Thursday, September 29, 2022

No press freedom for Nigerian journalists if they remain underpaid: Don

The university lecturer said the Nigeria Union of Journalists had failed to safeguard its members’ interests.

• May 3, 2022
NUJ logo used to illustrate the story
NUJ logo used to illustrate the story

Patrick Okon, a lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication, University of Calabar, has said that real press freedom will be elusive until the media are adequately remunerated.

Mr Okon made the statement in an interview to commemorate the World Press Freedom Day in Calabar on Tuesday.

The day is observed annually on May 3, to raise awareness of the importance of press freedom. The theme for 2022 is “journalism under digital siege”.

It also reminds governments of their duty to respect the right to freedom of expression enshrined in Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The don said that journalists were still poorly paid, subjected to abuses and not regarded as professionals in the society.

He, however, pointed out that although journalists were freer now than in the military regimes.

The former House of Representatives Member said that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) had not provided enough access to public information as some government businesses were still operated like cults.

“The FOIA which I incidentally took part in midwifing as a federal legislator has not provided enough access to public services information; journalists are still denied access to information in government agencies run like cults.

“On the digital era, I think it has enhanced immediacy in reporting and improved production but it has also opened the door to a lot of misinformation in the guise of citizen journalism.

“There is an urgent need to moderate the activities of the digital platforms being used to dish out these misinformation and disinformation,” he said.

Mr Okon, however, called on the media to learn to assert themselves as professionals, adding that some journalists practised infantile journalism in search of basic comfort.

“As a result, many of them have become subservient to those they look up to for financial gain, this has affected their news gathering, reporting and management.

“Many of them have failed to continually develop themselves by taking up available training and retraining opportunities,” the don said.

He added that the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) had also not done much in exercising its responsibility of safeguarding its members.


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