Journalism is no doubt a noble profession. It
has produced prominent men and women who
have contributed immensely to the growth
and development of the society. Besides its
primary role of informing and educating the
masses, the media play a critical role in shaping and
reshaping public opinion on issues of national and
global importance.
The media played a crucial role in the pre and
post Independence era of Nigeria. The likes of late
Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ernest Ikoli and Dele Giwa,
to mention but a few, used the instrumentality of
the media to fight the colonial masters until the
independence of Nigeria was restored. They practiced
journalism with a sense of professionalism.
Of course, their passion and zeal for the profession
was unparalleled.
Then people went into journalism with
determination to succeed. In fact, the profession
became the envy of other professions because of its
central role of abridging the gap between the leaders
and the led.
Unfortunately, since all manner of people have
found their way into the profession, the issue of
professionalism has become a major concern among
practitioners. Regrettably, this unprofessional act is
gradually undermining the profession hitherto held
in high esteem.
Many who claimed to be media practitioners
indulge in unethical practices, denting the image of
the profession.
Perhaps, this could be the reason journalism has
been given the sobriquet: ‘all comers’ affair.’ This
ugly phenomenon could be attributed to the high
rate of youth unemployment. People of questionable
characters have found their way into the profession,
thus constituting all kinds of professional nuisance.
These quacks and unprofessionals parading
themselves as journalists go about publishing
sensational and malicious stories.
The code of ethics guiding the profession clearly
stipulates that journalists should neither solicit nor
accept bribe, gratification or patronage to suppress
or publish information, but the reverse has been the
case today as a good number of journalists suppress
the truth for pecuniary gains. The most disturbing
aspect is that these quacks do not know what
constitutes minimum conduct and expectation of a
professional journalist.
Ideally, journalism entails a high degree of public
trust and practitioners should also be seen in that
light of earning that trust.
Ordinarily, public interest should come before
personal interest, but what we see these days are
inaccurate and misleading information.
Foreign media stations like the CNN and Aljazeera
have since joined the fray of media outfits writing
unbalanced reports on Nigeria. They always report
the negative aspect without the corresponding
positive side of the country.
It is, however, disheartening that the various
regulatory bodies such as the Nigerian Press Council,
NPC; Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ;
Nigeria Guild of Editors, NGE and Broadcasting
Organisation of Nigeria, BON, have not really
stamped their authorities in enforcing the code of
conduct.
It therefore behooves on them to come out of their
shadows and do what is needful. All the quacks and
fake journalists, who by omission or commission
found themselves into journalism, should be flushed
out to send the right signal that the profession is,
after all, not ‘all comers affair’.
Imbibing professionalism in journalism should be
the watchword of every practicing journalist. There is
need for media owners to organise periodic training
and re-training of their staff.
While it is imperative for journalists to always
uphold the highest professional and ethical standards
at all times, media owners should equally provide
a conducive environment and right incentives for
journalists to excel. The media should refrain from
aggravating societal tension through news and
commentaries and synergize with government to
enable the public have a balanced and object news
devoid of falsehood.
Furthermore, the freedom of expression is one of
the essential foundations of a democratic society;
the media should therefore exploit this freedom of
expression to the full benefit of Nigeria and Nigerians

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