By Nkechi Okoronkwo/Rabat
Media experts have charged African news agencies to embrace the use of social networks in their daily operations without sacrificing credibility and quality in service delivery.
The experts spoke at the three-day maiden News Directors Forum which opened in Rabat on Wednesday with the theme “Newsroom Management Challenges’’.
Speaking on the topics “The Immediacy of News’’ and Use of Social Networks’’, they urged the news agency directors to constantly update their knowledge and capacities in order to cope with the speed of the social networks.
They, however, stressed that information emanating from social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, among others, should serve only as alerts and not news sources, in view of the preponderance of fake news in the new media.
Mrs Sophie Pons, Director, Agence France Presse (AFP) office in Rabat, urged new agencies to recruit staff adept at using social networks, to ensure constant monitoring of developments in order to enhance speedy service delivery.
“The creation of a Facebook page will make you visible and enable you to communicate with people on that platform.
“However, you must be careful and cross-check facts by undertaking research as there are many fake images and propaganda tools which must be verified,’’ Pons said.
Similarly, Mr Xavier Otazu, the Director Spanish News Agency, EFE, in Rabat, also noted that citizen Journalism also poses a challenge and advised on the need for value addition to what this medium offers.
In his contribution, Mr Naceureddine Elafrite, Director Medias24, harped on the importance of building a reliable and credible brand.
“Build a brand; don’t engage in the race to be the first to publish; publish only when you have a reliable source.
“All media have a responsibility to inform but you must do it with passion; reliable information is priceless; so, don’t put information in the hands of social networks,’’ Elfrite said.
Mr Mohamed Douyeb, an expert in media and content, said news agencies must not ignore the interest of communities and as such, must integrate social networks in their daily activities.
“Information is a process that encompasses social networks. They have put a lot of pressure on the media but we must fact-check what we hear on social media, Douyeb said.
On his part, Mr Chahid-Hicham Bachir, the IT Manager, Agence Morocaine Presse (MAP) said social networks provide opportunities to diversify production and as such must be explored rather than ignored.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that other issues for deliberation at the forum include Digitization of Production, Editorial Calendar and Fact-Checking.
The forum, organised by the Rabat-based Atlantic Federation of African Press Agencies (FAAPA), brought together participants from the 24-member countries of the organisation.
The participants were from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cape Verde, Central African Republic (CAR), Congo, Congo DR, Cote d’ivoire, Gabon, Ghana and Guinea.
Others came from Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.