The media which is the fourth estate of the realm realm plays the vital role of being the watch dog of society. The functions of the media include to inform, educate, enlighten, and entertain. These have made it possible for the journalists or media practitioners to earn the respect and trust of the people.
Jjournalists work round the clock to ensure that useful and relevant information are gathered, packaged and disseminated to humanity on daily basis. This enables people to have a fair knowledge about happenings in and outside the society.
However, the media can mar the society in some instances when messages of disunity and disintegration were broadcast or published in the case of print and new media. These messages oftentime elicit genocides in the society. Besides, journalists around the globe are more concerned about development of the society aa well as developing ideas, and how those ideas can be applied to impact positively the life of the common man.
The watchdog role of the media or journalists in particular has also enabled journalists to work closely and report to the government what is happening in the society based on the surveillance carried out. Journalists monitor every move of politicians and public office holders and report what those people have offered based on their track record or can be able to offer in the future towards a fast track development in the society.
Also, as part of their responsibility to hold government to account, journalists in every nock and cranny of this country have relentless been monitoring and reporting the activities of government. These include its policies and programms and implementation of developmental projects. Thus, issues of corruption, maladministration, and mismanagement of public funds were not left underreported. Journalists went the extra mile in unearthing the truth in whatever circumstances which is what an ideal practice stands for.
However, issues concerning poor remuneration, media ownership, and control have become a stumbling block for journalism to thrive today. Consequently, politicians exploit the undesirable situation as they take advantage of it and play around with journalists by giving them brown envelopes, thus inducing and dictating to them what to publish; they become a megaphone of political bigwigs.
The internet through social media and social networking sites has paved the way for people to actively partake in information dissemination in what is called citizen or yellow journalism. As a result, people with little or no knowledge about the principles that are required to stick to when writing for the public have now taken over cyberspace, spreading fake and misleading information and turning deaf ears to the grave consequences of doing so.
Regrettably, most of the online news platforms we have today failed in their duties of authenticating information based on the journalism standard of getting it from reliable sources before disseminating to the public. They are not concerned about the professional core principles such as accuracy and objectivity.
Also, the recent activities of some of our prominent national dailies operating online are uncalled for because many have engaged in publishing things far from the truth which is unethical as far as journalism practice is concerned.
Instructively, the technological advancement and conglomerate nature of the new media brought convergence, bringing various forms of media together which make it easier for digital information dissemination in contemporary journalism practices.
The media, or journalists in particular are the livewire of every nation. They connect the world through various channels of communication. Journalists of today should be more concerned about reports that will champion and promote peace, unity, and development which are insatiable in attaining sustainable development. Government at all levels on the order hand should work towards improving the welfare of journalists considering their immense contribution to nation-building.
Amina Umar Muhammad,
Department of Mass Communication, University of Maiduguri
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