By NBF News

Minister of Information and Communications, Professor Dora Akunyili and members of the Nigerian Union of Journalists Chapter, Lagos State, have stressed the urgent need to address journalists' welfare.

The discussants yearned for ethical re-orientation, re-training and attitudinal change, at the NUJ Lagos State Council's Media Stakeholders Debate on '150 Years of Journalism: How Far?'

Speaking at the event, Information and Communication Minister, Prof. Dora Akunyili argued that journalists are going through stressful and risky profession. 'They rush from events to newsroom and from newsroom to events. They deserve to be paid well.' Akunyili submitted that men of the pen profession are usually vulnerable to stress-induce illnesses because of the demands of the job.

She revealed that a committee, under her leadership as Information minister has been set up to wade into the welfare of journalists in Nigeria. 'The committee has submitted its first phase of reports, by the time we are done, we shall come with a meaningful salary structure for media workers. We shall also communicate same to private media owners.' She said.

The info boss, who spoke volumes of the need for the rebranding of Nigeria, pointed out that journalists should also project the positive sides of the nation in their reports.

She advised that reporters should always balance their stories, crosscheck their reports, before rushing to the press. 'It was the journalists who gave Nigeria its independence without the barrel of guns. As we approach 2011, all electoral matters should be reported with all sense of patriotism.' She however prayed for the souls of fallen journalists, while asking for a minute silence to be observed in their honour.

The Guest Lecturer, Professor Ralph Akinfeleye and Head of Department (HOD) Department of Mass Communications, University of Lagos, likened journalists to the messenger and the news as the message.