August 17, 2010

Re-South African Press Xenophobia

In Webster's dictionary news is defined as “a report of previously unknown event or a report of a recent event”. The line between news and analysis is blurred in Press circles.
It should be naturally unethical to embellish a news item by intentionally
excluding available facts that favours a particular interpretation of the event, or to include possible interpretations of event or postulations of possible resultant event. Of this the reporters are often guilty of.  Quiet often a reporters inclination, preference and eccentricities are used to sensationalize what would
have otherwise been a simple news story. Views, opinions, and speculations or postulations however advised must be recognized and marked as such. There must be room to express an informed, uninformed or personal views by reporters and newsmen that is why blogs, forums, articles in newspapers and other opinion
pages are made for.
In the case of the airport scanners in Nigeria the Star report directly excluded details; suggested an interpretation to the reader and casts disdain on the efforts of the Nigerian Aviation authorities without even reporting on the event itself. The event was a joint press conference marking the start of training for personnel that will start using the said fill body scanners and the US Ambassador Dr Sanders was present. What the Director-General of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Mr. Harold Demuren said was never reported. Irrespective of the merits of the Star reports opinion the news report was simply not news. It was an opinion. Many times the press get away with things like this especially as the report cleverly excludes mention of the name of the principals. (See below for the full texts of the reports by Star and Thisday Newspapers)
The suggestion is possibly that Nigerian airports are still unsafe. Not really arguing if or not this is correct it is quiet unfair to use this particular report to suggest that while discounting whatsoever effort is being put forward by authorities at this event. This is not news. In Webster's dictionary news is defined as “a report of previously unknown event or a report of a recent event”. That the airport scanner is not being used was not news. That the country is oil rich is not news. But in Press circles it is possible that news is defined as “bad or sensational event” or a sensational recent event. Readers deserve to know the fact as it is. Reporters opinions should be clearly marked as such. To report that Obama was photographed swimming bare body is one thing but to skin out the cause for which he did that (namely, to raise awareness that the gulf oil spill is now contained) would be irresponsible reporting. Yet too often reporters are guilty of doing exactly this.
The xenophobia that recently happened in South Africa, the recent riots by foreigners in France and the blatant and continued discriminatory practices against ethnic and racial minorities, Muslims and Africans etc around the world may have been contributed to by perceptions peddled by the Press. Every country has got good people and bad people or worst still. To categorize a people based on the actions of a few or even many is outright injustice and I condemn it in no uncertain terms. This in a sense was what various nationalists and liberation struggle heroes including Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther fought for: that everyone may judged by the contents of their individual character and not by stereotypes like skin colour, race or believe. The Press has got a lot of influence to allow itself or to be allowed without a governance structure and abuse those sensibilities.
This is the full text of the Star Newspaper report:
Airport scanners unused LAGOS: Body scanners bought for Nigeria's main airports in the wake of a Christmas Day bomb attempt remain unused months later, though officials said US air marshals now protected flights coming into Nigeria. Yesterday, Harold Demuren, director-general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, said the government still needed to train officers to man the screening devices.
Here is a more objective and full report of the same event: Airport Scanners


Anonymous said...


Thanks for this. The report included in the mail at least re-assures one that those running the affairs of our country are serious over global issues like airport security.

I would be glad if I get to read more write-ups from this online news media and will gladly contribute at times as I also have got training in writing.

Keep up the good work.


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