Negativity of Mass Media

THE NEGATIVITIES BEING PORTRAYED BY THE NIGERIAN MEDIA.

By one medium, it is a misnomer; by two, it is a disaster. The alarming rate of negativities portrayed by the Nigerian Media cannot be overemphasized. Over the years, it has severed as one of the sources of discord, mayhem among tribes, ethnics, religion and region amongst others.

It is no wonder Dan Brown described the media as the right arm of anarchy. They have succeeded in assassination of characters, mudslinging and partial and or false reportages over the years. Ultimately, it has served as a factional political tool in times of electioneering.

However, for the sake of this piece, I shall define the term MEDIA and NEGATIVITY in relationship to Nigeria as an entity.

Wikipedia defines Media as (the singular form of which is medium)the collective communication outlets or tools that are used to store and deliver information or data. It is either associated with communication media, or the specialized mass media communication businesses such as print media and the press, photography, advertising, cinema, broadcasting (radio and television) and publishing.

While vocabulary.com  puts Negativity as a tendency to downbeat, disagreeable, and skeptical. It’s a pessimistic attitude that always expects the worst.

The Nigeria media have not fallen short of negativity in their reportages as displayed over the years. It is undoubtedly that journalists are drawn to reporting bad news because sudden disaster is more compelling than slow improvements. Or it could be that news, gatherers believe that cynical reports of corrupt politicians or unfortunate events make for simpler stories.

As one would expect  there are some evidences that people respond quicker to negative words. In lab experiments, flash the word “cancer”, “bomb” or “war” up at someone and they can hit a button in response quicker than if that word is “baby”, “smile” or “fun” (despite these pleasant words being slightly more common). We are also able to recognise negative words faster than positive words, and even tell that a word is going to be unpleasant before we can tell exactly what the word is going to be.

Dishearteningly, Nigerian media have been an apostle of negativity and distortion of fact in many ways. Probably as a result to win more audience or to gain prominence. Most times journalist turns opinion into fact and in other instance they are too lazy to verify facts or double check information as stated by one of the principles guiding perfect practise of journalism.

Above all, accuracy has been sacrificed, negativity and falsehehehood has been enthroned. Citing some columns in some dailies as examples.

Prof Dare Olatunji, an eminent columnist with the Nation Newspaper once lamented this in one of his piece entitled ‘The Day Zik Did Not Die’.

A false reports of the death of the legendary Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, some 27 years ago. It appears to be the most scandalous episode in Nigerian journalism history.  It left mud on the faces of all journalists, those who proclaimed categorically that  he was dead, and those who merely hinted that he might have departed. Lazy journalism surfaced. Verification of fact failed. Journalists, by extension the media failed as in the end Zik was hale and hearty. The man whom not just one or two newspapers but the entire Nigerian news media proclaimed dead and awaiting burial. What a careless reportage! What a lazy journalism! What a breach of verification of facts! Portrayal of negativity took its toll on them and they blindly succumbed to it.

Dare Olatunji concluded that ‘Zik-case showed how narrowly the news media cast their net and how vulnerable they were.  It was as if they had resolved not to let the facts get in the way of a “good” story.

 

If they had checked and re-checked, they would have saved themselves a shameful  outing that they will never quite live down.’

Also, the ‘HARDBALL’ section of the Nation newspaper of Tuesday, March 27,2017. Noted one of the negativities of the media under the title ‘Onnoghen and Southern ‘jinx’. Where to media falsely reported that Walter Walter Onnoghen is the first southerner becoming the Chief Justice of Nigeria in 30 years(1987-2017)  as breaking a ‘jinx’. A surefire to raising ethnicity/tribalism in our polity.

Besides, the southern Nigeria held CJN post for the first 27 years(1960-1987). Thus, wherein lies the jinx Justice Onnoghen was breaking?

It is important to state it here as noted by Dan Brown that the media is the right hand of anarchy, through their negativities and inaccuracies, they have in no measure spark up disparities, discord and above all unrest in many aspects of human life.

It is said that we live in the world of words, perhaps, the media trades in words and as the fourth estate of the realm, they are also policy makers and shapers. Taking into consideration the Agenda Setting and Magic bullet theories of communication. The media has unrivalled power of setting the topic of discourse for citizenry and snapping of their opinions as both theories dictates respectively.

However, they have been misusing power due to reporters laziness, underpayments amongst others. They have failed to realise that they owe the public a social responsibility as narrated in the social responsibility theory. Objective reportages and a check(watchdog) on governments are some of the core of their functions.

In the light of the foregoing, it is not outlandish that the media have failed in some aspect of their duties to the society, one of which is objectivity/accuracy in reportages amongst all other responsibilities. To place this under check, the media should try as much as possible to strike balance in reportages, take accuracy of fact as priority and have in place satisfactory packages for workers against having them bought by politicians and ilks alike.

“The media is the most powerful entity on earth, they have the power to make the innocent guilty and make the guilty innocent, and that is power. Because they control the mind of the masses”- Malcolm X

 

Comrade Bello Yusuf Olalekan writes

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