By Eric M Kuju
As part of activities marking the 2022 World Press Freedom Day, the United States Embassy in Nigeria in collaboration with the Daily Trust Foundation, has trained journalists practising in Nasarawa State on safety in the digital space. This is in line with the theme of the 2022 World Press Freedom Day which is Journalism Under Digital Siege.
In her remarks, US Embassy spokesperson, Jeanne Clark said the United States attaches a great importance to the freedom of the press that is why their embassy in Nigeria regularly organizes activities to provide opportunities to share real life experiences, observations and thoughts about how to move forward.
With specific reference to the 2022 theme, Jeanne Clark said although technology has helped in making the journalist’s work easier and more effective, it has also exposed them to the risk of being tracked and harassed by both state and non-state actors whose aim is to trample on press freedom.
She assured that the US embassy in Nigeria is always available to provide resources that will aid the journalists remain up-to-date with best practices in the industry and resources to enable them protect their work on and offline and also to keep their sources safe and secure.
Joseph Adah, New Media Specialist with the US Embassy in Abuja who made a presentation on ‘Digital Resources for Journalists’, spoke about the need to use strong passwords on accounts and devices to keep hackers at bay.
Other resources he shared include device encryption, secure communications and making use of Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and cloud storage services.
On his part, Professor Abiodun Adeniyi, the Head of Mass Communications Department at Baze University who spoke on ‘Journalism Under Digital Siege – Threats That Silence, The Poverty Threat’, said the elites in Nigeria have continued to use poverty as a weapon to silence the masses especially the journalists who are supposed to be the voice of the voiceless.
Drawing a line connecting poverty and ethics, responsibility and professionalism, Professor Adeniyi posited that it will be very difficult for a journalist whose meagre basic salary is not guaranteed not to be susceptible to influence from the news makers.
He however urged the journalists to, in the face of the myriad of challenges, remain focused on the main purpose of the profession which is to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments.
The World Press Freedom Day is observed the world over every 3rd May since 1993 and it provides an opportunity for journalists, civil society representatives, national authorities, academics and the broader public to discuss emerging challenges to press freedom and journalists’ safety, and to work together on identifying solutions.