Crescent Varsity Don Charges Media, Journalists On Post-covid 19 Survival
He needs little introduction in the field of communication in Nigeria and beyond. Now an academic of high repute, this personality has seen both the practical and theoretical aspects of mass media in his almost four decades in the profession.
With practical journalism experience in Nigeria and in Europe before returning to the classroom to contribute his experience and knowledge, Dr Kola Adesina is currently the head of the department of awards winning department of mass communication of Crescent University, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
As a one-time Senior Special correspondent and later the second black News Editor of London-based West Africa magazine, he has traversed both the local and international newsrooms capped with a doctorate in communication studies.
Dr Adesina, a member of the Association of Professional communication scholars of Nigeria (ACSPN) bares his mind on contemporary issues in the media industry in this interview. Excerpts:
What do you consider to be the immediate implications of the lockdown on the media industry?
Implications of the lockdown especially for print media revolves around the challenge brought about online news media both organized and personal. The ability of anybody with an Android phone to take advantage of the social by putting anything of fancy on the World Wide Web is the basis of the perceived threat to the media.
The lockdown should also be used by organized media to search for facts and defend their position by further investigation if possible. No medium worth it’s salt will directly or indirectly open its pages for fake news and unsubstantiated reports. Readers nowadays are gradually beginning to rate media credibility by the veracity and truthfulness of reports.
How can they leverage the challenges for optimization and relevance, especially in the face of dwindling purchasing power of the readers?
Although purchasing power is dwindling, the need for credible and verifiable reports is not. To survive, media should be painstaking in its pursuit of facts and dependable figures which are necessary for the growth of democracy and general development.
What form of content should newspapers and broadcast stations have to retain readership and viewership?
Newspapers should try to maintain a balance between the appetites of the public for sensational and report of scandals and the judgement of its top editors on material that promotes social responsibility contract of the media and development journalism.
How best do you think media organisations and practitioners could properly cover the post-COVID-19 challenges for optimum advantage to the readers, sustaining market and relevance?
The avalanche of information and misinformation around COVID-19 is another pointer to the need to some form of regulation around the nature of the information that can be initiated or shared online without proper identification of the publisher or host.
What is required in this regard is the extension of existing laws on media regulation to cover online material. This is different from attempts to muzzle the press as in the long run, the grain will be shifted from the chaff leading to the survival of credible media organizations leaving usurpers and charlatans in the mud.
Would you say the training curriculum of higher institutions is enough to prepare future professionals for the new challenges?
The current trends in the gown and town collaborating in training new journalists should not only continue but must go even further especially on industrial attachment and media houses getting involved in the development of curriculum for mass communication.
What do you consider to be the task ahead of young journalists to develop and cope with the emerging challenges of delivering the best for their media organisations and to attain professional relevance?
There would great progress in this direction once the industry can get involved in the training of upcoming journalists beyond ordinary industry attachment placements.
How best could journalism teachers impact positively on students with the changing dynamics of the media industry?
Universities and other platforms for the training of journalists should be supported in the procurement of the latest training equipment peculiar to the media. The idea of senior editors practising or retired should be appointed as fellows and with the opportunity to bring experience to bear on training.
Student journalists must be directed to read not just in, but around and outside of journalism studies to broaden their worldview and enrich their arguments. To become editors, new journalists must be required to learn the ropes by garnering experience around the newsroom thereby acquiring editorial management skills.