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Anambra Media

Anambra State:  Quest for an Ethical New Media

By Ngozi Emeka Emedolibe 

Technology is disruptive. And sometimes, it could be dangerously so. As New Media, takes centre-stage, what has remained exigent is how to rein in some perceived excesses of users. Yes, information is hotly in need, and can now be disseminated in seconds with people in far-flung and remote locations of the world switching on their phones to consume them, almost at the speed of light, but what happens when the information being consumed is wrong and destructive? What happens when the information is concocted to undo an opposing interest or influence? Can a remedy come with as much speed as the damage was done?

These are bugging issues in this era of digital media, which have further been exacerbated by the more viral and readily available social media, which incorporates multimedia functions and aesthetics to enhance the appetite to consume such information. For instance, a picture or video of a school drama, showing two underage children at a wedding scene could be uploaded as a real wedding event taking place in ‘your’ hometown. More often than not, the presence of such pictures and videos for most users, authenticate the information engendering the instinct to not only believe, but to comment, share and tag others! 

This, rightly or wrongly, could elicit cynicism, condemnation and in certain instances racial, ethnic or communal diatribe online. Such an occurrence can easily be remedied in the traditional media, owing to the controls in place, as information are usually verified and approved before being aired or printed. And when such information is found to be false, a central system could as well be muscled to announce a retraction, which will be visible to a great majority of the audience. This benefit is grossly lacking in the more viral social and digital media platforms. Retractions only get to be seen by a handful of the original audience who saw the damaging report.  In some climes, punitive laws are being deployed to serve as deterrent. But how far can this go considering the beneficial roles of the digital media? People cannot lose sight of the role it played during the Arab Spring, a move that ousted some presumed oppressive regimes in North Africa and Middle East.

The resolution therefore lies in attitudinal confrontation!

Interestingly, some individuals are looking ahead in this direction. In Nigeria, a group, the Association of Digital Media Core Advocates, ADMCA, is in the forefront with initiatives to promote healthy use of digital media, with the hope that the citizens would eventually focus on the benefits of the platforms rather than the damaging part. Created in 2018 and headed by Comr Harris Chuma, a filmmaker and culture advocate, the ADMCA, which for the time being has adopted Anambra State for its pilot projects has through public enlightenment, seminars, lectures and honours/recognition been indoctrinating people into the culture of responsible usage of digital media platforms. According to the founder and national president, the group was born to prevent the inherent implosion which was imminent in the digital media industry. “ADMCA is a child of circumstance. It was born to salvage the system, and luckily we have very talented young men and women who believe that something needs to be in place if an implosion is to be avoided. Things were about getting out of hand in the digital media space, when we intervened. We chose Anambra State as our pilot scheme, because the state has arguably one of the most vibrant digital media space in Nigeria, reflective of its socio-economic and political landscape. As a body involved in media advocacy, we want to restore responsibility in the usage of media tools for both journalists, who are the professional practitioners and the citizens who are also stakeholders. This has become important because technology has empowered everyone who can afford a smart phone to be a partaker in information sharing and the good and bad therein. So ADMCA strives to enlighten everyone that as you do your citizen journalism via social media or blog or even your news site, you must observe the ethical culture, synonymous with the traditional media platforms or we will be doomed. Doing so has been in the form of advocacy and enlightenment”, says Comr Chuma.

Since the birth of the group, lectures and seminars have been held as a form of sensitisation on themes such as: Fake News, Hate Speech, Balancing of Reports, Impact of Social Media on Politics, Social Media and Good Governance as well as Media in Social Justice amongst others.

As a way of practicing what it preaching, the group, often undertake training programmes for member as a way of preparing them for the dynamism which digital media entails. According to the founder, “this is because knowledge is not static, especially when it comes to technology and its deployment. At ADMCA we recognise that and often get experts to train our members on the task of keeping the digital media platforms sane and productive. When the embarrassing and destructive information emerge, we get our members to correct the impression online in a timely fashion; that is why we undertake training to make sure we are not only on top of our game but also way ahead of the mischief makers on the cyber space”.

On several instances, the group has had to undertake such tasks for personalities, companies and governmental bodies.

As a way of encouraging responsible usage of the media in Anambra State, ADMCA, also introduced the Anambra Media Excellence Award, an annual event. Its maiden edition held on November 27, 2019 at the Best Western Merloch Hotel, Awka after a rigorous voting exercise that saw content consumers across the state selecting their role models as regards information dissemination in print, broadcast and digital.

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