Wednesday, 31 July 2019

We are not pushovers, Online Media Practitioners, OMPAN Cautions NUJ Correspondence Chapel

The Cross River State chapter of Online Media Practitioners of Nigeria (OMPAN) has called on the state's branch of Nigerian Union of Journalists' (NUJ) Correspondence Chapel to, not devalue online media practitioners be it online journalists, citizen journalists, bloggers, et'al also known as 'new media'.

OMPAN-CRS made this call against the backdrop of recent comments credited to the NUJ Correspondence Chapel chairman, Mr. Judex Okoro by the Guardian Newspaper of 23 July 2019, where Mr. Judex opined that only mainstream journalists (and not workers of the new media) were charged with the duty of holding the government of the day accountable to the people.

While responding to an alleged threat to journalists in the state by the Governor's Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Christian Ita, Mr. Okoro is quoted as saying "The theory of social responsibility in mass media advocates free and responsible media. In other words, journalists (not bloggers or citizen witnesses a.k.a. citizen journalists) should hold the government of the day accountable to the people".

In its reaction, OMPAN disagreed with the Correspondents' Chapel. According to OMPAN it is also the responsibility of bloggers, online journalists, citizen journalists, et'al to hold a democratically elected government responsible. It is not the exclusive responsibility of mainstream journalists to hold government accountable. 

OMPAN decried what it referred to as a disjunctive logic in the practice of journalism in the state while using the opportunity to sue for unity amongst media practitioners. 

The Chair of OMPAN in the state, Efio-Ita Nyok in a statement made available to newsmen said, "Our attention has been drawn to a statement published in the Guardian of 23 July 2019 and credited to Judex Okoro the Chairman of NUJ Correspondents' Chapel in Cross River. 

"According to the said publication Okoro arrogated to himself and other mainstream journalists the exclusive responsibility of holding government responsible to the people. Albeit, we beg to disagree with Journalist Okoro.

"While commending Okoro of the indirect and implicit admittance of the superb roles bloggers and citizen journalists in Cross River have played, are playing and will continue to play in holding the government accountable and responsible, we consider it ridiculous for Journalist Okoro and any other journalists at that to think that holding government responsible is the sole responsibility of mainstream journalists.

''We are surprised at the fact that Journalist Okoro feigns ignorance of the fact and argument that the hallmark of democracy as practiced world over is citizen participation and inclusion in public policy formulation and implementation.

''The disjunctive logic underlying this exclusive professional disposition smacks of elitism, polarisation, divisiveness etc and is thus wholesomely rejected by bloggers and citizen journalists under the aegis of OMPAN. OMPAN rejects Okoro's interpretation of the theory of social responsibility in mass media. 

''OMPAN also recalls with regret the incident at the Department of State Security DSS Office in Calabar before the 2019 general elections in which during an interactive session between media professionals in the state and the DSS where the latter sued for utmost professionalism in the dessemination of information, reports by the former during the general elections, the chair of Correspondents' Chapel referred to bloggers (literally pointing at where some sat) as the social media guys who publish unprofessionally. 

''OMPAN by reason of this reaction is holding out an olive branch to Correspondents' Chapel through her chairman. Let's collaborate in view of a greater Cross River, Nigeria nay Africa, because as the sages have already observed —united we stand, disunited we fall. 

''Finally, let it be stressed that new media has come to stay, let it be encouraged and accomodated'', the statement concludes.