Nigerias’ urgent need for the stop and think journalism -By Kareem Itunu Azeez

Filed under: National Issues |

Whatsapp, Twitter, and other tools for disseminating information seems more effective than the radios and television that now look us in the eyes at our Homes and offices,the social media is killing us in broad daylight, with little or no intervention from various law governing body.

The horrors of fake media practice, is nothing to write home about, and only the victims know the true way that leads home, tragically enough nothing has been done to the individuals who carry out this act, for if the president could at one time be a victim, who then is safe in a country with diversified languages and religious barriers.

I always believe that journalist must be trained after their institutional days, perhaps another psychological training which would even make them never think in the direction of fake media practices, but today its a lot different, unemployment rate, corruption, junketting and the brown enevelope syndrome has overtaken the true journalism of our era. And we the upcoming ones have fallen down the expected grade, for various reasons or the other, but the truth is you either be a journalist with moral ethics or walk out of journalism.

It is also unfortunate that the Nigeria Union of journalist have done nothing much to curb this plague that is on the rise in Nigeria, the perpetrators once caught are suspended on papers but aren’t publicly disgraced or jailed as a result of this degrading attitude. One Mr Ephraim Ikpe, was once reported to the NUJ on the basis of running fake news stories by Mr.Cletus Ukpong who is PREMIUM TIMES’ south south editor. The news stated his suspension but nothing was heared about the story again, not even when it was understood that he was doing this as an aid to the government, he wasn’t alone in this act, another scenario is the case of the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari.

An online publication once said that Buhari was dead, acclaiming his death, during some of his trips for medical check ups.

Stories of “his death” came in through various platforms with stubborn persistence. Like a room with a leaking roof during rainstorm, the floor was always wet no matter how fast the water was scooped out.

There were stories like: “Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has died in a London Hospital where he was receiving medical care, the Nigerian Mission in UK has confirmed.

According to the information released by Nigerian Embassy, Buhari left the West African country for a vacation in the U.K in order to undergo medical checks.
One of the president aids who accompanied him to the U.K and spoke on condition of anonymity said the president has been battling a “TERRIBLE DISEASE” for a long time now and there are strong indications that Nigeria president Muhammadu Buhari is dead, according to Buhari died London Hospital where he was receiving medical care, the Nigerian Mission in UK has said”.

It is true that bad news spread faster and sells faster than the truthful ones, today Nigerians no longer practice investigative journalism, a click and a bit of copy and paste, when more than a hundred of people receives it, without any verification, it is also forwarded.

Blaming readers for spreading fake news from a cognitive perspective is somewhat equivalent to blaming a baby for soiling itself. They can’t help it.

Recently it was reported, that Nigeria’s minister for culture and information, Alhaji Lai Muhammad, had threatened Isreal that our country would send missiles if Nnamdi Kanu doesn’t return back to Nigeria to continue his prosecution trials, only for the news to be annuled as fake, on one of our online media platform saying, According to him, “I was in London when I heard the story about Nnamdi Kanu surfacing in Israel. I was not in a position to make any statement. But before I knew it, within a few hours, I saw my picture with a story saying that I had actually given Israel ultimatum to return Nnamdi Kanu otherwise, we will send them missiles. “I just laughed”.

It isnt limited to Nigeria, as even few months ago, the United States President, Donald Trump, accuses the press as cooking up stories against him, tagging the press an enemy of the people, this syndrome therefore needs urgent attention, as the press which is the fourth realm of government shouldn’t be the realm that turns people against people, thereby starting a new world war.

The stop and think journalism,
Everyone in the 21st century is a journalist, the advent of facebook and whatsapp, including Twitter has rapidly changed the face of journalism to a sit at home and write level, but with its advantages comes great responsibility, the common tool used now is the whatsapp with over 1.5billion users across Africa alone, in Nigeria it is estimated that more than 70% of people use social media to advertise their businesses as well as forward unedited and unverified news stories, this is dangerous and could cause an irrevocable tension in the country.

Whenever anyone receives a fishy story either political motive oriented or any form, strict judgement should follow, if possible forwarders of such message should also be arrested, simply because ignorance of the law is no excuse.
At this measure, all stories forwarded in any of this social media, that isnt verified for truthful purposes, should not just be reported but also be traced to the spreader of such information, when one person is used as a scapegoat, the rest would learn.

The period of elections are close, propaganda as a tool for publicity would begin to circulate, and unfortunately those at the corridors of power are also great threat to the peace and unity of this land, our politicians go as far as propagate stories just to debase their opponents, they engage in racketing, sponsoring media personnel for the sake of bringing their opponents down and losing his/her credibility in the process, this attitude needs to be changed and the law agencies need rapid actions.

A typical example of fake news, is about the case of the Miyetti Allah, the speed through which retweerts and false articles were drawn from a statement later proven to be untrue, would have nearly wipe out a state if not quickly averted by Ciroma himself, the online story read, “Since these cows were not found, no-one should expect peace in the areas,” Mr Circoma is reported to have said. His comments drew widespread anger and swift condemnation, but he has denied ever making the statement.

It is true that fake news is different from ordinary misinformation and disinformation in that it takes a form of real news stories provided by what appears to be legitimate news outlets such that could have deadly effect on the masses, not even in a country where the illiteracy rate is alarming, and before we know whats going on, there’s violence everywhere, I urge the government, to not just create a campaign against fake news, but also a legally procedural process for punishing those who breach this ethics.