Whenever Napoleon conquered a country in his selfish quest for a great empire, the first thing he dictated was that the newspapers all be put under his control. In the United States, William Randolph Hearst, publishing magnate, owned not less than 28 major newspapers and 18 magazines. In 1927, his newspapers printed forged, unchecked documents; he was an unabashed practitioner of what has come to be known as "yellow journalism." By means of this yellow journalism, Hearst created the atmosphere for the Spanish-American War from which he profited.
Journalism is important to report what happens; yet by the same token, it carries a dangerous political importance at times as it also can help to create situations.
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Politically, journalism is very important. We can see this in the impact that Al-Jazeera had in the Tunisian rebellion that happened recently. (And in the impact of news media in general in the current unrest in Egypt). When there is no journalism, things like the Tunisian man burning himself in protest aren't widely known in a country or in the world. If that happens, they don't cause any sort of reaction. But when journalism exists, such incidents can come to the attention of broader publics and can cause things like what happened in Tunisia.
In my opinion, journalism is important to the world because it is current and relevent. This is also what makes it entertaining. People tune in to the news (whether on TV, the radio, newspaper, or Internet) because they want to see what is going on in the world. Journalism is responsible for the spreading of current ideas. Additionally, journalism is an important way to view the past. By re-reading old articles, or reviewing archived news clips from different points in history, we have the ability to see how the public reacted to an event at the time it was happening.
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Similarly like Napoleon, President Buhari in the last court sitting of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, brutally barred Biafran journalists from covering the proceedings of the court case as he had earlier ordered for a media blackout in Kanu’s case which the Nigerian media houses has being following.
Agents of the Department of State Services, DSS, harassed and intimidated Biafran reporters who came to cover the proceedings, they seized their mobile phones, took them to an underground cell and had them beaten thoroughly just because they came to perform their duty. The DSS also ensured that some of Kanu’s supporters were not allowed entry into the courtroom which is by the way a public institution.
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All the threats sent her way is to compel her to deny Nnamdi Kanu bail, and the media blackout is geared towards facilitating the conviction of the IPOB leader by making the world oblivious of what transpired in court.
Buhari should be made to know that it is a futile effort in trying to convict an innocent man who has done nothing wrong other than seeking for self-determination under recognized laws.
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On the other hand, civil liberty societies, human rights activists should as a matter of urgency move to ensure that journalists are allowed to cover news in the public interest without fear of violence or arbitrary detention. This singular act of Buhari molesting and chasing after journalists is not in the best interest of the civil society and most be condemned by all. It has further described the dictatorial tendency of Buhari in brutally subduing the press.
In addition, we are calling on civil and human right groups to help end an escalating crackdown on independent media and dissenting voices that has seen the misuse and abuse of power by the President to target, molest and probably imprison journalists reporting on public interest issues.
Buhari should be made to understand that the media is independent of their own and stopping them from entering courtroom is an international offence.
Written By Ejike Ofoegbu
Edited By Chukwuemeka Chimerue
Published By Nwosu C.S
For Biafra Writers