Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Wale Fatade: TVC, RC 102.5FM Mass Sack – The Day After in Nigeria
By Daily Post Staff
June 6, 2017@dailypostngr

As I drove into the premises of Continental Broadcasting Services a day after 145 staff were asked to go home, I reflected on the sack and the state of journalism in Nigeria. I thought about my friend who was among those sacked. You see, my friend loves journalism, he breathes it, and his life revolves round the profession.

The pain that someone could do away with such a dedicated professional pushed me into writing this, a reflection of some sort. Here are some lessons journalists could learn from the experience​.​

Anybody could be sacked. Hard working or lazy, we’re all expendable as long as you’re not the business owner. I never thought my friend could be asked to go home and so when the news broke, I did not even bother to call him as I thought he was untouchable. He would be all right, but we never expected it.The best journalism is the one that makes money. Read that again, any journalism practice that does not impact positively on your employers’ coffers is not worth it.

At the last newsroom I worked, we did some great work even if I’m the one saying so, but we went under because we did not keep our eyes on the balance sheet very well. The bottom line is the bottom line, simple. Attempts at hanging this retrenchment on the owner’s neck might prevent us from learning the lesson that journalists need to be more familiar with figures. We are in the days of propaganda, but I see this more as a business decision rather than political.Personal development is crucial, develop yourself.

Just read about someone who averages 30 books a year, I’ve met colleagues who don’t read and proudly announce it. Such are not fit to be called journalists and that’s why some still don’t see themselves as professionals. At least read a book once a month and set aside a percentage of your earnings as personal development fund. There are great stuff on the Internet, download and read. Watch trends elsewhere and the latest innovations in journalism, which one can we apply here in Nigeria?

Always start small so that you can grow big. I’m not sure TVC really needed an international arm, how many of us will tune to the station for news on Saturday’s London terror attack? Two years ago while on break from election analysis at the station, an old broadcaster and I reflected on the equipment that we saw and concluded that they could rival any station in the world. But good equipment alone cannot earn money.

Perhaps the story could have been different if the station had started small and grow big.The media is in distress; let’s stop pretending and jobs are disappearing fast. Along Ibadan – Iwo road is a relic of an old company called Nigeria Gas Cylinder at Ejioku, which use to produce gas cylinders in its heyday. The place is gone and the people who used to work there must have forgotten about their time there, so also are some journalism jobs. Nigeria’s economy this year is projected to grow at 0.8% by IMF just as we are facing our worst economic downturn in more than two decades, so we are all affected.

Court orders final forfeiture of $43m, £27,800, N23.2m EFCC recovered to FG

A friend left the newsroom and is now a farmer doing pretty well. So plan your exit well and not wait till you are asked to go home. I’m not talking of a rash of websites masquerading as news sites where stories will not be uploaded until major newspapers publish theirs, but a proper exit plan.Much has been said of social media disruption to our profession in Nigeria but a lot of our woes are self-inflicted.

Daily as I drive to work I see Nigerians at newsstands, the usual ‘free readers’ club who merely glance through, analyse, and move on. Most of what we serve readers is not decent, why must they buy? It’s not purchasing power alone that’s responsible for poor readership, terrible offerings too contribute and that’s why they read without buying. Let’s not talk about some of our radio stations, I’ve been to stations where they copy newspaper stories as news bulletin yet they have people paid to work in such establishments.

We must stop press release journalism. Routinely, it’s what Governor XYZ says that lead our newspapers and radio/TV bulletins, little or no stuff about the citizens. Stories are about people, people, and people, my first editor told me. When you collect money to ‘kill’ a story, you’re digging your own grave. Let the government know, things are bad, pretty bad. Igboro o r’erin at all. Let’s return to ethical journalism with clear distinction between PR, advertising and marketing. Some of our colleagues see nothing bad in consulting for those they are reporting with business cards loudly proclaiming it.

Some have no qualms too about a bio on ​F​acebook or twitter saying ‘journalist and media consultant’.True professionals must start running our associations – NUJ and the Guild of Editors especially. Maybe I missed it, but I’ve not read what these two bodies have to say about the sack of my friend and his colleagues. I think they are still inspecting bridges or listening to talks about agriculture or giving so-called awards to those they are supposed to be reporting. Until we break the incestuous relationships between our political leaders and professional associations, there will be more sacks.

Content is king, stop giving your content for free. Stop working for employers who do not pay as at when due. Routinely, journalists are owed salaries and they will still be lamenting, “Who will fight for us?” No Mandela will come and fight for you, walk away and you will not die but instead regain your dignity and humanity in the process.We need to advocate that journalists should be exempted from the PhD requirement before teaching in our universities. Globally, there are professors of professional practice, let’s have that in Nigeria too. This can absorb some of us who will lose their jobs in the newsrooms.

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