Tuesday, May 8, 2018

PDP Scribe Decries Misplaced ‘Watchdog’ Role Among Journalists In A’Ibom

The Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Akwa Ibom State chapter, Comrade Ini Ememobong, has decried the misunderstood watchdog role of some media practitioners in the state.

Ememobong has observed that media practitioners in the state have largely abandoned their roles of serving and eyes and ears of the society, to pitching tents around politicians and political parties to aid unwarranted attacks on political opponents.

Delivering a lecture on “the role of the media in governance” at the NUJ secretariat Uyo, as part of activities to mark the 2018 World Press Freedom Day, the PDP scribed described as unpatriotic, some local media journalists in the state, who would rather run down the government and the state for minor financial gains from opponents.

His words “In our dear state Akwa Ibom, the role of the media as the watchdog has been greatly misunderstood, maybe due to the use of the name dog. Some practitioners have exemplified one of these two attributes of a watchdog which is to either protect the owner or attack the opponent.

“This attitude is aptly captured by our revered Professor of Political Communication, Nkereuwem Udoakah in his work entitled ‘The Political Economy of Nigerian Journalism.’ He said ‘since journalists’ welfare is not a priority to their employers, many of them are not committed to the profession, and are living on the politicians.

“The result is that they do what they can to protect their benefactors…” There is no way the independent consumers of these media products will respect the producers, because on the surface of the product lies a very obvious slant/bias fuelled by a mixture of political and economic interests.

“This situation has created a divide between media practitioners: they are either pro-government or anti-government, pro-faction A or anti-faction A. In fact, media houses have now been set up with the sole purpose of supporting a political, sectional, ethnic or religious agenda. This is where we’ve found ourselves in Akwa Ibom.”

He regretted that the major effect of the current scenario will have as its primary victim, the consumer, as continuous exposure of the consumer to biased contents, which are primarily negative has the propensity to turn them into negative people. “This means that as media practitioners, we are gradually exposing our citizens to very toxic media consumables, which will affect their psyche and condition them to react in a desired way,” he added.

He therefore recommended the need for both internal and external regulation of media practice in the state, improvement of media contents, continuous education of professionals, and the need for media professionals to cultivate a patriotic disposition, to curb the ongoing negative tilt of media practice in the state.

“The profession must have defined boundaries, admitting as members only those within those boundaries. A profession is like a house with two doors, one at the front and another at the rear.

“Its front door admits those who are qualified to practise, while the back door sends out those who though qualified at the point of entry, but while inside the house have behaved in ways unbecoming of the profession and if left to continue, can destroy the image of the profession.”

INDEPENDENT reported that there are over 100 local newspaper titles currently circulating in Akwa Ibom State, with many openly identifying with certain political parties and in constant opposition and antagonisms with parties and individuals perceived to be opposed to their positions and political interests.




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