Nigeria vs CNN, who will win? Of course, we know who will.
All the conspiracy theory by Nigerian authorities is hogwash. CNN will win, I am certain about that. They have the professionalism; they have the technology to deploy when digging into events to bang out their stories. Government functionaries, and indeed the general public are ignorant about the workings of the media–the print or electronic. I speak from my knowledge of independent newspaper or the television which are a business. A newspaper or television which is a business must worry about credibility to survive. So, we say it is a newspaper that chases profit that must have as its credo credibility. How does a newspaper, a television house that does not expect subsidy from anywhere, not from government, not from political parties meet its bills and have reserves if it does chase profit? So we say it is a newspaper that chases profit that is independent.
Now to the inner workings of an independent media house that is a business:
A reporter generates his own story idea and pursues it. Editors do not dictate to a reporter or correspondent what to pursue. If an editor gets hint of an occurrence, he may alert his reporter on the beat. If the reporter finds nothing to it, he will spike the story. The editor will not ask him to falsify report of an occurrence. Credibility is the core of the business. Diary events are different from unpredictable happenings. It is the unpredictable that calls forth a reporter’s professional skills. And it is what gives his medium be it newspaper or television strength. The diary events encompass press conferences or the launching of a product by a corporate organization, or invitation to socials.
For all the three years I was BBC Focus on Africa correspondent in Nigeria, there was no single occasion my editors in London told me what to write and how to write it. All I was given was a special line through which I could file my reports to Bush House in London. I gave it up when my workload as editor of The Guardian was getting heavier. The position of a newspaper on issues is decided at a meeting of editors, and it will be based on what has been published. That position is ventilated in what is generally known as editorials. As for reports, it is individual reporters that go about their business, that run their beats. They open their eyes; they keep their ears to the ground; they are on the alert. They pick prompts and pursue them. They look for hints and follow them up.
It is expected that protests will attract the attention of reporters and correspondents both local and international. It is even more so for international media organizations where there is loss of lives. What we look for in reporters are public spiritedness, compassion, concern for the underdogs and of course character. There is no reporter that will close his eyes to an event in which there is loss of lives. It is even more so among foreign media because of the sacredness with which they regard every single life, including the life of a dog, and where the felling of a tree is a crime. A CNN reporter won’t be told even if he was based in Cote D’Ivoire to rush to Lagos to dig into story concerning an event of the magnitude of EndSARS protest. He would deploy all his professional skills and technology to get to the bottom of the happenings. He does so, not because he does not like Nigeria or he has issues with her government. Once a reporter files his story, it becomes the property of his organization and they stand by their publication, their broadcast. For me the broadcast of CNN is proof enough of the veracity in which is inherent the credibility of their report. CNN did a good job. Any propaganda or political correctness must fall flat in the face of a well researched report.
Lade Bonuola was Managing Director, Guardian Newspapers Ltd and Turning Point Newspapers Ltd.