The idea that the media should be free is an extension of democracy. Globally, the belief remains that when the media is free, it would be able to hold leaders and individuals accountable based on their direct and indirect dealings. In the spirit of being freed, we have seen situations, where journalists and other media practitioners abused the privilege, damaging corporate and individual’s reputation through unverified and malicious news reports.
When the reports are pushed out, only a few of their audience has the ability and capacity of interrogating the frames and agendas set in the reports, which requires applying the rudiments of logic. Isn’t it time we needed to be teaching logic right from secondary schools? Or is it better to say our Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning subjects should better be taught with practical/real-life examples? I developed this curiosity some days ago when many Nigerian newspapers (with digital presence) kept reporting that one of Chief Sunday Igboho’s aides who was said to have been killed by the DSS in a “raid” to Igboho’s house in Ìbàdàn, was shot 48 times! One of Chief Igboho’s men was said to have told journalists that number. Thus, this short logical questioning isn’t about the legality of the DSS actions and Igboho’s aides’ counter-actions- the court will decide that. This opinion is therefore about the need for journalists and the citizens they disseminate information to to always question certain points made by news sources. That’s what I called “logical questioning” up there!
Yes, the source said the aide was shot 48 times, but that doesn’t mean the source was right. We, as journalists, shouldn’t just hide under the principle of “sourcing” or the concept of “our source said” to dish us utterances we should have questioned before going to press at all! As a professional, if you are moved by emotions, your intelligence can be rendered questionable. Now, let’s think together: Someone was shot at 48 times; he didn’t die, yet he refused to run away- he relied on charms bá (that’s not my focus here)? Who was counting the times the bullets were shot? We hardly need an expert’s explanation of how our minds work when fright knocks at our doors. The DSS was said to have continued to shoot and attack the house for about an hour (in some quarters, it was a gun duel between the DSS and Igboho’s boys). In that situation, it was expected that nobody would even be thinking straight than to leave or remain in that scene unhurt. Maybe the mind of the person who counted the “48 gunshots” was special that he/she concentrated on the number of shots more than his/her own safety.
Another case where logic should have been used by journalists was when a governor said he ran about one and half kilometres on foot to escape from being assassinated while visiting his farm. Where were his details when he was running (though he later thanked them for repelling the “attack)? Didn’t his security details hold guns to have used to kill the “killers” or to chase the “killers” away, at least? If the Governor ran, who measured the kilometres he told journalists? But, do we question some of these things as journos? Peem, “they (the sources) have said it, and we should publish it!” is traditional journalism practice– in as much as it has been credited or attributed to a source or sources, the rest na story! However, I strongly suggest it is time Nigerian journalists started questioning some utterances from their sources and questioned the logicality of their utterances in matters of great importance. They shouldn’t be interested in attributing questionable headlines to questionable sources just to gain traffic and sell such news. We should all be socially responsible as news producers and consumers!
Additional report by Umar Ajetunmobi