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University don tasks journalists on disaster reporting

31 January 2013, 09:30

Gombe - Dr Abubakar Muazu, a Mass Communication lecturer in University of Maiduguri, on Wednesday, urged Journalists to emphasise on human angle aspects in reporting disaster issues.

Muazu, who is also of the Centre for Peace, Diplomatic and Development Studies (CPDDS) of the university, said this was to attract urgent intervention by stakeholders.

He said this in a paper he presented at a workshop on emergency preparedness and response plan for members of the Bauchi State Emergency Operation team in Gombe.

In the paper entitled, Reporting Disasters: Issues, Challenges and Options, Muazu said that journalists should not focus attention on sensational issues.

The lecturer advised journalists to “highlight heroic and dramatic rescue efforts and miraculous survivals.

"Focus on support service to victims and families. Emphasise the human angle rather than on minor failings for sensational purposes."

According to Muazu, disaster events give the media the opportunity to display their social responsibility obligations to the society.

"Disaster reporting helps the media to hold emergency managers and rescue workers accountable.

"Members of the public get information and keep abreast of developments from disaster sites.

"Disaster reporting assures the public that the government is either fully alive to its responsibilities or not," he said.

The don urged journalists to always do follow-up reports on disaster so as to deal with all issues relating to it.

Muazu said that disaster issues were significant because they had effects on individuals and society in general.

"Disaster events have high news attention value because of the unusualness, consequence, drama, timeliness, psychological proximity, bizarre, and incongruous elements involved.

"Disaster events give the media the opportunity to affirm individual and collective sense of responsibility and sense of humanity," he said.

Muazu explained that a well reported disaster issue could make governments accountable for their action or inactions.

He advised emergency stakeholders to have a good rapport with journalists for easy contact and coordination of disaster issues.

"Organise sensitisation and orientation for journalists to familiarise them with the concepts, challenges and intervention efforts.

"Prepare a guide in the form of handbook or flyer to help deepen journalists’ understanding of disaster issues.

"Maintain news supply to the media through interviews, press releases and special events to keep disaster issues in the public arena," Muazu said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the two-day workshop was organised by the Bauchi State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), in conjunction with the University of Maiduguri.

- NAN

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