Nigerian journalists poorly paid, economically handicapped – Pat Utomi

Nigerian journalists poorly paid, economically handicapped  – Pat Utomi

Felix Ikem, Nsukka

The chairman, Centre for Values and Leadership (CVL), Prof. Pat Utomi, has described Nigerian journalists as ‘poorly paid and economically handicapped’ to carry out their duties as members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm.

He added that the economics of media practice in Nigeria diminishes capacity for performance.

Prof. Utomi said that reporters only focused on staged events, press conferences, lectures with a reward of ‘brown envelopes’ at the end of the day.

This, he said, often leads to little or no depth, interpretation or investigation of the stories written, noting that they report what they were told leaving many critical questions unanswered.

Utomi made this known as guest lecturer at the 11th Jacksonite Annual Lecture organised by the Department of Mass Communication, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

Speaking on the topic: “The Media & The Development Challenge In Nigeria At A Time of Crisis”, Utomi said, “In my view, the economics of media in Nigeria which leaves us with newspapers and electronic media that pay poor salaries and many times fail to pay for months, diminishes capacity for performance.

“Many media practitioners are caught in crisis of existential nature and so lack the sobriety for the issues in nation building.

“Reportage on Nigeria is dominated by the staged events, press conferences, AGMs, lectures etc. These largely place the domination of news by those who stage events and facilitate the dolling out of gratification the poorly paid reporter has come to look forward to.

“Even transportation money to the staged event is hardly forthcoming, much less resources for the investigative report,” he said.

The reason for this, according to him, “Is largely because the media business models in Nigeria are such they cannot afford the traditional methods of news gathering.”

He further reasoned that, “If the media can help enhance rigor in policy choice and encourage a culture of reasoned public conversation on policy matters, play up the activities of civil society that results in stronger institutions with more effective investment in human capital, we can expect to see more virile entrepreneurship and economic growth resulting the refrom.”

Stressing on the need for education on the part of journalists, Utomi continued, “A journalist is permanently in the course of education to be relevant in the rapidly changing world.

“You can’t hold accountable if you are not knowledgeable. You can’t report the budget if you don’t know the budget process.”

While declaring the event open, Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Benjamin Ozumba, who was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Administration, Prof. Charles Igwe said, “This is an academic gathering and without the media, there won’t be exchange of ideas and information. I’m hopeful this lecture will achieve the desired goals for nation-building.”

Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Ike Ndolo, described the lecture as ‘an academic feast’.

Earlier in an address, the Head of the department, Dr. Luke Anorue, said the topic was apt and comes at a time when “The news media across the country are awash with regular reports of crisis of different dimensions.”

Highlights of the occasion was the presentation of the distinguished Jacksonites Ambassador award to Prof. Utomi for his selfless contributions to the Department.

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