Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fear of Repurcussions Prevent Some Nigerian Journalists from Reporting Controversial Stories

To publish or not to publish is a tough question for many journalists in Nigeria, according to a recent piece from iMediaEthics, also known as stinkyjournalism.org, and an analysis from the Daily Independent, found on AllAfrica.com.

According to these articles, Nigerian journalists must often debate between doing their ethical duty (disseminating information to the public and uncovering the truth) and protecting not only their own lives, but the lives of their loved ones. According to the Daily Independent analysis, "There is hardly any journalist in Nigeria, who would not confess that the practice of the profession in their country is a tough one."

The plight of reporters in the country was exemplified in January, when a journalist (whose name has been withheld for safety reasons) discovered practices occurring in a southwestern town--Ogun State--that violated election laws. The story was undoubtedly newsworthy and the public had the right to know the information the journalist uncovered, but friends and family pressured the reporter not to go to print with the story for fear of both political repercussions and threats/physical harm.

According to the Independent, this kind of chilling effect is common among Nigerian journalists, and "some believe that the time has come when journalist should think more about their safety and less about ethics." However, many still believe that the old "consequence be damned" rule for the news is worth following, despite the risks.

Leave a comment below with your thoughts on the subject. Do you know anyone who was threatened not to publish a story? What happened? Under what circumstances, if any, do you believe that journalists have the right to put their well-being before their professional duties?

Sources: iMediaEthics, AllAfrica.com (Daily Independent)

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