100 More Nigerian Victims in Suspected Herdsmen Attacks or President Buhari Attends AU Summit; Modern Day Journalism is all About Perspectives
In about three months of working with a media and publicity firm in Benin City, which focused on breaking news reports in a way that reduced sensationalism and sought to put things in context in order to present a different perspective from the one which was proliferate on the internet based media to its audience, I learnt that there are always more than one sides to every story and modern day journalism required some sort of multiplicity of perspectives.
Every Monday, we (Staff Writers) would sit in a meeting with our Editor-in-Chief and take notes on how to structure and strategize our reports for the week and reaffirm our understanding of the firm’s firm (see what I did there?!) drive to produce content which, instead of fan the flames of sensationalism, sought to put it out. And every week, content that didn’t meet this requirement/guideline, would be flagged down or rejected. Depends on how far off you drift.
While I did not quite agree with this policy at all times, I believed strongly in it. Or, in more realistic terms, I believed strongly in the firm’s belief in this ideology. I definitely had my reservations: I had a strong belief that journalism required telling things as they are without any attempt to distort or detract from the reality. But, after weeks of struggling with my Managing Editor, I finally found a point of compromise and, unexpectedly, understanding.
We were recently hit with the news of suspected herdsmen attacks in areas in Plateau State, Nigeria, and, while a number of people have joined their voices to the outcry for justice, there are many others who are unaware of the crisis or would claim not to be aware of the crisis. The truth is, while most of Nigerian based online news media was awash with screaming headlines about the incidents, there are news platforms who are not reporting it.
This is not only happening in the Nigerian news media. Journalism in this era of digital proliferation, has resulted in the mass production and reproduction of relative, sensational, verified, unverified, unverifiable and contradicting news reports. And, the truth remains, while most of the time, this reality is not to our benefit as a human race, it does present an opportunity for us to see our life, in an era of digitization, from multiple perspectives.
So, it was not a surprise to me to notice that, while members of some of the victims of the Berger tanker fire grieved, people in other places turned up in parties or shared testimonies in their churches of how they miraculously escaped the incident. No, it was not a surprise to me to notice that, while people in local areas in Plateau State mourned their loss and called on the Federal Government to intervene in their plight, President Muhammadu shared a drink, a stage and laughter with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron.
Does this imply that the President doesn’t care for the lives lost? Maybe it does, some would argue it doesn’t. And because I want to leave this conversation open to contribution, I would not pick a side. Does sharing testimonies of how God saved you from an accident make the pain of others any less important? Some would say it does (and is an insult to the memory of the dead) and others would say “live and let live”. The truth is, if ten persons look at a particular scenario, they would all make out different results from it. Humans are wired to see things from different angles. It’s what separates us from Deer. Deer all see Lions as predator, but to man, Lions are just animals that can be tamed and harnessed for a common good.
It’s the same thing with journalism in this era. One media house thrives on sensationalism and another flourishes on keeping the facts right. Two of them would report the same incident and, if they are experienced enough to present compelling facts, would convince any audience of their respective niches. Some will argue whether one act is right or wrong, others would rather let them all express their perspectives. None of those is my ambition here, I just want to talk about perspectives.