Proliferation of media houses in Arewa and the dearth of intellectual journalism

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I took my pen to write on this topic with mixed reactions: on one hand, it is indeed a welcome development to have number of media houses increasing at a fast rate in Northern Nigeria, but on the other hand, it is worrying to listen to or watch most of the new breed of journalists on several FM radio and TV stations, majority of which are newly established.

I refer myself as an accidental journalist because I am a Computer Engineer by profession, and I hold MSc Information Technology and work as polytechnic lecturer. But all my life I have been a lover of media, I was an ardent listener of radio since childhood. I can still remember with nostalgia how I used to ask my mother to wake me up when it was time for BBC Hausa’s late evening program at 8.30pm, followed by VOA Hausa’s 9pm program. I just couldn’t afford to miss listening to the likes of late Hindu Rufa’i Waziri and Elhadji Doiri Coulibaly.

My love for radio influenced my passion for journalism and media profession. I started going to media house when I finished my Diploma in Computer Data Processing and IT in 2005 and undertook my project with a case study of Freedom Radio, Kano. Thereafter, after graduating from BUK in 2011, I joined Freedom Radio Dutse as a voluntary staff working in newsroom. I later open my blog (ringimkabir.wordpress.com) in 2015 where I share news articles after translating them from English to Hausa. Now, I’m a freelance editor with Sawaba FM, Hadejia and SkyDaily online newspaper.

I narrated my brief sojourn in media profession to pave a way for my moral stand and justification in talking about the dearth of intellectual, intelligent and hardworking personalities in majority of our media houses in Arewa. Vast number of our media personalities are those that find themselves studying mass communications or languages by accident, lazy and unserious individuals with no passion for media, no love for radio but masquerading themselves as journalists to earn a living through meagre salaries or brown envelope journalism that has become the order of the day.

It is really frustrating to listen to most radio stations, more especially in big cities where there are many, like Kano and Kaduna. The grammatical blunder, the mispronunciation of names of VIPs, national figures and important towns, the incorrect voicing of arithmetic figures, date and even time is unforgivable. The newsroom culture is dead, no intellectual discussions and arguments concerning news reports and there is little or no investigative journalism being practice. Just copy and paste, edit, translate and cast on air or publish.

Media plays a vital role in educating, entertaining, enlightening and informing the people. It is the voice of the voiceless, a pathway to freedom for the masses, the poor and downtrodden in the society. Media houses, most especially radio stations are second to none when it comes to news dissemination in Arewa since pre-independence period. The power of radio in Northern Nigeria can never be overemphasized.

In my view, the problem that caused the scarcity of intellectuals in media profession originated right from universities and other higher institutions. Our institutions have been churning out thousands of half-baked graduates year in year out. I really wonder how someone can graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications but cannot speak or cast news in English. Nowadays that you can find a journalist who cannot translate news from English, the language of instructions, to Hausa, the mother tongue.

Finally, despite the sad situation I elaborate above, I still believe we can get it right. Human brain never stops learning, provided deliberate efforts are being made to learn new things. With hard work, courage and determination, we can be like our past predecessors in media profession. I have no intention to remain in media profession for long, but I will forever love radio. As such, I found it an obligation for me to speak up and energize my fellow journalists to stand up to the challenge and make a bold statement of becoming better every day. I still hold the belief that if someone can do something, I can do it too and you can do it as well.