World Press Freedom Day: US Tasks Nigerian Journalists on Facts Check

(Last Updated On: 2017-05-03)


Nahimah Ajikanle Nurudeen

U.S. Consul General, Mr. F. John Bray on Wednesday tasked Nigerian journalists to always double check facts before putting out a story.

Bray who spoke in Lagos at an event to mark the 2017 World Press Freedom Day said journalists also need to be thorough in their research and strive to look for every side of a story before going to press.

This he said would increases journalists personal credibility and the reliability of their platform.

Bray stated that in a democracy, the press has a duty to hold government leaders accountable to the people, holding up for scrutiny any abuses of power by elected officials.

He explained that their role as the government’s watchdog is key to the system of checks and balances that is fundamental to the smooth running of every democracy.

Bray said, “ Unfortunately, not all governments accept such public attention. According to Reporters without Borders, more than a third of the world’s people live in countries where there is no press freedom. Most of them are quasi democracies, with systemic deficiencies in the electoral process, or countries where there is no system of democracy at all. Working under such conditions, journalists risk everything to hold regimes accountable.”

He said the ninth president of the World Bank Group while speaking to the World Press Freedom Committee in 1999 said, “A free press is not a luxury. A free press is at the absolute core of equitable development, because if you cannot enfranchise poor people, if they do not have a right to expression, if there is no searchlight on corruption and inequitable practices, you cannot build the public consensus needed to bring about change.”

He said, “Before my arrival in Nigeria four years ago I had read about the courage and sheer doggedness of the Nigerian press in the dark days of military dictatorship. In my time here, I have seen that you are still the voice of the forgotten. You have not lost your thirst for the truth or your willingness to go wherever a story leads you, thereby contributing to transparency, accountability, and good governance in your country.”

The United States strongly supports freedom of the press. We believe that an unfettered press is essential for democracy to thrive. The United States passed the Freedom of Information Act in July 1966, which went into effect the following year. Since then, there have been numerous amendments to strengthen the law.”

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