Osoba, Ibru, NPAN, others canvass acceptable framework for media regulation
Former Governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba, Publisher, The Guardian, Lady Maiden Alex-Ibru and President, Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Mallam Kabiru Yusuf, were among distinguished Nigerians that, yesterday, stressed the need for effective and acceptable framework for media regulation in the country.
Speaking at a media roundtable organised by NPAN in Lagos, Osoba recalled that “in 1978, there was an attempt by the then military government of Olusegun Obasanjo to regulate the media. That was what led to the formation of the Nigerian Press Organisation (NPO). A Code of Conduct was formulated then.”
With the theme: ‘Deepening media professionalism through co-regulation,’ he continued: “We then went round the country to ensure members swore to the code of conduct. The war has been on and it can never end. Government never wants you to expose them. Governments all over the world are like cultists, because they like to operate secretly.”
Referencing the United States, Osoba recollected that the First Amendment to the Constitution was freedom of the press, “but Donald Trump, in 2020, barred CNN (Cable News Network) from covering the White House. CNN went to court and got judgment.”
Under Gowon, he added that when Alhaji Babatunde Jose was Chairman of Daily Times, he was detained, stating: “I was Editor of Lagos Weekend and was arrested. Four of us were locked up.”
Speaking further, the ex-governor observed: “Online platforms are becoming an embarrassment. I thank God that the major newspapers have gone online and are breaking news. That is the way to fight them. Anybody that is not Internet-savvy can no longer be a reporter.”
In her contribution, Lady Alex-Ibru noted: “In Africa, we take the press for granted. I remember George Washington, when he was President in the U.S., he was asked which would he choose between the government and the press. His answer was – I will not hesitate to choose the press.”
She advised journalists thus: “Make sure you present yourself well and report the fact right. It is better not to apologise, because if you start apologising, you’ll start losing credibility.”
The Guardian Publisher also called for a minute silence in honour of the late Chairman of Leadership Newspapers, Sam Nda-Isaiah. NPAN President, Yusuf, while acknowledging the attendees, said the press wields great power, which must be used rightly.
There were equally sessions on: “Thoughts on co-regulation through an independent ombudsman framework” and “A Guide through the revised code of ethics for Nigerian journalists.” The former was presented by Editor-in-Chief at Leadership Media Group, Azubuike Ishiekwene while the latter was anchored by Supervising Trustee, Diamonds Award for Media Excellence (DAME), Lanre Idowu.
During the conversation on: “A Guide through the revised code of ethics for Nigerian journalists,” Executive Director, Guardian Newspapers, Toke Alex-Ibru, asked how to draw the lines between press release and promotional reporting. Responding, Publisher, This Day, Nduka Obaigbena, stated that journalists must separate pay contents from editorial contents.
President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Chris Isiguzo, canvassed good remuneration for media personnel, noting that newspaper proprietors should be factored in “if we are reviewing the code of conduct.”
Other personalities at the event were Managing Director, Guardian Newspapers, Martins Oloja; former Managing Director, Guardian Newspapers, Lade Bonuola; Professor of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, Ralph Akinfeleye; Managing Director, Radio Services at DAAR Communications Plc, Ambrose Somide; Publisher, Vanguard Newspapers, Sam Amuka; Co-founder, Newswatch, Ray Ekpu; Editor-in-Chief, Vanguard Newspapers, Gbenga Adefaye, among others.