Revisiting the pride of journalism in Nigeria

Onipe Ozovehe Moses

The question ‘who owns the media?’ is still rhetorical, begging for answers as the activities of journalists are now being dictated by economic, political, religious and tribal interest.

As it is commonly known, the media which contains radio, television, internet, newspapers, magazine, social media etc, is an important tool that can be used to communicate and interact with a large number of audiences in different language; be it the pictorial messages of the early ages or the high technology associated with the modern media.

One thing that we will all agree upon is that, the media is an inseparable part of human lives. It remains to be the one and only effective means of communication, spreading information, advertising, marketing, and in general, expression of views and sharing opinions.

The media is very powerful, it can be used to decide the fate and future of a people; it has direct influence on the people’s thought. The media can sets an agenda of discussion for people, it can be used to mobilize, sensitize and change people’s sense of reasoning, thereby, making them to either be active or remain dormant over an issue.

It is becoming obvious that the media is inevitably influencing all the activities of a nation; it contributes to the affairs of that nation as long as the nation exists, not minding the type of government or party system that is being practice in such a nation.

Every president reigns for four years, but journalism (media) reigns forever. The media has become a platform that can either be used to facilitate or derail the development of a nation; that is to say, it can make or mar a nation. If a nation is successful, check its media, if it is not, also check its media. Pulitzer once averted that “the power to mold the future of a Republic will be in the hands of journalists (media practitioners) of future generations.”

Unfortunately, the media, which is seen as the Fourth Estate of the realm meant to oversee and check the activities of the three tiers of government (executive, legislature and judiciary) in order to perform their duties and represent the people well, has been accused of being an instrument in the hands of few who think they can pay the piper and dictate its tune by seducing journalists with political and financial hand shake; thereby using the media to project and achieve their personal interest, neglecting the general interest of the public.

It is sad that media practitioners (Journalists) who are considered all knowing and being looked up to by the members of the society for information are gradually losing their values and dignity. They are being accused of collecting brown envelope to hide societal demons and their activities and sometimes ignore information that should bring about societal development otherwise known as Retainership deal where the media go into contractual agreement with the government of the day to attach reporters to them and being rewarded afterwards has become the modernize form of brown envelope.

It is quite unfortunate that journalists who are supposed to be the eyes and ears through which the people of the society see and hear what is happening within and outside their environment, has been made blind and deaf due to political and financial interest, which has no lasting value but only reduce the quality and dignity of journalism profession.

It has been observed that, journalists’ voices through which the voiceless in the society air out their pains and opinions has become mute due to tribal sentiment. All these so far, has added nothing but brought into public ridicule the good reputation of the profession.

In Nigeria, the pride and value of journalists as the watchdogs of the society has been bought with political and financial bait; thereby, making journalists praise singers of politicians and threats to the lives and activities of the masses. If salt losses its taste, then where is its value?

Despite all the journalistic code of ethics that have been put in place to help guide journalists into maintaining and obtaining professional standards in their daily activities, such as objectivity, accuracy and fairness, is still lacking as some journalists have been accused severally of being partisan in their dealing.

They prefer working with governments that give them money and adverts, forgetting their core values. It has been observed that every government in power has the media it sponsors and uses as megaphone to fight the opposition. If Nigerian journalists continue like this, then how can their professional integrity be equated to other parts of the world like America, India and the likes?

The Freedom of Information Act (F.O.IA) which was signed into law onMay 28, 2011by the former president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, to help empower journalists and enhance their professionalism is still lying as living dead on papers. This may be because journalists are either ignorant of or do not know the potency of the Act.

It’s obvious that Nigeria is at the verge of sinking in terms of peace, honour, justice and glory and the only alternative route to achieve full revival is when journalists practice in conformity with the ethics of their profession. This means it’s high time for journalists to know that their daily expectations as journalists is to produce an actual journalistic reality that will reinforce the people’s belief in accuracy, objective and fairness, which will strengthen the people’s confidence in the nobility of the human soul and sustain all their hopes for a glorious and better future.

Furthermore, journalists should feel fulfilled that humanity has taken them into its bosom and has bestowed its confidence and reliance on them, thereby, making journalists their eyes and ears to see and hear whatever is happening within and outside their environment. Not only that, the voiceless in the society has made journalists their voice to air their worries and project their pains; all these journalists must do to satisfy the masses’ burning desires.

Statistics has shown that Nigerian journalists do not report people’s problems to the government the way they report government policies to the people; the only way journalists can prove this wrong is when they act professionally as a platform of common victory for justice, peace and human dignity.

Although the practice of journalism, most especially in this part of the world is faced with different tempting challenges among which includes; poor remuneration, assassination of journalists, burning of media houses, legislative and government interference, existence of fake journalists etc, however, those challenges should not in any way discourage journalists to compromise and trade away their pride to the detriment of societal development. Journalism profession is a sacred sacrifice and it is expected to be practice by people of toughness of fiber and stiffness of backbone.

The reality and pride of journalism profession may seem to be practically impossible to be achieved especially in Nigeria but if journalists stick to their ethics which is their lamp of moral principle and conduct, they can attain the climax of excellence which is the bane of journalists.

On this note, the society expect Nigerian journalists to have a rethink and use the media to put in place flourishing democracy where citizen’s rights are protected and guaranteed, and help in building a society where social justice and equity are achieved. Journalists should report with competence, and as an entity, they should pave way for the people’s freedom to reign. Nigerian journalists should sing their victory with accuracy; demonstrate their liberty with objectivity; prove their readiness with fairness so as to mirror the society and represent the interest of the people as expected.

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