NUJ moves to tackle quacks in journalism
• Union, NPAN, NGE, NPO to sponsor bill <em
HARD times awaits quack journalists as plans have reached advance stage to nip their nefarious activities in the bud, according to the president Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr. Waheed Odusile.
In an exclusive chat with The Guardian, the NUJ helmsman disclosed that already arrangements have been concluded to promote an amendment of the Press Council Amendment Act to achieve the objective.
Odusile also dropped the hint that the proposed bill might explore the possibility of addressing the nagging problems associated with non-payment of journalists’ wages by a section of the media in the country.
He stated that the proposed legislation, which would be submitted to the National Assembly before the end of February this year has the inputs of key stakeholders of the media.
Giving further insight on the initiative, he said: “We are working on the Bill and we want to send it to the National Assembly.
The Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE), under the umbrella of the Nigeria Press Organization (NPO) have all agreed to send that law to the National Assembly.
“And what the law will do in essence is to professionalize journalism and make it impossible for a non-professional to practice as a journalist. There will be set criteria for you to be a journalist. Once you violate that which will mean like being a quack, there will be penalties.
“So, yes you can operate but if you are caught, you already know the penalty. It is like among lawyers, doctors, engineers you have quacks, but you know the day you are caught, the law is there, you know the penalty you will face.”
“So, the new law that we want to sent to the National Assembly will take care of that because it will empower the NUJ or the Nigeria Press Organization (NPO) to register journalists and it will spell out the qualifications to be a journalist in that law. So once that law is spelt out, you would not be able to practice without acquiring that qualification.
On the punitive measure against quacks, he said, “There would be fine. In the past we proposed imprisonment but we said that no we shouldn’t jail a quack, it is the court that would apply a commensurate punishment for the offence. The one that the council would apply would be in the area where there are infractions in the ethics of the profession.
If there is a complaint against you, we set up a panel and if you are found guilty, the penalty could range from retraction, apology, maybe suspension from practice for about six months depending on the nature of the offence.”