A former presidential candidate and economic expert, Prof. Pat Utomi, has described the Nigerian media as a bazaar, accusing it of deepening cynicism about the Boko Haram insurgency.
Utomi said this in an article titled, “Existential imperatives in culture collapse: the media and the Nigerian condition”, which was posted on his Facebook page. He said that corruption and abuse of authority had affected professionalism in the press, especially in the reporting of terrorism.
He said, “Maybe it is more helpful to look at the media on a spectrum of developed and underdeveloped model, like the Bazaar-Canteen development approach, where underdeveloped media characterised by low social good values, limited education of the journalists and poor economic structure of the media, which is not profitable enough to pay journalists well as well as provide the right tools of work, is at the bazaar end. But at the canteen end, media is more sophisticated, more responsive to stakeholder aspiration and more focused on the common good.”
According to him, Nigerian press is operating on the ‘bazaar’ level, adding that previous generation of journalists, though not as ‘certificated’ as journalists in the country today, were ‘infinitely more sophisticated, and of higher ethical standing.’
“My verdict is that the Nigerian press is somewhere on the spectrum, closer to the bazaar than the canteen end. Today’s journalism is struggling with collapse of culture in the broader society in which corruption is systemic and abuse of trust and authority is epidemic,” Utomi added.
He argued that Nigerian journalists were not doing enough in reporting insecurity and that they had increased people’s doubts because their reporting lacked investigations.
“Good journalism is inherently sceptical, and probing. Not enough of that is happening today and that has deepened cynicism about what is going on. The case of abduction of a generation of the daughters of the people of Chibok is a case in point.
“Far too much time was lost because the press was slow to hold a government that sees everything through the prism of the next elections and the games of its opponents, the trauma of parents and the value of human life to account.
“One can argue that some curiosity about the peculiar adversity of churches being bombed prevented the media from realising the consequence of what was coming in the early days of the Boko Haram insurgency,” Utomi stated.
He, however, commended Nigerian journalists, whom he said had “been steadfast and who put a greater premium on the professional expectations from the media than the challenges of the moment suggest.”
Utomi noted, “There are some newspapers, beyond individuals, that by their corporate culture are more institutionally insulated from the media that embarrasses the thinking man. The discerning citizen seems to know the difference.”