By: ISHOWO, Oluwatosin
About 233 years ago when Thomas Jefferson-the third president of America wrote from Paris to Edward Carrington on his preference for “newspaper without government over government without newspapers”, people of this generation will find it difficult to decipher the message beyond the literary meaning. They would imagine a society without government, the fear of the society being thrown into anarchy will grip them and the thought of a lawless society will frighten them.
The position Jefferson took needs deeper understanding and interpretation; he was emphasizing the need for “free press” and “independent scrutiny of power without government interference”.
Internet has made newspapers less significant and replaced them with digital platforms such as blogs, websites, social media among others where news and information can speedily reach the people and are easily accessible.
The media experiment that was successfully conducted in Kwara State media laboratories prior to the 2019 elections has led to the total pollution of our media space. It has occasioned our media space to be occupied by anti-progress, anti-government, licentious, corrupt and abusive elements. The space is laden with novices in the pen profession who have successfully persuaded us that in Kwara, media is an investment and the ideology on which it is being operated is that “he who owns the media owns the people”. If not, what has led to the proliferation of radio stations and blogs in the state?
In this State, our media platforms find it difficult to reach consensus on even trivial issues that require common sense. We have only pro and anti-government journalists and media platforms premiered on leading the people astray regardless of who occupies the government house. The concept of independent scrutiny of power and free press has been assassinated and a conscience driven journalism has been exiled.
Our blogs and radio stations are either fake news laboratory, anti-government, pro-government, anti-individual and pro-individual journalism. Information are not sieved in the state, intentional filtering of information and absence of equity in dissemination of news, reading of the same content word-for-word on different media platforms, grammatical blunders, irresponsible headlines to generate traffic, absence of conscience and responsibility towards the people, lack of credible sources and blazing arrogance in apologizing for disseminating fake news. If all media platforms in the state vanish, would anyone of good conscience miss them?
There is misinterpretation of the role of media in the state, happenings in the state has persuaded us to conclude that there is lack of purpose in the media. Their impotence is explosively exhibited, they cannot independently and collectively condemn an action in strong terms without being sponsored or influenced (only few have proved otherwise). Lack of patriotism among the practitioners calls for serious concern and the need to demand for responsible and credible journalism in the state. There is need for them to embrace their shortcomings and be motivated to serve as true watchdog and independent body in scrutinizing power in the state.
Our media are sadistic towards all events in the state even in the face of convincing evidences. We should advise them to embark on popularity ratings, they should improve on their understanding, shelve unimaginative approach to issues; imbibe dynamism and creativity. The government will always be here and the earlier they realize that they are expendable, the better for them to tighten their belt and set foot on the path of social justice and responsibility.
Kwarans gave the press more opportunities than they deserved and they, therefore, need to uphold the trust by repenting from their unenviable vocation. They should do the needful and be wary of creating a sinister impression that may suggest that our State is nothing but a cemetery of irresponsible journalism.
*ISHOWO, Isiaq Oluwatosin*