Media practitioners have been described as Apostles, Teachers, Priests and People who possess gifts to help people.
Speaking at a special mass to mark the 53rdWorld Communications Day on Sunday 2nd June, 2019 for journalists and media practitioners across the globe, The Catholic Bishop of Enugu Diocese, His Lordship Most Rev Callistus Onaga represented by the Vicar General, Rev. Msgr. Luke Adike described the gift God has given every individual as one that is to help each other in building one body, one society, one country as well as one church.
He reminded journalists that they have a duty to inform, to encourage and to give hope. He opined that there cannot be fake news if media practitioners see themselves as apostles and this according to him will help quell the spread of lies in form of fake news while the truth stands out.
“All media practitioners are apostles, teachers and Priests just like the 99% of us are teachers and Priests, as every baptized bear the priesthood of Christ.
God has given us gifts to help each other, building one body, one society, one country and one church. We must work for the good of the entire body, church and the universe.
Our duty is to inform, to encourage; giving hope, there can be no fake news because people practicing this are apostles. Their duty is to give news that will be refreshing and calming to the body.
Continuing, he said ‘We depend on you to tell us the reality. Every duty is a privilege and it calls for service. What you do with regards to information dissemination is a gift not your intelligence. Whatever you are doing, do it as a servant. Remember you serve God and others. Whatever you have is given unto you on trust, make good use of it and God will be glad you made use of it”, his message reads.
He further stressed on perseverance as a virtue amongst journalists and the need to focus more on productivity and development.
“Perseverance brings great reward. Yes, there are so many hurdles to pass in the effort to do your work, but God knows how best to reward perseverance. Put God first and put prayer first in your work. Try to make us happy, don’t try to intimate us”, he advised.
The keynote speaker, Prof. Nnayelugo Okoro Dean Faculty of Arts, University of Nigeria, urged journalists to imbibe what he called ‘Caveat Emptor’ which means , ‘buyer beware’ for journalists in seeking for information. In a paper he presented titiled; ‘From Network Communities to Network Humanity: The Challenge of Communication in a Post-Truth Era’
Prof. Nnayelugo expressed worry on the heavy dependence on the internet for our information needs and how professionalism is being sacrificed on the altar of falsehood and sensationalism. He advised against picking everything one finds on the internet and called for a more discerning approach from media practitioners. Speaking further with our correspondence, Prof. Okoro urged for more verification before rebroadcasting as it relates to the internet.
He said; “The trust of my message is that we anchor it on caveat emptor, buyer beware. You don’t just pick news and begin to report, you have to verify whether that news is authentic, whetherit is real especially in this era of fake news where people manufacture all sorts of things. It is also very important you don’t just pick anything you see from the social media. Follow what we call the discipline of verification in journalism , you need to verify your fact and be sure of what you’re publishing because that is the only way to protect this profession especially this era where everybody goes by the name Journalist . So, there is need for us to be very careful of what we present to the public because at the end of the day, there is no way social media can replace mainstream media”, Prof. said.
Rev. Fr. Gerald Musa of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto who is also the Communications Director, who presented a paper titled; “Truth as Collective Responsibility in Social Networks” and his counterpart from the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, Very Rev. Fr. Benjamin Achi centered their messages on truth and the need for all stake holders in the business of communication to stand for the truth at all time.
The 53rd World Communication Day celebration, an annual program held across the world, had her 2019 theme as ‘We are Members, One of Another (Eph.4: 25) From Social Network Communities to the Human Community’ and had in attendance media practitioners from major media houses in the state and Mass Communication students from across the state.