Editorial: Upholding social responsibility via investigative journalism – a case of NIJ

Investigative journalism concerns itself with unraveling secretes or hidden truths buried by an individual, group of people or a cabal (which was so prominently mentioned in the last administration of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan).

Truth be told, in every society or circle – there are people who have vested interests in what they do, who then sabotage the efforts of development, cause confusions and/or create terrorism to keep themselves in power, as well as, enrich themselves (from conflicts).

Some organisations indulge in sharp practices: those who are into food and beverages, or pharmaceuticals indulge in the use of substandard materials in their productions; some hospitals buy fake drugs from smugglers; some politicians embezzle funds, forge credentials, or are ex-convicts; some academic institutions are dragged into or are just into bending rules for certain students (above the others); and some religion leaders are corrupt. The list goes on.

This article is imperative as the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ) was just engaged in an allegation of ‘bending rules for a sensational Nigerian artiste above his class mates). The allegation is straight and direct, ‘the said artiste did not meet the specified number of class attendance but was allowed to write examinations while other students in that shoe were denied to write their examinations’.

There were trades of words, from students to their lecturers; students to students (for and against the institution). Some students degenerated into insulting their privacies on this allegation via social media – all showing irresponsibility and decadence among Nigerian youths who should be leaders (in some time to come).

We understand that the journalism profession has its functions (to inform, entertain, educate, serve as watchdog of the society, status conferral – among others) with embedded social responsibility which gives investigative journalists the leverage to go deeper to uncover the allegations of the institution, NIJ, but the most circulated information is that ‘my boss had asked me to handoff the case’.

Through journalism, people can access information but when those (journalists) who are supposed to uphold the sanctity of their profession choose not to report an allegation of an institution like that of NIJ, then there is no pride: no sanctity of any kind in journalism practiced in Nigeria. This is because, the media uses rumours to pursue and produce new stories. As such, the rumour (of this allegation) suppose to be investigated.

If the media does not try to do their work, on the issue, it will appear that our media houses only report what they want Nigerians to know and not what Nigerians supposed to know.

Also, NIJ could have made things easier by calling a Press Conference to nip the issue in the bud. If NIJ had responded swiftly, to the allegation, there will be no public railings and insults that some people resulted to (in the bid for self defense).

It should, also, be noted that journalists are reformers (as watchdogs of the society) and are not afraid of the ‘bulldogs in the society’. This, coupled with youthful exuberance, may have compelled the young man (who started the rumour) to write a story. Notwithstanding, a budding talent should not be be discouraged, intimidated and threatened (as it was also circulated – if it was true) all because he tried to raise alarm over the bending of rules in favour of one person while a large number of people are treated as sacrificial-lambs.

 Although, the institution has its model of communication between the school faculty and the students. Every student that have any issues he/she is not satisfied with is to communicate with the class governor, and then, the class governor will relate the student’s displeasure to the appropriate department. Yet, it appears that many students are not aware of this procedure – evidenced in the rate at which aggrieved students take to the public to seek redress of issues that could be settled, internally. Hence, NIJ should sensitise the students on this – as it will reduce issues like this allegations.

The institution (NIJ) has been training journalists and equipping them with the courage needed to stay afloat in their profession: any students who err should then be corrected with stern warning, instead of the reports of threats from some lecturers to the student who started the rumour – as was circulated.

We, therefore, call on the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, NIJ, to address the Press on this issue – to douse any untruthful information already circulated or still in circulation. 

By this, the prestige of the institution will, further, be preserved and strengthened before the public.

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