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Online Publishing: Dealing With Junks


By Yusuf Ozi-Usman

The recent formation of Nigerian Online Publishers’ Association (NOPA) in Lagos came at the right time when mushroom online publishers with jaundice knowledge of journalism are springing up daily, thanks to access to the modern communication technology, even by nincompoops.

publishingAs a matter of fact, at no time the popular communication dictum which says, “Comments are free” comes into play than now, especially as the society is not only free but reels in democracy.

The world has moved so fast and close-knitted that the instruments for the dissemination of information are at the fingertips of every other person.

All that is required by anyone to publish news and news items now is adequate knowledge of internet technology. In other words, many people, especially, highly mobile and bubbling youths who have acquired ITC knowledge from universities and other tertiary institutions, have suddenly found online publishing both lucrative and fun, and in some cases, an opportunity to do mischief.

One central truth that runs across this class of young energetic people is the fact that they know nothing about journalism and its tenets. It doesn’t matter that Journalism is regarded as an open, all-comers profession; some form of decorum need not be sacrificed at the altar of the openness.

These are the emerging publishers who mainly copy or lift stories and other news items from newspapers or professional editors running the same online and slam them on their sites. Indeed, it is common now to read, word-for-word from such junks, news items already published either in newspapers or professional online media. They don’t even know what is called editing or re-writing, to give new flavour to the news items so copied or lifted.

Even though the chairman of newly formed NOPA, Malachy Agbo, Publisher of The Citizen was frank to admit that the Association has no power to sanction erring publishers, but there is no running away from the advice of President of the Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE), Femi Adesina that poor editing and disregard for journalism ethics should be discouraged in this new journalism technology.

If this category of junk journalists or online publishers is bad, the ones that do not have regard for truth, accuracy and balance as well as the ones that come out daily with poor, third-rate English, even among the ones published by some lazy Journalists, would be regarded as laughable.

While on that, there is this young man publishing an online simply because he can design website, but who cannot put together a simple sentence in English! He either lifts news items from newspapers or other social media and, if he is to write, he ‘spoils the language.’

Agreed, this form of journalism is still at the infant stages as all jack and harries go into it, the Malachy-led NOPA needs to start thinking beyond ordinary on how to weed out the junks and sanitize the journalism profession, irrespective of the instrument for the purveyance of information.

What the Association may insist on is the need for the practitioners not only to be professionals but to ensure strict observance to the journalism’s standard which makes truth sacred.


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