2013 In Review: Social Media Content Lacks Depth – Analyst

The Executive Director, Institute of Communication and Corporate Studies, Austin Tam-George, on Friday called for a greater sense of responsibility on the part of social media users as the medium is filled with content which lacks depth of insight.

Speaking on Sunrise Daily, Mr Tam-George, who expressed his agreement in the argument that media performed below expectation in reporting issues in the country in 2013, said that the media hasn’t done enough at the grass root level.

The new media has opened the space for self-expression. A lot of people are getting more expressive as the new media grants users “a certain kind of anonymity.” Which allows them express themselves “without facing the dangers of persecution.”

He however warned that “having the opportunity to express yourself is not the same as having something serious to say.

“What you find in the social media landscape in Nigeria is that you still don’t find that depth of insight. You still find a lot of tendency towards sensationalism. The content is sensational. The style is gossipy and because the quality of education in this country has fallen drastically, even the quality of expression is not very good.”

“What I think we need to do is to recognise that we need to have proper information, proper sense of professional practice. The new media has opened up the space in such a way that everybody can (basically) function as a reporter or correspondent but that’s not enough. We still need to have oversight responsibilities.”

He accused social media content producers of aiming for viral posts “rather than making content to achieve educational purpose.”

Following the scandals and controversies which have heated up the polity in recent times, Tam-George said people should be more concerned about issues in the media.

“We lament a lot about the polity or political leadership in this country and I think we should worry more about the media landscape because the distance between the political class and the media elite is becoming narrower.” as “more of the people who are politicians are becoming media proprietors,” he said.

If you talk about the constitutional conference, the media has the responsibility to inform and educate

“Politicians recognize the media has a very important role to play in advancing their interests so they become investors, proprietors in the media.”

“There’s a tendency for those who were politicians or are active in politics to create the kind of media that they want in their own image.” Therefore, more and more media practitioners are choosing according to the political leanings of their proprietors which is why features such as subjectivity, independence of thought, investigative journalism are missing.

He however cautioned practitioners of both traditional and new media “to exercise responsibility in the way (those) platforms are used.”


2013 In Review: Journalist Approves Performance Of Social Media

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.