By Dennis Udoma
UYO—Professor of Political Communication at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Professor Nkereuwem Udoaka, has warned members of the public from berating journalism, describing the profession as a lethal weapon that can destroy the society.
Udoka, who spoke in Uyo, during the university’s inaugural lecture, said journalism practice, like the medical profession, is a matter of life and death.
He noted that journalism wields more power on society than medical practice, hence journalists should be treated with respect.
According to him, “A doctor’s error might endanger only one or few lives, while a wrong and inaccurate report could destroy the whole community. A closer analogy of the effect of inaccurate media reports is like an aircraft pilot’s error, which could claim the lives of all the passengers on board.”
The communication lecturer urged government not to ignore the roles and functions of journalists in any given democratic setting, adding that, such attempt could jeopardise government’s efforts in initiating programmes for the wellbeing of the nation.
He warned journalists against using their pens carelessly, under the illusion of trying to change the society without thinking of the consequences such actions could do to the society.
Udoaka maintained also that facts reported inaccurately and wrong ideas reported accurately could still end up inflicting havoc on the society, and suggested that sufficient attention be given to Nigerian journalists as it is given to aviation operators and medical practitioners to minimise disaster in the society.
Appealing to government to set minimum standard for the practice of journalism to make it a respectable profession, Prof. Udoaka reminded the government to recognise the unfair and unreasonable conditions of service of Nigerian journalists, and bring them at par with other professionals, whose jobs are not even as hazardous as journalism.