“Now we ask, is it possible for the media to be objective? Yes, if we develop another trajectory in the media where excellence will not be sacrificed on the altar of money making”
Media stakeholders on Saturday urged practitioners to be unbiased, selfless and professional in the performance of their duties.
They also called for adequate compensation for media practioners to enable them to perform optimally.
The stakeholders spoke at the 30th Nigeria Media Merit Awards (NMMA) Media Leaders Roundtable, held at the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Kofo Abayomi, Victoria Island, Lagos state.
The theme of the Media Leaders Roundtable was `The Media Leaders Involvement in National Development, Cohesion and Reconstruction in Nigeria’.
The keynote speaker, Prof. Micheal Omolewa, said that knowledge of the history of the mass media in Nigeria would be helpful in solving the problems currently facing the industry.
Omolewa is a renowned diplomat and former President, General Conference of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
“We need to know the history and those that have laboured meritoriously to ensure credible journalism.
“We have people of integrity such as Ernest Okoli who stood out for what they believed in the pre-colonial era.
“He was not biased and was able to make inroad to the South West in spite of coming from the South-south in Bayelsa state.
“Now we ask, is it possible for the media to be objective? Yes, if we develop another trajectory in the media where excellence will not be sacrificed on the altar of money making,” he said.
Omolewa also spoke on outstanding professionals like Chief Lateef Jakande who was able to solve problems and challenges even beyond the media industry.
He said that Jakande was able to tackle challenges in the educational sector within few months of election as Lagos State governor.
Omolewa, in an interview on the sideline, said that the media must imbibe unbiased journalism even in the face of contending problems.
“The media must not be self-serving or have selfish interest, but the interest of the wider society must be protected.
“The type of sacrifice made by the original media practitioners in Nigeria should be upheld.
“In the past, we had patriotic journalists who were de-tribalised, such as Okoli; he had that type of confidence and zeal to drive the media industry.
“The lopsidedness in the compensation of the journalists can be addressed if the labour unions and trade unions can be brought in to negotiate this challenge.
“The take home pay of the media practitioners cannot take them home, just like what the Academic Union of Universities (ASUU) once said; so the labour unions can help to rise up to fight their course,” he said.
In his welcome address at the event, the Chairman, NMMA Board of Trustees, Dr Haroun Adamu, said that the problems in the present media space were multi-dimensional.
He said that a holistic view was needed to address them fully.
Another guest speaker, Mr Dan Agbese said that the demise of the weekly tabloid such as The Newswatch, The News, Tell Magazine and others had diminished the professionalism once witnessed in the media profession.
Former Editor-in-Chief of Tell Magazine, Mr Nosa Igiebo, said that the past media practitioners had laid a good foundation in journalism.
He said that they had fought for the media industry even in the face of opposition, persecutions and military intimidation, but were not moved.
“We need to teach these values and ensure that they are not dropped on the altar of intimidation and money bag politics,” he said.
Prof. Lai Osho, a foremost academic at Lagos State University (LASU) Ojo said the journalists could not work in isolation, as they were affected by the society in which they operate.
“The culture and politics can also affect their sense of judgement, but nonetheless, we still have many fantastic journalists around,” he said.