The Former Director, Voice of Nigeria, Gabriel Omohinmi, on Friday gave kudos to the social media for breaking the major news stories which dominated the media in the year 2013 but faulted the traditional news media for not performing up to expectation.
Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Omohinmi expressed disappointment in the performance of the traditional news media (print, television and radio) despite the enabling atmosphere Goodluck Jonathan’s administration has created for practitioners. “We’ve actually not had problems with this present administration,” he said and added that “they have been very fair. They have allowed the Press to express themselves.”
According to the seasoned journalist, “the Nigerian media has not done well. We are not doing well. The traditional media is not performing the duties (that is) expected of them” because major stories in 2013 including the controversial letter exchange between former president Olusegun Obasanjo and President Jonathan, were broken by online based media.
This new trend is an indication that “people no longer trust media-men,” he said, adding that, “credibility is the basis of journalism practice.”
In the case of the call for Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah’s sack, Omohinmi said that journalists attached to the Presidency and the House of Representatives have not done their jobs as they should have obtained and published copies of the committees investigating the matter.
He also faulted the Minister for asking a journalist, Simon Ateba, to go back to school, after questioning her about House of Representatives’ call for her sack or resignation.
“Was it the duty of the minister for aviation to do that? Where are the reporters at the National Assembly? Why is it that they’ve not been able to get a copy of the report?”
He further mentioned that cases of journalists having romantic relationships with public officers in the beat they cover, must stop as it is unprofessional.
“We must demand more from our reporters. They are not doing what is expected.”
Editorial policies of news organisations should be the guiding principle for journalists who are posted on assignments but “majority of them are out to see how much money they can make.” “Every media organisation is expected to have its own code of ethics that guides its own employees,” he said.
Omohinmi stated that the government owned media can perform much better than what they are doing now but the problem lies within the journalists and appointed officials who carry out “self-censorship” in favour of top government officers.
“I was in Voice of Nigeria, there was no time any minister will come and say this is what you take in our news.
“I remember during the MKO Abiola saga and Uche Chukwumerije was busy issuing out statements and I told them I was the news editor, I said No, I can’t carry this and I stood by it.
“My director of news came and said I was suspended and I said all well and good, I’m ready to go… I was suspended for one week but finally they brought me back and said what I did was quite professional.”
He advised that media organisations should establish their credibility in order to avoid external interference in their operations. “Do what is expected of you. Be credible and let the audience know that, is your only source,” he said.