Media stakeholders task Nigerian journalists on accountability, investigative reports

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Media stakeholders task Nigerian journalists on accountability, investigative reports

Media stakeholders during a recent dialogue organised by International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), in Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja said a robust economy is possible only in societies where accountability thrives with the help of sound investigative journalism.

With the theme: “Role of the media in promoting public accountability,” the stakeholders also said there is a need for media owners to develop new business models to make the press viable and sustainable.

The panel discussants were former Head, Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, Prof. Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika; Chairman, Editorial Board, Blueprint Newspapers, Zainab Suleiman Okino; Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Edetaen Ojo and Editor-in-Chief of the Premium Times, Mojeed Musikilu.

Executive Director, ICIR, Dayo Aiyetan, in his welcome remarks, spoke on the critical role of media in sustaining democratic culture and the need for journalists to promote transparency and accountability in public offices.

Similarly, Country Director, MacArthur Foundation, Kole Shettima, said the role of journalists in the growth of any society can not be overemphasised, he stressed the need to support journalists at all times.

Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian, Martins Oloja, in his keynote address, expressed concern over the political economy of press freedom, insisting that it is too weak to support qualitative and accountability journalism. He said poor capitalisation is a big threat to investigative journalism.

Speaking on the topic, “The Role of the Nigerian Media in Promoting Public Accountability,” he noted that the Nigerian press is too poor to hold the power it deserves.

According to him, “some of our colleagues have not been paid for the past five months. Then, what kind of investigative journalism can they practice?”

Speaking further, he said the ugly development had led to unethical practices, where media houses give awards to public office holders, who brought down the country.

“Some of the awardees,” he stressed, “owe salaries. So, how do you want readers to look at journalists?”

According to him, “we are conscious of the role of investigative journalism in any nation. It holds the power. Investigative journalism causes public outrage. It is nurtured by data. It is seeking reform of the system. It is done to target systemic failure.

“We don’t have a strong private sector and we need to work collectively to ensure that we have a good government that will manage the economy. We need to investigate what they do with the money they borrow. So that we can have a robust economy.”

Citing the celebrated investigative journalism conducted in the Philippines, he said, “The world-class investigative story, the World Bank Institute has been showcasing and advertising to the world in the Philippines took the investigators eight months.”

Tagged, “Journalistic Legwork that Tumbled a President,” he said, “the report documented by Lars Moller and Jack Jackson for the World Bank Institute is about how a handful of Filipino journalists pulled the red carpet from under their powerful President Joseph Estrada.”

He added that the World Bank institute recommended this as a brilliant case study for journalists around the world.

“It is, therefore, pertinent for young journalists to understand the fact that newspapers can only be influential by the quality of regular investigative reports they publish. It cost the Filipino investigative journalists $8 million.”

With specific reference to citizen journalism, he noted that it had removed power from the editors. Everybody, he observed, is now an editor.

“Citizen journalism has democratised access to information, but how much of this is seen in breaking news?” he queried.

Media stakeholders task Nigerian journalists on accountability, investigative reports

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