It has been observed that the contributions of media practitioners in Nigeria to national development after the positive contributions of Nigerian journalists to enthronement of democracy following the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election has drastically decline. Members of the public who depend on information been dished out every hour of the day, seven days a week, by media organisations across the country, particularly the Online Media, have picked holes on the practice of journalism today.
Journalists in the 50’s up till early1990’s have blown many hid secrets from the closets of government, business and the society without being held to be consort with falsehood. Though, some among them have been killed, molested or deprived their fundamental human rights on several occasions, but they are not purveyors of fake news. Then, people’s reputations are not damaged with hearsays published in newspapers and journals or aired rumour by the electronic media because of professional indolence.
Journalists of that era, the like of Babtunde Jose, Lateef Jakande, Olusegun Osoba, Bisi Onabanjo, Adamu Ciroma, Dele Giwa, Yakubu Muhammed, Ray Ekpu, Nosa Igiebor, Babafemi Ojudu, Ayodele Akinkuotu, Lanre Arogundade and so forth had no time for publishing rumour or hearsays. That is lazy reporting which many bloggers being referred to as journalists today usually published as breaking news. They neither care about professionalism nor adhere to ethics of journalism in all ramifications. Anyone that in possession of i-phone and i-pad has turned himself or herself to journalist publishing rumour picked from grapevine as breaking news.
Recently, one of such questionable but popular Online medium allegedly based in the USA but operational in Nigeria threw caution to the winds and published an offensive report claiming that the health condition of the National leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is so critical such that his two hands are shaking violently. In some quarters, it was reported that the man had died. Anytime Tinubu travels out of the country, the next thing some mischiveous people would say is he is seriously sick, hospitalized or has died.
Must a newspaper pronounce a man dead without doctor’s certificate? Why must any newspaper, hardcopy or Online publish a rumour that somebody is sick without a doctor’s confirmation? Can a man be declared guilty from reports not published and gazetted with a white paper? Today, newspapers, particularly online media publish more hearsays and unverifiable reports that mislead the public. Much of what is being posted online today as news report and few other hard copy newspapers is nothing but garbage, the radio and television stations do no more also than air destructive, false stuffs coming unreliable sources.
This observation was blamed on the ‘low level’ capacity building for practicing journalists” and the fact that the media managers now see themselves as part of the elites and therefore, tend to serve as public opinion moulder rather than been a watchdog of the society, is one factor responsible for lawlessness of some media practitioners. The profession and core professionals have a lot to lose if this trend of publishing hearsays as news report continues unchecked. There should be no freedom without limit for an irresponsible journalism.
Interestingly, the 7th Triennial Delegates Conference of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), has just been concluded in Umahia, Abia State. It behoove on the re-elected union President, Chris Isiguzo, to ensure this knotty issue dragging Nigerian journalists image in the mud be taken care of adequately. Advanced technology should be use positively in projecting journalists’ image and not that access to it by all Dick and Harry should be a justification for the ethical decline in Nigeria’s journalism. It’s NUJ’s responsibility to abate such nuisance.
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