Media executives and other experts, last Thursday, had another opportunity to reflect on the state of the industry when a book titled Watchdog or Captured Media; A Study of the Role of the Media in Nigeria’s Emergent Democracy 1999-2016, was presented in Lagos.
The book edited by Professor of Political Communication, Ayodele Olukotun, raises questions on ethics while also suggesting ways for regeneration.
According to Olukotun, it is to stimulate a conversation on the role of the media in the current dispensation.
“Are the media playing the role found in Section 39 of the Nigerian Constitution? This is a question we need to ask. But Nigerian journalism will remain vibrant for many years to come. We are having new developments especially in terms of technology. So, it will remain vibrant, entertaining and influential.”
Among those who presented the book were the C.E.O of Channels Television, Mr. John Momoh; Chairman, The PUNCH Editorial Board, Mr. Segun Adediran, who represented the Managing Director of Punch Nigeria Limited, Mr. Ademola Osinubi, while the Miinister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, was represented by Mrs. Osayande Osaro.
In his review of the book, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Prof. Adigun Agbaje, noted that leadership quality was in decline in the media.
“When some of us became journalists in the 80s, only few held masters degrees but the professional practice was high. Today more people hold such degrees but the level of practice has declined.”
Agbaje explained that the book , however, helped to crystalise the problems facing the media.
“The problems relate to the quality of our ethical, moral firmament and technological challenges,” he added.
Among others who also expressed displeasure at the state of affairs in the industry is veteran actress, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, who said, “Those who allow themselves to be bought can be described as ‘professional prostitutes’. Anyone who engages in such an act is short-changing the people of this country. We are to check our leaders, not share in their loot. We need to address the fact that some journalists aren’t paid by their organisations, which they use as an excuse to breach the ethics of journalism.”
Ajai-Lycett’s statements seemed to fall in line with part of the book’s title that the media appeared to have been captured, as well as accusations that the media have problems with ethical and political battles.
The CEO of Diamond Publications, Mr. Lanre Idowu, brought to light the threat against media independence as indicated in the book.
He said, “Media independence is threatened. Some of us are still watchdogs; some of us are already captured. This book helps us to take a step backward and hit the reset button.”