The spokesperson of the United States Embassy in Abuja, Jeanne Clark, has said that the journalists have a very important role to play in the 2023 general elections in Nigeria.
She made the remarks to commemorate the May 3 World Press Freedom Day in Lafia, Nasarawa State, where the embassy organised a workshop for journalists on digital security in the light of digital threats to journalists all over the world.
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Speaking on the challenges facing the media in Nigeria, she said: “We know sustainability is a key issue here in Nigeria, particularly for journalists who work tirelessly day in and day out without regular remuneration. Ambassador Leonard raised this vital issue at the Democracy Town Hall we co-hosted with the Nigerian Guild of Editors in Abuja. As we look forward to the 2023 elections, we must recognize the essential role of the media in Nigeria today.
“We’ve underscored this reality in five of the six regions of the country over the past five months, and combined these discussions with editorial workshops.”
She added, “This year’s theme, ‘Journalism under Digital’ siege is borne out of concern for how technology is now being used to track and spy on journalists and the negative impact this would have for the safety of journalists and protection of their sources.
She said according to UNESCO, “growing sophistication and undetectability of mal- and spyware and their increasing use against journalists and human rights defenders by state and non-state actors, endanger free and independent journalism.
“Although the use of technology has greatly aided the work of the journalist it is now associated with increased risk for surveillance and harassment.”
Twenty-six journalists attended the workshop where Professor Abiodun Adeniyi, Head of Department of Mass Communication, Baze University, Abuja, spoke on ‘Threats that Silence: the Poverty Threat.’
Adeniyi said apart from digital threats, poverty had become a major threat to the practice of journalism in Nigeria.
He encouraged journalists to rise above pecuniary interests in the practice of the profession.
Mr Joseph Adah, a new media specialist at the US Embassy in Abuja, trained journalists on digital security, taking them through the importance of digital literacy, how to encrypt important messages on e-mail; how to protect their mobile phones from hackers, how to detect it if they are being trolled, and what to do if their websites or social media handles were hacked.