“Democracy will deteriorate only to the extent that journalism has deteriorated,” – Dapo Olorunyomi.
The situation in Nigeria these past days has put a lot of pressure on both the traditional media and the new-age media to double up efforts in proper situation reportage, hinged on the core elements of journalism as the world has agreed it to be.
Journalism is the camera that takes the scenes of the society and gives out the portraits to the consumption of all citizenry. While this is done, it must not be forgotten the delicate balance of media processing of information. The media has the responsibility to process this avalanche of information while ensuring that the facts and the truths are represented with a discipline rooted in verification. Also, to be able to bring elements of democracy and politics to accountability, there is a need for independence from external influences and also accountability for the public good.
It is however unfortunate that the traditional media in Nigeria seems far from this framework for good journalism. Besides the initially poor coverage of the issues around the grievances of the Nigerian youths on the seemingly unending cases police brutality, which culminated in the emergence of aggrieved protesters across the nation, the media has also failed to give proper reports of the on-going suppression of peaceful protesters by the brute force of the Nigerian Police Force as well as the Nigerian Army.
While it is true that different media houses have different ethics which direct actions and responses, it is also unassailable the fact that the different means must lead to the same end. What is this end? Section 22 of the Nigerian 1999 constitution clearly stated that the duty of the media is “to hold government accountable at all times.” In emphasis, the media must hold the government to accountability.
It is however appalling both the poor representation of the state of the nation at this time and the untrue position of otherwise reputable media houses in Nigeria to tell the world what is happening in Nigeria. To bring this into perspective, an article of news appeared on The Punch hours ago and it claimed that President Muhammadu Buhari laments the loss of lives at the Lekki shootings. This contradicts what every Nigerian saw, listened to, or read directly from the president’s speech last night. While that may suffice to show for misrepresentation of the truth, it will never be enough to count the indifferent and impersonal attitudes of the media in this- a slap in the face to journalism and a forming lump of cells that may snowball into cancer for our democracy. However, for a good number of days that protesters have occupied the streets peacefully and charismatically, most of the coverage was done by bloggers and social media influencers.
The utmost goal of journalism of any sort is the public good. When however journalism falls short of this, then the problem has diverging and dangerous ramifications on the democracy of the society where such is existent.
This effect can be seen as an encouragement for the ruthless and shameless drive of the power actors to suppress a noble struggle by some hide-and-seek game of lies. the Nigerian Army and the Vice President on the Lekki shootings that took the world by storm on the evening of October 10, 2020, still the media remained silent. To do this, whether by impulse or influence, is a betrayal of the citizens’ trust and an abuse of authority, so to say. As you may well know that trust like a plain sheet of paper, once crumpled, may never regain its smoothness. Summarily, the power of the media to debunk lies and establish the truth amidst numerous information or perhaps unknown sources is sacrosanct to the sanctity of a democratic state. For example, there were contrasting positions by the Lagos state government,
In conclusion, it may be more dangerous if the ones we call watchdogs to become nothing more than puppets in the face of political influence, which is why we should not forget that democracy is upheld by the media, and for the media to fail is for democracy to fail.
This opinion story has been published on CAMPUS REPORTER with very minimal editing to preserve the original voice of the author. CAMPUS REPORTER does not bear any responsibility for the contents of this story, all views belong to the author.
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