Nigeria’s Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku has renewed his call for reforms in media to protect practitioners from negative ownership influence that often inhibits objectivity and fairness in news reportage. He noted that it is easy to tell what political party a newspaper supported by reading through its pages.
Maku who made the call while speaking at a public lecture on Thursday said the level of professionalism that distinguished the Nigerian media practitioners in the past was fast being eroded by the overbearing influence of most media proprietors in the country.
“Ownership influence have taken over the position of everything that is done in most of our newspaper organisations.
“I tell you, today if you can pick a newspaper you can easily tell which political party it supports or which party the owner belongs to.
He said that objective and unbiased style of reporting which manifested in the quality of stories and articles found in the media in the past had faded out as a result of the negative trend.
“I want to agree totally with the opinion expressed by the guest lecturer (Prof. Pat Utomi) about the posture and position of journalism practice in our country today.
“The depth and quality that we used to see in some of the reports in our newspapers have all gone; today you see reports that lack objectivity and analysis that lack depth.
“This is sad because it is affecting the development of the profession, today professionalism is at its lowest, so leaders in this profession must pursue strong reforms that will rescue the sector,” the minister said. The minister suggested that strong leadership in the journalism profession was needed to reposition the sector and prevent a total collapse of ethics in the profession.
He said that strong guidelines must be enforced in the sector to protect practitioners from victimisation by highly placed individuals in the society or the owners of the media.
Maku said that the use of the media to mislead society and promote the interest of a few was a dysfunctional role of the media that must be stopped by stakeholders in the sector.