Mrs Elizabeth Douglas, Head of Communications, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), on Tuesday tasked journalists to take advantage of social media to enrich their reportage on agriculture policy and programmes.
Douglas said this while addressing Journalists at a workshop for media practitioners drawn from different government and privately owned media organisations, held at Africa Continental Hotel and Resorts, Kaduna.
She urged them to always update their knowledge and skills in their chosen career in line with the dynamic global trend.
Our correspondent reports that the two-day training with the theme: “Introductory to Policy Communications Training Course for Journalists in Kaduna” was organised by IFPR
Also, the training is part of activities of the Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Policy Project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID/Nigeria) and jointly implemented by Michigan State University and IFPRI-NSSP.
Douglas, a facilitator at the workshop, identified social media like Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Google, Smart Chat, You Tube and Tun-in among others as some of the channels for wide spread dessimination of information.
According to her, the relationship between the conventional media and social media should be complementary, adding that social media helps to make the work of journalists more easier and faster.
“As journalists, don’t look at the social media as a threat to your profession; but it is a tool that will help ease your work.
” Journalism as a profession will stand the test of time.Social media had now made things easier for us globally, we don’t know where we will be in the next five, ten years,” she said.
Douglas advocated for media literacy amongst Nigerians to curb the spread of fake news, adding that media literacy would enable people verify the genuineness or otherwise of an information posted on social media.
She advised people to endeavour to enquire about the source and time when an information emanated that was forwarded to them.
“People just post anything without diligence, we have to educate ourselves on positive use of social media, we should be counseling ourselves positively.
“As a people, we should make sure whatever we post on social media we can defend it in any court of law.
“Remember, by posting lies you are instigating violence.
“Again, it is very important to state that when people are spreading fake news we have the right and the power to report them using the social media, the security agencies will definitely fish them out,” she assured.
The essence of the training according to her, is to acquaint the journalists with necessary skills and techniques on policy communication through interactive means.
She said the training was targeted at enhancing the skills and capacity of journalists, who when better informed, become agent for dissimination of policy changes.
While observing that effective policy reportage would go a long way in assisting both government and the governed, Douglas advised journalists to brace up to the challenges ahead.
She described communication as a two-way process of reaching manual understanding in which participants not only exchange (encode-decode) information, news, ideas and feelings but also create and share meaning.
Douglas appreciated the journalists for their active participation which she said culminated into a lively and successful interactive session.
In her submission, Bisola Oyediran, Communications Assistant, FPRI, said success on social media was not dependent on budget but dependent on technique, effort, consistency, patience and resourcefulness.
She described social media as the umbrella term under which various social networks operate using different means.
Oyediran observed that social media had taken over the Internet as key networks where individuals interact, share information and form consensus on issues.
She said the social media had become very easy way to relate with people apart from getting information or content needed from others.
Oyediran therefore encouraged journalists to key into the dynamic and innovative mode of communication for easy and faster flow of information.
She also advised the participants to be ready to evolve on the social media platforms and use them positively, saying social media was a good opportunity for journalists to leverage on.
Participating journalists were taught how to build a social media audience from zero level.