A don has called for a comprehensive reform of the media and for journalists to avoid sycophancy in the discharge of their duties, especially during the 2019 general election and beyond.
Prof. Chinyere Okunna, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, said the kind of reforms and sanitisation that took place in the banking sector a few years ago should speedily be applied to the media.
According to her such reforms should ensure that media-owners, including governments, deposit substantial amount of money in a fund to be ‘forcefully’ used to pay salaries of journalists when their employers callously refuse to pay them.
Okunna gave the advice in a she delivered at a two-days capacity building for journalists organised by the International Press Centre (IPC) and funded through Component 4b: Support to the media of the EU Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) project.
She spoke on, “According Ethics and Professionalism Deserved Priority in Reporting Elections in Nigeria”.
She noted that there was the need ‘to marry’ freedom of a professional press system with responsibility to society.
There was the need also to condemn what she called the “arbitrary and extra-judicial government control of the press’’, she advised.
She also said that deserving condemnation was the “dehumanizing control by private owners of media establishments, including the financial control of non-payment of earned remunerations to media professionals’’.
She said that such type of control, which exposes journalists to all manner of unethical practices, is becoming so widespread.
“Only a free, ethical and professional press can report elections and the electoral process professionally and in line with best practices.
“To achieve this, journalists must be knowledgeable about the Code of Ethics of their profession.
“Although this knowledge could be gained from on-the-job training, the best way to acquire it is through formal education and certification which are the hallmark of any true profession”, she stressed.
She noted that stringent government’s control on the mainstream media was stifling the ability of the media to serve society more effectively.