Media Experts Call for Government Support to Safeguard Press Freedom

Media professionals and experts have lauded the role played by the media over the 63-year history of the nation, acknowledging its vital role in holding public officials accountable and fostering democratic values. However, they emphasize the need for further improvements in the industry.

The experts unanimously recognize the media’s pivotal role in Nigeria’s journey to independence in 1960 and its continuous contribution to sustaining democratic culture. Despite these achievements, concerns have been raised about the challenging economic climate, prompting calls for media practitioners to reassess their funding models.

Notable figures in the field, including Hakeem Olaniyan, Convener of the Centre for Social Media Research, Ayode Longe, Deputy Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Ngozi Comfort Omojunikanbi, a lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt, and Abidemi Gbekeloluwa, Chief Technologist at Yaba College of Technology’s Mass Communication Department, expressed their views.

Ngozi Comfort Omojunikanbi highlights the media’s evolution, from the early days of newspapers and radio to the introduction of television in 1959 and the subsequent rise of the Internet and digital media. She emphasizes how digital technology has improved media services, providing the public with diverse sources of information for informed decision-making. She calls for greater media freedom, legal protection for journalists, and increased media literacy.

Hakeem Olaniyan reflects on the media’s historical development, tracing its political engagement from pre-independence to the military era and its role in opposing military rule. He emphasizes the importance of collaboration among stakeholders, including practitioners, platform owners, and the government, to regulate the new media landscape effectively.

Ayode Longe raises concerns about the current state of press freedom, suggesting that the media landscape has worsened over time, even in a democratic dispensation. He emphasizes the need for an enabling environment and legal protection for journalists. Longe calls for the enactment of laws explicitly guaranteeing press freedom and diligent prosecution of attacks on journalists.

Abidemi Gbekeloluwa expresses disappointment with the Nigerian media’s performance, asserting that it should serve as society’s watchdog. She believes that the media has shifted toward survival mode, with external influences dictating its course. Gbekeloluwa underscores the importance of holding the government accountable and educating the public about government policies.

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