By: Okosun Dennis
The Consul General Claire Pierangelo said on Monday said that the United States government would continue to emphasize the value of promoting and protecting a free press.
He said this as part of his opening remarks during this year’s World Press Freedom Day.
The theme of 2021 World Press Freedom Day Webinar: “Frontiers of Health Reporting: New Insights, Fresh Perspectives,” the speakers during the two-hour webinar, discussed on how to better incorporate data into health reporting, data visualization tools, spotting and fact checking disinformation as well as share best practices in overcoming challenges of telling impactful investigative health stories.
Pierangelo noted that this year’s World Press Day is important because the media plays such an essential role in preserving
democracy and, as we can witness these days, in providing information that saves lives.
He appreciated the distinguished resource persons who rendered different perspective on the topic. They included: Fisayo Soyombo Editor-in-Chief at Foundation for Investigative Journalism;
Joshua Olufemi Executive Director at Dataphyte; Abel Akeni Head of Research and Policy Advisory at BudgIT; Oluwamayowa Tijani Fact-Checking Journalist at Agence France-Presse and
Amarachi Ubani Foreign Affairs Editor at Channels TV, who moderated.
Pierangelo further explained that “As we celebrate World Press Freedom Day today, the role of a free and independent press is more important than ever. The theme of this webinar “Frontiers of Health Reporting: New Insights, Fresh Perspectives,” sets the tone as the global community unites to fight against COVID-19.
“The United States government will continue to emphasize the value of promoting and protecting a free press, because the media plays such an essential role in preserving democracy and, as we can witness these days, in providing information that saves lives.
“We all know that a free press is essential to a healthy democracy. The news media can be a powerful force for change. It can effectively fulfill the roles of watchdog, gatekeeper, and agenda-setter.
“It can improve governance by raising citizen awareness of social issues, enabling citizens to hold their governments to account, curbing corruption, and creating a civic forum for debate. I challenge you to continue to play an effective role in amplifying important issues that affect citizens.
“As media professionals, you must continue to track political and institutional processes by which decisions are taken and implemented at the local, state, and national levels. Your reports must critically analyze the methods and the effectiveness of projects in the field.
“The public depends on your reports – in print, audiovisual, and online – to assess how their elected representatives are performing. As journalists, you can assess how health budgets are managed and whether there are adequate checks and balances in place for effective governance. This is what allows citizens to know whether their local officials are fulfilling their promises and meeting their obligations.
“The U.S. government is committed to initiatives that build media capacity in Nigeria. For years, the U.S. Mission has funded training programs for hundreds of Nigerian journalists on topics ranging from health reporting, defense and national security reporting, investigative journalism, election reporting, to media ethics.
“Webinars, seminars, workshops, and U.S. based training opportunities such as the International Visitor Leadership Program and Foreign Press Center International Reporting Tours demonstrate our commitment to the deep partnership that we have long enjoyed with Nigeria.
“We hope this webinar will help strengthen your capabilities and you will in turn provide more accurate information to Nigerians who will benefit from improved reporting on health, governance, and other crucial issues.
In closing remarks added, I want to leave you with this quote from American investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett, who once said: “The smarter the journalists are, the better off society is.”