Aidoghie Paulinus, Sun News
The Federal Government, yesterday, wrote the Cable News Network popularly known as CNN over its recent report on the Lekki shooting titled “How a Bloody Night of Bullets Quashed a Young Protest Movement.”
In the letter dated November 23 and addressed to CNN’s Vice President, Communications, Mr. Jonathan Hawkins, the Federal Government said the investigative report which was aired on November 18, 2020, fell short of journalistic standards.
In the protest letter signed by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the government said the report in which CNN claimed it uncovered that Nigerian security forces opened fire on unarmed protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos, during the #EndSARS protest reinforced the disinformation that is going around on the issue.
The government further said it was not the first time CNN had carried an inaccurate or hoax story about Nigeria, saying that as a form of remediation, it demanded an immediate and exhaustive investigation from CNN into its investigative report on the Lekki Toll Gate incident.
This, the government stated, was to determine, among others, its authenticity, whether or not it met the basic standards of journalism and also the selective use of unverified social media videos to manipulate public opinion.
The government also said while it was up to CNN to accede or not, the medium should note that it reserved the right to take any action within its laws to prevent CNN from aggravating the #EndSARS crisis with unprofessional, irresponsible, one-sided, inciting and sensational reporting that is capable of pitching Nigerians against themselves and setting the country on fire.
While saying that the development was blatantly irresponsible, the Federal Government further said it was a poor piece of journalistic work by a reputable international news organization such as the CNN
“In the first instance, the report did not live up to the most basic of the core principles of journalism – balance and fairness. According to the website www.ethics.journalists.org, ‘’balance and fairness are classic buzzwords of journalism ethics: In objective journalism, stories must be balanced in the sense of attempting to present all sides of a story. Fairness means that a journalist should strive for accuracy and truth in reporting, and not slant a story so a reader draws the reporter’s desired conclusion.
“Rushing to air such a momentous story without presenting the government’s side is inexcusable and indefensible. CNN said it contacted over 100 protesters and family members, but did not speak to one official of Nigeria’s federal government. While CNN said there was no response from the army and that officials of Lagos State would not speak in view of the Judicial Panel that is investigating the matter, it did not say what effort it made to speak with any official of the Federal Government.”
The mangement of CNN has insisted that it ensured due processes were followed, which included thorough research.
“Our reporting was carefully and meticulously researched, and we stand by it,” a spokesperson for the American-based news agency was quoted as saying in an email last Thursday.