Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo says journalists must be sensitive about the society when carrying out their duty.
He stated this on Thursday at the presentation of “The Making of The Nigerian Flagship: A Story of The Guardian,” a book by The Guardian newspaper.
Osinbajo, who expressed concern about the proliferation of fake news, urged journalists to rise as professionals to challenge this.
“It is said that journalism is the first rough draft of history. It is true that reportage shapes the perception and understanding of events,” he said.
“It shapes memories and can influence behaviour for good or for ill. There are arguably no bigger influencers than those who report and interpret the world to us. This is considerable power and it comes with responsibility.
“About four decades ago, The Guardian set new standards that forever transformed the practice of journalism. Today, a more complex media and information landscape require a corps of professionals to set new standards and raise the quality of the fare on offer.
“The pioneers of The Guardian understood that journalism operates in a social context and cannot be value-neutral. This same cognitive commitment is incumbent upon all media practitioners today. We are at a time in our national odyssey in which retailers of discord and merchants of strife are working assiduously against our collective potential as a people.
“Creating commonality of purpose in ethnically and culturally diverse societies is challenging the world over. However, nation-building is not the sole preserve of politicians and governments; in fact, it is just as much a task for civil society of which the press is an important member.
“It is true that freedom of expression is enshrined in our constitution, but we all agree that society, progress, and order depend upon the responsible exercise of freedom, otherwise, the end result will be anarchy.
“As we struggle to build our nation with the bricks of mutuality, plurality, and tolerance, I would suggest that those of us that stand as gatekeepers in the fourth estate must demonstrate a greater awareness of the sensibilities and sensitivities of our society.”
The vice-president also hailed The Guardian as a newspaper that has, over the years, maintained its standard of principle and objectivity.
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