by Fejiro Oliver
Journalism can never be silent: that is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault. It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph and the signs of horror are still in the air. –Henry Anatole Grunwald
I read with amusement the report abi fabrications of how some people met in Lagos to decide for Online Journalists and Publishers to boycott political adverts of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressive Congress (APC) simply because they have not been given adverts in their medium.
I ought to have ignored the news especially when it broke the elements of reporting. The 5 Ws and H were all missing and one begin to wonder when such became the norm in the industry if not to blackmail and arm twist the media arms of the two major political parties, by even alleging that one of them budgeted N150 million for advert.
While I cannot speak for other medium, I make bold to say that whoever concocted that is on his own and does not speak for any online journalist of which I am an active member. With all modesty, I am in touch with top journalists (not publishers) of the online media and we never reached such an agreement to boycott their adverts.
By the way, why must advert be a prerequisite for setting up a media house if not to inform the populace? Again, why must adverts be sought from political parties when we have numerous corporate bodies in Nigeria, as well as State government adverts? Is it a must that contesting parties should give adverts to a media house? The answer is a resounding NO. Call me a moralist but “Journalism without a moral position is impossible. Every journalist is a moralist. It’s absolutely unavoidable” (Marguerite Duras).
Media houses that knows their onions and worth reading like Premium Times, Elombah.com, 247ureports, Abusidiqu, The Capital and a whole lot of others have political parties adverts. As a policy, the trio of Sahara Reporters, Secrets Reporters and Daily Voice NG do not take adverts from contesting politicians and State Governments, until it is probably reviewed that there is sanity in the polity. If this were not so, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa advert would have been running on Secrets Reporters and Daily Voice NG. This is not to say that those who have it are wrong, as they are not and never will be. Even the numerous corporate adverts on the duo of Daily Voice NG and Secrets Reporters are not shown as part of agreement reached with them.
For those ghost publishers and journalists, who claimed to have met in Lagos, I want to put it to them that the APC presidential campaign team has given the sum of N3 million to a publisher (name withheld on professional basis) which was paid directly into his account for onward distribution to some online medium, and I challenge anyone to come out to dispute this. Yet, APC adverts are not on the listed online media sites.
Nigerians should begin to hold the online media which has become the present and future journalism to the tenets of the profession. We cannot be holding government and corporate bodies accountable when we have among them publishers and journalists who dine with the oppressors, collect money from them and come out to tell us that they are not being patronized.
Whoever feels angered that they are not given adverts in times such as this should turn to a marketer for the fast fading print medium and get his/her own cut of the supposed national cake than use our collective name to deceive the politicians. Glenn Greenwood word on journalism that “A key purpose of journalism is to provide an adversarial check on those who wield the greatest power by shining a light on what they do in the dark, and informing the public about those acts”
For those journalists who hold the ace in the online media, we will not boycott any political advert of any party, whether we get it or not. It is their prerogative to give adverts to whom and our privilege as information dispensers should not be translated into being alpha and omega to bring down whom we chose. Those of us who have been blessed to be at the forefront of fighting for a better society will continue to treat everyone equal while exposing the ills of every sector, including our own colleagues. We refused to be joined to a pseudo body that do not mean well for the country but their pockets.
This is another gaffe from these unknown publishers in Nigeria and their statement should be taken as another story for the gods. To PDP and APC, we will cover your reports and hold you by your manifestos when elected and not to be blinded by a million dollar advert you place on our medium. This is what we owe Nigerians.
Fejiro Oliver, Managing Editor of Daily Voice NG, Editorial Board Chairman of Secrets Reporters News, Media Consultant and Co-Convener, Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (COHRD)can be reached on +2348022050733, +2348160067613 (SMS ONLY) or [email protected]. Engage him on twitter on @fejirooliver86