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Devcomm expert endorses Social Media Bill



…Tasks journalists on responsible, ethical journalism

THE first female professor of Mass Communication in Nigeria and former Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Chinyere Okunna, has endorsed the widely criticised Social Media Bill, saying it would help to regulate and control extremism of the new media creeping into the journalism practice in the country.

 Prof Okunna, while featuring as a guest in a media programme held recently via Skype from Awka, expressed belief that society has the right to control the media and set an example of good journalism, if the media go extreme.

 She said, “I believe in Social Media Bill; it could control and guide the press; I don’t support a situation where people are opening their mouths any how without control. If people go extreme, they should be fished out individually and punished responsibly without jeopardising press freedom.”

 Prof Okunna, who is a former Commissioner for Information and Culture in Anambra State, described media as oxygen of democracy, pointing out that in a democratic society, if the media are removed, or their functions threatened, democracy would die as no other institutions can gather effectively and package professionally the information that allows democracy to work except the media.

Expressing displeasure over the high level of poverty and insecurity in the country, Prof Okunna, who is also a development communication expert, advised that media practitioners should not keep silent, but should apply their basic function as the watchdog of society to alert the government constructively when it goes wrong in discharging its duty, rather than antagonising the government, fuelling hate speech, precipitating crisis, anarchy, division among others.

She encouraged the media practitioners to responsibly implore agenda setting theory to help society and government in reaching harmony and situation where the people will be supporting the government. 

While appealing to the leaders of the nation to work harder to create a conducive environment for the development and well-being of the people, the development communication expert opined that the emergence of the Nigeria, which every citizen will love, is a shared responsibility of the leaders and the media, and urged the media practitioners to encourage and commend the government where it gets right.

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