Sun, 17 Mar 2024 Feature Article

It’s Newsworthy To Report That Nigerians Are Groaning Under Tinubu’s Leadership

Its Newsworthy To Report That Nigerians Are Groaning Under Tinubus Leadership

There is no denying the fact that a good Journalist instinctively has a nose for news, and can sniff out a story, and even smell a scandal. Such a Journalist can at any given moment sniff a whiff of corruption and professionally root it out like a pig diving for truffles. However, given the explanatory angle of the foregoing headline, there is no news as the views this writer is set to express may sound stale to not a few people who may not understand the dilemma Journalists usually face when it comes to unbiased reporting.

The reason for the foregoing view cannot be farfetched as virtually every Nigerian Journalist who knows his or her onions has been at a crossroads since May 29, 2023, when President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on the day of his inauguration declared that “Subsidy Is Gone.” Since that August occasion was witnessed ten months ago at Eagle Square in Abuja, there is no denying the fact that things have never remained the same as life has become unbearably difficult for not a few Nigerians.

In fact, since May 29, 2023, when the president made the declaration that fuel subsidy has been removed, the country has witnessed unprecedented hardship occasioned by food inflation, devaluation of the naira, poor purchasing power, youth restiveness, intolerable living conditions, unemployment, widespread violence, and criminality, even as electricity supplies have unprecedently plummeted to the detriment of the survival of manufacturing companies and small businesses in the informal sector of the economy.

Against the backdrop of the foregoing views, permit this writer to opine that journalistic practice and professionalism across the globe are pigeonholed by certain universals as well as exceptional exactitudes. In most post-colonial societies, the ethical values and professional ethos of journalists reflect the tension between the commitment to integrity and social responsibility, shared by journalists worldwide, and the contextual interpretation and application of these principles.

Given the foregoing, it is expedient for this writer to disclose in this context that not a few Journalists are at a crossroads as they are faced with the question of “What comes first, being a journalist or being a citizen?”

The reason for being at a crossroads cannot be farfetched as some Journalists are in one way or another sentimentally affiliated with politicians that hold sway in the ongoing Tinubu-led government, and they are surprisingly not happy with anyone that file a story that says the people are suffering the most; more than ever before, since May 29, 2023. Some of these Journalists are wont to say that it is no more news that the people are suffering and that the news is stale.

At this juncture, and without resorting to being immodest, permit me to buttress the fact that as a Journalist who is abreast with the ethics and ethos of development journalism as a philosophically, culturally, and historically evolving professional ideology, even as it shapes the ethical landscape of development journalists and shows how they balance the dialectic of a universalist ethical philosophy and a relativistic professional ethos, that the news that “Nigerians are expressing disappointment in Tinubu's leadership” is not in any way Stale as long as the situation continues to worsen by each passing day.

For the sake of clarity, the news is such a significant part of everyone’s lives. Its purpose is to inform the public so that they can know about important events, and make informed decisions about their lives. Thus, someone who regularly keeps up with the news will widen his or her outlook and become enriched with widened knowledge.

But how do we know what qualifies as news? There are so many things happening in the world, but only a few make it into the news. I would say this usually comes down to the media’s news sense. News sense is essentially a person’s ability to pick out what is of interest to the wider public or what they need to know and turn it into a news story. It is an intuitive feeling.

For instance, never a time in Nigeria’s political history was an evolving government being criticized or lampooned as being done to the ongoing government. Mind-boggling enough, a search activity carried out on Google by this writer to search for news that is related to how Nigerians are suffering under the current administration showed 1,170,000 results in a speed of 0.27 seconds. You can also search the following phrase “Nigerians are suffering under Tinubu” on Google Search Engine to prove this writer’s Findings wrong or right if you wish.

Given the foregoing, it is germane to state that some of the headlines used by various media platforms to anchor new stories on the deepening level of hardship across the land cut across, “Do something, Nigerians are suffering, CAN tells Tinubu, ...”, “Nigerians are suffering under your govt — Muslim Council”, “Nigerians are suffering', KWAM 1 to Tinubu in new song”, “Hardship: Tinubu knows Nigerians are suffering - Ex-APC ...”, “Lukman to Tinubu: Be responsive to today's reality” “Nigerians suffering one of worst post-independence ...”, and “Tinubu, Nigerians are starving”. Other self-explanatory headlines that are replete on virtual space are “Senator asks 'suffering' Nigerians to be patient with Tinubu ...”, “CAN to Tinubu: Do Something, Nigerians are Suffering ...” Without resorting to a campaign of calumny, the headlines on virtual space are quite inexhaustive.

At this juncture, it is expedient to enlighten those saying that a news report conveying the fact that Nigerians are suffering under the Tinubu-led government is stale with the 8 values or elements of newsworthy content that cut across Impact, Timeliness, Prominence, Proximity, The Bizarre, Conflict, Currency, and Human Interest.

First and foremost, the stories resonate in every Nigerian who is repeatedly told that he or she suffering under the present administration, so it would unarguably impact on him or her. Another value in the newsworthiness of a news story is its timeliness as it addresses the question: “Why are you telling me this now?” The answer is that Journalists do not need to tell Nigerians what the people are going through under this administration by the time the government has served out its tenure. This is the time to tell them!

For the sake of clarity, it is expedient to ask, “What makes something ‘new’ by news standards?” The answer cannot be farfetched as newsy story does not mean the story itself has to be new, but some new information has to have come to light that makes the story relevant again.

Prominence poses the question: Why are you telling me this? Yes, you are been told to make a wise decision when next you are allowed to vote in an election, and not to sell your vote to anyone, and not to be deceived or fooled.

When a Journalist talks about newsworthiness, one of the questions is “Does this story matter to my audience?” The answer to the foregoing question in this context is in the affirmative as they are majorly Nigerians that are unarguably been affected negatively by the misgovernance of leaders that are playing different roles in the ongoing government being led by President Tinubu.

At this juncture, “Is there anything unexpected about the story that tells how Nigerians are suffering under Tinubu-led government? In Journalism, the bizarre element in determining new value is best expressed through a great journalistic aphorism that I am sure to mangle, but let us give it a shot: ‘When a dog bites a man, that is not an interesting story. It happens all the time. But if a man bites a dog, then that is news. Determined from the foregoing backdrop, it is bizarre that the government that assured Nigerians of a better life is the same government that is inflicting unprecedented biting hardship on them in less than a year in power. With the foregoing element, “Is it not enough to report how Nigerians are suffering daily”?

Regarding the element of conflict, it is expedient for a Journalist to ask, “What are the different sides of this issue, and what are their arguments?” It is not professionally ethical for any Editor to resort to primordial sentiments of saying that a leader who is not performing “He is my person”, and then go ahead to kill a newsworthy story that would have been of public good. Without a doubt, it is at this stage that journalists should prove that they are trained or mentored to be apolitical, patriotic, nationalistic, and fiercely independent.

Another question a Journalist should ask when faced with the dilemma of whether a news report on how Nigerians are suffering is newsworthy or not, is “Is this trending?” The answer to the foregoing question regarding the news story being referred to in this context is in the affirmative as the suffering is by each passing day, since May 29, 2023, becoming unbearably worse.

Another element to factor into the determination of newsworthiness is Human Interest. When any Journalist thinks of ‘human interest,’ he or she would probably think of how it would resonate with people. The reason for the foregoing cannot be farfetched as people want to know about the stories of other people, so a human-interest angle can be especially useful in helping a Journalist put a human face on a bigger story that needs to be personalized. Think about a market situation in Ogba, Lagos where a particular bottled drink was differently sold at N500 by a particular seller, N450 at another shop, and N350 at another shop. In a similar vein, a particular brand of rice was sold at different prices at different shops under the same building; all happening under President Tinubu-led government.

Without boring anyone in this context, the expression of this view could not have been at a better time as it was inspired to urge professional colleagues of this writer, and to remind them that we owe a duty to Nigerians, and not to our political leaders; irrespective of the primordial sentiments we share with them, particularly as some of them are our kinsmen who sometimes worship with us in churches and mosques, and sometimes allow us to mention their good works in news stories, features, and even interviews.