By McphilipsÂ NwachukwuÂ & Laide Akinbode
The one day capacity building workshop organized for Culture Journalists under the theme; Media and Cultural Orientation by the National Institute for Cultural Orientation, NICO was a significant attempt at finding an interface through which the two institutions of Journalism and Culture can work together towards the socio- political development of the nation.
Held at Merit House, Aguyi Ironsi Street, Maitama, Abuja, the workshop, which hadÂ in attendance the Presidential Adviser on Parastatal & Statutory Bodies, Elder Braeyi Ekiye represented by Mr Joe Kariburu, Exectutive Secretary, NICO, Dr Baclays Ayakoroma, Director of Research, NICO,Mr, Festus Iheanaetu among others had Renowned Culture pathologist and former Deputy EditorÂ of Guardian, Ben Tomoloju and redoubtable culture activist and Sunday Editor of Guardian, Jahman Anikulapo as resources persons.
Speaking to his paper titled; Arts Journalism and Cultural Diplomacy, Tomoloju emphasized on the need for culture media practitioners to harnessing the tools of cultural diplomacy and relations in the task of rehabilitating the battered cultural image of the nation.
For the culture journalists to effectively combine these tools, Tomoloju maintained that the culture reporter needed to have deep understanding of the issues on ground so that his reports at the end of the day will achieve the desired national and diplomatic goals.
â€œ Intellectually, the arts journalist must be grounded in matters pertaining to the national interest of societies within his scope of operation.
â€œ In the cold war era, for instance, the Novosty Press dished out information based on Communist ideas and the propagation of Communism across the world, while the United States, through the United States Information Agency bombarded newsrooms with copies of Dialogue Cross Road and other Pro- Capitalist publications, all in the bid to out do each other in global affairs.â€ He averred.
The notable cultural archivist, who himself edited the art pages of Guardian and trained and nurtured a generation of the nationâ€™s art editors and culture managers including Jahman Anikulapo, Steve Ayorinde, former Editor of Punch, Layiwole Adeniji among others further implored art journalists to dig deeper into the activities of the Ministry of Culture and its parastatals as well as the activities of culture arms of the foreign countries in the nation so as to be at vantage positions of scooping headline making stories and news that serve both diplomatic and national interest.
â€œApart from policy initiative coming directly from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, virtually all the agencies in the ministry are engaged in some form of inter-cultural programme or the other.
â€œThe Centre for Black andÂ African Art and Civilization(CBAAC), National Troupe of Nigeria, NTN, National Council for Arts and Culture, NCAC, National Gallery of Art, NGA and the Nigerian Copyright Commission, now in the Ministry of Justice are fertile grounds for scooping information on international cultural relations that should go beyond per function. The same applies to the numerous foreign cultural centres established in Nigeria,â€ he said.
Speaking on the subject, Media and Cultural Orientation, Sunday Editor of Guardian, Jahman Anikulapo observed that effectiveness was necessary ingredient for the practice of art journalism. He implored the arts writers to look beyond the challenges inherent in the discharge of their tasks and ensure that they go about their works with a sense of pride and dignity.
Translating his talk to a kind of stampede, he further implored on culture journalists to embrace the guild culture, which according to him, will provide the desired platform to engage the challenges facing them in the practice of their arts individually and collectively.
In his opening remark at the occasion, the Executive Secretary of National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Ayakoroma reiterated the importance of culture to national development and urged the media to ensureÂ they create awareness ofÂ the good culture of Nigeria in their reports.
The NICO Chief Executive, who himself belongs to the journalism profession also further re- emphasized theÂ critical importance of the media in re-defining the distorted cultural image of the nation by effectively employing the tools of cultural diplomacy and relations.
According to him,, â€œIf we are saying that culture isÂ totality of the way of life of the people, we know very well that the way we project our culture and promote our culture will determine how the outside world will look at us. And that is why we feel that NICO has a vital role to play to bring culture to the fore, so that outside Nigeria people will look at us that these are the people we should always be proud ofâ€.
HeÂ recalled also thatÂ the institute recently embarked on campaign to promote Nigeria dresses because of the influence of westernization which he said has been of great concern to the institute.