Journalism is one of the most threatened professions in the world. It faces several challenges including criticism from governments that are supposed to protect the profession and its practitioners. The integrity of the profession is being questioned by the leaders of the world who believe that media organisations are inciting the people against them through fake news.
The criticism and warfare against journalism is not limited to the developing countries in which freedom of information exists only in black and white. The United States of America and its President Donald Trump lead the campaign against what they call fake news. On several occasions, Mr. Trump has accused the media of misinforming the people, preferring to talk to the world via Twitter.
Turkish President Erdogan has jailed a number of journalists he targeted after the failed 2016 failed putsch. Chinese government frowns at dissents and censors the media, probably to avoid the spread of fake news.
Kenya government is set to impose tax on online news platforms. Nigeria is not exempted in the international information crisis. Nigerian government has launched campaign against the scourge of fake news.
Leading the warfare against the issue is the information and culture minister, Lai Mohammed, who is unrelenting on the widespread of fake news in Nigeria.
Fake news can be said to be fabricated or reported with sentiments that reflect the interests of the media outlet.
It can also be viewed as news reported in order to demean the government. The media outlets, most especially, the online ones quickly report without enough facts about the matter. Hence, government is discredited. According to the minister, fake news is so serious that it threatened to break the country rapidly even more than insurgency.
There are many factors responsible for the wanton spread of fake news in the world especially in Nigeria.
Media outfits are privately owned by politicians and political aspirants who believe that their political campaigns can be satisfactorily aired on private-owned media outlets.
Most of the time, they report or spread fake news and misinform members of the public inasmuch as the news suits the interest of the proprietor and his political allies. Public media houses are not independent enough to broadcast the campaigns of the opposition. Other factors include lack of professionalism, poor funding and fake accounts especially on social media.
The National Broadcasting Service (NBC) should be proactive in curbing the spread of fabricated news. Lamenting the epidemic of fake news isn’t the way out, the Federal Government should rather enlighten Nigerians on the matter by campaigning against the spread of fabricated news.