Nigerian Journalism And Media Watch
By: S. Njokede
Former editor of the Sacramento Bee, Gregory Favre, carefully constructed this roadmap for every journalist to travel through: “…You have an obligation to question yourselves, just as you question others. An obligation to live and work by the same set of values that you ask of those you cover …”
The churn of acidic attacks that has been directed at Nigerian press and journalists lately for not walking on a straight line is testimony that Nigerians have had bellyful of how much journalists in Nigeria have been masturbating Nigerians to please our wayward institutions and corrupt leaders who ply them. I am not making this up; the first antisocial instance where masturbation was used to please a bedfellow was in Iraq’s Abu Gharaib prison by an American soldier. Charles Graner is an American soldier who is the fountainhead of the Abu Graib prison notoriety that shook the world. On his girlfriend’s birthday, he lined up Iraqi men prisoners to masturbate for his girlfriend Lynddie England, as a birthday gift. The collaboration of situational and institutional perversion that gave birth to such Armageddon in Iraq by loose American authority is plying itself out in Nigeria amid journalists and politicians the way they manipulate the Fourth Estate to put Nigerians in harm’s way.
Besides bashing Nigerian media asunder by contributors, I have come to the opinion that we should enlist the textbook economist of Central Bank of Nigeria Mr. Soludo, to help us capitalise journalism in Nigeria like he did with the banking sector. Not that the banking sector that pimp their unsuspecting female workers into prostitution and help sleazebags as politicians launder money, is better for it either. Howbeit, the numbers of banks have been reduced and this might just be the magic wand to throw in the way of press in Nigeria. It is better to have fewer News houses and journalists that are breaking ground in the positive, than having truckload that dole out half truth and total lies deceiving Nigerians daily. Yes, Soludo is derelict of the practical aspect of how to put bread and butter on the tables of Nigerians. Bygones are the eras of Adam Smith and Milton Keynes when theory was the in-thing: now, it is the practicality of upping the standard of living of the masses that counts. If Soludo think that I am lying, he should ask the erstwhile Federal Reserve chairman of the United States Alan Greenspan. The king of the small Himalayan country of Bhutan has said that gone are the days you measure the well being of citizens by GDP yardstick. According to him, it has to be (GNP) Gross National Happiness.
We have since our independence from Britain, hustled and hankered all the hog to make the threesome of the First to Third Estate of statecraft work magic like they do in civilised countries all to no avail. I think it is time Nigerians start prying their watchful eyes on our Fourth Estate of journalism. The aftermath of the death of Dele Giwa was the bygones of the selfless journalism of activism that has shaped our entire world for the better. Before the Washington Post published the Pentagon Papers against all the odds in 1971, the relationship between the American press and politicians was coequally bedfellow type. Despite intimidation by White House and Justice Department’s court cases stopping the New York Times from making the Vietnam dossier public, the Washington Post defiled all odds and made it public. Since then, journalism has come to stay in the U.S. with press and politicians minding their own separate business. The document exposed the huge lies told by handlers of White House during the Vietnam War. The Pentagon and co. painted a rosy picture that was all-out fabrication: it was this Nocolo Machiavelli deception that activated and egged Katharine Graham of the Washington Post and cohorts of journalist on, in America to die to publish the Pentagon Papers. If our journalists are not hopelessly spoiling for self-preservation of power, money and space – they could have taken authority people head-on, wrestle them to the ground by all means necessary and win for us the Freedom of Information Bill that has since been stifled by our Luciferian senators. It was support by federal lawmakers during the 1960s and 1970 in the United States that made it possible for Freedom of Information Act and the sunshine laws to materialise - this gave the public the legroom with which to access many government documents and activities in America.
Imagining the ungodly marriage between the Media in Nigeria and political leaders - like the one between Atiku and Obasanjo: it would be an understatement to imply that our press is with nuisance value. How do you cashier politicians for their wrongdoings when you have a thick log in your own eyes? How those indicted in the Abuja land scam still continue to lampoon our leaders without being conscience smitten for once makes my stomach churn on end.
I have I my previous article advocated that they clear the air before they continue to inform public. Most of them still do not understand that journalists are no longer the gatekeepers of news. They should appreciate that technology has put the ace in the hands of the citizens or readers. The time when Roman emperors dictated what is news was yesteryears. It is this old-school thinking that news is still the private say-so of media houses and journalists that provide them air to scorn public and gave them the ‘omega male’ masculinity with which they believe they are too big to account to Nigerians. A simple course in journalism would have told them that their capital base is the trust that public put upon them and their media houses. Businesspeople do advertisement on their news media because they believe the public rated them high. Without the public trust, any news media or journalist is a hard sell.
It is the mindset of journalism, as it is of conventional wisdom that: woe shall betide whomever that add to a story or subtract from it. Medias and their workers in Nigeria are plenty guilty of this sin and as a result, the curse shall be their lot. I have been observing the dirty journalism doled out by our press lately in wild amazement. I am particularly dazed silly nonsense by the trending twist at the Vanguard Newspaper. If you open to their online news, there is a small screen where pictures pop out. From on the 22.01.09 to 26.01.09, I watched a scene where Soludo was updating House of Representatives on falling Naira and recession, then came a scene showing celebrants of the Marry Land comprehensive school celebrating the school’s 40 th anniversary, then came Dangote´s refinery being awarded certificate by the NSO or Nigerian Standard Organisation: all the pictures on these scenes were as bright as snow but when the scene showing Yar´Adua shaking hands with minister of sate for interior Alhaji Abdulraham Adamu showed up, it was so dark that you could barely recognise those in the photos on the screen. Why has Vanguard darkened the scene showing Yar´Adua while other scenes were snow-white in brightness, if not to hide the paling nature of Yar´Adua sick body? Nigerians need to know how exactly their president look like, it is deception as it is disservice to help authority people hide their dirty linens from public views. Those doing such have no business journalising.
I hope Vanguard would not excuse itself by implying that Aso Rock provided it with the said culprit video, because they have the rights to reject a story that is aimed at deceiving the public. It is either you publish or say no. On no account should anyone add or remove from news knowingly. Bob Costas once refused to host CNN´s Larry King Live because he thought that the story was a trash of inconsistency. The story was about Natalee Holloway a teenage girl from Alabama who got missing in Aruba in 2005. The story was later changed before Costas agreed to host Larry King. Nigerian press should learn to appreciate that the citizen is their first priority.
Each morning as read news via Internet, I made it a clarion call to visit the LEADERSHIP newspaper and attend to the Vanguard. My main attraction to the LEADERSHIP is the cartoon column, which I find to be top; my amusement with the Vanguard is the many flops therein.
“Be the first to comment on this article,“ says the Vanguard online newspaper.
Those who visit the Vanguard online news are encouraged by this benign and modest speak, to leave a comment after reading. The crazy side of it all is that it is easier for Carmel to go through the eye of a needle than for one to be able to make a comment on the Vanguard. There is a weird feeling of déja vu that the Roman emperors are back, and are calling the shots at the Vanguard. This pretension of embodying modern-day journalism by pronouncing some of the good words of the press to deceive has no place to hide in this era of citizen journalism. The testosterone-driven feeling by our pressmen that they superseded the readers should be derelicted henceforward. There has to be a cordial working relationship between the press and citizens in the dealership of the news. Both are very important in the distribution of news for general good. The BBC and the British police could not have been able to do anything in the wake of the July 7, 2005, terrorist bombings that took place in the U.K., if not for photos taken by citizens with their handys. A situation where the press treat citizens as a piece of shit, that kind of working relationship could not have been possible. Not so many Nigerians would want to help some press houses and journalists who condescendingly carry themselves in a manner approaching sainthood; with a feeling of Papal infallibility. It is also worth the while to mention their fans who keep up with the Joneses by gathering in blind obedience: in a lonely street where talk is cheap and the price is not in a hurry to go up; to ape and applaud their 'omnipotent' journalists whom they worship as if infallibly above the board!
The reason while Vanguard has such encouraging speak for readers to leave a comment after reading and yet, kept the blog out of reach of bloggers is open to debate. Still, it has to do with hiding something and having the feeling of being in total control. It could have been suicide for them to let bloggers make comments when they report on IBB and some of those corrupt politicians we suspect are their paymasters. The avalanche of hate mails from contributors will not be in the best interest of those who pay the piper and the piper himself who pipe deceptive new for public consumption. The only option available to them is to block bloggers like the U.S. Justice Department once blocked media from exposing rot in their system. Nigerian press would like speaking to society and hate citizens responding to their tirade. This is not how to journalise. There has to be a leeway left for readers to air their concerns if it is all about present-day news dealership. Press and people should be calling the shots together in collaborative ways. This is how democratic news dealership has come to be in this time and age of citizen journalism.
The fact that there are no rules or laws, no licensing, no regulations, no self-policing plus, since journalism can be exploitative there has to be alertness on the side of public in watching activities of the press. In U.S.A. you have press watchers like the Committee of Concerned Journalist and suchlike.
I will henceforward encourage Nigerians to be at alert in watching the media with their eyes wide open. If we cannot change our political leaders, we should try to change our press people who might in a domino effect, change our leaders. I shall concentrate my efforts in watching the media closely and when there is fault or praise I would give it to them.
Nigerians are sick and tired of those other Newspapers, which are bombing us with "infotainment" and passing them as licit journalism. They mix, mingle and confuse news with entertainment. Instead of embodying local content, as it is the case with journalism’s practice, they are busy promoting the American culture to the detriment of our own systems. There is always one American politician, musician and whatnot invited for sweet dilly-dally jamboree. We hope to see more local contents, a promotion of Nigeria and Africa above other interests.
S. Njokede writes from the European Union.
My email: firstname.lastname@example.org