News media struggle with Chibok story


Twenty-one Chibok school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram more than two years ago were freed Thursday.

The Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram, kidnapped more than 270 students from a school in Chibok in April 2014. Although the militant group had been terrorizing Nigeria for years, the kidnapping provoked international attention and increased support to stop Boko Haram.

After numerous negotiations with the Islamic militant group, the Nigerian government finally made a breakthrough this week. The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Swiss government brokered a deal between Nigeria and Boko Haram which allowed 21 of the girls to go home.

The celebratory information has spread quickly across global platforms but has lead to conflicting information. Some groups, such as The New York Times, have sources that claim that no Boko Haram members were released from jail in exchange for the women. In opposition, other news media groups, including the Chicago Tribune, claim there was a swap.

The news outlets have different quoted sources yet, not all are credible. Phrases such as “a credible source” or “someone close to the negotiation” were used as attribution in the reports. This tactic points to a trend of large news media organizations valuing getting out information instead of getting specific sources that are proven true.

In important, historical stories, such as the initial coverage of a major kidnapping, it is vital for journalists to have accurate information. The fact that the news media are not consistent, are negligent about sources and compete to get out information quickly oppose to correctly needs to change.

With the increased presence of social media, the pressure to get out information is heightened. New audiences are more attracted to quick blurbs and immediate information; however, if news sources are giving inaccurate information, their credibility decreases.

It is the primary concern for a journalist to uphold the truth –– a truth that is should not be compromised.