As a journalist, especially a broadcast journalist that handles political programmes, how should your relationship be with politicians?
How do you convince people that you are not biased when you collect gifts and huge sums of money from politicians?
How do you convince people that you have integrity and that you are a professional when it’s the politicians you call for money and gifts for your new child’s naming ceremony, your father’s burial or even your birthday? That can’t be right!
Honestly, I’m not being sanctimonious but I believe that the behaviour of some of these men we are supposed to respect in the journalism industry calls for concern. They are not setting the right examples at all.
I believe that journalism is as sensitive as medicine. Practitioners owe the people the moral duty of not being prejudiced. This is important because once the journalist is compromised, the people will suffer for it.
The truth is that some of us know when you begin to set the wrong agenda by discussing issues only from the angles that will favour your patrons and not the people. Mr. Journalist, it is satanic when you do this! You are first responsible to the people before anyone else and believe me when you fail in this aspect, you have failed as a journalist.
I may not be practising journalism full-time but I consider myself a professional. Apart from the fact that I love journalism, I also studied and understand journalism and its ethics. That’s why it saddens me every time I hear stories of how some people who call themselves journalists ignore their trainings if they had any at all and begin to practise the profession in a beggarly manner, all in the name of trying to make ends meet.
Whenever I hear someone try to give poor renumeration as excuse for the unprofessional cconduct of some journalists, I marvel. Integrity is everything. My humble advice is that media practitioners who feel that their take-home pay cannot take them home should look for something else to do. You cannot begin to mess up the minds of people just because of your financial situation. That can’t be right!
We will also implore media owners to call their employees to order, I am being specific about those who handle political discussions because of its sensitive nature. I also handle a radio programme which is a personality ‘show’. I have customized letters where I make my guest understand that the radio station expects them to pay because the show is promotional in nature. My show is more like an enterprise because it promotes the brand of my guests so they understand what they are paying for.
At this juncture, I must also discuss how independent journalism and the indiscriminate commercialization of the industry is contributing to the rot.
Sometimes I think media owners and their managers contribute to the menace. I still don’t understand why they expect content creators to pay them. You have someone giving you good content, free of charge and you cannot engage marketers to sell these content to potential advertisers? Although it seems this only applies to broadcast journalism where everything has been commercialized. They expect good content and still expect you to pay them.
An independent broadcaster, especially one who has limited financial resources and is expected to produce quality content is first a creative who should not be distracted with the thoughts of content marketing. My opinion is that presenters who handle political programmes should be paid by the radio station such that they will not be tempted and will be able to remain objective in their presentations. It is better for a freelance producer to get sponsors but in case he cannot get credible ones for instance, he should be paid for his efforts. It is only logical that good content drives traffic to a radio station which means a media owner who has foresight will understand that he still benefits on the long run.
One of my respected colleagues in the industry recently stepped down from anchoring a political show in their foremost radio station in Osogbo because he believes his involvement in politics has got to the extent that it may affect the credibility of his platform.
That’s what I call integrity which is expected of any respectable individual. Dayo Oderinu, I need you to know that I respect you more.
Any serious media owner or manager whose mission is quality and professional broadcasting should pay more attention to getting standard content and professional presenters. You cannot continue to sell your airtime to those who will bastardize your platform and expect that you will remain respected and relevant in the industry.