Journalism Must Produce Better Society, Not Opposite -Abati

Consummate journalist, TV anchor/radio host, and former presidential spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, has said that the purpose of Journalism is to produce a better society, not to do the opposite.

Dr. Abati made the assertion while speaking on the topic ‘Journalism in the service of society” at the 3rd Anniversary Lecture and Book Presentation of the Naija Times on Thursday in Abuja.

Naija Times was formally launched on September 15, 2020, with the primary objective of advocating for a better Nigeria with strong institutions, respect for the rule of law, and defending the public interest.

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Abati while speaking, commended the Naija Times for its contribution to shaping the society through its daily and quality editorials.

He said, because of the advancement in technology, journalists who began their careers in the mainstream traditional media has transformed into the online space seeking to pursue the passion that drew them into the profession.

According to him, “the publication of the book being presented on this occasion further illustrates the main specific shape of the meeting point between the mainstream and the online, the link between the print, broadcast and the social media.

“The book has 450 editorials which have been put together covering a wide range of subjects, and thoughts in governance, politics, economy, education, society, Health, International, Environment, and Sports”, he said.

Describing the Editorial, Abati who has been a member of the editorial board of the Guardian Newspaper, Nigeria for more than twenty years, said, “Editorial is a bigger artery of the newspapers business. The editorial carries no byline because it’s the publisher’s opinion and the newspaper’s opinion on categorical issues of the day as they occur continually guided by the Vision and Mission of the owners of the newspaper”.

He observed that the publication through the editorials contained therein fulfilled the objective of making the society a better society.

Corroborating Abati’s position, the book reviewer, and one of Nigeria’s prolific writers and Editor-in-Chief of Leadership newspaper, Azu Ishiekwene, said, that Naija Times’ contribution to a better Nigeria through its editorials is unmatched.

Some of the participants at the event

He said, between September 2020 when it began operations to July 2023 when it stopped the compilation, Naija Times had published 150 editorials.

“We can argue that the traditional newspaper with both hard copies and online presence appears to stick more to publishing daily editorials as part of their prompting, many strictly online platforms do not dedicate energy and time to editorial publishing for reason being from the mode of operations to a lack of editorial board, eventuality attached to the content creation and lack of commitment. The ones that do publish editorials do so at intervals. Weekly, Bi-weekly, and monthly, but not Naija Times”, he said.

Speaking in her Goodwill Message, the former Nigerian Minister of Education and former Vice President of the World Bank, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili noted that although the media have lost a lot of credibility, no society could survive without the media

“The media have lost a lot of credibility. But to the extent that gathering like this can enable us to be counted amongst ourselves, and to understand that no society, no democracy can survive, no democracy can stay resilient, without people intervening autonomously at their best”, he said.

Dr. Ezekwesili said, documentation of important events, should be a matter of national pride and habit.

“It is very important for us as a country that documentation of important events, should be a matter of national habit. And so, I am grateful to James for the book on the National Conference of 2014, being able to document many of the things that happened behind the scenes that nobody could have known. It is very important to speak of context matters, and we do know that society often struggles to find context around events”, she said.

Earlier, the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Naija Times, Ehi Braimah said, since the launch of the online newspaper three years ago, the paper has not looked back, despite the difficult operating environment.

Braimah said, the media industry is poorly funded but the paper had the determination to forge ahead.

He saluted two of his close associates, and senior journalists, Akpandem Janes and Jahman Anikulapo who joined him to launch the newspaper in September 2020.

He said, the primary motivation for setting up Naija Times rests on three main pillars: building strong institutions, respect for the rule of law, and defending the public interest.

The event brought together many other media veterans and dignitaries from across the world.

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