The press and the rest of us

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By Hamzat Ibrahim Abaga

 

Just as human beings have  a right to life, they equally have the right to freedom of expression and information, right to liberty and struggle to attain happiness.

This ideology is glorified in the Declaration of Independence of the United States. However, it is  essential to  recognise and celebrate a group of professionals- the press- who have in a lot of ways made these rights to freedom accessible to all and sundry at all times. Not only when it is World Press Freedom Day.

It is quite important we support the press,  agitate for its  absolute freedom, evaluate its challenges and achievements  and also defend it  from attacks.

Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution states that the press, radio, television, newspaper and other forms of mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in the constitution.Therefore, the  importance of the press in any democratic society is no longer debatable.

But, to what extent has the  constitution supported press freedom in Nigeria?

When the freedom of the press is tempered with, the first to be affected are the masses, as the press always represents the good interest of the common man.

When the government of the day fails to safeguard the interest of the press,  the society suffers the most.

The relationship between  the press and the government, especially when it is mutual, helps any society to attain its communal objectives.

The media wields an enormous influence on society’s way of thinking, reasoning and actions geared towards accelerating development.

However, the press should always make community reporting a thing of priority, as in many cases rural areas are being left uncovered which leads to their underdevelopment.

The need for community journalism is something to be considered, as journalists only engage in reportage that focuses on cities at the expense of smaller neighborhoods, suburbs or small towns.

Health, educational, political, government activities and illiteracy programmes or information, as well as, poverty and disease can also be managed through rural community journalism.

There is a great  need to enhance community journalism.

Lack of power supply, potable drinking water and  other problems troubling rural  communities can be solved if adequate attention is given to rural dwellers.

But we must not also forget that members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm needs to be assured of the safety of their lives and that of their loved ones.

Life insurance and other welfare  packages should be given to journalists, just as their allowances must be paid to them regularly to encourage them to give their best to the profession. It is time we began to celebrate our journalists. They have contributed greatly to nation building and democratic growth.

They should not be seen by heartless ‘politicians’ and some powerful individuals, as targets for brutalisation, victimisation and elimination.

 

  • Abaga is a 400-Level Mass Communication student of IBB University, Lapai, Niger State.

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