As Media Degenerates into Crime Promo Hub by Abdullah Aliyu Maiwada
Here’s an excerpt of my seminar paper with the intention of impacting positively on members of the public, particularly, our gentlemen of the press. I have realized the imperative of this paper more considering our present situation in Nigeria whereby instead of the media to concentrate on its social responsibility role, they are becoming more engaged with sensationalism.
To my greatest surprise, the ugly trend is not only gaining increasing favour with the Nigerian media; the internationally acclaimed top-rank media outfits are also seen to be indulging in this media bastardisation. I am disappointed on what BBC Eye Africa did in the name of investigative journalism. Why are we giving infamous criminals the “Oxygen of publicity” free of charge? Why will traditional media succumb to propaganda of anarchists by uploading their propaganda tool on their platform free of charge? It is unfortunate we are in this situation.
I hope this will add value to the fourth estate of the realm and our gullible citizen journalists.
NATIONAL SECURITY VS. PUBLIC RIGHT TO KNOW: MEDIA DISCLOSURES AND REDEFINITION OF PUBLIC INTEREST REPORTAGE
The Nigerian Constitution grants express permission to the media in section, 22 and 39 of the 1999 democratic amendment, the implication of which allows the media to operate in full capacity of searching, holding and disseminating information, ideas and opinions through the electronic channels and prints (1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria).
Tejuoso, Lanre-Iyanda, and Togunwa (2011) interpreted the above to mean that the interest of the public is best served if free information dissemination is allowed and if citizens would be encouraged to give vital information on issues of public interest.
Principally, the above idea is hinged on the concept of freedom of speech which according to John Milton (1644) “is not an evil to be tolerated but actually a blessing to the life and happiness of any nation”. This freedom of speech subsequently gave birth to freedom of the press.
The essence of press freedom is to guarantee the right to publish freely without censorship or government interference.
Based on the above, the importance of the media to the existence and prosperity of a society cannot be overemphasised. It was this awareness that motivated the assertion of Thomas Jefferson that he would prefer to have a press without a government than to have a government without a press. So, no matter how we choose to twist the media impacts on human environment and endeavours, one thing is sure: there is an ‘umbilical cord’ relationship between the media and other social systems. The media also hold the government accountable to the people being the fourth estate of the realm.
In this understanding, the above references aptly justify why the press requires unhindered freedom to perform its checks and balancing, keeping those in public offices accountable to the people whom they are meant to serve. This justification is found in section 22 of the 1999 Constitution of the Nigerian federation that “The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people”. This was further accentuated by the Freedom of Information Act 2011.
However, though the constitution has given an enormous power to journalists through the press freedom firmly enshrined, but then, to come with certain powers are certain obligations and most importantly the administration of such power with uttermost sense of responsibility towards the public good.
Predicated on this, section 45 conditioned the freedom on when it does not undermine national defense, public safety, public order, public morality, or public health and also for the purpose of protecting the rights, reputations and freedom of other persons.
Within this prism, the press freedom is