By Femi Ajasa
“Sorry, for coming late, you know how this our job is, it is actually because of the news on the suspension of the CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido by the President.
On hearing the statement above, the audience, dominated by journalists, bloggers among others, all resonated mumbling, accompanied with an expression of shock weaved on their faces, one that can be clearly interpreted as ‘how come I didn’t hear of that?’.
Many quickly reached their iPads, smartphones, and other devices, just to confirm the report and do an update of the Sanusi’s story which was the major story trending on that fateful day. Of course, I understand the rush, news today is perceived as whatever could be posted online to increase web-traffic.
As the newsmen struggle for confirmation and search for where to get a ‘copy-n-paste’ of this news thriller, we then heard the speaker , “hello-o-o-! that was a joke ooo”. Suddenly, there was calm in the hall.
This joke however captured succinctly, Journalism as practised by many on the new media platforms.
In the actual sense the ousted CBN Governor Lamido Sanusi had just returned to Nigeria after attending an ECOWAS meeting in the Niger Republic. He was said to be attending the meeting when he heard of his suspension.
This occurrence happened at a social media summit held at the United Bank for Africa(UBA) head office, ” Everything Journalism, tagged ‘Functional Social Networking for Nigerian journalists’ in Lagos recently. The speaker is the Publisher, Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, who strongly opined that ethics should be forgone or treated casually in modern day journalism.
By downplaying the role of ethics in Journalism, it means gory pictures, pornography, and other contents that might be morally offensive will be suitable for publication.
It equally interprets that objectivity, balance, accuracy, verification, fair editing and minimizing harm are all gone.
Then, the bigger conflict was on content. What do readers want to read on the internet? And there seems to be a concensus that romance, entertainments and sports are preffered since based on feedback on content.
I believe strongly that feedback from readers is never the target or measurement of effective Journalism; the aim is to serve as a societal watchdog not just a barking dog at no cause.
Maybe in future seperate summits should be organized for bloggers and journalists; I do think that Journalism, in the new media landscape should be substituted for social networking or sharing content, as the case may be.
If banks, hospitals, NGO’s, law firms amongst others have their websites, blogs, twitter accounts, where they share information that aid their businesses, that does not in any way make them Journalists as they practice their profession in the information age.
Journalism is a social service while blogging or social media usage will be best described as a tool to enhance the reach of any corporate identity or an individual. To an extent, apart from the seeming threats, one can not rule out the opportunities New media has introduced to the journalism.
However,if it is not news, it is not journalism, it is something else and journalistic ethics might not count in such instance, maybe other forms of ethics will do.
The way news and other content spreads nowadays on the Internet, it raises the question of trust. This can only be answered by ethics alone. And since new media has thrown the doors of journalism open to citizen reporting, it will be better if everyone who practices ensures to operate under the respected norms of journalism.
Femi Ajasa is an Online reporter with Vanguard, on @OlufemiAjasa