My subject of interest today will be a certain Guardian journalist who put out a STORY that should have been best left alone. I believe by now you have followed the link and read the story, let me first say that this blog tries its best to be objective in all matters and at all times.
Comrade Ovuozuorie Macaulay is the Secretary to the Delta state Government (For the benefit of those who don’t know him). Earlier this month, the SSG and his governor (Dr. Emmaneul Uduaghan) came under little fire from us when it seemed like there was a cover up on the Ugborodo crisis (Read it here ). I can also say categorically, when he or anyone does anything worthy to rant about, you will read it here.
However, I will be coming to Comrade Macaulay’s defense today against what I call a shame to journalism. The story written by said Guardian Journalist was built on what Macaulay said off the record which in its entirety, was also taken out of context by this reporter. I know this because I and other press men from various media houses were there (a mini-reception after the media chat held with the SSG). Glacé had a story on that day too and we also referenced the issue this Guardian journalist talked about (Governorship zoning between ethnic groups in Delta state) and we quoted him as answered Read the story.
The major issue here really is not about comrade Macaulay or the journalist, it is about media ethics and journalism. Where do you think a media practitioner should draw the line? Thinking about it, you will agree with me that the journalist did not just put the story out there, there was an editor who gave the OK before it went out.
This makes you wonder, what is happening to the “gate keeping” principles in our media today? Have gate-keepers become so laissez-faire that they don’t bother to do thorough jobs? Would the editor have been able to know how the said story was gotten? To this end, the Guardian Newspaper has some level of culpability because the journalist is just an employee.
On the part of the journalist, you would think that someone who is credited to be well versed in his own rights would know better not to post what was said off-record and try not to quote people out of context but what do you know? The most shameful thing about the whole debacle is the fact that he was quoting Macaulay like he had a real interview and you can bet that he added pepper and salt to the story (LOL…)
One is forced to ask, where are the traditional journalism principles? What happened to Truth, Fairness, Objectivity, Balance, Respect and the most needed today, Integrity & Verification? If such journalist is doing this,what will happen to information being put out to the public in a world where everyone with a laptop and modem is a journalist (Pun Intended)? I for one do not like being referred to as a journalist because I think the name has been so sullied by bad journalistic practices which have become the norm. (Let us not even go into these things just yet).
Although what Macaulay (A former NUJ Chairman- Nigerian Union of Journalist) said on that fateful night was not at all out of place or rude to any ethnicity, I believe the right thing to do is for the Guardian newspaper to issue out an apology to Comrade Ovuozuorie Macaulay and make a retraction of that story. People have been sued for less. The media is not supposed to send out stories that could incite the people and create more division in what is already one of the most ethnically diverse states in the country. A political party chieftain from the alleged offended ethnic group already replied Macaulay on what he perceived as an insult and this could go on and on.
The media is said to be the fourth estate of the realm, let us uphold that and do what is right. There is no need to derail just because one wants to sell more papers, make extra money or increase traffic to his media house (no allegations made).
We must remember: although we have freedom of speech; there is a big responsibility that comes with the things we say or write. Media regulatory bodies and media houses alike should take it upon themselves to give training on Ethics and good Media Practices; as more than ever, the journalistic society needs to be above reproach.