Volume 22, Issue 2, 2021

COVID-19 Pandemic and Media

Sarah Lwahas
Pages 119-130

COVID-19 Infodemic
Assessment of the Future of Journalism in Some Selected States in Northern Nigeria

Journalism like many other professions is facing a crucial phase with the emergence of Coronavirus pandemic. The impact of Coronavirus phenomenon is enormous on social and cultural relationships of many communities who depend on the media for information to connect with each other and participate in governance freely. Journalists globally are facing enormous crisis of managing the infodemic of the pandemic streaming particularly from social media; as well as controversies of the media perpetuating disinfodemic or disinformation and distrust in the society. Besides arrests and restrictions of movement, journalists are also under intense threats of losing their jobs, and exacerbated psychological and physical pressures owing to the devastating effects of COVID-19. Using the Social Responsibility theory, that emphasises improved standards of journalism, safeguarding the interests of journalism and journalists among others, and the Agenda setting theory, that controls access to news, information, and entertainment; this research interrogates how journalists from selected states in Northern Nigeria are responding to the challenges of reportage of COVID-19. This research sampled the views of journalists using structured questionnaire administered online and interviewed seven senior journalists holding managerial positions. Findings revealed that journalists are embracing fact checking of the avalanche of information even within familiar sources to verify reports on COVID-19. Similarly, they are deploying digital and multimedia strategies to provide a continuum of media services and sensitive reporting to engage this new infodemic of COVID-19, now globally considered the “new normal”. This research recommends that, since COVID-19 is a novel disease, professionals across countries need to talk with each other, and journalists particularly from Africa and indeed Nigeria; need to put some structure and some science in place, especially in the performance of their jobs, so that professionalism can be sustained without compromising the future of the journalism.