LOKOJA – The Nigerian media is yet to be totally free from attacks and clampdown by the ruling class, as Nigeria still ranks low on the table of countries with conducive atmosphere for free press operation.
Likewise, the financial crisis that is rocking the Nigerian media has now been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, which may lead to massive retrenchment in the industry if urgent steps are not taking to address the foreseen loss job.
This was the position of stakeholders shared on Thursday in a communique issued at the end of a National Media Virtual Roundtable discy jointly organised by ActionAid Nigeria and Journalists Against Poverty, JAP.
The groups also observed that digitalised operations for media industry was no longer an option for media owners and managers
considering the current financial constraints, overhead costs and the increasing digital advertising.
It also listed lack of innovation as a major threat to the Nigeria media existence, “Besides, physical and operational innovation, a mental shift from the way journalism has been practiced needs to occur to address current operational realities.
“Merger and acquisition will not be a lasting solution to survival, but financial and operational innovative strategies must be urgently developed.
“Mass downsizing and job losses in the media industry may pose a security threat as unemployment is a key driver of insecurity. Hence the Nigerian media consider an urgent bailout structure that will not compromise its independence bearing in mind the large number of Nigerians employed by the industry.
“The public and private sector needs to see investment in the media as an investment in the nation and its people, not a favor to the practitioners. Despite its Watchdog Role, the media has been ignored to fizzle out, and this is most glaring in the face of the current pandemic.”
The groups which called on media houses to engaged in ‘Responsible journalism’ in order to truthfully carried out its mandate as enshrined in section 22 of Nigeria’s Constitution also made the following recommendations; “That Government at all levels must come to terms with the reality of the media’s importance to the growth of democratic tenets, and that attacks on the media should be halted if the nation desires to come out of its woods.
“Stakeholders and government need to jointly develop a legal framework to guide and effect bailout in the media industry without prejudice as applied to the banking, telecommunications and aviation industry and without recourse to politicking its intervention and abuse of power or as a means of control.
“Media owners, managers and practitioners should recognise that digitalisation has come to stay for good, thus evolve, be more creative, innovative and technology driven in order to survive.
“The media and CSOs should better coordinate as allies to attain the mutual objective that puts the interest of Nigerians at the center. CSOs to support media’s full transition to digitalisation by building capacity of journalists and bring back activism as in the days of old where public interest based on truths and selflessness determined media content.”
The roundtable discussion with the theme- “Between Survival and Existence: Media Objectivity in the Face of Dwindling Fortunes held on May 7, to commemorate the 2020 World Press Freedom Day as personalities like Dapo Olorunyomi, Publisher, Premium Times Newspaper; Funke Egbemode, Osun State Commissioner for Information and Civic Orientation/ immediate past President, Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE); ‘Sola Adebawo, Manager, Communications, Policy, Government and Public Affairs, Chevron Nigeria and Mid-Africa; and Country Director of ActionAid Nigeria, Ene Obi as speakers.End.