Only healthy media can birth healthy country
Let us begin on a note of appreciation to all you, good people, gathered to keep faith with our annual celebration of some of the best brains in the Nigerian media. Some of us are nominees for the honour of being inducted into the DAME Hall of Fame. Without you, there will be no award ceremony. Some are sponsors of the various categories on offer. Without your financial support, it will be near-impossible to be here today. Some are judges who helped in determining those qualified for today’s honour. Yours is an important task and we truly appreciate your role.
Some are representatives of various media houses. The programme is yours and if you have not embraced it over the years, we couldn’t have kept it this long.
Some are friends of the house—members of the civil society on whose behalf the media keep a watch over society. Without you as representatives, the media can only engage in a monologue.
Lastly, some of us are family who are here to support their own. May we never have cause to disown our own. Anyone who has home support has a good thing. May we never do anything shameful that will cost us the support of our own.
Our journey here today started in 1991 when we came up with idea of an annual awards ceremony to encourage the media to tread the path of responsibility. From the very first edition on March 20, 1992 to date, we have inducted 576 names from the worlds of print journalism, broadcasting, and marketing communications into the DAME Hall of Fame.
We have honoured men, women, and organisations. We have awarded 29 lifetime achievement awards, and three honorary fellowships. Today, we will add 15 more prizes, one more lifetime achievement award and two honorary fellowships. We have brought respectability to the industry and we will continue to do so.
We have asked for nothing in return other than fidelity to ethics, commitment to standards, and the pursuit of a greater tomorrow for our profession and our country. We hold, and very firmly too, that it is only a healthy media that can birth a healthy country.
It is because of this desire for a healthy country that we urge our colleagues to take a more balanced view of the tremendous opportunity offered the country in the coming elections. A lot is at stake, but, sadly, the required leadership and direction that the media should offer is grossly missing.
Many of us are still engrossed in emotive reactions to situations. Many are ensconced in ethnic cocoons and lack the ability to tower beyond ethnic prejudices. Many have neglected the professional responsibility to set the agenda in a proactive manner; instead they seem to relish the pathetic situation of merely reacting to situation, regurgitating unproven allegations, and generating heat instead of light.
The media must moderate the process by defining the issues, and getting the candidates to respond to them. Why is it so difficult to moderate media debates or interviews if we approach the task with the political detachment necessary for a professional job?
I recall that in the past, the NPO, comprising the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria, the Guild of Editors and the NUJ had shown direction in this area. I know that a few attempts have been made by the Guild but a more integrated or collaborative effort may be more rewarding. It is not in the interest of the democratic process if the media cannot be trusted to assess the preparedness of candidates for political office. Nor is it in the interest of candidates if they are perceived to be avoiding media scrutiny.
Trusting that there is sufficient time for our media to make necessary amends before the elections, let us turn to the commendable strides that have taken place in our industry.
The first is the unbundling of mass communication training from a single, monolithic course into seven, which takes cognizance of global developments and best practices. These courses are
Journalism and Media Studies, Public Relations, Advertising, Broadcasting, Film and Multi-media studies, Development and Communication Studies, Information and media studies.
We congratulate the National Universities Commission for the step taken. We encourage the universities to implement them in a coordinated and coherent manner according to their capabilities to ensure successful implementation. The second is the recent agreement among media stakeholders to amend the code of ethics for Nigerian journalists and introduce an industry-driven mechanism called co-regulation.
We congratulate the NPAN, NGE, NUJ, the GOCOP, and various media NGOs for the breakthrough. We look forward to the formal establishment of the media complaints commission in the New Year, which will implement the new scheme.
Distinguished guests, without further ado, let me welcome you to the 31st DAME presentation. I wish you a pleasant evening and look forward to greater engagement with you as we expand the frontiers of development in our country.
Idowu gave this address at the 31st DAME presentation on December 11, 2022
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