The Nigerian Journalist And The Practice Of Journalism

Journalists are like intellectuals. Some are. Without journalists and the intellectual class, society may stagnate, regress, or even decay. Indeed, there are no societies in the modern era that has made progress without an honest and enterprising pool of journalists and an accompanying pool of intellectuals.

Every society needs men of conscience; every society needs truth-tellers; societies need men and women of courage and who are forthright in their thinking and in whatever advice, suggestions or recommendations they may proffer.

Every society needs its intellectual and journalism class mostly because you cannot entrust governance and the wellbeing of the people wholly to politicians, the elite and the bureaucrats as the vast majority of politicians, the elite and the bureaucrats are the scum of the earth. They are like the fabled vampires that suck blood and sap human energy.

We know the aforesaid to be true in Nigeria where governance is no longer about public service and caring for the people. Today, most go into public service in order to steal and to rape and to violate people's rights. Crimes against humanity and against posterity are routinely committed by Nigerian politicians. In almost fifty years, there has been no hash deterrent against criminality and foolishness.

In such a country and under such circumstances, you cannot go to bed with both eyes closed. You cannot entrust the future of the country to their care. You cannot leave them to their own devices. To do so is to court danger and disaster. Frankly, nowhere on the face of the earth is one likely to find such an assemblage: a thoroughly despicable group of people.

Against such a gathering, society need men and women of courage; it needs men and women of substance to speak the truth and be the nation's conscience. Society needs such men and women to shape and to direct national conversations, its policies and politics. Nigeria needs such men and women. Colonial and post-colonial Nigeria was awash with such men and women.

And so it was that for more than 50 years, the Nigerian intellectual class was the envy of the world. At home and abroad their voices and their writings and their services were acknowledged. Gradually however, most of its members became afflicted with several social diseases, and in no time succumbed to internal and external inducements. A few succumbed to threats and poverty; many forsake intellectual pursuits for political power.

As with their thinking-counterparts, Nigerian journalism also has a long history of service and excellence. For a while, some of the nation's nationalists had their roots in the art and science of journalism or in the written world. Hence, post-independence Nigeria was home to some of the best and the brightest journalists and writers the world had to offer.

Several Nigerians media houses produced gadflies, intellectuals, and social critics of no mean feat. And indeed, many social critics, intellectuals and gadflies worked for or were associated with several media houses. They battled military regimes, fought against corruption and indiscipline, and championed the peoples' rights. They also helped to shape national conversations vis-à-vis domestic and foreign policies.

Collectively, Nigerian journalists had their shortcomings. They had their weaknesses. Individually too, there were a few bad apples. That was to be expected. They are humans. The good news was that, collectively and individually and for the vast majority of the times, they were -- individually and as a group -- a credit to the nation and to their profession. They made us proud. That was then.

That was then. That was the time when the journalism profession meant something to the nation and to the people. That was the time when journalists practiced their craft the way it was meant to be practiced. In pursuant of their duties, they had several obligations and responsibilities which included reporting the truth, shinning light in dark places, and educating the people and the government. Their activities furthered the people's wellbeing. That was then. The practice and the environment are different now.

The decline was gradual. But beginning in 1995 or thereabout, things took turn for the worse. The rot became apparent. True, a few valiant and courageous voices fought the Ibrahim Babangiga, and later, the Sani Abacha regime; but for the most part, the stench became widespread and unbearable in those years. And by the time Obasanjo came into office, "all hell was loose and the center could not hold." Journalism went to the dogs!

The Nigerian journalism has been in the cesspool since. To say all practicing journalists are stained and tainted would not be correct. It is not correct. In fact, using a spiky-broad brush to pain them all would be insincerely and sinful. That is because in spite of the rotten state of the profession, there are a few good men and women who are dedicated to the idea and the ideals of the profession: journalists who toil day and night to the glory of their craft.

Majority of the reporters practicing in Nigeria today are pen-prostitutes. For a dollar, they'd sell or kill a story. For a dime, they'd write speeches for politicians. For a nickel, they'd fabricate stories. Now, if you think the reporters are slimy, well, you must know that some of the editors are truly disgraceful. A messed up bunch of people! Now, most of those who are likely to end up in the deepest part of the raging fire are members of the editorial board/columnists.

Now, take the editorial board members/columnists plus the publishers, then, you truly have the bad of the bad: the profession's red-light prostitutes. You'll feel nauseous once you know what this bunch is up to. They have "access" to power at all levels; they are filthy rich in filthy and unaccountable sort of way with choice lands and landed properties; they travel round the world and stay in preferred hotels. For this group of people, it is all about money and power -- not journalism, and certainly not the people's interest.

Now that intellectual pursuit is (mostly) a thing of the past and journalism too is deep in the gutter, what hope do the people have? What hope do we have against government' abuse and excesses? Who will defend the people against foul winds blowing from all corners of the country? To whom do we leave the job of shaping public discourse and public policies? Without our intellectuals and our journalists, who is left to defend our national interest?

As it is, intellectual pursuit as a craft is in a state of despondency. The Fourth Estate is in shambles. The legislative branch is on a leash, and the executive branch is nothing but a pit of waste and corruption. As for the judiciary, well, every so often it exhibits flashes of brilliance. And that's about it. Otherwise, it is mostly a chamber of tired and old hands.

In a democratic dispensation, journalism is the last hope of/for the nation. Therefore, the profession should clean itself up. It should look inward, self-question, retool itself and retrain its members. The current state of the professions is nothing but a disgrace. And it is pitiful.

If nothing is done to resuscitate, repair and reenergize this once glorious profession, one may not be able to tell the difference between it and street side prostitutes and carriers of social ills and malfeasance that roams Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja.

Sabidde@yahoo.com



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Re: The Nigerian Journalist And The Practice Of Journalism
Pappilo posted on 01-21-2009, 01:11:36 AM
You could have slotted Reuben Abati's name somwhere in your story. The man has disappointed me with his silence. I hope SR get some more info.
Re: The Nigerian Journalist And The Practice Of Journalism
LAN posted on 01-21-2009, 02:03:45 AM
@ Papillo

There is nothing new to discover. I've said it several times, the original story was "padded", full of lies.

Have we bothered to ask ourselves why up till now(after 3 weeks), SaharaReporters have not been been able to tell us:

1. that the Plots were alloted to the Editors Free of Charge
2. Or that the prices were reduced for them, or that they benefited anything
3. The Modibo's story that was killed: Is it going to take SR ages to report Modibo's atrocities as FCT Minister. Afterall, SR was not settled, so they should tell us the story

Food for thought: SR reported that Modibo settled the Editors so that they will not report his (Modibo's) atrocities.

The Poser I have for all of us is this:

Can Modibo buy all the Press in Nigeria?

@ Sabella
Thank God you didn't mention any name this time around. I thought you would say that it is only the internet journalists that are saints. Let me tell you, your fellow blogger Jonathan Elendu's trip to Nigeria was sponsored by one of The Niger Delta governors before he (Elendu) was picked up by Security Operatives.

Re: The Nigerian Journalist And The Practice Of Journalism
Pappilo posted on 01-21-2009, 02:20:59 AM
QUOTE:
@ Papillo

Have we bothered to ask ourselves why up till now(after 3 weeks), [B]SaharaReporters have not been been able to tell us:

1. that the Plots were alloted to the Editors Free of Charge
2. Or that the prices were reduced for them, or that they benefited anything
3. The Modibo's story that was killed: Is it going to take SR ages to report Modibo's atrocities as FCT Minister. Afterall, SR was not settled, so they should tell us the story

Food for thought: SR reported that Modibo settled the Editors so that they will not report his (Modibo's) atrocities.[/B]

The Poser I have for all of us is this:

Can Modibo buy all the Press in Nigeria?

@ Sabella
Thank God you didn't mention any name this time around. I thought you would say that it is only the internet journalists that are saints. Let me tell you, your fellow blogger Jonathan Elendu's trip to Nigeria was sponsored by one of The Niger Delta governors before he (Elendu) was picked up by Security Operatives.



Sahara Reporters is not a newspaper or media outfit. They do not owe it to anybody to supply more information 3 weeks or even 10 weeks later. It is a group of men doing citizen journalism of their own volition.

Dont you think it would be easier for RA to just come out and tell us what the deal is?

I am one of those that used to have repect for the man but that is long gone now. He is a thief like them all.

So, because elendu does it, it is alright for Abati as well?
Re: The Nigerian Journalist And The Practice Of Journalism
Law Mefor posted on 01-21-2009, 02:55:23 AM
I don't want to make excuses for a profession I am associated with, but the Nigerian journalist isn't paid at all and it is a fact. The caliber of media houses that owe journalists will shock even the dead.

I think it was VI Lenin who said soldiers match on their stomach; Nigerian journalist, just like every other person practicing anything, cannot practice ethically in an empty stomach.

We cannot morally and seriously teach, Do not steal' when we have nothing planned for legitimate earning. In fact virtually every Nigerian in public trust is not living straight, not just the journalist.
Re: The Nigerian Journalist And The Practice Of Journalism
Emenanjo posted on 01-21-2009, 03:31:27 AM
QUOTE:
I don't want to make excuses for a profession I am associated with, but the Nigerian journalist isn't paid at all and it is a fact. The caliber of media houses that owe journalists will shock even the dead.

I think it was VI Lenin who said soldiers match on their stomach; Nigerian journalist, just like every other person practicing anything, cannot practice ethically in an empty stomach.

We cannot morally and seriously teach, Do not steal' when we have nothing planned for legitimate earning. In fact virtually every Nigerian in public trust is not living straight, not just the journalist.


Thanks a lot law Mefor, this is just, substantially, the answer. The whole institutions stink to high heavens. Look at the mess the lawyers are making of that country, they aid and abet corrupt practices in virtually all our courts: compromising both legal and social justice. Just take a long look at the way they adjourn corruption and election cases and see the impact on the society! It is sickening!
Re: The Nigerian Journalist And The Practice Of Journalism
Ajimoh posted on 01-21-2009, 07:52:14 AM
QUOTE:

Food for thought: SR reported that Modibo settled the Editors so that they will not report his (Modibo's) atrocities.

@ Sabella
Thank God you didn't mention any name this time around. I thought you would say that it is only the internet journalists that are saints. Let me tell you, your fellow blogger Jonathan Elendu's trip to Nigeria was sponsored by one of The Niger Delta governors before he (Elendu) was picked up by Security Operatives.


Sabella need not mention any names, some of us know in whose direction the catapult was aimed. By the way, LAN, please tell us the name of the Niger Delta Governor who sponsored Jonathan Elendu's trip.
Re: The Nigerian Journalist And The Practice Of Journalism
MrOneNaija posted on 01-21-2009, 15:05:17 PM
SED QUIS CUSTODIET IPSOS CUSTODES?

QUOTE:
Journalists are like intellectuals. Some are. Without journalists and the intellectual class, society may stagnate, regress, or even decay. Indeed, there are no societies in the modern era that has made progress without an honest and enterprising pool of journalists and an accompanying pool of intellectuals. Every society needs men of conscience; every society needs truth-tellers; societies need men and women of courage and who are forthright in their thinking and in whatever advice, suggestions or recommendations they may proffer. Every society needs its intellectual and journalism class mostly because you cannot entrust governance and the wellbeing of the people wholly to politicians, the elite and the bureaucrats as the vast majority of politicians, the elite and the bureaucrats are the scum of the earth. They are like the fabled vampires that suck blood and sap human energy. We know the aforesaid to be true in Nigeria where governance is no longer abou...[URL=http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=11267/55]Read the full article.[/URL]


How does society guard against potential excesses on the part of those laying claim to earthly power? In the bid to govern itself, mankind has, throughout history, grappled with the thorny question of imposing structures that act as moral safeguards in the exercise of power and responsibility by various governing entities.

Today, the practice of journalism is seen as an integral part of democracies which have tended to thrive on the principle of checks and balances. In Nigeria and elsewhere, the custodial role of the journalist is constantly being challenged by pernicious and not-so-pernicious influences. We are all too aware of the onslaught of sleaze on the journalism profession in our dear Naija. Another dimension that requires prompt attention is the insouciant brand of journalism that pays scant regard to the fact that its reliance on what is tantamount to scurrilous whisper campaigns cannot be celebrated as redeeming fixtures. The glib and reckless assaults on otherwise carefully nurtured reputations in the name of a misguided notion of the common good will not in any meaningful way aid in our search for a better society. Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes? That is, "who will watch the watchers"?
Re: The Nigerian Journalist And The Practice Of Journalism
Forshow3 posted on 01-21-2009, 15:31:26 PM
Come how come I did not get a plot. And big k what area of abuja did they gave you. A blog in a nigeria website, where the boy is a yoruba boy and he did everything on earth to make sure nobody see the satellite picture. Something don touch hand. Egunje is sweet.


come to think of it, is it true that Abati collected a plot of land. Na true or lie.
Re: The Nigerian Journalist And The Practice Of Journalism
Palamedes posted on 01-21-2009, 17:26:03 PM
QUOTE:
Journalists are like intellectuals.

And what is this “Some are” that follows the above quote? Is it an afterthought or you are simply not sure about your prior assertion. The journalist is NOTHING LIKE the intellectual. News is to the journalist what banana is to a monkey. And for that, they will even betray the trust of their best friend or family to make or fabricate one (with an eye on [wining] awards).

To cut the long story short, what motivates the journalist is quite different from that which motivates the intellectual. Further, the journalist operates like a “fast food” joint whereas the intellectual operates like a “[Michelin] 5-star restaurant.”

I hear say, you fit buy a Nigerian journalist with, from a plate of eba and ewedu soup with a bottle of palm-wine to wash it all down to a plot of land —in return for a favorable report or article or even doing an Arsene Wenger[1] “I didn't see it.” How have the “mightier pen” fallen!

That's all folks!

[1]Arsene Wenger is the football manager of British football club Arsenal, and is in a habit of claiming “I didn't see it” when his players get away with serious infringement of the rules.
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