Dangers of Accidental Journalism By Mukhtar Jarmajo
It is doubtful if Nigerians can endure dictatorship again. We are now so used to the constitutional clause that guarantees our freedom of expression. Democracy has taught us that on every matter, we are free to have and express an opinion. In fact, in a true democracy, our opinions are essential tools of decision making within the power corridors.
And true to it, we are learning faster than expected. Nigerians are now very fast at making opinions on issues in the polity. At offices, schools, homes and even food joints, what transpire are arguments, debates or discussions on burning issues. However, while this calls for excitement as it may facilitate the process of governance, it yet calls for worry as the opinions expressed during such debates or discussions are hardly informed.
What is obvious is Nigerians are not patient enough to ascertain the veracity of information before decoding it to make an opinion out of it and or reporting it to the next level in the information dissemination chain.
A pointer to this is what obtains on the social media. On Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp groups etc, rumours and fake news (apologies to POTUS Trump) are what mostly circulate.
And to make matters worse, there are as many gullible Nigerians as there are rumour mongers. This perhaps is the reason why Nigeria’s rumours industry thrives. It also may be the reason why it is very easy to cause conflict in Nigerian societies.
At this instance, there is no gainsaying the fact that apart the fault lines of ethnicity, region and religion, Nigeria as a nation also suffers from pains caused by bad information management. And information is too important a resources to be left to accidental journalists to handle.
Information is so delicate a resources which failure to effectively manage causes crisis. Thus by its nature, information must only be disseminated from the right source through the right medium to the right audience at the right time and or place.
Jarmajo is on Twitter: @mukhtarjarmajo