Why journalists need training, re-training, by Vincent Maduka
The Association of Communication Scholars and Professionals of Nigeria (ACSPN) recently held its third history series at Lagos State University, Ojo. The event, which was co-sponsored by Diamond Awards for Media Excellence (DAME), attracted communication scholars, as well as practitioners and over 1000 students in attendance.
Engr. Vincent Maduka, who delivered a paper, gave insights into his experiences in the course of journalism career, which started in 1960. Maduka, who trained as an electrical engineer, joined the media in 1960, as an intern with Beacon, with no formal training in journalism. He later rose to the position of Director-General of Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) 24 years later, an experience he said was tough, as he was always seen as an engineer and not a media practitioner.
He said said at NTA in the 1980s, journalists were always exposed to training, adding, “Journalists are supposed to be factual but sometimes they become fictional. NTA recognised news as the flagship and we tried every week to prescribe what should be in the news.”
According to the former DG, he had clashes with government people, especially Obafemi Awolowo’s people, and was accused of ‘over-showing’ Nnamdi Azikiwe and ‘under-showing’ Obasanjo and Shagari on NTA Enugu in 1981. He was forcefully removed as General Manager and replaced by a junior journalist.
His words, “I survived the Obasanjo charge but I was later removed by Shagari in December 1982.”
Maduka, however, lamented that today’s media lacks credibility among other issues. “State governments and politicians today trust a credible professionally run station (Channels TV news station) to give them a good image, at least, beyond their state boundaries and among elites.
The Nigerian media desires more education, intellect and skills to deal with issues. Television, especially, is pre-occupied with superficial ‘shows,” he added.
He advised that Nigeria needs credible stations to change her image for the world, noting, “TV stations should extend professionalism to non-elite programmes and public stations should hone their performance and undertake social marketing through telenovella forms.”
On radio, he said it has a grassroots capability and should therefore be maximised, adding, “Currently, private radio stations are mostly urban directed.”
Maduka said the importance of training and retraining of journalists could not be over-emphasised in today’s world, as the media is always under pressure to deliver since the emergence of social media. The 81-year old Maduka regretted that he didn’t leave an institution of learning, but advised that journalists must report more, deeper and wider.
DAME’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Lanre Idowu, said the event was to deepen knowledge of the history of Nigerian mass media.
Dean, School of Communication, Lagos State University, Prof. Rotimi Williams, said the school’s relationship with ACSPN provides the marriage between the professionals and the academic, adding, “The history of communication has impacted every aspect of communication. Our goal is to bring media icons who can impact our students based on their personal experiences.”