build media capacity in Nigeria, as the Mission has for years, funded training programs for hundreds of Nigerian journalists on topics ranging from health reporting, defense and national security reporting, investigative journalism, election reporting, to media ethics.
She said the Webinars, seminars, workshops, and U.S. based training opportunities such as the International Visitor Leadership Program and Foreign Press Center International Reporting Tours demonstrate her commitment to the deep partnership long enjoyed with Nigeria.
We hope this webinar will help strengthen your capabilities and you will in turn provide more accurate information to Nigerians who will benefit from improved reporting on health, governance, and other crucial issues.
The resource persons at the event were, Fisayo Soyombo Editor-in-Chief at Foundation for Investigative Journalism, Joshua Olufemi Executive Director at Dataphyte, Abel Akeni Head of Research and Policy Advisory at BudgIT, Oluwamayowa Tijani Fact-Checking Journalist at Agence France-Presse and was moderated by Amarachi Ubani Foreign Affairs Editor at Channels TV
The webinar which was attended by more than 130 Journalists from Nigeria, included the Publisher of www.ndokwareporters.com, www.thebrief.com.ng, and Chairman, Delta Online Publishers Forum, DOPF, Mr. Emmanuel Enebeli.
The webinar focused on carrying out comprehensive investigation on health, by tracking the money from the inception of the Budget preparation, fact checking to eliminate misinformation, and on how to carry out an investigative reporting on subject matters.