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Quacks threatening journalism practice, says Prof Wilson

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Professor Desmond Wilson

•Insists on minimum certification for media personnel

Renowned professor of Mass Communication, Desmond Wilson, has decried the ‘increasing number of quacks’ in Nigeria’s media industry, describing the situation as threat to journalism profession and national unity.

Speaking in a telephone interview with The Guardian, the former Dean of Faculty of Arts, at the University of Uyo advised that the profession should be entrusted in hands of well-trained, unbiased and patriotic professionals.  Wilson noted that untrained personnel posing as journalist had been responsible for the misinformation and dissemination of fake news, a two-fold trend that has brought distrust to the media industry.

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“You are not a journalist until you are trained. It’s the very reason we have all kinds of charlatans now in the profession; tailors who can put a few sentences together say they are journalists. The most important thing is that you must hold a certificate, through which you acquired some skills during training. You can’t because you write or because you can argue claim becoming a lawyer.

There are writers who write columns in newspapers or magazines or run commentary in television or radio, that doesn’t make them journalists. We must be able to defend that aspect of the business that you must be first of all be certificated, you must be trained in the business of journalism or broadcasting to perform efficiently.”

The Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) particularly specifies that a journalist must be one who has a certificate not below the level of a diploma.   “And, if you don’t have it, no matter how finely you may write you aren’t qualified as a journalist,” Professor Wilson argued.

“You may have some natural skills, which you can bring into it but you need to be trained. Those skills have to be shaped and sharpened in such a way that you make a difference. There are journalists and there are journalists.”

Wilson argued that it was not enough to use social media platform to present stories.

“If you look at the qualities of those stories, do they reflect the kind of training a journalist should reflect in his writing? Besides, being a journalist is more than writing stories, there are many things that go into making you a true journalist because you are trained about your culture and basic writing skills. There is a code of conduct; someone who has not gone through those things cannot effectively write the kind of stories that are expected of a trained journalist.”

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