Worried about the increasing report of unprofessional misconduct among journalists in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, the Chairman Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, in Abuja, Chuks Ehirim, has said the chapter will not allow blackmailers turn journalism into an ugly profession.
Mr. Ehirim stated this on Thursday while addressing journalists on media and professional ethics, given the increasing reports by members of the public of the unprofessional conducts of journalists in Abuja and Nigeria in general.
“This leadership will not fold its hands and watch quacks, blackmailers and their likes continue to paint this profession in ugly colours. Given their antics at various hotel lobbies, public events and surreptitious blackmail of highly placed individuals, they give lie to Mark Twain’s assertion that ‘If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re misinformed,’” he said.
He said that the profession places high level of burden of public trust on journalists, news publications, and broadcast outfits to provide them with factual reports aimed at the development of the society and not to dis-inform or mis-inform them.
Mr. Ehirim said the Abuja chapter will explore the legal codes to moderate the excesses of journalists where applicable and also the activities of fake journalists.
According to him, “It is our duty as journalists to inform the populace and we cannot and should not detract from this mandate that has been wholly given to us. In the light of this, I wish to announce that the fight against fake journalists and Yellow Journalism has a new lease of life. We are strategizing with the Nigeria Press Council on how to effectively enforce the Code of Ethics of the profession.”
Making a specific reference, the NUJ chairperson cited a case reported to the Council by the FCT Administration in which some journalists allegedly claimed to be planning to publish a book aimed at exposing the misdeed of the FCT Administration.
Mr. Ehirim noted that though there was nothing wrong in practicing investigative journalism, engaging in blackmail as a way of coercing individuals and institutions to do one’s bidding was against the code of practice and attracts sanctions.
He said that the security agencies are being engaged to combat these unprofessional practitioners and their syndicates in the move to enforce Nigerian laws and sanitize the profession.
“Journalism is sacred. Its tenets are objectivity, truth, balance and equity. Therefore, this council would not settle for less,” he said.
Mr. Ehirim appealed to highly placed individuals to resist any attempt at blackmail and come forward with any such attempts by anybody masquerading as a journalist.
“It is in this regard we wish to commend the Hon. Minister of FCT, Senator Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed, a worthy ambassador of the journalism profession who has remained dogged in his refusal to be blackmailed or cajolled by some Yellow publications. But let me reassure all of us that the council would stand by any of its members who is unjustifiably maligned and wants to be censored. And in the light of this, I urge all of us to live above board like Caesar’s wife,” he said.