The Bane of Journalism in Nigeria —by Chidi C. Chilaka

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13 December 2018

Journalism in Nigeria is a joke. There are several stories out there waiting to be told but people are not hearing, watching them. Fifty percent of what you read on national dailies are press releases, another thirty percent will come from News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) while the rest are from stories traded and social media rumours. Major national dailies focus more on politics and politicians who guarantee instant inflow of cash. Politicians always want to be in your consciousness so they make that happen, pick eight reporters from top national dailies and make sure they are very alright.

Let me shock you, most of the stories you read and base your arguments on were written in beer parlours by people who were never there when the event occurred. The reporters sit, maybe at NUJ Secretariat and exchange stories. If it has to do with crime, the person will add credibility to his tales by calling the police public relations officer to do one of the two things; deny or accept that such crimes occurred. Every other thing depends on how informed the editors are. But it is not their problem per say. Journalists remain the least paid and media houses rarely fund investigations that won't bring instant money.

If you think it is a lie, it took BBC to burst the codeine crisis in Nigeria when Channels TV's stock in trade is holding political debates – and that's all that they know. Students were recently evacuated by different states from the University of Jos. Up till today, no one knows the genesis of the matter. Six years ago, four students of University of Port Harcourt were murdered in Aluu. The details of that event remains nothing but wild rumours. Nigerian army spent weeks evacuating cars from a pond in Jos. How many media houses got close? Reporters will prolly sit at a bar in a secure area of the town and throw conflicting figures of how many cars that were excavated.  It happened in Anambra during the church shoot out. While punch reported 50 killed, Dailly sun reported 80 and the rest, over 100 showing that they prolly got their figures from social media posts. During the Nimbo issue, national dailies were throwing conflicting figures in the air.

But in saner climes; Channels TV, Silverbird TV, AIT etc will stand their cameras, day and night, showing the rest of the world what the military was doing in Jos. That didn't happen. Quality contents cost money. They also need funding. That is why only Premium Times have been bursting corruption proceedings because they get  funding from international organisations. Many other reporters won't dare get close.

They would rather befriend the politicians than expose them because it is safer that way. If a journalist has to go to Kula to cover issues about the community's agitation against Shell, he/she has to do a thorough job because he/she was equipped for the task. There are no excuses but in situations where he wasn't funded, he would get the content from social media and pass it on to the editor to struggle with.

Most of our modern day broadcasters personalise issues on air too much, way too much, and this is even more criminally common with the ladies. Most of these broadcasters are not trained. And some become quickly too big to learn on the job. Some of our ladies get to carried away on air that you begin to wonder if they remember they are being beamed live. The worst is when they are up to three in the studio and they reduce discussions to salon bantering. Danlandi Bako. Tola Ajayi. Siene Rasak-Lawal.

Eugenia Abu. Ronke Ayuba. Bimbo Oloyede. These are people who brought professionalism to broadcasting. They would never reduce broadcasting to kitchen gossip. They will weep for what the profession has become. Promotions are no longer based on what you know. While many will not admit and our female folks will argue till tomorrow, but we know what decides promotions most times. The greatest loser is broadcast journalism.

Chidi C. Chilaka writes from Nigeria