‘How media can catalyse positive change in society’

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To propel social and political development, practitioners of journalism have been tasked to provide information as well as monitor economic policy development process that would lead to more effective policies capable of reducing political risks to increase good governance.

Public affairs analyst and founder/facilitator of Charles Nzechi Foundation, Chief Charles Nzechi, assigned this task to the media in Umuahia in a paper, ‘Enabling Social, Economic and Political Development – The Role of Journalists and Journalism.’ It was presented at the monthly special August Congress of Abia State chapter of Nigeria Union of Journalists NUJ.

According to the state’s NUJ Council Chairman, Comrade John Emejor, “The monthly NUJ congress offers journalists is a good opportunity and platform to deliberate on issues for effective journalism practice, the council and the nation”.

Read on his behalf by a lead Partner in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Advocacy and Support Initiative, Dr Okeke Celestine, he said evidence suggests that independent media play a critical role at improving governance and reducing corruption, increasing economic efficiency and stability and creating positive social and environmental change.

He added that the media should provide information to actors throughout society and allow them to participate in the decisions and debates that shape their lives. Media, he opined, should also play the important role of monitoring in a democracy to enable the citizenry to hold their governments and elected officials accountable for better policies and service implementation.

He further urged media practitioners to always come up with suggestions on what could be done to improve the society, especially in the areas of health, education, economic empowerment and value orientation.

In his paper, which was divided into three sections namely – governance impact, economic impact and social impact, Nzechi addressed three areas, which he stated the media could have positive effect on the society, adding, “without being monitored, politicians may use their education to become more efficiently corrupt”.

Under governance impact, Nzechi said corruption has a negative impact on society, particularly in furthering poverty and economic inequality, citing that numerous studies showed that there is a robust link between a free, strong and independent press and reduced corruption.

According to him, while free press exposes private and public sectors’ corruption, it monitors government officials, increases voter’s knowledge as well as allows them to hold corrupt politicians accountable during elections and thus cause them to reduce their corrupt practices.

On the economic impact, he held that while economic actors need accurate and timely information to allocate resources efficiently, investors and other groups increasing value demand governance-monitoring role from the media.

Similarly, under the social impact, he opined that in order for development to be just and sustainable, citizens must productively participate in the decisions that shape their lives adding, “The media improves governance by monitoring the actions of those in power and alerting the governed to corruption or abuse of trust”

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