We are in a globe where information is key in whatever we are engaged in. In today’s world information and communication is the life blood in every relationship-be it business, public or individual relationship. It is therefore not out of place to discuss the need for continuous improvement in the skills of the purveyors of information.
A journalist is someone in the activity of gathering and processing news for the consumption of the public through any of the media channels. He is also involved in the investigation of facts that can be of use to the public. The job of a journalist is very wide because information is required in virtually every area of life.
The ubiquitous nature of journalism makes it imperative that only people who have in-depth knowledge and possesses the requisite skills can fit into the practice. This is the reason that journalists and lawyers are referred to as people who know to little of everything. They are required to know a bit of everything so that they can effectively report events and defend clients
Journalism profession it would be observed appear to be an unregulated activity in the country leaving all comers to gate crash into the profession. Sadly, most people simply because they can push the pen and write reports suddenly brand themselves journalists and tarnish the image of the profession with grave implications for the real trained professionals.
Professional groups like the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), and Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM) etc have the practice of a compulsory continued professional development program for its members. This requires that their members show evidence of continuous improvement in their practice within a given time frame sometimes annually.
Some would not have their license to practice renewed in the event of failure to show proof. Unfortunately, this is not the case with journalists. The umbrella association under which Nigerian journalists are grouped is the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ). The NUJ functions as a trade union as well as a professional group. Many believe that it is this dual responsibility that limits it is from the expected regulatory roles.
Some weeks back, the House of Representatives recommended that the possession of a first degree be the minimum qualification for the practice of journalism in the country. We subscribe to this opinion even though we appreciate the challenges that may contend with driving the process down.
The practice of journalism here is fraught with myriads of issues. The media owners are lacking in financial capabilities while the journalists are not remunerated. This makes it quite challenging for the two to consciously undertake development oriented program for the organization and its employees. Their major concern is how to keep heads above water.
This is the reason journalism practice appears to be driven at a very low ebb because it is lacking in the very major motivational tools of financial reward and training.
This is the reason we commend the News Echo management for its bold step in organizing a two-day training program for its employees and handled by the masters of the game in the industry. Coming just after six months into the life of the organization is commendable even as we urge the publisher to keep his promise of sustaining the program.
Journalism was one of the tools used by the founding fathers to secure our independence from the colonialists. Our forebears who fought in the struggle were all educated. Unfortunately, many of today’s journalists are half baked and rather than be a voice for the people chose to run around illiterate politicians who use them to achieve their selfish reasons. There is need therefore to restore the dignity of journalism
We call on the government and all the stakeholders to take the necessary measures to institute a process that will keep the journalists upgraded with knowledge. Need we re-emphasize that given the critical role of the media the practitioners need to bring themselves up to speed with the latest skill to deliver their job? They should move with time.
The need for a mandatory continuous development program for the media practitioners cannot be over emphasized. A virile media is a sinequanon to support development.