By Olatunde Ajayi
Ibadan – A Media Professional, Mr Edward Dickson, has called on Nigerian society to always protect journalists in the course of performing their job of standing for the truth.
Dickson, the Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief, African Newspapers of Nig Plc, publishers of the Tribune titles, made the call at the 2022 International Day To End Impunity Against Journalists.
He spoke on, “Truth, Journalist and Building a Great Nation”.
It was organised by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NU), Oyo State Council, in Ibadan to mark the day with the theme:
“International Day To End Impunity For Crimes Against Journalists”.
According to him, every year journalists become more endangered in Nigeria as they are subjected to unwarranted arrest, physical attack, threat and harassment in the course of performing their duties.
“Why should an attempt by journalists to bring the populace to speed concerning happenings in the society be recompensed with attacks, detention, harassment or even death?,” he queried.
Dickson noted that many people were fighting the truth because “it exposes their underbelly. Many strive to kill it because it reveals their true nature”.
According to him, when they cannot kill it, they agitate for the publication of their own shade of the truth.
“But, when this fails, they become hostile, antagonistic or even violent and can go to any extent to muzzle the journalist, destroy his organisation or even exterminate him.
“Unknown to those who are opposed to the truth and want to stifle the journalist in the process, truth is the spine of any society.
“No country can be great without embracing and facing the truth.
“In any society where truth is muffled, corruption, lawlessness, high-handedness, sicknesses, poverty and underdevelopment hold sway.
“Truth is the propeller of development and prosperity; it is also the harbinger of healing and forgiveness,” he said.
Dickson observed that since journalists stand for the truth, it means that they also stand for the development, progress and prosperity of the nation.
“It means they are working for the improvement and wellness of their country.
“It means they are working for the realisation of the corporate vision and aspiration of the society; that then, makes the journalist a friend of the society.
“Therefore, anyone who hinders a journalist from performing his job is not just an enemy of the truth; he is also an enemy of the society.
“This is because the first signal of a country that is on its way to the abyss is that truth is sacrificed. Truth is the first casualty when a country is heading for trouble.
“Since journalists are committed to the truth that can advance the cause of a society, the society has a responsibility to defend and protect them from those who are determined to stop them from discharging this critical function through assaults, attacks, harassment or threats.
“The society needs to understand that it is in its own interest to protect journalists and provide them an enabling environment for the discharge of their duty,” he said.
Dickson also said that the society should mobilise its police to protect journalists who work for the truth, rally its judiciary to defend them at all times and support them relentlessly in their undertakings.
“When a society protects its journalists, it defends the truth; and when a society defends the truth, it is on the pathway to progress.
“To protect the truth is to keep the truth alive and keeping the truth alive by protecting journalists is the gateway to societal progress,” he said.
Dickson said that by the nature of their calling, journalists stand for the truth and report the truth, hence their appellation as “the conscience of the society”.
“A cardinal principle of journalism is fairness. The test of a good report is balance. Journalists are always on the side of the truth because by their training they are supposed to be unbiased.
“So, journalists do not colour the truth, they don’t modify the truth, they don’t even shield the truth, rather what they do is to lay bare the truth and sometimes interpret same to help the society take informed decisions.
“But, that is the root of journalists’ problem, because it is not everyone that loves the truth, neither is everyone interested in the revelation of the truth or having it published,” he said.
Contributing, Prince Dotun Oyelade, the Executive Chairman, Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS), said in the past 31 years, almost 2000 journalists have been killed around the globe.
Oyelade said that of these, just a little over 100 cases were resolved.
“The lesson in all these is that journalists must recognise the danger they live in on daily basis.
“Journalists should strive hard with one voice to clamour for the best living condition for themselves while they are still relevant and alive,” Oyelade said. (NAN)