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We've resuscitated Imo Newspapers, broadcast media - Uzodimma

By Rose Oranye

Imo State Government under the leadership of  Senator Hope Uzodimma has resuscitated the state owned newspaper, Statesman, which was left to die  by previous administrations in the state.

Governor Uzodimma, who disclosed this while at the opening ceremony of the All Nigeria Editors Conference, organized by Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) at Imo Concord Hotel, Owerri, disclosed that the newspaper and the circulation is growing steadily having been turned to a daily newspaper.

According to him, his government has continued to sustain the operations of  the Imo Broadcasting Corporation, including the TV and radio stations.

"In addition, it would gladden your hearts to know that for the first time in history of our state, the Ministry of Information is in the safe hands of your professional colleague.

Be rest assured that my administration shall continue to do all that is necessary to make the work of journalists easier in the state ", the governor said.

The governor, however, appealed to editors to dispassionately distance themselves from proprietorial interest and be guided by national interest.

"It is indeed inspiring and reassuring that the theme of your conference is centred on "Politics and credible elections and the role of Editors". This confirms that you are genuine stakeholders who are truly committed to the success of democracy in our country. It is a further confirmation of your desire to rise up to your responsibility as members of the fourth estate of the realm. According to Andrew Vachss, “journalism is what maintains democracy, it is the force for progressive social change”.

"Only last week, the top echelon of the Nigerian Police were here in Owerri to hold a strategic retreat on the need to conduct peaceful and credible elections in 2023. At the end of that retreat, the police committed to ensuring that the forthcoming elections shall be peaceful, credible, free and fair. Coming from the security agency constitutionally saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that our elections are peaceful and credible, there is no doubt that the retreat will help build trust and confidence in the forthcoming general elections. President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR was physically present at the retreat, and used the opportunity to reassure the nation of the irrevocable commitment of his administration to a credible election process and outcome.

"It is against this fallout that your conference and your theme are not just apt, but timely and weighty. I say this because apart from the security agencies, whose role can make or mar an election, the next group, whose role is equally critical and definitive, is the media. And here we are with the arrowheads of the media having a serious conversation on the same subject matter; credible elections. The refreshing difference here is that the emphasis on this occasion is on the role of Editors in this regard. Since both the government and the Police have assured us of their resolve to ensure credible elections, it is only natural to focus on the next equally important institution that has no less a crucial role to play in elections, and that happens to be you, as the leaders of the fourth estate of the realm.

"In this respect, and without prejudice to the papers that will be presented at this conference, let me emphasize that the role of the Editors is critical to the success of the elections. This is because of the age - long saying that the pen is mightier than the sword. Yes, with your pen you can make the 2023 elections a huge success or a colossal failure. How? you may ask. Well, I have a response. When as Editors we choose to play up and propagate divisive and toxic utterances of our politicians, we are deliberately helping to heat up the polity. The divisive reportage we often make in the print and electronic media which we control can, and does affect the peace and credibility of elections. In other words, how we manage our reports is crucial to the conduct of an election.

"I know that some of you will want to remind me that in your calling “facts are sacred” and must be treated as such. I do agree with you on this, but I am not asking you not to report the facts as they are. Far from it. The point to be made, however, is that how you report the facts does matter a lot, and can make all the difference. When divisive facts are splashed as screaming banner headlines, they are bound to bring the populace to boiling point. But, when the same facts are played down in the order of reports, they may not have the same bang effect. This is my humble take. So, I submit that as Editors you have a patriotic duty to manage these sacred facts for the ultimate good of our dear country.

"The other point to make is that media management of election proper can also have soothing or devastating consequences on the outcome of the elections. For instance, the unethical practice of announcing or publishing unverified or unofficial versions of election results, especially while the election is yet to be completed, could influence the public to assume a position even before the official declaration of the results. Thereafter, if the official result differs from the results they expected, it  could be an invitation to anarchy. Here, again, I think that as leaders of the media you have a duty to restrain your institutions from speculating on the results of elections.

"The final point I want to make on this score is the need for you, as Editors, to dispassionately distance yourselves from proprietorial interest, and be guided instead by national interest. When you allow the proprietorial interest of your media outfit to overshadow your editorial or professional interest, you will be doing a disservice not only to the nation, but to your professional integrity. The danger here is that often these proprietorial interests are self - serving. Some are meant to serve ethnic or religious interests. So when you wittingly or unwittingly subscribe to them, you are subscribing to the divisive tendencies that threaten the very fabric of our national unity. Sadly, this impacts negatively on your professional integrity as an objective reporter or even commentator", the governor said.

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