Indeed, the media globally is facing existential challenge, especially against the backdrop of the economic downturn following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Many media organizations have shut down, with many struggling to remain afloat.
The recent altercation involving Femi Fani Kayode, a former Aviation Minister, and the Cross River State Correspondent of the Daily Trust, underscores the predicament journalists in Nigeria continue to face.
Even though newsmakers crave publicity and view the media as essential partner in our democracy, their obvious contempt and disdain for the journalist is something else.
There is a gaping chasm separating how the newsmakers appreciate the role of the media and their view of the journalist. The journalist is mostly seen as a scumbag, a necessary evil, who must be tolerated.
How did journalism got to this despicable situation, when all over the world, journalism is considered a noble profession, the laboratory for true nationalists and leaders?
Nigerian media provide the platform for people like FFK to get to where they are and yet they consider the journalist as pestilence.
There is a disconnect.
The sooner the character of Nigerian journalist is revamped, the better for the country and her democracy. If people like FFK, with stupendous wealth but with no visible means of production, can harangue and denigrate a journalist, who is carrying out his constitutionally recognized role, then of course, our democracy is under threat.
The biggest issue of course, is that journalists in Nigeria are poorly remunerated, leaving them exposed to survive on largess and goodwill of those they should hold accountable.
I write for few international news media and I see how they treat journalists, in terms of fulfilling financial contractual obligations. In Nigeria, a journalist is mostly exploited, abused, used and dumped! The owners of media organizations see their identity cards as meal tickets for hungry youths battling the scourge of poverty. Such media organizations throw such journalists to the dogs, for people like FFK to devour and denigrate. “I’m very rich, I’m not poor, I will never be poor!” Of course, the journalist is poor, as viewed by FFK and his class-people who amassed stupendous wealth by hanging on the corridors of power, with no verifiable, acceptable means of wealth creation!
Time indeed for a rethink, if at all the journalist and journalism, must be considered as vital for the growth of our democracy.