By Tunde Rahman
Most of the politicians at the confab have their
various agendas for coming to the confab. Some
of them are there to seek relevance, to demonstrate
that they belong, in our manner of speaking.
Some are there to position themselves for the next
election. Our interest as journalists, I think, must be
the interest of the people, the survival of the nation. We
must be able to pinpoint the various agendas of these
delegates and draw attention to only those ones that
can serve the good of the greatest number of our people.
I’m sure many here will agree with me that doing
this may put a strain on us, which may expose
the underbelly of the media; expose our idiosyncrasies,
our limitations, our shortcomings.
I do not intend to dwell much on our shortcomings
as journalists, which we already know and
which include the proprietorial influence, the low
remuneration, the brown envelope syndrome, too
much concentration on personalities at the expense
of issues and what have you. The way we can combat
this is to be sure-footed, for we all to always remember
that our profession is noble and we should
n’t engage in acts that can assault that nobleness.
This may sound simplistic. But what I’m saying
is the job demands integrity and acting in
good conscience no matter our circumstance.
What I’m saying is a journalist must be resilient
enough to rise above these shortcomings
and do his/her work diligently.
And it is at this juncture that I need to remind
our colleagues engaged in online media that to
be truly seen to be journalists, they must subject
their work to the rigours expected of media
reports-accuracy, impartiality and fairness.
They should shun unnecessary sensationalism,
shun publication of half-truths or
no truths at all or journalism of blackmail.
The new media, which have helped to
boost our work, should not be abused.
I think that in the role of both chroniclers of history
and agenda setters, the media have assumed immense
responsibilities for the next generation. This demands
that we must be patriotic. We must eschew our
prejudices about the confab and keep an open mind.
But I believe that for our work to be fulfilling,
we must recognize that there is life after the confab.
Some of those delegates will leave the confab
at the end of their work but the media like the nation
remains. We must do our work in line with
our profession and in the interest of the country.
In closing, let me paraphrase a senior colleague
who says Nigeria creates a spectacle of a big, black
giant, stumbling purposefully towards the future,
but the giant has its head turned back to the past.
Some have also put this in another way: that the
country takes one step forward and two backwards.
Can we can get that big, black giant to turn its head
and take its steps forward on the path to future and
progress and not backwards? The challenge is for
us as journalists.I thank you all for listening to me.
Rahman, Managing Editor of Western Post,
presented this paper on Friday, April 11, 2014
at a conference for journalists covering the
National Conference in Abuja.