The expectation of humanity is for a world where people coexist peacefully irrespective ethnic or religious leaning. People want to live in brotherhood under whatever they believe in and wish their tomorrow is better, that what they lack today is ultimately be available tomorrow and what they hope for becomes reality.
Man’s quest for this El-dorado, is evident in the copious references made thereto in the Plato’s Republic, Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis, Thomas More’s Utopia and in several other ideological persuasions and sacerdotal exegeses. And while social theorists and crusaders have mapped out routes to this Eldorado; religious thinkers and philosophers, have given it various names such as Paradise, Pure Land, the New World, etc.
Therefore, man’s unabated craving for the emergence of such a world, where its constitution shall be composite; with provisions for the Laws of Right Human Relations; of Group Endeavours; of the Principles of Unanimity; Goodwill; Brotherhood and of Essential Divinity, portends its indispensability, hence humanity’s perseverance, thus making it a dream welcome. And in these, man must come to know that to be part of that greater future, decisions will have to be made today, because our today, is a product of the decisions we took yesterday.
To this end, if humanity is desirous to realise such a dream soonest, it must be borne in mind that ‘harmonious relationship’ is the first step to take, given the understanding that true ‘relationship’ is created through ‘communications’.
Communication can take many forms, but for most people, the chief vehicle is the spoken or written words. Therefore, we owe humanity a great responsibility to ensure that our words reflect the truth and beauty, as far as we understand them. This means that we must weave a web of lighted communications.
Interestingly, in communicating Right Human Relations into effectuality, the media comes to mind readily, as a greater part of the human population, has been influenced emotionally and didactically by media programmes than anything else known to man. Accordingly, the mass and virtual media, as significant aspects of human interactions and social engineering, share responsibility for providing moral education.
Unfortunately, too often than not, the mass media through its practitioners, churn out vituperations and prejudiced information to the society – perpetuating negative stereotypes, thus encouraging hate and violence. Yet these same media practitioners, if resolved to carry out their missions within a moral framework, can have a transformational impact on the moral and spiritual development of the young and ultimately of the whole of humanity.
Perhaps, this must have informed the educator, Neil Postman, to describe the media as “The First Curriculum.” And among the most relevant educators in this ‘First Curriculum’, are journalists who stand between the public and events in the world. Sequentially, a journalist, has a professional and moral duty to seek the meaning and purpose of an event and communicate same clearly to the masses. As a one who stands in the middle or median- from where the word ‘media’ etymologises, he must be as bias-free as the water in his reportage, which must not mix up news analysis with pure news reports. Anything short of this, amounts to a professional fraud and is morally repugnant.
A lesson may be drawn from a rally held somewhere in recent past, where a group of participants clashed briefly with security operatives. News reports of the event by two reporters – one an international reporter, the other, a local reporter, painted two different pictures of the same event. Perhaps, the international reporter, owing to her reporting experience, downplayed on the confrontation, while reporting clearly on the aim of the rally, whereas the local reporter, focused mainly on the conflict. Similarly, within our immediate media milieu, and arising from the echoes of 2019 elections, some internet-made “journalists,” have begun conducting their journalistic affairs in manners which are likened to the local reporter mentioned in the foregoing analogy
It beats one’s imagination as well as insulting to the sensibilities of the masses – the target of the mass media, to see 21st century media in Akwa Ibom State, divided against itself, by straddling across political camps, thus becoming partisan.
From what is being emitted in the name of news, both Governor Udom Emmanuel and the MD, NDDC, Nsima Ekere, may be distracted from giving their best to our society. It is a piety that as imperfect as we are, we still live in a society where an individual is habitually rebuked for error, if there is any, but rarely praised for accomplishment.
In many places, it is still unfortunately true that criticism is prompt, frequent, and sharp, while appreciation is niggardly or almost wholly lacking. The way to go, is to be suggestive and opinionated as opposed to being judgmental and critical. I do know that everyone can’t see the same way, owing to our varied and relative emotional levels, prejudices and Neanderthal attachments.
It is imperative that, for the sake of Akwa Ibom and her development, we should revert to our professional role of mediating between the masses and events instead of being transmitters of falsehood. As conveyors of information, journalists must be able to discern that which is worthy of communicating to others and present same with clarity, while the recipients of information, must learn to sift through it, evaluate it, and integrate it properly into an intelligent world view. On the whole, journalists must resist the temptation of being used to ridicule their noble profession, thereby reducing journalism to unethical field, where quackery has a field day.
Restoring sanity to the profession won’t come without a price. There are huddles to be crossed and prices to be paid as there are prizes too, to be won in the end. But something must be done, for victory will be ours. This is consequent upon the immutability that, the Aquarian millennium with its water carrier, which humanity has blazed into, spares no wolves in ship clothing and leaves no wrong foundation unturned, just like rainfall which spares no one’s roof. Because, this emerging age, by its very nature, washes off everything not rooted in truth and builds not on a firm base. Through this washing off, the hidden shall come to the fore while the unknown shall become known, as water knows no enemy nor friend. And journalism, originally, is akin to water, knows no foe nor friend. Let us take it back.
Mr. Abasieyo is a public affairs commentator from Akwa Ibom State.