ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
The Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, has advised media practitioners in the country to strive towards achieving best standards and practices in their industry as conceptualised by the founding fathers of the journalism profession in Nigeria.
Diri gave the charge at the special awards presentation ceremony of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Press Week, held at the Ernest Ikoli Press Centre, Ekeki, Yenagoa, at the weekend.
Diri, who spoke through his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, emphasized that the standard of journalism in the country had diminished significantly, contrary to the vision of its progenitors such as Ernest Ikoli, Nnamdi Azikiwe, and Anthony Enahoro.
He recalled how those Nigerian nationalists and the likes of Ray Ekpu and Dele Giwa effectively appropriated the power of the pen to fight against colonialism and oppressive military regimes in the country.
The Governor said truth and journalism are like Siamese twins which could not be separated, insisting that truth is the only vehicle that drives good journalism.
He said the depth of quality journalism was fast giving way to the preponderance of fake news, especially on social media.
He, therefore, called on the NUJ to stand up against what he described as “gully erosion of standard journalism.”
Diri, who decried the activities of some social media influencers and bloggers threatening journalism practice in the country, urged media industry players to act fast and save the noble profession from disrepute and total collapse.
He reminded the media family in the state that the yearly NUJ Press Week was an avenue for journalists to make a proper self-appraisal with a view to improving the performance of their duties and responsibilities as the Fourth Estate of the Realm.
Describing the media as a worthy partner in progress with the government, the Governor, however, commended media practitioners in the state for their constructive criticisms and support to his administration so far.
He stated: “The essence of our gathering is to remind ourselves of our duties, obligations and responsibilities that are attached to us.
“While some of us see the NUJ Press Week as an annual ritual, I see it as an opportunity to review our standards. We must take the profession beyond what it is at present.
“I want to encourage you to use this yearly NUJ Press Week to redefine our intellectual capacity and other improvements because anything short of that will amount to a mere jamboree.
“As we are all aware, journalism and truth are Siamese twins which are inseparable. But we are worried at what journalism has become today. The glory of journalism is the truth.
“Can Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ernest Ikoli and Anthony Enahoro wake up today and say that the journalism we see today is the one that they wanted and practised?”
The ceremony featured among other activities the presentation of “Media Icon of the Year Award” to Governor Douye Diri and an Award of Excellence to the Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo by the Chairman of the state Traditional Rulers Council, King Bubaraye Dakolo.