By Bala Ibrahim.
Many things inspired me into journalism, even though I started by accident and not by deliberate design. One of the inspirations is the motto of the Triumph publishing company, the most laudable legacies left behind by late Abubakar Rimi, the former governor of former Kano state. The Triumph’s motto is, Tell the truth and be damned.
Anyone practicing journalism, no matter where and when, must have said or written something that angers someone some times. But that is not to say he or she has not done the reverse.
The mistake by some people, listeners or readers, is the failure to differentiate between opinions and editorials. Though all come out as news, but with opinion, the liability is limited to him and him only, the writer. Unless in cases of libel, which the medium that published the opinion ought to act against, the writer is not burdened by anything, and almost always, at liberty to work according to his or her style.
Yes, every medium has its own editorial guidelines, that simply deal with the set of rules that dictate the style of the house, structure, and strategy for the medium’s brand. But they are not responsible for opinions. That’s why if something that angers someone is published, the aggrieved person is given the right of reply.
Only last night, I watched an interview on NTA with the former governor of Ogun state, Chief Segun Osoba, one of the veteran journalists I always love listening to, because he always has some motivational tales to tell. Incidentally, like me, Chief Osoba had worked with the BBC.
When asked by Yusuf Nadabo what he loved most about journalism, Osoba said, REPORTING. He said reporters are the infantry soldiers in journalism, because without them, there would be nothing to publish. And precisely that is the job I love most. In fact my love for the job of journalism diminished when I was moved to editorial and managerial positions.
I was compelled to remain watching longer than my usual time of retiring to bed, because it was a show with two respectable veteran and astute journalists, that have made name in upholding the ethics of the media code of conduct, and their voices remain golden in the world of journalism.
The two also have another thing in common, they journeyed their ways from the bottom down ladder of media profession to the top managerial level. And Osoba advanced into politics, to become the governor of his state, Ogun state.
I disgraced this long to bring forward the issue of suspicion in journalism, because when the journalist writes a story, it is sometimes greeted by the feeling or thought, that it is sponsored, and the writer is doing the bidding of others, a times referred to as, the Paymaster or paymasters. In the interview, Chief Osoba addressed that issue, although pheriferially.
Today, a friend, who reads my regular blogs and share with friends called to say he is sending the opinions of someone about my write ups. I said please do, and please don’t edit anything. He did and it reads:
“Mallam Bashir,Aslm Alkm.
Yaya iyali? Yaya himma?
I’ve heard from not a few high and middle ranking people that the gentleman ALSO could double as a “hired hand” ….can write and say anything as pleases his paymaster.
I’m curious too,as unlike most “prolific” writers,I cannot fathom his specific focus….May be because again,unlike most “prolific” essayist he writes on all sort of things….the important(National and regional discourse)and unimportant(petty issues …involving individual ROGUES)😳🙏🏻?
Still he should be advised to be circumspect in his choice of subjects of discourse …he writes very well,and lucidly too:there’s danger in writing on just ANY subject….easily erodes/diminishes his “brand” !!! My thoughts;but then I’m not a specialist on the subject:
What do I know😳😳😳??”
I don’t know if Bashir, my friend is worried or took offense in the opinion of this person. For me, I’m not offended in any way, despite the allegations of being on the payroll of a paymaster or paymasters. That’s why it’s called opinion, which is a view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge. And according to the motto of the Triumph, the medium that inspired me into journalism, one should be ready to be damned, every time he or she tells the truth.
And that is the cardinal occupational hazard of journalism, as telling the truth comes with some twits and turns.
Let’s I forget, I hope Bashir would not forget to tell his friend to pick the pen and paper, and write his own stories, including those that would prove those allegations.