THE RISE AND RISE OF ERIC OSAGIE
In seeking to write on one of Nigeria's best contemporary Journalists - Mr. Eric Osagie, I will dig deep into scholarly observations of some revered fathers of Nigerian journalism.
This is because as a one hundred level journalism student, one of the first intellectual encounters you would certainly have is the affirmation by your Professor that news writers are not news makers.
Take the case of the inverted pyramid format of news writing, the Journalist does not appear among the component parts even though he/she is the writer.
Stanly Macebuh (Ph.D.) distinguished himself and entered the nation's journalism annals as one of the finest masters of journalism of all times to have originated out of Nigeria. In literary form, we can equate him with Plato of Ancient Greece who is the real father of philosophy as a unified form of academic scholarship.
This is what Dr. Macebuh said to show that the news writer ought not to turn himself into the news. His words; 'We tend to be too pretentious in our conception of our role in society. Every fledgling recruit just out of school would want an entire page to himself'.
Dr. Macebuh contributed a treatise in the award winning notebook of journalism titled; _'Journalism and Society' _edited by Dokun Bojuwade, who in 1985 was the Director of the prestigious premier journalism Institution-Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ). In his submission beautifully sub-titled; _'The responsibilities of the press', _Dr. Macebuh among other salient points stressed as follows; 'I really do mean to emphasize this point. The most important responsibility of the Press is to promote and defend social justice'. Happily, this 'Macebuhic' assertion finds foundational support in section 22 of the Nigerian constitution.
He also listed other qualities that distinguishes a journalist thus; 'Accurate and unbiased reporting of the news; independent commentary; freedom of speech. All these are values and objectives well worth having. But they are ultimately meaningless unless they are subordinated to a far higher goal which, in my view, is to ensure that public and private conduct is directed towards the achievement of the greatest possible measure of justice in society'.
This refined journalism gentleman wrote further of what a journalist should be in pragmatic appearance; 'What you are expected to acquire here are the skills of detailed observation, accurate description, intelligent analysis and sensible commentary. But these are merelyskills which, in themselves are virtually neutral in value unless they are informed by an ethical imperative. And that ethical imperative is this always to bend your intelligence and training towards the enhancement of social justice.'
According to him, this frame of mind is the fundamental kernel of journalism's code of ethics.
But he raised intellectual query with the applicable code of ethics for Nigerian journalists because 'It says all the nice things about objectivity and detachment and free, unbiased reporting. But it says nothing of the higher values which journalists must commit themselves to'.
Dr. Macebuh proceeded by affirming that 'It is so wrong-headed, for instance, to formally require that the journalists commit themselves to representative, as opposed to authoritarian government, at least as an ideal? Why is it so undesirable that journalists should be required to swear an oath to expose and fight social injustice in all its forms?'
'I ask these questions, fully aware of the quite respectable objections that can be raised to what they recommend. But I do argue that journalism, in a developing society like ours, ought to dedicate itself to a great deal more than the objective chronicling of events as they occur. It is this view that justifies our legitimate denunciation, so often, of western reporting of Third World events. And we ought not to demand of Western journalists a code of journalism which we are reluctant to impose on our own selves.'
All the above authoritative sources were cited to show that although I am dedicating this column today to my Senior Professional Colleague Mr. Eric Osagie who has just been promoted to the position of Deputy Editor in Chief of Sun group of Newspapers, but I do not intend to make him the news item since he still practices the pen profession.
But again, we are too busy reporting others in our daily routines that we pay less attention to the progress made on daily basis by our professional friends in the field of Nigerian journalism. So I hereby use this medium to congratulate my brother the Edo state born journalism guru Mr. Eric Osagie on his well deserved promotion in one of the most consistent professional platform of the nation's journalism-Sun newspapers.
My prayer is that as he deputises for also one of Nigeria's best political commentators and journalists â€' Mr. Adesina who is also the national President of the respected Nigerian Guild of Editors, that newspaper will continue to remain the darling of human angle journalism in Nigeria.
Osagie has experienced phenomenal progress in his career spanning two decades. He rose steadily through the ranks as staff writer, chief correspondent, deputy features editor and became features editor of the National Concord in 1998. In 1999, he was appointed Saturday editor of the National Interest newspaper.
He joined the services of the Sun Publishing Limited in 2002, as pioneer Editor, Abuja where he was saddled with the task of supervising the editorial and business operations of the newspaper in the Federal Capital Territory.
Written By Emmanuel Onwubiko