Media chiefs urge truth, integrity in journalism at Betty Irabor’s birthday
Media owners and practitioners have been urged to make truth and integrity their watchwords. They were also charged to stand firm in the face of the social media and citizen reporting.
The appeals came at the 60th birthday celebration of the publisher of Genevieve magazine, Betty Irabor, held at the Muson Centre, Lagos. To honour the celebrant, Betty and husband, Soni, their daughter, Sonia Irabor, were the President, Nigerian Guild of Editors, Funke Egbemode; Publisher of The Guardian, Lady Maiden Alex-Ibru; Managing Director of the defunct Concord Newspapers, Dr. Doyinsola Abiola; former Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the immediate past president, Dr. Reuben Abati; Publisher of Today’s Woman magazine, Adesuwa Onyenokwe and Chude Jideonwo.
Others include Kadaria Ahmed, Motunrayo Alaka, Funke Treasure Durodola and the event moderator, Tolu Adeleru-Balogun. Onyenokwe, who gave the welcome address with the theme: “Truth and Integrity: Journalism in the Age of Social Media, Fake News and Citizen Reporting,” praised the celebrant and pointed out that if Betty had not done it, most people in magazine publishing today might not have had the courage to do so.
Irabor revealed that if she knew then what she knows now, she would not have ventured into the field of magazine publishing, describing it as a labour of love. The keynote speaker, Dr. Abiola revealed that as a journalist, it was difficult to maintain integrity and even harder for a woman who is in a position of power.
According to her, “the way we do journalistic business in Nigeria doesn’t make sense. No publication in this country is making healthy profit.” Egbemode, one of the panelists started out by questioning citizen reporting. “Being a blogger is not the same thing as being a journalist. You are either a journalist or not. We don’t have citizen doctors or lawyers, why should we have citizen journalists? Bad stuff doing well doesn’t mean it is good stuff,” she said.
Jideonwo, another panelist, countered that the standard of journalism has fallen because the threshold is low. According to him, fake news is not a new phenomenon but being in an era of amplification, it is gaining traction.
Applauding The Guardian for successfully fusing the old and the new ways of doing journalism, Jideonwo urged others to emulate the exemplary model. Abati on his part pointed out that most people who influence the news today are sadly not even journalists.
Pointing out that a multi-disciplinary approach is needed to the study and practice of journalism, he revealed that the field’s biggest challenge still remains truth and integrity.
Kadaria Ahmed said it is hard to uphold standard when you are a lone voice. She called for better pay and working conditions for practitioners while advocating that journalists must strive to be the voice of sanity in the midst of insanity and corruption.