A Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), Media Awareness and Justice Initiative (MAJI) on Wednesday urged journalists in the Niger Delta to embrace the use of data in reporting the environmental issues of oil pollution in the region.
Mr Ikechukwu Ahaka, Programme Officer , MAJI made the call while speaking at a capacity building workshop using data participatory media tools for environmental reporting for Yenagoa based journalists.
He explained that the under the Data Casting Biodiversity (DATACAB) project funded by the French Embassy, the NGO had recruited and trained volunteers who would serve as monitors to collect primary data from oil communities during pollution incidents.
He said that the data would be analysed and presented to media practitioners to make their stories more comprehensive.
Ahaka noted that modern trends and innovative analysis have made data an essential ingredient in telling and authenticating stories that concern the environment.
“Data has become the new oil and data has become so essential an ingredient in environmental reporting and we observed that the available data is not inserted in the reportage of Niger Delta environment.
“We put this session together to see how environment reports from the Niger Delta could be data driven as data gives credibility and authenticity to stories because they are empirical,” Ahaka said.
He noted that the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) has a rich database on oil spill incidents in the country which could be very useful for journalists covering the environment and urged them to utilise the resources.
In his contributions, Mr Alfred Egbegi, Publisher of Izon Link noted that the Niger Delta region was replete with frequent pollution incidents and introducing the use of data would enhance the understanding of readers.
Also Mrs Pauline Onyibe, Correspondent of New Telegraph Newspapers outlined the challenges facing reporters in covering environmental stories to include hostile oil communities insecurity and challenging terrain of the region.
Mr Mike Tayase, State Correspondent of Daily Asset Newspapers called for caution and scrutiny of the data source as interest groups including oil firms can manipulate data to suit their purpose adding that bias in the data collection process would adversely affect the outcome.
He therefore submitted that conclusions drawn from biased data would be misleading.