Seasoned journalist has given tips to practicing media professionals on how best to report in a depressed economy at the just-concluded media seminar organized by Polaris Bank Limited, Nigeria’s leading digital retail Bank.
Speaking at the seminar, Dr. Akintola Olaniyan, a former deputy editor with the Punch told the participants to adhere to the core news value of objectivity, proximity, balance, and reflection of social, cultural, and moral ethics in their reports of the Nigerian economy which is presently depressed owing to rising debt profile, two economic recessions in the last eight years despite the country’s huge potential for growth and rapid development.
He urged them to avoid subjectivity, biases, and prejudices in the way issues are presented to their audiences and stressed the importance of staying contextually up to date with the responsibilities and obligations that come with being a reporter in a specific area of specialization.
He also advocated for a revamp of journalism curricula to incorporate training on investigative journalism, emerging trends in digital media and data analysis as well as continuous on-the-job training for reporters and media practitioners. In addition to incentives such as payment of living wages and insurance policies, were essential for ensuring the protection and well-being of journalists in the country.
While highlighting the challenges faced by journalists, the former editor identified ownership structure, peer pressure, self-regulation, limited budgets, inadequate remuneration, lack of insurance coverage, ethno-religious considerations, changing media culture and lack of capacity as significant environmental factors affecting the profession.
Dr. Olaniyan further explained that economic, political, technological and cultural factors play a vital role in shaping news.
The veteran journalist, while lamenting the current bad state of the national economy, expressed sadness at the rising debt portfolio approximated to be N77 trillion and cost of debt servicing while recalling the concern that of Nigeria slipping into two periods of recession in eight years – 2016 and 2020 – despite country’s huge potential for growth and rapid development.
Citing OPEC and NEITI data, he said “Nigeria boasts nearly 40 billion barrels in crude reserves, ranking 11th out of 20 countries. Additionally, gas and oil contribute 65-83% of the country’s total export revenue, with a crude oil production capacity of 2.5 million barrels per day. However, Nigeria currently produces 1.8 million barrels per day, making it Africa’s largest oil producer and the 13th largest in the world.”
“Despite these economic potentials, Nigeria has been identified as the 14th most failed state in the world in 2011, climbing 40 places in the Fund for Peace ‘Fragile State Index’ between 2005 and 2011. Nigeria now finds itself grouped with countries such as Somalia, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Afghanistan”, he lamented.
Comparing Nigeria to South Africa on various indicators, including poverty headcount ratio, life expectancy and population growth rate, Dr. Olaniyan highlighted the disparities between the two countries.
According to the experienced journalist and researcher, “Nigeria exhibited a poverty headcount ratio of 30.9 percent, while South Africa’s stood at 20.5 percent, with a life expectancy of 53 years as against 65 years for South Africa, population growth rate of 2.4 percent as of 2021 for Nigeria while South Africa is 1.0 percent, among others.”
Also speaking at the session, the CEO of Edgeforth, a technology firm, Mr. Sheriff Adekoya advised journalists to always have a direction, stating that readers these days are now critical about certain brands, traits and values and that media houses should have a unique identity and selling points that will