Traditional media must maintain standards, credibility to remain relevant, say experts
Media professionals have been told to maintain professional standards to overcome social media challenge.
The Executive Chairman of Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS), Prince Dotun Oyelade, ace broadcaster and former Nigerian Ambassador to the Philippines, Dr. Yemi Farounbi, and Chief Adebisi Adesola stated this recently while addressing newsmen as part of activities marking the 40th anniversary of BCOS.
According to these experts, “when traditional media starts competing with social media on standard, they lose credibility.”
They also called on mainstream media organisations to be painstaking in their verification of information to maintain credibility.
Farounbi said traditional media, most times, provide information that is not credible and objective, which is very dangerous for the society. This is because it is based on the concept of citizen journalism. So, every citizen becomes a journalist. Is every citizen a professional? Would s/he obey the ethics of the profession such as balance, timeliness, fairness, objectivity and impartiality?
“And because he doesn’t do that, that is why you have the tendency for what we now call hate news. It is a problem everywhere. I have also felt that the answer to it is very simple – make the new media subject to the same rules that the mass media has been subjected to.
“The traditional media must maintain its credibility. Even now, when you see some news on social media, many people will go online to check what is The Guardian saying online, what is The Punch saying online, what is Nigerian Tribune or Channels TV saying online. If they don’t see that story online in those credible platforms, they know it is not true. So, the reference point is still the traditional media.
“That is the strength traditional media must not lose. The moment they become shallow and unprofessional, they would have lost all in their content delivery.”
Speaking on BCOS as a brand, the ace broadcaster said the dream and vision of the late Chief Bola Ige, a former governor of old Oyo State, who set up the BCOS, was to have the best television station in Africa and to make the place a Mecca of television stations in Africa.
Oyelade urged mainstream media to uphold the tenets of journalism. He said: “The challenge concerning the social media versus the traditional media crept up a couple of years ago. The problem is universal. It is all over the world. It has been able to keep traditional media more focused and meticulous in sifting between falsehood and truth.
“It is possible to do that but it is a great distraction. But it is possible to decipher between the falsehood that will be churned out by social media, and of course, the expertise in verification that is the traditional media must engage in. Because at the end of the day, the traditional media, so far, is still more believable, credible than social media. So, it behooves the traditional media to be more finicky and painstaking in sifting the news.”
Oyelade said the challenge of new media is not peculiar to Nigeria, neither to Africa nor the entire world. He described television broadcasting as oxygen of democracy, adding for this reason; the current management of BCOS has taken it upon itself not only to improve on what is on ground, but also to lift the station from near collapse to the enviable position it currently occupies.
Speaking on the 40th anniversary, Oyelade said the media outfits, established in 1982, as Television Service of Oyo State, (TSOS), had not only survived different political manipulations and calculations in the state, but has encouraged emergence of other state owned media outfits.
The BCOS executive chairman, who lauded the vision of the late Chief Bola Ige for creating conducive working environment for the media to operate in its formative years, said the establishment followed the discovery of the potent power of television in influencing and moulding people’s opinion.
Commending Governor Seyi Makinde for funding the organisation, the Ogbomoso-born broadcaster said the outfit would not treat the training and retraining of staff with kid glove.
Also, Adesola said for journalism to thrive, it must be a repository of standards.
While charging mainstream media professionals to uphold the ethics of the profession, Adesola said: “The traditional media would have a big problem in their hands if they are to compete with bloggers, online media as they would no longer bother to verify information. You (main stream media) have a responsibility as an outfit to be credible, to be professional.
“The online news people and bloggers have done a lot of damage to standard by not verifying their stories, not balancing them stories and not being professional.”
Adesola said, in this era, what the traditional media should do is to, “ set standard for all of them.”