Some of the present challenges of lack of cohesive and inclusive sustainable society can be traced to lame media professionals who are not doing their jobs. If we do have skilled newsrooms with strong voices in support of the issue of disability and inclusion championing a deeper enlightenment, engagement of the public to see everyone as human with needs for justice and equity; the society would have been better than what it is now.
The above and many others were submissions of the lead faculty of a pilot disability and Inclusion reporting workshop organized by Africa Foundation for Young Media Professionals(AFYMP) to sensitise media professionals from selected newsrooms in Lagos Nigeria.
The workshop was aimed at equipping these selected media professionals, majorly broadcast professionals, in Lagos state. Africa Foundation for Young Media professional has been in the forefront of advocating for sustainable inclusive society through its disability and inclusion reporting with the aim of giving voice to the marginalized in Nigeria and across Africa
AFYMP’s disability and inclusion reporting was initiated to bridge the gap which exists in the media coverage and attention given to People with disabilities as well as segregated members of the society. The segregation had been majorly occasioned by wrong beliefs, cultural and religious values.
If we truly want an inclusive society, no one must be left behind in every ramification without any excuses. Hence this informed this six months’ fellowship for media professionals starting from Nigeria last year and now spreading across Africa continent.
Last year alone, the programme equipped an average of 23 journalists across Nigeria with adequate knowledge which empowered them to step up conversation around essentials of inclusive society through media channels.
Statistics have shown little efforts are made by the media towards covering disability and inclusion issues and where this is done, the coverage is often disrespectful or negative. The challenge of the media according to Yinka Olaito- the lead faculty for this workshop is the fact that “Many newsrooms lack the capacity to actively challenge the public against a pattern that segregates some humans from others”.
Aside from the above, many members of various newsrooms who cover the disability and inclusion story do so “Without touching the deep because they are not aware their action is equivalent to a careless action of leaving over one billion humans behind. This carelessness, silence of the media actor entails robbing 15% of the global population of their rights, justice and equity”. Yinka Olaito said.
Other challenges associated with lack of real result in disability and inclusion reporting in the media cycle is the fact that many do not have a deeper understanding of the issues hence it becomes difficult to speak up for a population whose characteristics they do not know.
Covering disability and inclusion beats good understanding of the basic issues, knowing the effective use of language play in reportage and a consistent effort to see everyone as a person not object or victim.
To also succeed in disability and inclusion reporting, the media must learn to appreciate the value of individual strengths as well as weaknesses. Coupled with this, the media must work hard at helping the society to change its negative stereotype of what the society considers as abled and ‘’disabled’’. An important factor that cannot be ignores is that media must live what it preaches by building inclusive newsrooms which embrace diversity
Fact is all humans are living with a sort of disability or the other. The only difference is in the degree. If the media must continue to serve its public interest role, it must constantly challenge issues of justice, rights denial as well as wrong labels, identity associated with people with disability as if they are not important or less human compared to others.
Disability and Inclusion reporting is a media fellowship initiated by Africa Foundation for Young Media professionals which runs for six months beginning with a 2-day in-person and hybrid training for selected early career journalists across Africa. Disability and Inclusion reporting is part of “CMEDIA project” led by Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism with funding from MacArthur Foundation Africa,