The former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Professor Kingsley Moghalu, has tasked media practitioners in Nigeria to embark on developmental reporting that will foster economic growth and national integration.
Giving the charge in his keynote address titled ‘Development Reporting and Hysteria Journalism’ at the TheNiche Fourth Anniversary lecture held yesterday in Lagos, the seasoned banker stressed the need for journalists to be issues-oriented and objective in their various reports.
As a step towards the economic growth of the country, Moghalu, however, pointed out that there was a conscious bias by the media towards what is seen as a larger goal of the society and less emphasis on other issues that may be newsworthy but are seen as not advancing the desired consciousness that development journalism seeks to create.
He recalled that in the past, development journalism was practised as the role of the government was in the society, adding that the economy was very strong in many countries, including Nigeria.
He clarified: “In some countries with socialist governments, there simply was nothing else. As from the 1980s with economic liberalization, development journalism began to die a natural death as the media sought to survive in increasingly capitalist economies by being relevant to its consumers by giving more attention to new trends.”
On investigative journalism and social transformation, Moghalu who has indicated interest to contest in the 2019 presidential election, identified one of the major ways by which the media can play a role of a catalyst in social transformation as through investigative journalism.
“By uncovering evidence of malfeasance and shedding light on social ills, journalists can influence public discourse in a major way. There is so much that is wrong with our country today and a vibrant tradition of investigative reporting can help change this” he said.
He explained that the tradition of investigative reporting in Nigeria is dying slowly whereas the news has become more commercialized. He admitted that speaking truth to power and going beyond press releases is never easy, but that is what must be done in order to truly make an impact.
Moghalu noted that ownership of the Nigerian press has always been centered on the politicians as far back as pre-independence era, adding that the core use of media by politicians is to advance an agenda that served their narrow interests.
According to him, Nigeria’s press cannot play an effective developmental role because the elite who own these media have no worldview and their only concern is to access to political power and unfortunately, these outlets are deployed in pursuit and maintenance of this access.
Speaking on hysteria journalism, the former CBN deputy governor, explained that it is closely linked to entertainment quotient of journalism which currently thrives, stressing that it seeks to play on the latent prejudices of readers and has the effect of reducing public discourse to a shouting match and leaving the public less informed.
Moghalu lamented that hysteria journalism was a reflection of our country and the magnified fault lines that existed in it today, pointing out that the destructive tone and divisive rhetoric of Nigeria’s political class is what is largely responsible for hysteria journalism in the country.
To justify his stance, he cited the recent controversy that engulfed the release of so called “looters list” and the discussion on the removal of subsidies in 2012 among other issues.