Oseni: What Journalism Is Not

Oseni: What Journalism Is Not

By Okwe Obi

Opinion: Litany of literatures have been written in favour and against the journalistic modus operandi of Arise Television’s Rufai Oseni.

I would have started off this piece by questioning his educational background because he studied Animal Science, but that would be petty, I guess.

I believe that some people can be exceptionally brilliant in certain professions even without going through the classroom of a conventional university. After all, not all those who studied political science or music are neither politicians nor musicians.

But that is not to rule the importance of attaining a proper degree of a specialised course from a recognised university.

Now, while some admirers believe that Oseni is hitting the nail on the head by asking thought-provoking questions, others are of the opinion that he is out to bring out the beast or to shame or expose the inadequacies of people believed to be speaking for the federal government, especially.

Those who are comfortable with his adversarial style of journalism are categorised into two. The first are the hoi polloi and the downtrodden (low-income earners) who are battered by poverty.

The second set are people who are against the government of the All Progressives Congress (APC). So, for them, Oseni is their spokesperson, literally. Impressive.

These critics see the APC as the cause of their misfortune and the hardship in the country, for that reason, their ‘beautiful bride’ is performing excellently.

However, there is another set of people who are strongly oppose to what he is doing and that is the class of the elite. They loathe the sight of him.

His insistence on getting answers to his ‘repulsive’ and ‘nauseating’ questions is misconstrued for arrogance.

After all, said and done, let us talk a little bit about what Journalism is. The pen profession rests on three core principles that every information merchant must thrive to possess. Character, Contact and content are the requirements.

No matter how highly intelligent a journalist is, without good character, be rest assured that the journalist will labour in vain, because most news sources will not trust you to divulge sensitive information.

Contacts of government officials, captains of industries, politicians heads of Ministry, Department and Agencies (MDAs), security men are very important to aid your work.

You have no business in journalism if you do not create content in the form of news, analysis, documentaries and so on.

Regardless, here is what journalism is not: Being abusive is not a trait of a good journalist. Diplomacy and emotional intelligence should always be applied.

Before or during an interview, students of journalism are encouraged to ensure the comfort of their guests, because they are the resource persons for that programme.

Mind you, the essence of an interview is to extract information. Also, it is to educate the audience and shape public perception or consciousness about certain issues.

If in the course of the interview and the anchor feels the guest is overbearing, and he or she is going off track or has committed a factual error, it rests on the anchor to politely call him to order by playing a video or putting up an article to correct the guests.

Now, in a situation where a guest is angry and threatens to pull out of the interview session, the anchor is expected to either take a short break or ask a follow-up question and then return later to the contentious or evasive question.

It is journalistically and religiously wrong for an anchor to tell a guest to leave if he or she pleases. Do not forget that when two elephants (anchor and guest) fight, it is the audience that suffers. The aim of an interview which is to educate, inform and entertain, of course, would be defeated.

In addition, it is awful to be antagonistic on air. That is, you first of all accuse or put it to a guest that he is guilty of something and then put it in form of a question.

Intuitively, an accused will put up a defense. Lay bare the question and allow the audience or viewers to judge.

For God’s sake, Oseni is not a paid televangelist to be preaching on air. No matter how interesting his sermons are people will still not listen because that is not the purpose of the Morning Show.

Remember that people flip the pages of newspapers and tune in to television channels to be updated on national issues. Why not stick to it?

Just imagine the Arise Morning Show without the likes of Dr Reuben Abati and Ayo Mairo-Ese, to tame heated argument. What would have happened?

Why is he always having baseless altercations with almost all the guests including the Business Editor, Rotus Oddiri?

Does that potent superior argument or intelligence? I doubt. Nobody is attempting to restrict the celebrity journalist from asking sensitive questions, but it should be done within the bounds of professionalism.

Honestly, my sympathy goes to producers of those programmes who draft Oseni as presenter or anchor. They must really be having hard times convincing resource persons to appear without being embarrassed.

Okwe is a Development Communication Consultant

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