Omini Oden, a former Chairman of Cross River State’s Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), and former Special Assistant Media and Chief Press Secretary during the tenure of Senator Lyiel Imoke as Governor in Cross River State is a Development Journalist, News Management and News Gathering Strategist.
He frequently anchors programmes such as Insight on the NTA Network Service and Diplomatic Ties on NTA International, where he works as a Manager News, Newscaster and News Producer. Omini anchors Tuesday Live and features sometimes as Newspaper Reviewer on Good Morning Nigeria, an NTA network service.
In a chat with our correspondent on the practice of journalism in Nigeria Omini Oden, bared his mind on ethics of journalism and brown envelope.
He said, “Nigeria’s journalism practice is one of the best in the world. There is freedom of speech and we have an avalanche of media houses in the print, the electronic media and the social media and they are doing very well.
“One challenge to the practice of journalism in Nigeria is the issue of poaching by quacks. People who have no business practising journalism have infiltrated the profession. This adversely affects the good image of journalism in Nigeria.
“In every profession, passion comes before interest. If you have the passion without interest, you won’t go anywhere. But if you have the passion, it would drive your interest.
“Media in Nigeria is not properly funded. We have not yet gotten to the expected level. But with passion, so far so good.
“For the upcoming ones, I would say that every profession has glamour and hazards. Some of us who have been in practice for several years have almost reached the apex.
“It is an eventful and rewarding profession. We have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. The younger ones should not expect that they would see only glamour when they come in. Journalism is equally hazardous” he said
He added, however, that passion keeps journalism alive and advised Journalists to be passionate about it.
“I have always said that if you find a Journalist, Medical Doctor, Lawyer or Teacher looking very ostentatious while practicing, just know that such a practitioner is doing something else or the wrong things which raises ethical alarm.
“You must not be poor but when you are passionate, doors would open for you and comfort would be your portion”, Omini noted
Reacting to the “Brown Evenlope” saga, he said that it is not wrong to appreciate a journalist provided he upholds ethics of the practice.
“There is a popular saying that media goes with “brown envelope”, globally. But I differ. We are the Fourth Estate of the Realm.
“We don’t own a budget. We are not recognised structurally by the constitution as an arm of Government.
“If a Journalist asks for gratification in the course on the line of duty before doing his job, there are aspects of such demand that may be justified.
“For instance, if anyone is asking for news of special interest to put on a newspaper, blog, radio or television, that should cost money.
“But if I am doing a report and I see that such a report is going to injure or dent the image of another person and I ask for money from any of the parties involved in order to publish or kill the story, that is unethical. It is against the code of conduct of journalism.
“Brown envelope given to Journalists as gratis is free money. It enhances the job as long as the job is done ethically. If you do a proper job on overriding public interests and you are appreciated financially, that is not “brown envelope”. You didn’t ask for it.
“Therefore, “brown envelope” is not completely wrong. It depends on how it is given”, he said.
He urged Journalists, not to report for the sake of denting peoples image.
“You should know that as a Journalist, you have almost lost your opinion. Everything you publish or broadcast emerges from the public domain. Everything you give out is tied to experts or the voice of the people.
“It becomes a problem when you take sides. Adhere to laws and ethics at all times” he urged.