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Prof Oso: Journalists Must Pursue Public Interest To Save Nigeria

Amidst political intrigues bordering on the call for creation of more states, establishment of state police, incessant bombings, corruption, call for Sovereign National Conference (SNG) and true federalism rocking the

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قديم 10-18-2012, 08:13 PM
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افتراضي Prof Oso: Journalists Must Pursue Public Interest To Save Nigeria

Amidst political intrigues bordering on the call for creation of more states, establishment of state police, incessant bombings, corruption, call for Sovereign National Conference (SNG) and true federalism rocking the nation, Prof. Lai Oso, Dean, AdeProf Oso: Journalists Must Pursue Public Interest To Save Nigeriaa Adegunwa School of Communication (AASOC) has called on media owners and practitioners to always Pursue Public Interest in their reportage of issues.

Prof. Oso made this call recently while delivering the 47th Inaugural Lecture of the polytechnic-Lagos State University entitled; Press and Politics in Nigeria: On Whose Side?

Chronicling the 153-year history of the Nigerian Press, dating back to 1859 when the first newspaper, Iwe Irohin Fun Awon Ara Egba ati Yoruba (paper for the Egba people and Yoruba) was set up by Rev. Henry Townsend of the Church Missionary Society (CMS), till the present day press, Prof. Oso lauded the efforts of Journalists in the struggle to attain Nigeria’s independence and its young democracy.

He, however, argued that while many commentators have continued to lay much emphasis on the role of the press in Nigeria’s contemporary politics, he has been particularly concerned with unraveling the material and market determinants which have largely been responsible for the bias, imbalanced and subjective reportage by most media organisations in the country over the years.

The Professor of Mass Communication argued that efforts by some stakeholders towards peace and nation- building seem unrealizable, “as press and politics are intertwined and can’t be separated.” Oso also stated that over the years, factors bordering on unobserved political partisanship, state appointments, bribery, contract awards, ownership influence, role of the state and commercialization, portend a great distraction in the press’ efforts to foster peace and nation-building.
Journalists

He said; “Whether under the colonial regime or the politicians that took over from them in 1960 and the military that toppled the politicians first in 1966 and later in the 1980s, the media were regarded as a major tool in the political struggle and hegemony building; hence the various attempts to control or domesticate the institution of mass communication either through outright ownership or legal and extra-legal means. On the first reason, the struggle to control and dominate the state by the elite class has been very intense and desperate, often degenerating into violence among the competing groups.”

Explaining why concerted efforts towards peace and nation-building have been a tedious task in the Nigerian society, Oso said; “Because of the plural nature of the Nigerian society, its ethnic configuration, it has been difficult to create a ‘united nation’ out of various ethnic groups in the country. All the ethnic groups want access to state power, and as such, recruit the press in the hot contestation for it.

“This has been both beneficial and inimical to the press in the country. While it has given the press its strength to limit a centralist and authoritarian tendency in the polity, safeguarding some level of divergence or differences, it is also its Achilles’ heel.

“It has been inimical in the sense that it has sometimes compromised the credibility of the press. It makes the press a captive instrument of parochial Interest groups and a vehicle for the circulation and promotion of primordial cultural symProf Oso: Journalists Must Pursue Public Interest To Save Nigerias antithetical to national ones. Thus, it has been difficult for the press to offer a national platform for any pan-Nigerian project as such a project could easily be labeled as ethnic or religious.

“This was the fate of the June 12 struggle which was at a point labelled a ‘Yoruba affair.’ The recent anti-petrol price increase protests was also presented as sectional by some shadowy groups. There are also a good number of commentators who see the media coverage of the Boko Haram insurgency along regional/religious divide.”


Prof Oso: Journalists Must Pursue Public Interest To Save Nigeria

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