Media Gurus Honour Jose At Annual Lecture, Seek Enthronement Of Ethics | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Media Gurus Honour Jose At Annual Lecture, Seek Enthronement Of Ethics

Posted: Oct 2, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Stories by Judith Eshemitan,


It was a gathering of intellectual digestion as veteran journalist, Mr. Dan Agbese, former Editor-In-Chief, Newswatch Magazine, enlightened guests at the Ismail Babatunde Jose Lecture on Media and the Society, and Public Presentation of, held in Victoria Island, Lagos.

In his speech themed, ‘The Media, Ethics and 2015 General Elections: Saint or Sinner?’, Agbese commended National Infinity for instituting the annual lecture in honour of Alhaji Jose, who he described as an icon, even in death.

He said, “My assessment is that his contribution to the development of modern journalism in the country is under appreciated. I don’t think anyone has done more for our journalism than Alhaji Jose.”

Speaking on the topic, which cuts across the secular and the sacred, Agbese stressed the importance of subjecting the ethical conduct of the media to public scrutiny, as he said that self examinations are usually self explanatory, thus a social institution that periodically examines itself obviously takes its responsibility to itself and takes the society seriously.

He said, “We want the media to fly a banner without too many stains and failures with the rest of the society; to claim and occupy the higher moral grounds thus have the moral stature and the integrity of the rest of the society to line.

“The framers of our constitution acknowledged the special role of the media in helping to build the country in which no man, theoretically is oppressed. They are assigned the delicate responsibility of holding the government accountable to the people. We find this in section twenty two of the constitution. Its provisions are unequivocally clear.

According to the former Editor-In-Chief, it is the sacred duty of the media to pay serious and close attention to the conduct of all national elections beginning with the nomination process by the political parties.

“Our constitution provides those specific roles for the media in an election, but we may safely assume that section 22 applies to the conduct of elections, after all, if election goes wrong, democracy goes wrong, accountability goes wrong and good governance gets blown in the wind.

“The processes that lead to the casting of votes is of immense importance. To deny the media the right to hold the political parties and their leaders to a minimum standard of fairness and credibility is to dissuade our entire political process up to and including the casting of votes,” he said.

He stressed the need for editors and reporters to have a similar code of ethics, and observe the rules of the game, adding that politicians go wrong and stay wrong because the press fail to tell them not to go wrong, and when journalists go wrong, they tend to blame it on the politicians.

He said, “The metamorphosis of the media from watchdog to guard dog was a slow steady and painful process but it has also developed into alert dogs.

Agbese lamented the presentation of ‘exit’ awards to public officers. He said, “It is wholly and entirely unethical for a medium to give awards to public officers that it reports on, the awards have no integrity because they are tailored to individuals and not competed for.

“They have no criteria by which the winners are judged seeing that the awards are fully and extensively paid for, thus the awards are not given, they are bought and sold to those whom they are said to be given.”

He added, “There is no reason for these awards, if any, they impair the integrity of the publications concerned and tarnish the integrity of the rest of us.

“In the run up to the 2015 general elections, all state governors were given awards yet most of them misused the states’ resources in such a way that they could not pay their civil servants. This I think is the height of ethical misconduct.

“The steady erosion of integrity in the media can only mean the loss of public respect for the profession.”

According to Agbese, media ethics is presently in an entangled mess in our country. He said, “I do not see many reporters judging the narrow path of fairness and objectivity. We no longer see crusading editors and publications. Many of our publications have abandoned investigative reportage.

He said, “Ethics or no ethics, we are at the mercy of the fever of words from our public officers and their opinions. There is trust deficit in our country and media.”

Other speakers at the event were the keynote speaker, Prof. Ralph Akinfeleye, HOD, Department of Mass Communication, UNILAG, represented by Dr. Tayo Popoola of the same department;  Mrs. Bimbo Oyetunde, Secretary, Nigerian Union of Journalists, Lagos and Director General, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Prof. Bola Akinterinwa.

Delivering the keynote address, Popoola stated that the Nigerian Press Organization (NPO) and the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), have provided a code of conduct for practising journalists in the country.

According to him, these ethics specifically made it mandatory for journalists not to falsify figures, to be accurate and not to report violence in any manner that glorifies the act.

He added that the media is regarded as the playing field for politics, and if such a playing field suddenly becomes erroneous, politics will be devoid of smooth play.

“Electioneering processes in the country has been an experience of tears, sorrow, and violence, and the media has always been indicted as a contributory agent, in all the violence. This is because we deliberately do the job as dictated by our personal selfish intent, and that of our proprietors,” he said.

Popoola admonished journalists to deviate from writing stories that sow seed of discord in the hearts of the audience, adding that while erring journalist realize the fact that they do not adhere to the ethics of the profession, they are often times driven by their economic situation.