The Vice-Chancellor, speaking through his deputy, expressed gratitude to the union for considering Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, fit for such an award. He thanked the union and promised that the University would continue to see the media as partners in progress in the improvement of education in Nigeria. He said the University would not relent in operating with the mantra of raising godly intellectuals.
A major high point of the event was a lecture delivered by Professor Muyiwa Poppola titled ‘Media Viability, Public Trust and Nigeria’s 2023 General elections”, which was distilled from the general theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day, ‘Journalism under Digital Siege”.
In the lecture, which received a standing ovation, Professor Popoola asked media houses to be mindful of their language of reporting in order not to escalate the inevitable politically induced conflicts that would emanate from the impending 2023 elections. He cautioned the media not to use words and expressions that would escalate situations rather than douse them. He stated that the use of inflammatory descriptions and unnecessary alarmist presentations of politically induced conflicts would not augur well for the nation, and even for the journalist who indulges in such a style of reportage. He said such words as assassination should not be used in a report if the person murdered is not a prominent member of the society
He said that conflict is bound to occur during elections, given that politicians are struggling and scheming to win , but reporters would do well to be temperate in their reportage so that the conflicting interests would not go up in arms against themselves. Conflict, he said, is synonymous with politics. He noted that public trust in the media has waned over time because of the advent of fake news, stating that it has become a threat to journalism.
‘You can still report conflicts with temperance, and do not escalate them’ he advised journalists, ‘by so doing you are keeping yourself out of harm. The truth is that no story or exclusive report is worth the life of a journalist. You should not act as indiscriminate megaphones for hate speech. Keep yourself out of harm. The most you will be given is a minute silence and the work continues. Please do not endanger yourself by using inflammatory words that would pitch parties against themselves. Make your report factual without inciting or escalating existing conflicts. Between 2012 and 2021, no less than 12,000 media professionals have been killed across the globe. Journalists are regularly being attacked but they should also be cautious in their operation in order not to endanger their lives.
He received a standing ovation from those in attendance after delivering the lecture. The Oyo State Chairman of the union, Comrade Ademola Babalola thanked Professor Popoola, whom he described as ’our teacher’, for the wonderful lecture. Some media practitioners, individuals, and corporate organizations were also given awards at the occasion.