The American University of Nigeria, AUN, with support from the American Embassy in Abuja, on Thursday held a peace journalism workshop for students from select tertiary institutions in Adamawa State.
The AUN Grants Administrator, Audu Liman, kicked off the workshop; which was held in the university’s 24-Hour Room.
Speaking, Mr. Liman recounted the roles journalists have played in reporting wars in the past, saying the workshop was an avenue for the students to learn about peace journalism and ask pertinent questions.
“The idea here is to train students to promote peace through their writings,” he said.
The facilitators at the workshop were Judith Matloff from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, and the AUN Interim Associate Dean of the School of Arts and Science, SAS, Jacob Udo-Udo Jacob.
Others were faculty members in the Department of Communications and Multimedia Design, Abdul Amin Mousa and Danielle Villasana.
Mrs. Matloff, who addressed participants via video call, spoke about the techniques involved in interviewing Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs.
She advised participants to always obtain informal interview consent before engaging IDPs.
She also cautioned against questions such as “How do you feel about your experience?” and statements like “I know how you feel,” noting that these could portray insensitivity to the plights of the displaced persons.
On his part, Mr. Jacob, who moderated the workshop and also spoke on “Propaganda and Framing in the Media”, described Peace Journalism as solution-oriented.
He added that peace journalists look out for unresolved conflicts and proffer solutions to them.
“Peace journalism demands of the journalist to go beyond the issue, to build a vineyard on why the events happened,” he said.
He also encouraged journalists to always add a human dimension to their reports by looking for personal stories and to locate their reports within the context of the issue.
Ms Villasana, a world-class photojournalist and Mr. Mousa spoke on the importance of still and moving images in peace journalism.
She told participants to do away with stereotypes and approach their reporting with open minds.
“Stories are told based on agendas but that should not stop one from getting the truth,” she said.
A panel of communication experts comprising AUN faculty member, Joseph Rishante, a Director in the AUN Office of Communications, Innocent Nwobodo, and a visiting professor at AUN and Managing Editor of Premium Times, Mojeed Musikilu, discussed the place of objectivity in peace journalism.
The panelists encouraged participants to emphasize truth, fairness, and balance over objectivity in peace journalism and to report “anything that would lead to peace.”
The workshop was attended by students from AUN, Modibbo Adama University of Technology, MAUTECH, Adamawa State University, ASU, Adamawa State Polytechnic, ASPY, and the Federal Polytechnic, Mubi, Adamawa State.
Answering questions from the CMD Website, Geoffrey Yakubu, a student of ASPY, indicated that peace journalism is strategic to the Nigerian society and urged that the workshop be extended to all parts of the country.
“Peace journalism is something that has to be done in the entire nation, because we need peace in our communities and society,” he said.
Another student, Muhammad Baba, from ASU, described peace journalism as “telling the truth about what happened.”
He also said that journalism should promote peace in the society over simply stating the facts.
Certificates were given out to participants at the end of the workshop.
By Cletus Ilomuanya and Zamiyat Abubakar