Polaris Bank equips journalists to detect fake news

L-R Sir Ernest Chinwo, Chairman, Federated Correspondent Chapel, Rivers State; Rasheed Bolarinwa, Head Corporate Communication, Polaris Bank; Taiwo Obe, Founder, Journalism Clinic; George Gabriel-Whyte, Business Development Manager, Olu Obasanjo Branch of Polaris Bank and Nduneche Ezurike, Head Strategic Brand Management, Polaris Bank during a One day Media Workshop Organised by Polaris Bank for Journalist in Port Harcourt Tagged "Online Journalism in Era of Fake News" Yesterday in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
  • Says fake news will soon consume people and organizations
  • Unleashes Taiwo Obe on PH media men

By Codratus Godson

Journalists must fight to take back the social media space, Polaris Bank has charged. The bank believes that walking away from the battle would rather hand over the space to charlatans who cause havoc by dishing out fake news daily.

The bank thinks the challenge is global but the damage is everywhere. It is trained and genuine journalists who should assert their knowledge to command the news space with authority, credibility and ethics. Skill is key, they said. To do this, they have begin a scheme of to equip journalists around Nigeria. The scheme touched down in Port Harcourt on Monday, June 3, 2019.

Details in BusinessDay

Polaris Bank, a new entrant in Nigeria’s banking space that took over Skye Bank a couple of years ago, has warned that fake news may soon consume individuals and organizations. The bank has thus joined efforts to sanitise the news space by launching a war against fake news syndrome.

The bank took the campaign via a training programme for journalists to Port Harcourt on Monday, June 3, 2019, at the Jevenik Place in the GRA 2 area of the Garden City.

Explaining the reason behind the drive, the Head, Strategic Brand Management, Nduneche Ezurike, said journalism truly is endangered truly. He feared there could be bigger problem is this threat is ignored. He said journalism is truly endangered.

Showering appreciation to a media guru and now online media consultant, Taiwo Obe, who has put over 40 years experience in his belt, the head of brand management said it is wrong to accept that anything goes.

He said pointed at gains of true journalism such as grants, fellowships, awards, and other opportunities. He talked about the need to verify information to stay credible, but noted that banks have realized that most inquiries from media people lack foundation in the first place, something he said would have been avoided through simple background checks instead of going forward to present such inquiries that may belittle the reporter.

He said; “We thus urge you to try and engage in basic screening of information and ask. Is this possible? Do this before going to the affected institution”.

He went on: “Look, fake news will consume people and organizations. Journalists must be ahead of others in the media space with credible news that would shame fakes. There is nothing local or global anymore because everything now is local. The boundaries are broken. The objective of this training is to update our key stakeholders and media is one. This is also part of our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) aimed at impacting on the society. Banks are a fragile institution. Please help promote responsible journalism and fight against fake news syndrome.”

Earlier in his opening remarks, the Business Development Manager, George Gabriel-Whyte, who stood in for the Regional Head, Raphael Abiaziem, said training was one core values of Polaris. He said the bank cared because responsible journalism is key to every sector and that the media offers great support to the Polaris brand.

Responding, the chairman of the Correspondents Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in chairman Rivers State, Ernest Chinwo, enjoined Polaris Bank to keep this kind of innovation going, saying the training was purely an eye-opener. “We have learnt a lot about social media and we now want to own it and lead it. This is important to us.”

Dazzling the journalists on the topic: ‘Online Journalism in Fake News Era’, Obe gave appetisers with how to float an online newspaper, how to search for free title, registration made easy, and other steps.

He took the training to higher pitch when he lectured on how to verify authenticity of photographs and news alerts on social media with specifics on labnol.ng, Google Earth, and other tools. He harped: “Today’s journalism: Major tool is Eternal Vigilance; treat everyday as ‘April De Fool’ by suspecting everything, questioning everything”.

Delving into the main topic, Obe, also known as TO, said: “Consider cost of fake news; wars, conflict, loss of jobs, etc. Consider speed of fake news; one click away from damage.”

He said we are in a sharing world and defined fake news as made up stuff. He said Whatsapp seems to be major platform for fake news especially photographs because of end-to-end encryption.

He urged all journalists to embrace the twitter handle system, saying it is good for every journalist and that it is where conversations start. “If you are not there, you are simply missing in action. The key is in providing the evidence; It beats fake news. Social media is conversation in the social milieu. We professionals have left it to charlatans. Journalism is about taking information from suspicion through verification to confirmation”.

He noted that social media does not have that patience, and urged professional journalists to capture social media with this advantage. “Fact is information proved to be true. So, verify, publish. Google Street View helps to verify a location in case of doubt

Use Google Earth app. Note that journalism is in danger of fake news all over the world. That is why credible media organs do everything to verify and if challenged, they go to any length to prove the accuser wrong.”