Sunday, September 25, 2011

A town shuts down to protest media corruption? #Journalism

I read an article recently about a town in India of 100,000 residents shutting down to protest media corruption! Wow! can you imagine that?

The protestors included politicians, farmers, even journalists, and a host of other organisations. They marched to the tahsildar‘s office and presented a memorandum.
One protestor slammed weekly newspapers for bringing a bad name to the entire profession, and another targetted the misuse of the right to information (RTI) Act to ferret out information that was later used for extortion. read more

The Watch-dog now being watched
Journalists are the watch-dog of the society, actively keeping the government accountable to the public while ensuring accurate information are being disseminated to keep people empowered (well informed) about happenings in their society.

The basic function of the media is to inform, entertain, educate etc. But these functions are not an end in itself. It is a process that fosters social justice, poverty eradication, and sustainable development within every society. However, due to many intimidating factors in our society today, some journalists are compromising their roles...

Media corruption entails a lot of things…but one that is always a hot debate among budding reporters is “the brown envelope syndrome.”
The Brown Envelope syndrome
A couple of weeks ago, a young lady working in a Public Relations firm told me she had to make the transition from being a reporter because the media organization where she worked did not pay her for over nine months. Now, how do publishers and other media owners expect their staff not to compromise when they keep subjecting them to such dehumanizing working condition?

I do not subscribe to the concept of journalists collecting brown envelopes or whatever bribe or gratification before they publish a story. This is more of an appeal to media organizations in Nigeria, as well as other parts of the world, to value their reporters and editors...

For example, an organization held a press conference recently in Lagos to launch a new product. But in the course of the program, the organizers were embarrassed by how the reporters present surged towards them demanding to be "settled" for attending the press conference. It is always sad hearing stories like this. Among these journalists are perhaps those whose media organization send on assignment without transport allowance, those who have not been paid salaries for months, those masquerading themselves as journalists, etc.

In response to the article on a town shutting down to protest media corruption, a Nigerian journalist wrote:
…Journalists should be the watchdog of the society but when the dog that should keep watch over the society is blinded by sand of gratification, the society is doomed. Shouldn't we have stricter measures of enforcing the ethics of journalism? When will journalism cease to be a dead end job and an all- comers affair? Let us all stand up against this rot in our noble profession. The Nigerian Union of Journalists, FCT chapter has recently constituted a committee against fake journalists and impostors; arrests are being made by security agents and this has helped in addressing this challenge to an extent.

As fake reporters and unethical journalists are being identified and arrested, I hope publishers and media owners who do not pay their reporters are also arrested! :-)

Journalists are the custodians of public trust. They are considered the fourth estate of the realm because of the significant role they play in the society. It is important that issues eroding the significance of the profession are addressed, before more people take to the streets to protest media corruption!

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