….Says use of unverified materials landed CNN in trouble
….two of three stations ‘ve fully paid fine
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has warned broadcast stations in the country to avoid the mistakes that have combined to land CNN into trouble.
Mohammed said broadcast stations must resist the temptation of using unverified materials.
He also warned against using unverified information from social media as they are fraught with danger.
He also hinted that two of the three local stations fined in the aftermath of the violence protest have fully paid their fine while the third one paid partly and asked for time to pay the balance.
The minister spoke on Friday in Abuja during a stakeholders meeting with members of Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON).
He stressed the need for broadcat stations to adhere strictly to the gate-keeping tradition instead of rushing to use materials that are not authenticated.
He said CNN is struggling right now to justify its inaccurate and unbalanced investigation.
He said, “Ladies and gentlemen, it’s no longer news that three broadcast
stations were sanctioned in the aftermath of EndSARS. Some analysts
have attempted to muddy the waters by alleging an attempt to stifle
the media. This is sheer red herring.
“The simple truth is that the National Broadcasting Commission
(NBC) imposed fines on the three broadcast stations for using
unverified and dangerous information from social media. Two of the
stations have paid in full, while one has paid in part.
” I want to use this opportunity to appeal to broadcast stations
to avoid using unverified information from social media, as this is
fraught with danger. Despite the temptation, the stations must adhere
strictly to the gate-keeping tradition instead of rushing to use
materials that are not authenticated.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the use of unverified videos, and the
non-adherence to the basic tenets of journalism have combined to land
an international broadcaster, CNN, in trouble. This station has been
caught in the web of fake news and disinformation, after it relied
heavily on videos it took from social media for a supposed exclusive
investigation on the incident at the Lekki Toll Gate on Oct. 20th Tne
station was also found to be inconsistent. After tweeting, without a
shred of evidence, from its verified handle on Oct. 23rd that soldiers
killed 38 peaceful protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on Oct. 20th, the
same station now said only one person was killed – after a month of
its investigation. What an embarrassment!
“It is baffling that an organization like CNN will rely on
unauthenticated videos to carry out an investigation. More worrisome
is that an international broadcaster like CNN will switch casualty
figures so casually without a credible source. This is why we have
written a letter to CNN asking it to use its own internal mechanism to
probe its investigation. We have received an acknowledgement of our
letter, saying the letter has been referred to CNN’s Editorial Team.
We await the outcome of their probe, but that’s without prejudice to
whatever we may decide to do as a government. We will not sit by and
allow any news organization, local or foreign, to set Nigeria on fire
with irresponsible and unprofessional reporting. CNN did not have a
reporter or cameraman at the Lekki Toll Gate on the night in question,
yet it emphatically reported a hoax story. Conversely, the BBC that
had a reporter and an editor on ground reported that soldiers shot
into the air, not at protesters. I will rather believe the person on
the ground than the one who is thousands of kilometres away.
” Since we sent our letter, CNN has been grasping at straws in
desperation, to justify its inaccurate and unbalanced investigation.
But in the process, it is sinking more and more into professional
infamy. Yesterday, Nov. 26th that is, in the clearest indication yet of the
its confusion over the Lekki Toll Gate incident, CNN tried to clarify
its tweet of Oct. 23rd by saying it never attributed the death toll of 38 to
Amnesty International and that the tweet also did not make it clear that
the death toll was for protests across the country. Commentators on the
tweet tried to redirect CNN to the issue: which is its tweet of Oct. 23rd in
which it said ”At least 38 people were killed in Nigeria on Tuesday (Oct. 20th)
when the military opened fire on peaceful protesters.” This is very unambiguous
and CNN is exhibiting panic by seeking to clarify its tweet some 35 days later!
Instead of engaging in such panic, CNN should come clean by admitting that
it goofed badly on the Lekki Toll Gate incident.
” But the big lesson to draw from CNN’s faux pas is that it magnifies
the failure or inadequacy of our own broadcast organizations. In the wake
of our spat with CNN, people are asking: Why didn’t our own broadcast
stations take the lead in reporting the incident at Lekki? Why didn’t they
take the lead in presenting an authentic narrative? Why must we allow the
foreign broadcast stations, some of which didn’t even have correspondents
on ground, to dictate the pace, thus misleading the world? These are questions
begging for answers and I think for BON, this must form part of their review
of the coverage of the whole crisis.”