Media professionals and communications scholars have described fake news as one of the biggest challenges confronting the society, while calling on students and youths to be wary of information they circulate through the social media.
Speaking at the 2020 edition of the student-veteran interaction, organised by the Association of Mass Communication Students (AMCOS), University of Ilorin, the media professionals advised the students to positively use social media to develop their skills rather than turning themselves into purveyors of fake news.
Speaking on the theme of the event: ‘Challenges of New Media in the Communication Industry’, the Lagos State Governor’s Office Correspondent for New Telegraph Newspaper, Mr. Muritala Ayinla, said infiltration of fake news appears to be the fastest growing menace in the communication industry.
According to him, purveyors of hoax news don’t seem to be perturbed by the level of damage or the implications of the report on the people involved and the society at large.
“Unarguably, one of the biggest challenges in the communication industry today is the incursion of fake news which is, in most cases, threatening the authenticity of real news. Its spread is likened to a virus intruding into and destroying every fabric of the society, threatening the nation’s unity. Like the dreaded Coronavirus and other pandemics, the threat of fake news knows no boundaries, race, religion, status and other variables. Its consequences are felt by the high and the low; its dangerous trend has tainted the image of the mighty and the weak.”
To tackle the scourge, Ayinla tasked trained journalists and students of schools of communication to dominate the social media with timely dissemination of factual account of events and fact-checking of every bit of information at one’s disposal before publishing or spreading such information.
Ayinla, who also cited the fake news on President Muhammadu Buhari’s second wife allegation and the case of a Nigerian, Dauda Onoruoiza, said to be involved in the Boeing 737-800 Ukrainian Airline crash in January 8, 2020, noted that media professionals must also embark on due diligence before rushing to publish their reports.
On his part, the Head of Mass Communication Department, Dr. Mustapha Kayode Lambe, urged the students to uphold professionalism through their conduct while making use of the new media.
He explained that the essence of the students-veteran interaction, which is the first of its kind in any school of communications studies, was to sensitise the students on what obtains after the classroom, as well to enable them make informed decision on what aspect of Mass Communication they want to specialise in.
He said the university has made free Wi-Fi available for students to enable them to carry out research and add value to themselves, adding that the department would continue to trail blaze innovations that will distinguish its graduates from other universities in Nigeria and globally.
Also speaking, Mr. Emmanuel Nwachukwu of PR Redline, appealed to the students to embrace the positive use of the new media instead of just posing for pictures or engaging in other mundane activities on them.
He likened the new media to a market where all manner of distractions take place, adding that to actively use the technology, one must focus on the goal one intends to achieve.