By Benjamin Omoike
Media professionals and communications scholars have described fake news as one of the biggest challenges confronting society, calling on students and youths to be wary of information they circulate through 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 tasked 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 entitled: “Challenges of New Media in The Communication Industry”, Lagos State Governor’s Office Correspondent for New Telegraph, Mr Muritala Ayinla, said that infiltration of fake news appears to be the fastest growing menace in the communication industry. He said that 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.
He said: “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 the trained journalists and students of school communication 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 Airlines crash on January 8, 2020, and said 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 Lambe Kayode Mustapha, 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 class room, as well as to enable them to make informed decisions on what aspect of Mass communications they want to specialise in.
Dr Mustapha said the University had made free Wi-Fi available for students to enable them carry out research and add value to themselves, adding that the department would continue to trail the blaze on innovations that will distinguish its graduates from other Universities in Nigeria and globally.
Also speaking, Mr Emmanuel Nwachkwu of PR Redline, tasked the students to embrace the positive use of the new media, instead of just posing for pictures or engaging in other mundane activities on it. 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.
Other communication scholars and professionals at the event were Associate Professor, Dr A.L Azeez, the Deputy Dean, Faculty of Communication and Information Sciences, Dr Patrick Udende; Dr Saudat Abdulbaqi, Dr. Rasak Adisa, Dr Oba La’aro, Dr Abdulgafar Arikewuyo, Mrs Maryam Lasisi Mustapha and other Academic and Non-Academic staff of the University.