NUJ/TRUST: MATTERS ARISING By JOHN FWAH,

Veteran Journalist, Publisher/CEO Online , newspaper, Kaduna Northwest Nigeria …The recent lead story of the Sunday Trust on the development in the war against Boko Haram in Borno State, North East Nigeria has opened up another issue that concerns journalism practice in this country. Suffice it to say that the newspaper did what could be called in-depth analysis of the situation in the report. Or in other words, going beyond the Headlines whereby the report brought in other aspects that has links with the story. Recently, during a workshop held at the Secretariat of the Kaduna State Council of the NUJ, participants, who are mostly Journalists were challenged to go beyond the Headlines in their stories or else the report will be hanging, or incomplete, inconclusive, therefore there are more questions unanswered. There’s no doubt that when a story is fully packaged it will make an interesting reading. In the same way when a story is balanced with views from both sides, it is referred to, as balanced story. These steps don’t come easy.
The Journalists who are the actors in this profession have a problem on their hands –Unity. Journalists have an umbrella body, the Nigeria Union of Journalists, (NUJ) under which members should unite as one body and have one voice, but rather what we have is that they are fallen apart and the center is not holding. The center is not holding because various media houses are not only frustrating, but are not showing interest in the unity of the practitioners of this noble profession which without doubt touches every strata of life. Truth must be said in this regard, media houses, especially those who pride themselves as national outfit don’t see any reason for their staff to identify with or participate in the affairs of the NUJ. Simply put these houses abhore or don’t want to hear anything NUJ. During the days of the New Nigerian Newspapers, NNN, a newspaper with high regards and respect for its opinion, reports, near perfect production. It has wide circulation as the first newspaper to print in Kaduna and Lagos simultaneously and circulate across length and breadth of this country daily. As NUJ matters is concerned, the NNN produced the first all powerful General Secretary of the NUJ, Mr Jola Ogunlusi. He was the custodian of the affairs and the office of the Secretary is not contested for till today. Staff of the NNN had/ has unfettered freedom to participate and hold union office and are even supported by the employer in various ways. I recall that it produced officers at Kaduna and Lagos States Councils as well as at national level and still doing so. It is a thing of pride and honor for media houses not only to identify but also produce State and national officers which is an additional credibility. The actions or inactions of Journalists rubs off on the national development, because as it is, developmental journalism is not practised as it should be rather it is politics or nothing. When Senator Smart Adeyemi was the President of the NUJ, he and his exco members picketed the Guardian newspaper for failing in their obligations to Journalists in their payroll. Some media houses are still facing picketing. The proprietors of these media houses who deny the Journalists in their payroll to participate in union affairs should know that it is the same NUJ that will be called upon to speak out when the going is rough. At this point it does not matter if the media house belong to the union or not as far as there is problem like the case of the Trust newspaper. Another typical example was the clamping of Journalists In Kaduna State under this administration.
In fact as members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm (FER) it is worrisome and a matter of concern that these national media houses can afford to be part of the disuniting factors of the NUJ which is the umbrella of the Practitioners of Fourth Estate of the Realm. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended guarantees Nigerians, including practising Journalists, freedom of association. Various professionals, the lawyers, accountants, teachers, lecturers, nurses, doctors, architects, quantity surveyors, the religious, all classes of retirees, traders, drivers, artisans, etc, enjoy and benefit from being under one body especially in the present Democratic dispensation. The various media houses should as a matter of concern join hand to strengthen the Union of journalists. The display of nonchalant attitude doesn’t speak well of these employees who use their intellectual property and abandon them in time of trouble. Whither the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria, (NPAN), the Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria, (BON) on matters like thus? Lest we remind these media houses that many Unionists from NUJ have emerged as senators, hon members of house of Representatives, Commissioners, etc to the pride of the profession and the Union. Let’s make the NUJ a vibrant association.

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