Dapo Olorunyomi, the Publisher and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Premium Times Media, has stated that the level of corruption within journalism in Nigeria far outweighs what has been reported in the Nigeria Police Force or found in the National Assembly.
The veteran journalist said this on Thursday at a tribute event organized in his honor, during the ongoing Lagos Book and Art Festival at Freedom Park.
“The level of intolerance in journalism today is probably… I mean, you cannot even quantify it. The other day Buhari was trying to read his budget and they will not even let some journalist cover the event. It was not the security people doing that. It was a bunch of rogues who call themselves “Association of National Assembly Correspondents” he said.
The Premium Times boss said access is very important for effective journalism, unfortunately, he opined that the access is being blocked, not only by the government and its officials but by journalists. “That is the height of the crisis”, he said.
He went on further to say; “the keyword in journalism is accountability of the process. Everywhere you go in the world. This is reflected in the treaties that put nations together or in the statues that nations have come to understand as the basis of their own institutions”.
Mr. Olorunyomi, fondly called “Dapsy” by friends and close associates, said the most important responsibility in journalism is to hold power accountable as that is the primary responsibility of any journalism around the world. “That is what section 22 of our constitution says,” he said, “ even section 15(a) of Ghanaian constitution, said anywhere in the world, the central duty, the purpose of journalism is to hold power accountable”.
In light of this, he then challenged everyone to seek out the kind of journalism that will indeed hold power responsible. The Premium Times publisher stressed that investigative journalism is the closest to achieving a brand of journalism that will keep the government on their toes.
He stated that the likes of Encomium or Ovation magazines practice a kind of journalism but such practice is not what section 22 of the constitution seeks to achieve.
Also, he said journalism is the only factor that determines if democracy would be viable in a country, stating that “democracy decays only to the extent it journalism has deteriorated”.
Mr. Olorunyomi, who celebrated his 60 years birthday just on Wednesday, November 8, 2017, said: “the truth about Nigeria today is that the crisis in our political system is a reflection of total crisis, an almost total collapse of the moral and operational standpoint of our journalism”.
“Our Journalism is totally at the very base, morally and operationally” he stated, “so, how do you renew this process because if you do not renew it, we are in trouble …”
However, while addressing the challenges of today’s journalism, he said; “the truth of the matter is that the business model of our current journalism has collapsed. It is impossible to do any journalism that has any consequential value with the existing models”
Mr. Olorunyomi reasoned that if journalists are not well remunerated, the work they do would be compromised.
“You cannot have a bunch of newsrooms where journalists are not paid for nine, ten months. How are they going to do it? What you are saying is someone else should pay and once that someone else pays, he has to dictate the tune. So, they are not going to be truthful” Mr. Olorunyomi posited.