Agony of a Journalist

By Emenike Vincent Onyembi

Media houses are run by businessmen and politicians. So they are using journalists as pawns in their power games, sadly. What I find distressing is that a lot of journalists either do not see this or they will rather not admit it (an indication that are part of the dysfunction).

In 2008, I toyed with the idea of studying journalism at the University. As I grew older and got closer writing JAMB, I started asking myself questions about how much liberty/control I would have to be who I want to be professionally. Had no choice but to jettison the idea.

I figured I can not be an independent journalist, I will always be dependent on people or some system. That ruled out the course for me.

Today, all sort of agendas are pushed and the journalist is expected to fall in line; no questions asked. That is not a safe place for the mental health of the professional.

Journalists, especially the ones in developing countries are fatigued. Too many issues – low pay, no pay, no infrastructure, no insurance, nothing concrete to help make the work easy.

And government policies support the madness stylishly. It takes an unflinching interest in the profession to stay afloat. And do not forget sabotage by journalists themselves – greed, bullying, sexual harassment etc.

When people have to fight for their survival, it is simply difficult to get them to function professionally. It is almost the same in the medical profession.

People argue that technology has also made the profession an endangered one.

Blogs and micro-blogging platforms like Twitter is easily pushing journalism as a profession and discipline into obscurity.

For me, technology did not endanger journalism – it changed the scope. Moved it from being ‘news breakers’ centred – surveillance – to other functions centred. Surveillance is just one function of Journalism.

There are several others like correlation, validation etc. Before, a Journalist breaks the news. Now because of technology, a citizen breaks the news.

The job of the journalist is now to validate or debunk that news, interpret that news, make that news in depth, tell you how that news will affect your life, the world etc. Now the journalist also serves as a curator – this was not a strong function prior to the internet.

Aside from that, my worry is that people can not deliver the true worth of their value in these fields (medicine & Journalism) because they are simply not paid a living wage. Almost every journalist that comes to do an interview is hoping for some kind of envelope.

There was a time that was an atrocity. Journalists are the gatekeepers of any society. As long as they can be bought, society is in trouble