African journalists have been urged to be circumspect in their reportage to promote peace and stability in the region.
They have also been advised against writing contents that will give room for hate speech.
Journalists must research
At a lecture on "Yellow Journalism" at a media training programme for Young African Journalist organised by the Union of African Journalists in Cairo, Egypt, the Chief Sub Editor of Reuters, Mr Emad Omar asked the media to place premium on research and thorough investigation in the process of gathering and dissemination of information to avoid propagating false and damaging information to the public.
According to him, the dissemination of false information was inimical to the growth and integrity of the journalism profession, particularly with growing competition from social media.
He was also of the view that the usage of social media for information circulation posed great threat to the integrity of the journalism profession as well as the credibility of information churned out, and said the mass media had a responsibility to protect the image of journalism.
“Whatever your political or religious principle is, your profession is the most important. You do not have to write what you like or defend what you love. At all times, you should try to be truthful, objective, fair and factual in your reporting.”
Mr Omar added that Yellow journalism is dangerous to the growth of society and preservation of unity and democracy in every nation in Africa.
“It led to the death of people in Kenya and Rwanda and is still birthing chaos in most countries. In some parts of the world, there are penalties for yellow journalism, even up to death sentence.”
Yellow Journalism is an American term for journalism and associated newspapers that present little or no legitimate well-researched news while instead using eye-catching headlines for increased sales.
Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering or sensationalism.
By extension, the term yellow journalism is used today as a pejorative to decry any journalism that treats news in an unprofessional or unethical fashion.
National Secretary of Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Shuaibu Leman, said yellow journalism “gives room to hate speech, a problem seen in different African countries including Nigeria, with hundreds of people losing their lives for tribal or political reasons.”
He said Nigeria was doing everything possible to curb yellow journalism, alongside the excesses of the social media.