by Nana Nwachukwu
The Nigerian media has been one sector that has come out of this government in flying colours. The media has been given unrestricted access to news and also unrestricted publication rights to the extent that it is nearly if not already abused.
The Nigerian media currently comprises of the traditional media (Newspaper and TV/Radio houses) and the New Media (Websites, blogs, and other social media)
Journalism is not all about spreading information. Previously in Nigeria, the delivery of news was limited and delayed in that it had to be verified, it had to go to print and the papers had to be distributed. More often than not, the radio and TV houses read their information from the Newspapers back then.
The coming of smartphones and other modern technology/devices brought a drastic change in news reporting. The mere fact that people made use of the internet and relied on it to a large extent made it easy for news or information put out on the internet easy to circulate. Smart devices placed people on the internet faster. It was easy to take pictures, tag them and post it to a social media of your own choice or to create a blog post about it.
As much as I would like to see the blessing and the bright light at the end of the tunnel in this, I wish to point out that it is a double-edged sword. It protects rights and slaughters dignity on the altar of publicity and page views.
The Social media journalists hardly ever get to verify any news before they click ‘post’, ‘tweet’ or ‘publish’. Let me explain this. Assuming the social media platform is Twitter and you have 50,000 followers and you tweet ‘Nana Nwachukwu that tweets from @purehaire is the new Chief Judge’. It is assumed that it gets to at least 50,000 timelines. If it were to be retweeted, multiply that with the number of followers of the person who retweeted it and so on and so forth. It would have gone to different timelines and time zones. It could be storified and published in several blogs and also re-blogged. That is how fast news travels no matter the authenticity.
The sadder part is that traditional media have also begun the error of not verifying stories before publishing. It is so bad that they actually quote the internet as their source. (What an authentic source right?)
I had a discussion with someone some time ago and he went on and on about media rights to publication and the spread of news. I tried to remind him that ‘where the rights of one person stops, the right of another begins’. You have the right to tell a tale but I also have the right to a clean spotless reputation which I have earned.
Verification of news would save individuals from being charged with sedition, libel and defamation of character. The damage that is caused by the internet is such that you can only have controls over the original post you have made which can be easily deleted but that of others who have copied, re-blogged and re-told your story is out of your control and such malicious data may not be cheap to take off the internet as it is.
Before you hit that ‘send’ button be sure it is a fact that has been verified!
Follow this writer on Twitter: @Purehaire