By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
Africa Media Development Foundation (AMDF) a media development organisation that provides professional support to journalists is seeking partnership with Nigerian Journalists and Newsrooms to run a Collaborative News Reporting Platform on COVID-19.
This was expressed in a statement signed by its Executive Director, Iliya Kure, made available on Sunday April 5, 2020.
“It is no longer news that the world is witnessing a pandemic, as a result of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), such as it has never seen in the past.
“The novel coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, China, and named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) – ‘CO’ stands for corona, ‘VI’ for virus, and ‘D’ for disease. It was initially referred to as ‘2019 novel coronavirus’ or ‘2019-nCoV.
“Of course, there were outbreak of flu diseases in the past including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), from the same family of virus, but none has impacted on the world like what we are seeing today,” it said.
AMDF explained that the crisis has proven that no government was adequately prepared to handle crisis of this magnitude, as many of them are still battling to contain the situation.
“In Nigeria, efforts are ongoing by government to expand testing centres to cover every zone of the country. Those that have tested positive are either on self-isolation or receiving treatment based on the advice of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
“But, like many other Africa countries, the action and inaction by both the federal and state governments of Nigeria have raised many questions, which citizens are yearning for answers,” it submitted.
It further said the Nigerian Media & COVID-19 crisis has taken many professionals (including journalists) unaware, as to how to address the issue.
“For journalists, it is how to report it, especially with the inadequate media resources that speak to reporting on the disease.
“Most of the media reports in Nigeria have centred on figures of people infected as provided by the NCDC, with little or no depth. This may not be unrelated to unavailability of resources to obtain information beyond what the government, or hospitals provide.
“But as the watchdog of the society, the Nigerian media has no excuse, it must rise up to its responsibility by ensuring adequate reportage that answer questions. Some of these questions include;
• COVID-19 has impacted negatively on businesses (small, medium and large) in Nigeria, how are the business owners coping?• The lockdown imposed in many parts of Nigeria is impacting on the citizens and communities, especially the low-income families, how are they coping?• The lockdown is impacting on the homeless, how are they coping, have they been provided shelter?• Restriction of movements is affecting even essential service workers, including the media, how are they coping with means of transportation and overzealous security agents?• Are there increase in other ailments in the hospital?• Many wealthy Nigerians have made donations, are there mechanism in place to ensure effective and transparent utilisation of these funds, as well as check corrupt tendencies?• What ongoing efforts are there by government and private sector to expand testing centres to cover every state in the country?• There have been strong calls by experts for people to avoid crowded areas, what are the plans in place by government on decongesting the prisons and IDP camps?”
AMDF suggested collaborative reporting.
“In view of the above, Africa Media Development Foundation (AMDF) is introducing a one-year long Collaborative News Platform aimed at bringing interested partners (journalists and newsrooms) to leverage on each other’s resources and report on the COVID-19 crisis and issues around it.
“This we believe will help address the scarce resources in reporting the disease and story challenges faced by media organisations.
“Our aim is to have in place a central platform that will provide vast, accurate, untold and timely news stories and information to our various audiences, who should be adequately informed on the coronavirus crisis in Nigeria.
“The platform will also feature a section that contains resources (audio, text, videos and multimedia) from credible experts, organisations and governments for journalists and media organisations to consult for stories on the COVID-19.
“If you (a professional journalist) or your organisation’s newsroom is interested in participating. Kindly send an application on your letterheaded paper indicating your interest to;
“The Executive Director,Africa Media Development FoundationImam House, Ahmadu Bello way, Kaduna, Nigeria.
“Email your scanned application to email@example.com; We shall respond to you as soon as we receive your application.”