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MMPN urges journalists to uphold professionalism

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Senior Lecturer, Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, Dr, Ismail Ibrahim (left); Lagos State commissioner for Home Affairs, Dr, AbdulHakeem AbdulLateef; Representative of Lagos State Deputy Governor and Director of Administrative and Human Resources, Ministry of Education, Rahmat Lediji; Guest Speakers, Alhaji Liadi Tella and Chairman, University of Lagos Muslim Community, Prof. Lai Olurode at the Annual Media Conference of Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria (Lagos Branch) in Lagos. PHOTO: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI


The Muslim Media Practitioners (MMPN) has charged journalists to report news in a truthful, unbiased and apolitical way in order to promote universal principle of human rights, democracy, justice equity and peace in the country.

The Chairman at the MMPN, (Lagos State chapter), yearly conference, Prof. Lai Olurode, bemoaned some media contents which exhibited known biases of the writer through fabrication of unconfirmed, untrue and misrepresentation of facts in the news reportage..

Olurode, who spoke on the theme: “Islam Muslim and the Nigeria Media”said
the theme of the conference is one that is fascinating and exciting. The timing is most appropriate in a global context.

He said: “This has become more entrenched, more direct and infectious since the event of 9/11 in the United Stated. Muslims are being portrayed as untouchables whose trademark is an uncivilized religion. Prejudice and stereotype remain enemies of global peaceful co-existence, and thus of civilization”. He said, The Nigerian media is predictable in its anti-pluralistic, though, unwritten agenda.

The chairman advocated constant training of reporters to enable the media play its active ideal roles “Good news about Islam and Muslims are a rare commodity on the pages of the Nigerian media machine including its electronic version. Negative news about us, the underdogs command sensational reportage. Local media, without questioning, parrot foreign media anti-Islamic news. The reasons are not far-fetched”, Olurode said.

He added that media ownership is fantastically skewed against Muslims. Almost without exception, media ownership is middle class Christian.
Secondly, he said media professionals are products of ill digested knowledge about Islam and Muslims.

Senior Research Fellow, Mass Communication Department of the University of Ilorin and former Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief the Monitor Newspapers, Alhaji Liad Tella, said the media in Nigeria is challenged by multiple forces that have made it difficult for ethical journalism to be practiced. “The pattern of ownership is perpetually structured against Islam and Muslims in a Christianized country we find ourselves from the colonial period till today.

“As journalist is not expected to be hard on the profession and journalists as the source of religious disharmony and by extension political conflict in Nigeria and instability in the country,” he said.He urged, journalists and news media to observe the highest professional and ethical standards in the practice of this duties, adding that a journalist should always focus on the public interest.

“Truth is the cornerstone of journalism and every journalists should strive diligently to ascertain the truth of an event. It is the social responsibility of journalists to promote universal principle of human rights, democracy, justice equity, peace and international understanding.” he said.

Tella said, Journalists are being humiliated, oppressed and dehumanized daily by their employers, except in government owned media. Journalism today in the country is worse than slave labour.

“Slaves working on the plantations have time for breakfast, lunch and supper, most journalist cannot boast of one good square meal a day, many are working with private print and electronic media with only their identity cards; no letter of employment, no salary or even stipends for freelance journalism and no transport allowances to cover assignments and scout for news.

“In this circumstance, will ethics attract any value from hungry practicing journalists? Will there be conscience and morality? Will it be possible to adhere to fair and balanced reportage? Will truth and facts be sacred and sacrosanct?”“ he queried.

Tella therefore urged the National Assembly, in spite of possible criticism, to set in motion in regulating newspaper and magazine ownership in Nigeria to save journalists from perpetual oppression, repression and slave labour in Nigeria.

‘Freedom to own newspaper should not be a license to oppress, depress and abuse journalism and journalists in Nigeria”, he said.He advised the Nigeria Union of Journalist to drop its opposition to the establishment of Journalists and Print Media Ownership Council of Nigeria (JPMCN) to regulate entry into journalism, enforce the code of Journalism ethics and regulate entry and exit from the newspaper industry.

“This is the only way to clean up the mess and undue exploitation of journalists in the country”, he said.Director, Muslim Right Concern, (MURIC), Prof. Lakin Akintola, urged Muslim businessmen to invest heavily in media business, Muslims should engage in a robust patronage of the media and the Governments must be ready to exercise the power to sanction journalists or their employers as deemed appropriate for publishing fabricated reports.


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Lai OlurodeMMPN
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