Media should be for transformational influence

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A country is as great as the media establishments she has. A vibrant media develops the polity.“Do not underestimate the power of the media” is an age-long aphorism.

But how effective are the media outfits in Nigeria? The media in Nigeria must transform and enhance lives to be effective. These are the core values of the media: to transform and enhance lives and to encourage the humanism of the collective man. The media must use their influence to teach and to enlighten and to pursue causes to serve humanity and never to manipulate the feelings of the vulnerable who do not know history. History is important. The history of Nigeria nowadays is told by raconteurs from only one angle through rose-coloured glasses. It is the responsibility of the media to put out unbiased history.

To get a balanced view of all sides. Not a jaundiced view of issues so as to correct the falsity people churn out. History shouldn’t only dwell on the past but should also make the future possible. How is it that in many media outfits, nihilism is mistaken for nationalism? Many people need to differentiate between freedom of speech guided by reason and freedom of expression guided by the obscene. How freedom of expression came to mean the pouring of invectives and expletives on people is a misdirection and a product of the decay of Nigerian society.

So many people today hold the erroneous view that value refers to any opinion which can be expressed without feeling squeamish about it even when it goes against positive norms. Our level of education is one where we are taught that value is relative and not universal. I live in an environment away from my birthplace where it was common to see on state television, religious leaders with their spear in the sand, denigrating the adherents of another faith. Of what benefit is it even now when clerics of major religious institutions heap scorn on personalities sacred to others? Small wonder, we struggle with religious fundamentalism.

What is the purpose for which media outfits are established. Are they established to promote democratic norms, of equality and rights for all? To challenge the status quo and appreciation diversity so as to learn from each other to expose the truth?

If yes, why have our state administrators made state-owned media outfits so partisan that they see members of other parties as adversaries? Access to the state’s media houses (radio, print and television) is denied to opposing parties. They can’t reach the people through it. They are prevented from presenting their plans to the people through those channels.

For the media to be a tool for transformational influence, media practitioners must have an open mind. After all, the journalistic spirit is free from discrimination and professionals are always driven by a sense of mission for the growth of country.

Government must also allow the media the freedom needed to transform society especially if such freedom isn’t a threat to national security.
The challenge of national growth can be surmounted if the press in Nigeria has a national outlook and come together despite biases and rally on national causes. Remembering the 1990s when media practitioners joined hands to chase the military out of power!

It is the duty of the media to educate Nigerians on the importance of the fight against corruption. It is the duty of the media to rally Nigerians round the importance of promoting campaigns against war and hate, away from sensationalism, to respect all citizens of Nigeria and ensure a free and just society.

It is the media’s duty to arouse disgust at untoward behaviors of people for national growth so they can demand accountability from those in power.

A vocation summons you but a career is what you choose. When media men see their profession as a vocation, then understanding the algorithm of filling societal voids positively become, clearer. Informing, educating and entertaining people would be a matter of course. So also is galvanizing them towards reaching a common goal for national growth. Qualitative information in today’s media world should be a culture designed to bring about transformation.

It is incumbent on the media to celebrate our similarities and not our differences in Nigeria because what binds us are greater than what separates us.Abah writes from Port Harcourt

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