The spokeswoman for the US Embassy in Nigeria, Jeanne Clerk, has stated that giving voice to all citizens, especially those who are under-represented in the media, helps to reduce voter apathy during elections.
Ms. Clerk made the comment during the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE’Setting )’s Agenda for Sustainable Democratic Culture town hall meeting in Port Harcourt on Tuesday 10th May.
She claimed that editors’ actions and decisions leveled the playing field by determining who was heard and what news topics were covered in depth.
Citizens and potential voters whose perspectives were not often amplified or heard were also interviewed during elections but were frequently ignored, according to the spokeswoman.
“You might not realize it, but giving voice to the ruled and underrepresented helps to lessen voter apathy,” she added.
“We encourage you to take proactive efforts toward transparency,” Ms. Clerk explained.
“What is the harm in publicly announcing for all media consumers that your media outlet is supported in whole or in part by said interest if it is owned by a politician or private business?”
She pointed out that if the media took such steps, readers would be able to analyze any bias on their own terms.
Ms. Clerk stated that free and fair elections are the only way to restore public confidence in democracy, and she reminded the media of their critical role in the country’s 2023 elections.
She stated that when journalists did the right thing or took a well-documented, pioneering approach, there was a large positive multiplier effect.
“The public takes notice and trust is created and rebuilt when free and independent media reveal previously unknown facts, write moral editorials, or take a position to defend and protect other daring journalists,” Ms. Clerk continued.
“On the other hand, we are aware that not everyone in your industry, or any other field, is principled and well-intentioned.”
She went on to say that “trust cannot be nurtured when media firms play favorites and charge different fees for the same amount of broadcast time or publicity, for example, to politicians and candidates.”