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A Train crash which occurred at Pen Cinema railway crossing in Lagos State on Friday has claimed liuves of three person and many others injured, just as an eyewitness said the accident occurred when the bus driver of a commercial bus was trying to make U-turn on the rail line.

Penpushing gathered that, the train hit the commercial bus while number of people hanging on the train fell off and three die instantly while other sustained various injuries,just as the witness identified as Raji Oladimeji said the passerby had earlier warned the commercial driver

“We warned the driver not to make U-turn at that particular point when a train was approaching but he refused. So, it was in the process of making the turn that the approaching train crushed the bus where people hanging on the train fell off and three die instantly while other sustained various injuries,’ Oladimeji said.

The alleged suspected facilitator of suicide bombing activities of ‘Boko-Haram’ insurgents, Abubakar Kori has confessed that he was paid not less than N5, 000 for each suicide bomb attack carried out by the insurgents in Maiduguri.

Penpushing reports that the 25, is among the 22 people arrested by the police in Borno and Yobe for their alleged involvement in suicide bombing activities carried out by the insurgents, affirming that he received N5,000 as payment for facilitating the execution of each suicide bomb attack in Maiduguri and its environs.

The suspect said to be a security guard at a fuel dispensing station in Dalori area of Maiduguri, further disclosed that he participated in several suicide bomb attacks in recent months in the metropolis.

“My role is to keep the Improvised Explosive Device (IEDs) for onward delivery to another person who will carry out the attack. On different occasions, two of my acquaintances gave a parcel to keep for somebody, who will come and take it’,he confessed.

“I normally kept the parcel in my duty post; the appointed person would come and picked it; after successful delivery, they paid me N5, 000. We reside in the same neighbourhood in Maiduguri; they always told me that the parcel was given to them by one Ba’Adam, and asked me to keep it. They introduced me to Ba’Adam, who is the mastermind of the attacks,” he revealed.

The United Nations (UN) has called Nigerian Media to stop promoting conflicts in the interest of peace and justice, adding that the media must facilitate informed debates with opportunities for all citizens to express their views.

The Country Director of United Nations Information Centre in Nigeria, Mr. Ronald Kayanja made the call while delivering the second anniversary lecture of Penpushing Media with the theme, "The Media and the Quests for Peace, Justice and Strong Institution in Nigeria’

Kayanja also called for capacity building of journalists to achieve objective reportage of the country, stressing that it was the duty of the media to build a sense of community among the people and also serve as vehicle for cultural cohesion.

In similar vein, he called on the media to desist from engaging school drop outs as journalists to save cost noting that the damages it has on the profession was enormous, with a call for the engagement of more authentic journalists in the media industry.

In his remark, Chairman on the occasion, Mr. Felix Ogunaike called on Nigerians to be wary of fake news which he said was a result of laziness and quackery.   ‎

The Ekiti State Governor-elect, Dr Kayode Fayemi has declared that he is going to examine the administration of the outgoing Governor,Ayodele Fayose, as soon as he(Fayemi) resume office.

He made this known on Thursday while speaking with journalists after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, stating that it will be irresponsible on his part not to probe the administration of Fayose.

He added further that his administration will examine what transpired in the last four years in Ekiti state including the failure of the Fayose-led administration to pay workers’ salaries.

“Well, l think we need to remove this election from personalities. This was an election that we fought on issues. And it will be irresponsible on my part to come here and say that we will not examine what transpired in the last four years in the manner of government.

“What was received in Ekiti State and the expenditures in that period? Why were we not able to pay salaries in the state? These issues should be examined in the interest of good governance. It is not about probing Fayose or probing Eleka or probing anybody.

Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun has called on the media to be cautious of their pens in their reportage as the election draws nearer, as well as on recent attacks across the country, stressing that national development should be a priority for them .

He gave the caution note while speaking at the second anniversary lecture of Penpushing media, with the theme,’ "The Media and the Quests for Peace, Justice and Strong Institution in Nigeria’ held at marque events centre, Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta.

The Governor who was represented by the Commissioner of Information and Strategy Otunba Dayo Adeneye, affirmed that the theme came at the appropriate time, just as he also noted that media should be used as a vital tool in bridging the dive between the governed and government.

‘It is with great pleasure, that I welcome you to this year's lecture, the second in the series, THEMED: "The media and the quest for peace, justice and strong institutions in Nigeria. It could not have come at a better time than now, especially, with the election year coming and recent attacks across the country’, he said.

Presentation by Ronald Kayanja, United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Director

Abeokuta – July 19, 2018

My discussion today is premised on Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals which aims to ‘promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.’ The goal targets include to: promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all; substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms; develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels; ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels; ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements. I will attempt to identify what role the Media will play to enable the country achieve this goal.

You will notice that this goal implicitly refers to a democratic society, but it must have been contentious to introduce the term during the formulation of Agenda 2030. Those used to diplomatic negotiations at international level know that including words like democracy in texts to be agreed upon by all member states can be complex. George Orwell argued in 1957: Not only is there no agreed-upon definition of democracy, but also the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. The defenders of any kind of regime claim that it is a democracy and fear they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any one meaning (Orwell 1957) .

Including targets on representative decision making, rule of law and a proper justice system, transparency and accountability and access to information all point to democratic governance. It is the argument that democratic governance will enable a peaceful environment within which development goals will be achieved. This is the context within which we situate the media.

Democratic governance is closely related to the main purposes of the United Nations. Respect for human rights enables society to promote durable peace, while it is also true that we can only guarantee human rights in peaceful situations. It is harder to guarantee human rights in violent conflict. In addition, the rule of law and strong justice institutions that do not allow impunity are enablers of peace. Indeed it is in peaceful situations that we can be sure of development outcomes. This is why the UN is enthusiastic about democratic governance.

There is a major international debate over what democracy comprises. The essence of this argument (Kaldor 2007) focuses on the extent to which democracy is procedural (what has also been referred to as minimalist), or substantive (what has also been termed substantial).

Procedural democracy comprises first and foremost the holding of free and fair elections, together with the existence of independent institutions, such as a judiciary, the separation of the legislature from the executive and the existence of some form of civil society. In this context, the existence of free media is also often cited, but generally conceptualized in minimalist terms of being reasonably free of overt government control. Procedural democracy is common in many parts of Africa where leaders reluctantly accept democratic governance out of pressure from external forces (and sometimes from within). They allow for elections to be conducted, but with many flaws. There are institutions like the Judiciary, but largely compromised. In most cases there is the strongman mentality – the overbearing induvial who commands the armed forces. Such democracy is minimalist.

Substantive democracy builds on this concept of democracy but focuses additionally and explicitly on the capacity of citizens to hold authorities to account between elections, and tends to emphasize an informed, engaged citizenry able to engage in public debate and create public opinion that governments feel bound to heed. Such a substantive notion of democracy inevitably presupposes a citizenry that is informed, is able to debate ideas in public and able to communicate those ideas in ways that shape public opinion and ultimately policy.

Such substantive notions of democracy place a strong emphasis on concepts of a healthy, vibrant public sphere. In this notion of democracy, the role of media goes beyond being “free,” and attention focuses additionally on the extent to which media inform publics of the issues that shape their lives, provide spaces for informed and inclusive public debate, and provide an outlet for the voices and perspectives of citizens, including marginalized ones. Issues of who the media are owned or controlled by, who they cater to in terms of audience (and particularly in the development context whether they cater to people living in poverty) and whose voices they choose to give legitimacy to, all become key questions in terms of the quality of democracy. It is clear to me that to achieve Goal 16 – and indeed all the SDGs we must focus on substantive democracy.

UNESCO has come up with some elements we need to look at. These are discussed both in the context of freedom of expression and substantive democracy.

Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is widely seen as underpinning democratic freedoms such as the right to form political parties, share political ideas, query the actions of public officials, and so on.

Media outlets are crucial to the exercise of freedom of expression because they provide the public platform through which the right is effectively exercised. The idea of media as a platform for democratic debate embraces a variety of overlapping functions. Media, in this context, refers to all those channels that carry news and public information.

According to UNESCO, media may be seen as:

  • a channel of information and education through which citizens can communicate with each other;
  • a disseminator of stories, ideas and information;
  • a corrective to the “natural asymmetry of information” (Islam 2002:1) between governors and governed and between competing private agents;
  • a facilitator of informed debate between diverse social actors, encouraging the resolution of disputes by democratic means;
  • a means by which a society learns about itself and builds a sense of community, and which shapes the understanding of values, customs and tradition;
  • a vehicle for cultural expression and cultural cohesion within and between nations;
  • a watchdog of government in all its forms, promoting transparency in public life and public scrutiny of those with power through exposing corruption, maladministration and corporate wrongdoing; and
  • an essential facilitator of the democratic process and one of the guarantors of free and fair elections

However, media can sometimes reinforce the power of vested interests and could even promote conflicts as has been widely reported during the Genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s. Thus, many commentators argue that independent journalism is a necessary but not sufficient means of strengthening democratic governance and promoting human development. They suggest that these goals are achieved most effectively under certain conditions, including: in societies where channels of mass communications are free and independent of established interests; and in addition, where there is widespread access to these media.

Under what conditions are media most likely to contribute to this democratic society or the substantive democracy we have described? UNESCO identifies five conditions:

1.Where there is a system of regulation conducive to freedom of expression, pluralism and diversity of the media: existence of a legal, policy and regulatory framework which protects and promotes freedom of expression and information, based on international best practice standards and developed in participation with civil society.

2.When a society has plurality and diversity of media, a level economic playing field and transparency of ownership: the state actively promotes the development of the media sector in a manner which prevents undue concentration and ensures plurality and transparency of ownership and content across public, private and community media.

  1. media operate as a platform for democratic discourse: the media, within a prevailing climate of self-regulation and respect for the journalistic profession, reflects and represents the diversity of views and interests in society, including those of marginalised groups. There is a high level of information and media literacy.

4.In a situation where journalists have adequate capacity and supporting institutions that underpins freedom of expression, pluralism and diversity: media workers have access to professional training and development, both vocational and academic, at all stages of their career, and the media sector as a whole is both monitored and supported by professional associations and civil society organisations.

 

5.Where the infrastructural capacity is sufficient to support independent and pluralistic media: the media sector is characterised by high or rising levels of public access, including among marginalised groups, and efficient use of technology to gather and distribute news and information, appropriate to the local context.

Other scholars have argued that these UNESCO standards are not adequate to guarantee media that will support substantive democracy, especially in this age of digital media and increased commercialisation of media. Indeed there are fears that traditional media as we know it may disappear in the near future. Even in Nigeria we know that newspaper circulation has greatly diminished, while millions of young people are spending more time on social media than traditional media. Studies have shown that in many countries there is increasing distrust of the media. The media in the US were largely seen to portray President Trump negatively, and indeed never gave him a chance, but he won elections. It showed a level of disconnect between the media and the people.

Herman and Chomsky (2002) have expounded on what they call a propaganda model. While their focus was mainly on the American media, they identify five forces that work to filter media content to suite the powerful people in society. This has been happening over the years, thus alienating the population from the mainstream media.

These five forces are:

The media owners: increasingly in a number of countries big media companies have concentrated ownership which can be traced to just few powerful individuals. These inevitably control the content which emanates from the string of their operations. One powerful group may own a number of TV stations, online newspapers, radio stations and print newspapers. While there is plurality in terms of the variety of media houses, when traced to the owners there is shrinking space. These owners are more interested in profit than in media as a platform for democratic discourse.

Advertising revenues: these provide another filter for the media. Media depend on big advertisers for their survival. This means where the issues affect the source of revenue, the media houses will tread softly. Advertisers are always keen to discriminate against what they consider unfriendly media organisations.

Media sources: a number of public and private enterprises have developed strong public information departments that flood media with their facts. This is another means of controlling news media. The big organisations and interest groups over time get their narrative to become the dominant paradigm in news and media. This does not always mean that society in general is in agreement with what the media churns out.

Another filter is what they call ‘flak’ or organised negative response to media output. Some of the flak can be threatening and in other cases just putting pressure on editors regarding what the powerful see as ‘acceptable behaviour.’ Some of this comes from ‘respected’ think tanks and individuals who try to ‘beat into line’ the media.

The Ideologists: these are mainly think tank organisations that tend to define the world for all of us. They define for us who are our enemies and the basic tenets of society. They do this effectively through media seminars; media development initiatives and in the developing world they train journalists; provide them with grants and directions on what and how to report.

These filters narrow the range of news that passes through the gates into the newspaper pages and airwaves. Even in so-called democratic societies, journalists gate keepers do not feel threatened by the State but are constrained by these levels of filters and what eventually gets published is what the big and powerful want to see. The journalists may not even be aware because these filters work over time to create a media reality. This over time has alienated the masses who have largely lost trust in the media. It therefore comes as no surprise that in an era of the mobilising power of social media the mainstream media could not predict the victory of Donald Trump and Brexit.

Richard Sambrook a Professor of Journalism, Cardiff University, the UK, wrote an article on why the media got it so wrong on Trump and Brexit. He identifies five reasons:

First, big media has too easily become part of the political/celebrity bubble and tends to forget that journalism is meant to be an “outsider” activity – outside the halls of power, but not outside the communities it serves.

Secondly, too much of the media spends too much time talking to itself and not to the communities it serves. It’s true of columnists competing with each other for contrariness and impact and true of broadcasting where presenters interview correspondents about politicians’ tactical views of an event far away.

Thirdly, the news media, as we know, is going through a torrid economic change. Advertising rates are tumbling and digital revenues are not growing fast enough to make up the shortfall. As a consequence we have seen deep newsroom cuts and the collapse of local news both in the US and, to a large extent, in the UK.

Fourth, most reporting is done from the desktop and less and less on the ground. This has meant the antennae picking up and understanding social change are no longer there. Easy talk has been too often prioritised over newsgathering because it’s cheaper – but not necessarily well informed. And in elections, it has exacerbated an over-reliance on telephone and online polls – now proven unreliable.

Fifth, the internet has allowed anyone to take part in public debate. There is much to be celebrated about a more democratic media environment – but is has also led to deliberate misinformation (sometimes for commercial reasons, often for political reasons) – which has become toxic – what is now called ‘Fake News.’

A recent study conducted by Westergaard and Jogenson attempts to identify solutions to the current challenges for media. In what they called ‘54 newsrooms, 9 countries, and 9 core ideas’ two researchers have published a report on a yearlong research journey, undertaken in 2017, through nine European countries and the United States, visiting and studying 54 media companies pioneering new ways to connect with their audiences and communities.

They wanted to identify how media in the contemporary times can be successful at creating and maintaining ties with their readers, users, listeners and viewers so as to continue playing their role in a democratic society. Their findings show that journalism as we knew it will have to fundamentally change. We have known the basic principles of journalism to include truth and accuracy; objectivity; fairness; impartiality or neutrality; and to act as an independent and arms-length monitor of power. But they say that all this will change in these nine ways:

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