By Fatima Muraina
Media practitioners have been charged to devote more time, efforts and resources into creating awareness for the Freedom of Information Act among journalists and building their capacity to utilize the Law.
This, it stated would engender better and more impactful reporting of various issues relating to transparency, accountability, good governance and development
These were contained in a communique adopted by 30 participants from the Southwest at the end of a two-day workshop on “Using the Freedom of Information Act for Investigative Reporting”organised by the Media Rights Agenda (MRA) with support from the MacArthur Foundation through the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) under the Collaborative Media Engagement for Development, Inclusion and Accountability (CMEDIA) Project.
The communique urged stakeholders to put more efforts and resources into providing continuous training for journalists in other areas such as investigative reporting techniques, fact-checking and information verification tools and approaches including the use of artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies which can aid their work.
“Journalists, particularly those engaged in investigative reporting, should routinely make available documents, records and data, including the annual budgets of Federal and State Governments, their audited public accounts, and other reports for information.”
“Any identified breaches should be the basis of reporting aimed at holding the government involved accountable,” it stated.
Journalists, the communique recommended, should take advantage of various tools, which are available online .
The FOI Act is described as a powerful tool for information gathering for journalists and other media professionals and can significantly improve the quality of routine and in-depth media reporting.
Accordingly, journalists should make efforts to read the Act and familiarize themselves with it to enable them use it effectively for enhanced reporting.
The workshop which drew participants such as media professionals from broadcast, print and online organizations from different states across south-west geo-political zone, was aimed at sensitizing participating journalists and building their capacity to effectively use the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act for investigative reporting by familiarizing them with the key provisions of the Act.