Journalists in Nigeria have been challenged to update, upgrade, and refresh themselves in order to keep up with the current tide of developmental journalism.
The challenge is coming considering the fact that some of the contemporary issues in Nigeria today, which Nigerians are currently grappling with, are insurgency, banditry, kidnapping, and other forms of criminality that make life miserable.
The insurgency, started by the dreaded Islamic sect, Boko Haram, and what has now become known as banditry in the North-East and North-Central parts of the country, needs special skills and professionalism in response.
The challenge was made by Professor Danjuma Gambo of the Department of Mass Communication, University of Maiduguri, during the opening of a 2-day capacity building for media practitioners in the North-East subregion organised by the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) held at the NUJ Press Centre, Bauchi.
According to him, the insurgency has changed a lot of things: “First, it has changed our worldview; it has changed the way we do things; and forever and ever, we can never go back to doing things the way we used to do them before.”
The University Don added that, “Therefore, as Journalists, we can no longer report issues of conflict as we used to. The issues have changed, and the instruments for reporting must change; our knowledge and understanding must change.”
Danjuma Gambo stressed that “This insurgency is not the type of conflict we see in Plateau and Kaduna States; the insurgency is quite different.”
He also said “We also recorded COVID-19. COVID-19 changed the worldview, and forever and ever, we cannot change the way we do things.”
The Mass Communication Teacher stressed that, “Now, the significance of that is that, even at the peak of COVID-19, the media continued to report COVID and its consequences. Some of our colleagues were infected, while some in other parts of the world died of COVID-19.”
“If such a significant global devastation should occur again, what lessons did we learn as journalists and what do we think should be done differently? he asked.
He further asked, “What if we should have another COVID-19 epidemic or pandemic? How can we do or report better because journalists must survive before they can report?”
The Lead paper presenter during the workshop said that there would be six presentations, one of which would be on media and good governance because the entire discussion is about good governance.
He said “One of the issues we have as a major cause of conflict is poor governance. In a democracy where the will of the people is assumed to prevail, you will have bad governance both nationally and sub-nationally.”
“And where you have bad governance, there will not be peace; there will always be conflicts, and that is not in the interest of the country,” he added.
According to him, “So, Journalists need to understand the importance of good governance. Good governance is the only guarantee to peace; where there is bad governance, there is likely to be violence and conflict.”
Danjuma Gambo further said that, “Then, we have media and diversity. One of the issues we are grappling with is diversity, and when we say diversity, we mean the ever-changing proposition of our ethno-religious and cultural structures and processes.”
He explained, “Things are changing; there is a high mob of people. The Boko Haram insurgency has moved many people from Borno, even Taraba, Bauchi, and Gombe, into Yobe and other places.”
“And so, we need to manage that diversity. The media and journalists have been accused of playing on the intelligence of people by mismanaging our diversity.
Instead of us reporting issues that will bring about harmony, cooperation, and tolerance, we are busy dividing the people, and that is why it is necessary we look at that topic,” The Don emphasised.
According to him, the use of the word journalist is best understood in that context. As Journalists, we can no longer report issues of conflict as we used to because the issues have changed, the instruments for reporting them have changed, and our knowledge, understanding, and attitudes towards the issues have also changed.
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