By Osa Mbonu-Amadi
We, the media practitioners, are happy that Prof Agbaje, in his very significant key note address at the 5th Idowu Sobowale Conference, identified the media as assets. The problem there is that the media are non-performing assets.
What is it that the media is designed to perform that it is not performing? Why is the media not performing that?
The media are designed to say the truth always whether in news or in their opinions. The media are built by society, as important institutions, to be incorruptible.
Society too must not leave the media to fend for itself economically and be subjected to the vagaries of the business environments in the open society. If society leaves the media to drift and be driven by market forces, a hungry journalist who has a family to feed and carter for may not be able to resist gifts of money and other things from members of the society.
Just as the media have been in the forefront pushing for more funding for education, because education is an important asset like the media, those in education should also teach society to fund the media through grants and aids.
The hungry journalist expected to be above board is working for society. If society continues to allow his wellbeing and those of members of his family to solely depend on advertisement revenue (copy sales of newspapers has declined with emergence of online media), people with means and resources will always give or dangle money to the hungry journalist. And the hungry journalist may not be able to resist the offer.
The problem, we believe, can be solved through the concept of rhythmic renaissance. What have we in the traditional economic rhythm? How did members of our traditional society treat and take care of one who had come to work in their farms, whether for money or for free?
In our African society, we take good care of those who come to work in our farms, irrespective of whether we are going to pay them or not.
The journalist is working in the farm of society. Society must not allow that journalist to be hungry and often in penury.
The media are foremost advocates of same thing for other important institutions of the society. The media push for greater funding of our doctors, teachers, schools, hospitals, courts, lawyers, police, soldiers.
It is time the media also start pushing for better funding of journalists and the media as important assets and institutions of the society. Grants and aids from local and international agencies need to be made more and more available to support the media.
It is a good development that the weight of funding has been lightened a great deal by the emergence of the digital online media, which require lean budgets to perform as assets.
If society funds the media well, the media will perform.