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What Manner Of Journalism?

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Mass communication experts must be cracking their brains with heavy sledge harmer to actually find a new and more suitable adjective to describe what used to be known as junk Journalism. As for me, what is happening today is much deeper than junk. For want of a better expression, lets call it ‘information terrorism.’

It has crept into journalism practice and now confuses our understanding of the profession. What also suprises many communication experts is the rate at which the political class who are often the victims of the terror, display, gullibility for this trap. Their patronage is the sap that has sustained the oddity in Port Harcourt, the once glorious Garden City; so many of such news trash have sprang up like mushroom in the last few year. Tens of others are currently in their incubation stage – lava, pupa, name it. Most of the wild papers are printed in cubicles located in and around the famous Mile I market. No thanks to computer technology which forms the major technological accessory.

With one functional computer system and a copy typist, a publisher’ is almost adequately equipped to get on with the business. The names are not always outlandish. From ‘Morning Sun’ to ‘Evening Moon’ Newspapers. Indeed, their editorial contents sound like moonlight tales. Rather than teach morals, educate or inform, they go all out to kill and bury. They castigate where they should criticize. They misinform where they should inform and they pass judgment for objective comment.

For them, libel is no longer an enforceable law and should not be respected. Social responsibility is now a game for the irresponsible. The casualties are not only the political class, but the reading public whose right to be truly inform and to read objective and balanced criticism is flagrantly abused.

Last year, the Hon. Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Tonye Harry came on the firering line over some of the allegations made against him at the Justice Eso Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

One of the captions reads ‘More troubles for Rivers Speaker – As he battles to save name.  This was followed in quick succession by another even more embarrassing caption in another edition “Tonye Harry Recruits Thugs: Doles out N5m”.

The supposed front page news reads in part: “The Rt. Hon. Speaker may be parting ways with Governor Rotimi Amaechi, as any moment from now, the sword of Damocles hangs over his head. Sooner or later, Rt. Hon. Harry would be referred to as former Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly if the forces against him finally had their way.”

This is a clear example of editorialisation in which the reporter injects his personal views and sentiments into what should otherwise be a news report.

It is against the ethics of journalism practice, but since we have convinced ourselves that papers like this are engaged in something other than journalism, it can be pardoned and the issue of etiquette need not arise.

Again, the second supposed news headline is telling whoever its readers are, that the Hon Speaker Tonye Harry has abandoned the serious business of lawmaking for which his constituency sent him to the State House and for which Rivers People made him Speaker, and taken to the recruitment of thugs to scare his accuser, Tonye Harry, son of late Chief Marshal Harry. May be because the latter accused him of having a hand in the kidnap of the mother of the former Governor, Sir Celestine  Omehia.

The write up also alleged that the Speaker had already committed N.5 million into the project. The article obviously presented the allegation made against the speaker before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as if it was an established fact proved beyond reasonable doubt.                    Recently too, one of the Port Harcourt based local  tabloids, Envoy made allegations of frand against a Rivers State lawmaker, Hon. Olari Brown in four different editions without substantiating the claim.                    Such reports can inflame passion. They run contrary to the overall objective of journalism.  Any report that ignores  facts is junk journalism and does not represent the interest of the public.

Junk must not be packaged as an integral part of journalism. Social Responsibility must be given an overriding consideration above any form of economic and political gains in the efforts to disseminate information.

Journalism is a noble and honourable profession and should not be allowed to be hijacked by ignoble and dishonourable people in the name of politics.

Chukwu is a media consultant based in Port Harcourt.

Ebere Chukwu

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Politics

‘Reps Passed 88 Bills In Two Years’

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The House of Representatives has passed 88 bills out of 1407 bills in the past two years, its spokesperson, Benjamin Kalu (APC, Abia) has said.
The House clocked two years on June 11 and has two years left.
Mr Kalu had earlier  released  different data on the status of legislative activities. However, The Tide source  is yet to independently verify this latest data.
Mr Kalu had claimed that the House considered 853 bills and 41 of them passed, in the previous statement.
According to the new statement released on Friday, a total of 554 bills were introduced between June 2020 and June 2021. It was a sharp decline considering that the House introduced 853 bills between June 2019 and June 2020.
Although the decline could be blamed on the outbreak of Covid-19.
“The accurate number of bills considered by the 9th House of Representatives as of June 10, 2021 is 1407 out of which the House has passed 88 bills.
“Additionally, the accurate number of motions considered by the 9th House of Representatives as of June 10, 2021, is 730 out of which the House has made 98 resolutions on security issues.”
The data released by the lawmaker shows that while the introduction of bills has been easy, the progression of bills has been very slow.
A total of 942 bills are awaiting second reading, only 327 bills have been referred to committees, and 79 are awaiting committee of the whole consideration.
Within the same period, 730 motions were considered by the House. However, out of the 663 referred to committees, only 40 reports have been laid, and only six have been considered by the House.
Legislative activities suffered a great deal in 2020 due to the breakout of Covid-19. The National Assembly was shut down for about two months between March 2020 and May 2020.
At a point, the plenary was reduced to once a week.
However, the lawmakers did not help the situation by embarking on holidays at the slightest opportunity, thereby missing deadlines on passage of key legislation.
Also, a review of the legislative agenda of the House by The Tide source shows that the lawmakers are far behind in fulfilling their agenda.

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Politics

Accord To Contest In 12 LGAs

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Accord Party plans to contest only in 12 local government councils and 37 local council development areas at the July 24 council polls in Lagos State.
Its Publicity Secretary, Dele Oladeji, told newsmen in Lagos, yesterday that the party chose to contest only in its areas of strength rather than dissipate energy across the state.
He said Accord Party would contest chairmanship and councillorship seats in Somolu, Mushin, Odi-Olowo, Igando-Ikotun, Agbado Okeodo, Agege, Alimosho, Apapa, Lagos Mainland, Ikorodu, Oshodi/Isolo, and Ifako-Ijaiye LGAs/LCDAs.
Oladeji said that the party had a good outing in these councils at the last council elections in 2017.
“We are set for the election and we are competing in our local governments of strength where we won in 2017.
“We are set to repeat the same feat and even win more than the eight councillorship seats we won in 2017 to become the only opposition party in the local government administration in Lagos State,’’ he said.
Oladeji said that the party was ready to go to court wherever its mandate was stolen as it did in 2017 local government elections.
“As against 2017 when we went to court only in few areas to get back our rigged mandate, this year, we will go to court in any number of local government areas where our mandate is perceived to have been stolen through rigging.
“As the only opposition party in the local government’s administration of Lagos State, we have retained the abiding hope of Lagos residents as the alternative party.”

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Politics

Okorocha Cautions Igbos On Secession

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The Senator representing Imo West, Rochas Okorocha, has cautioned the South-East against their agitations for Nigeria’s breakup.
Okorocha warned that Igbos would be the worst hit if Nigeria breaks up.
The former Imo State Governor spoke in Abuja while addressing some women groups yesterday.
Okorocha stressed that the South- East should push towards fixing the country and not its disintegration.
The lawmaker stressed that Igbos are nationalistic in nature, hence they should dismiss the urge for Nigeria’s disintegration.
He said: “It is only an Igbo man that goes to a place and remains put in that place, buys a land and builds a house for his family without feeling insecure. The Igbos will lose more if Nigeria divides.
“Most Nigerian leaders who were successful had one thing or the other to do with the Igbos. It is either they married Igbo women or had some links with them. I can call names like, former President, Obasanjo; former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, Buba Marwa, just to name a few”.
South-East groups like the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereignty State of Biafra, MASSOB, have been agitating for the disintegration of Nigeria.
IPOB led by Nnamdi Kanu has been in the forefront, calling for Biafra’s actualisation.

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