The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Friday charged local broadcast stations to always take the lead in presenting authentic narrative on national issues.
The minister made the call during a stakeholders’ meeting with members of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) in Abuja.
Speaking on the Cable News Network (CNN) report on the #EndSARS campaign and alleged killing of the protesters at Lekki tollgate in Lagos, Mohammed said local stations would have dictated the pace by reporting the incident objectively.
He said: “The lesson to draw from CNN’s faux pas on its report of the #EndSARS protest is that it magnifies the failure or inadequacy of our own broadcast organisations.
“In the wake of our spat with CNN, people are asking: Why didn’t our own broadcast stations take the lead in reporting the incident at Lekki?
“Why didn’t they take the lead in presenting an authentic narrative?
“Why must we allow the foreign broadcast stations, some of which didn’t even have correspondents on ground, to dictate the pace, thus misleading the world?
“These are questions begging for answers and I think for BON, this must form part of their review of the coverage of the whole crisis.”
The minister also cautioned local broadcast stations against the use of unverified videos for their reports.
He said the non-adherence to the basic tenets of journalism had combined to land CNN in trouble.
“This station has been caught in the web of fake news and disinformation, after it relied heavily on videos it took from social media for a supposed exclusive investigation on the incident at the Lekki tollgate on October 20.
“The station was also found to be inconsistent. After tweeting, without a shred of evidence, from its verified handle on October 23 that soldiers killed 38 peaceful protesters at the Lekki tollgate on October 20, the same station now said only one person was killed.
“It is baffling that an organisation like CNN will rely on unauthenticated videos to carry out an investigation.
“More worrisome is that an international broadcaster like CNN will switch casualty figures so casually without a credible source.
“This is why we have written a letter to CNN asking it to use its own internal mechanism to probe its investigation.”
Mohammed said the Federal Government had received the CNN acknowledgment on the petition and awaiting the outcome of its probe.
He said the government would not sit by and allow any news organisation to set Nigeria on fire with irresponsible and unprofessional reporting.