Right Of Reply: Agba Jalingo Responds To Allegations Against CR Online Journalists!

Agba Jalingo
Agba Jalingo
OBASESAM OKOI wrote…

“The media in Cross River, especially online journalists, have failed to bring equity and fairness to journalism. They are pre-occupied with PDP and only give media attention to money bags while neglecting APC, women aspirants and aspirants who probably do not have so much money to waste but have great visions that could lift our state and constituencies to enviable heights. In the wake of elections, we’ve seen a proliferation of media platforms in Cross River all reporting about the big players. Don’t we have women contestants? Don’t we have poor people with great visions who have genuinely indicated interest in leadership? Why is the media biased towards big names rather than focus on equity and fairness in the interest of democracy? Why has the media suddenly neglected APC? I suspect that the online media in Cross River has been co-opted and may soon lose credibility

AGBA JALINGO responds…

“My brother Obasesam, I am constrained to respond to this, though unusually because it touches on what I am doing and also that from your base in Canada, you are trying your best to contribute to the processes in our state, one of the products of your effort, Endure Onun, is today running Yakurreporters.com and also now designing websites, (he designed paradisevoice.com and he is also involved with mycrossriver.com), a skill he perfected from one of the training workshops organized by CrossRiverWatch.

I took time to add those details not to impress but to assure you of my highest regards for your contributions to developing capacity in our state even from far away Canada. If not so, I would have ignored the post and assume that it is from one flippant country man writing from the comfort of a land which was built by others, a task he/she absconded from in his own country.

Now in looking at your comment, your initial accusation that the media in Cross River, especially online journalists, have failed to bring equity and fairness to journalism is as old as journalism itself. In fact, it is hackneyed, not because it is not a just expectation, but because of its impracticability. Like sainthood, the two concepts, equity and fairness, though much desired are never attained in reality. Not even in the Courts, talk less of news room!

I like it when Peter Ofem in his comments drew it down to the reality in America where he lives. What is fair and equitable to an avid Aljazeera follower may not necessarily be same to a CNN enthusiast. Show me one nation in the world where the media meets that your ideal expectation and I will tell you the latitude and longitude where Heaven is located.

A media house is fair and equitable only to the extent that there is another one watching it too.

You also said “They are pre-occupied with PDP and only give media attention to money bags while neglecting APC, women aspirants and aspirants who probably do not have so much money to waste but have great visions that could lift our state and constituencies to enviable heights.”

That sounds more like good English than fact honestly or maybe you have not looked closely enough. APC chieftains, including Chief Obono Obla, the National Vice Chairman, South South of the Party, Comrade Hilliard Ettah, Hon. Cletus Obun who was former member of the CRSHA, Chief Alex Irek, the Minority Leader of the party in the CRSHA have all in different public fora attested to the fact that it is the online media that came to give APC a voice in Cross River State

According to them, though we have not been perfect, they agree that they have never had it this good with engaging government in the public space as it has become in the past two years with the advent of the online media. Even this morning, crossriverwatch.com still reported APC, a story that was sent to us from the official email of the publicity department of the south south Chairman’s office with whom we enjoy a robust professional relationship.

Talking about vulnerable groups like women and poor aspirants. The media reports events. The media reports news. There is no aspirant who is in this contest who has content that the online media in Cross River state has not reported. Prove me wrong. I repeat again that there is no aspirant in this race who has done any event or action or done anything that is news that the online media did not report. If one did not pick it up, the other did. The choice of language, the frequency of stories about any of the candidates, the choice of one media house to publish a story and another one deciding not to and all other related matters are strictly determined by the internal processes of each media organization. But if there is any candidate, male or female, able or disabled who has not been reported, it is because he/she has not started.

In the wake of election anywhere in the world, there is a proliferation of local media to propagate the interest of political aspirants and parties. Particularly now with the internet, the process has become even simpler. It is a welcomed development. It is the best thing that happened to the political process in Cross River State in particular in the past two years. I am sure majority here will agree with me. And we need them plentiful to continue to mushroom and time will make everything just fine.

You wonder “Why is the media biased towards big names rather than focus on equity and fairness in the interest of democracy?

In the last elections in the US, how many candidates can you remember seeing on CNN, BBC, ABC, FOX, Sky, Aljazeera?

Even in the run up to the Nigerian Presidential Election, who are the candidates you are seeing in the front pages of the national media?

We are even doing better, we keep talking about 26 candidates vying for governorship alone and I dare you, google any of their names, you will find at least a link to their names or picture in at least one or two of these CRS websites, including those candidates who hitherto did not even have a facebook ID. Yet you deny that world over, media attention is focused on the big names who have structures and following.

You ended by saying: “I suspect that the online media in Cross River has been co-opted and may soon lose credibility.”

Unfortunately you did not say what the online media may have been co-opted into. Wish I knew but the good thing is that you cannot lose what you don’t have. If we have credibility like you said, we realize that it was built after some hard work and we will do everything not to lose it.

The online media in CRS is very nascent. The challenges are still enormous and it takes a very determined will and love for our state to take on this mission we have given ourselves and we are not complaining; we have also prepared for the journey.

Gradually we are building team effort through the coming of the Association of Cross River Online Journalists, ACROJ to see how we can together build a stronger sector that will sustain the gains.

We are indeed very conscious of the future of our work and our society that is why we are building structures like ACROJ and conducting seminars and workshops to broaden our knowledge and share capacity to multiply our numbers and continue to build confidence in ourselves and gradually develop these proprietorships into sustainable business models.

Standards and ethics in a novel industry like this will also not be pulled out from the drawer and decreed to practitioners, they will evolve with time.

The truth is that what we are doing today is not perfect, but it is the right step in the right direction and more and more people should step in with developmental initiatives from their areas of strength and stretch out hands in fellowship with those who are already on the plough, weathering a lot of pain and pressure to maintain the momentum of information dissemination in the state”.

Greetings and peace profound!


*Agba publishes www.crossriverwatch.com

© 2014, Admin. All rights reserved.

4 Comments

  1. A good piece of reply. What is more important is the cooperation of all. I apprecate the work of online activities in Cross River State, and it has kept the political tempo high at all times.Obase article is not a schism criticism but an expressive opinion to further task the capabilitied of online media blogs in CRS. A true leasder is he who takes criticisms and improve on them. If our vulnerable groups in CRS like the women in particular failed to make any impact, it is no body’s fault.Maybe the system id to be blamed for making them that helpless.

  2. Mr Jalingo Agba doth protest too much, me thinks.

    Which in essence is a sophistic disagreeable apology for a caricature online journalism that grotesquely mimics the mainstream media. Are the notions of equity, objectivity and fairness in journalism an unattainable mirage? What then is the load star of journalistic praxis? Are CNN, BBC, FOX News respectable examples of objectivity, or of partiality? They are the arch-typical imperialist megaphones that should not be considered in a debate about the aspirations and progressive possibilities of journalism.

    What Jaligo Agba is saying therefore is, seeing CNN, BBC, FOX News, and other mainstream media organisations are rabid exponents of the section of the ruling elites they represent, and are brazen proponents of a particular ideology, why strive to be different online? His logic does not distinguish between online journalism and Citizen Journalism. But by extension, in his logic, he does not see why Journalism should aspire to enrich its moral and philosophical content, where there seems to be no example of “objectivity and fairness” to adduce anywhere? Not to mention his hogwash of equity and fairness not attainable even in the Courts of Law?

    Does that Jalingo’s logic not remind us of the Judeo-Christian paradox of – where sin abounds, grace abounds – that the Apostle Paul tried to rationalised? In conclusion, what did the Apostle Paul postulate? “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid…” (Roman 6:1). God forbid is the operative word there. God forbid that the emerging generation of journalists, writers, lawyers, activists, etc., whether of the mainstream or of the alternative genre to cease aspiring for social equity, objectivity and fairness. Better still, God forbid, that they cease advocating for a radical change, for a better world. Need I repeat the well worn mantra, that Another World is Possible?

    The ideological poverty of Jalingo’s reply is not my main grouse. It is the partiality, chicanery and idiocy of Cross River Watch which is so unethical, it is outrageously offensive. To that extent, the charges of bias, partiality, being the hand maiden of a section of the PDP elites, that Obasesam Okoi is alleging against “online journalists” is justifiably correct and well founded. You will note that Mr Obasesam Okoi did not mention Cross River Watch by name. And of the thousand or so online journalists, fora and organisations in Cross River State, it is the Publisher of Cross River Watch that hastily jumped into the arena to adduce a wishy – washy untenable defence of online journalism that is going rogue.

    The chicanery, partiality and outright violation of my freedom of expression by Cross River Watch, is demonstrated by their shameless removal of my post on their Facebook Group, on the allegations that Senator Ben Ayade swindled a Korean Company of about $250,000 that’s about N37m. That post is actually a link published by the Nigerian Vanguard Newspaper on the 25th January 2011. Being an allegation of crime, that has not been judicially discharged, it is not barred by the Statute of Limitation, and is of contemporary relevance. More so as the person so charged with this scandalous allegation is presently contesting for the position of Governor of Cross River State.

    When a leading mainstream Nigerian Newspaper, that is sufficiently informed, publishes an expose about Senator Ben Ayade, with justifiable details, alleging that the Senator is of a dubious character, it is in the public interest for us to critically screen both the allegation, facts adduced, any extenuating circumstance and the candidate himself. We can not as a people continue to cry wolf about having corrupt, inept leaders, and turn a blind eye, when a seemingly fiendish rogue shows up, trying to bewitch us with spin, dross and fluff.

    Cross River Watch did not only trample on my freedom of expression, with a horse and carriage, they even went to the audacious extent of arbitrarily expelling me from the group. That brazen thuggery of trying to silent a critical voice, is akin to the neanderthal burning of progressive books. A ridiculously futile primitive attempt to dam the avalanche of globalised information flood. Cross River Watch thereby represent themselves as a pernicious breed of hired rottweilers, doing the biddings of the likes of Senator Ben Ayade, pulling wool on our eyes, and reinforcing a status quo of corruption and failure of leadership.

    Against this factual background, Mr Jalingo’s attempt to defend “online journalism” in Cross River State as becoming compromised and subversive is hopelessly untenable. There is an assortment of Facebook Groups that are virulently rabid in their partiality that don’t deserve being mentioned at all. Cross River Watch ought to rise up above those renegade Facebook and mushroom online journalist outfits that mimics the worst aspects of tabloid gutter journalism. The amateurish imitation of mainstream tabloid media, emasculates their special status and relevance as an alternative media. They are a contemptible cartoon of the mainstream, spoke persons for the establishment, that seek to be identified as an alternative.

    This schizophrenia and crisis of identity is evident in Cross River Watch’s disregard of an online journalist praxis that is articulated as advocacy, embedded within the everyday lives of the citizens, and a media content that is both driven and produced by the people. Its advocacy espouses notions of social responsibility, oppositional practices, that presents a radical challenge to the institutionalised practices of the mainstream media.

    We must embrace the technologically enhance popular style of eye witness reporting, that is also collective, inclusive, promoting a radical form of civic journalism, that the social media and globalisation engenders.

  3. The frenzy of the happenings around elections 2015 in Cross River State must be of never-before-experienced proportions. That, I am very sure, is the reason why a hitherto politically inert individual like myself is, albeit unwillingly, drawn into this fray of “a right to reply” to “Agba Jalingo Responds To Allegations Against CR Online Journalists!”

    I make haste to say I know neither Mr. Obasesam Okoi nor Mr. Agba Jalingo, and I do not need to know them to make this response. And though Manni Ochubgoju is my very good friend, I do not make this in support of his justifiable ‘red eye’ for the underhand tactics of Cross River Watch ‘erasing’ him from their register.

    I reply to take exception to the whole of paragraph three of Mr Jalingo’s argument. Romans 6:1 as quoted by Manni may be lost on Mr Jalingo. The apostle Paul refused to accept the premeditated sinning of his audience in Rome, who supposed that an abundance of the grace of God(Jesus Christ) to forgive sin was a licence to continue in sin. At the risk of wasting yet another bible verse on him, let me remind him of the old testament prophet Isaiah. Isaiah said “And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.” (Isaiah 59:14) Isaiah bewailed the corruption in the courts of justice of his time.

    Mr Jalingo in essence said that expecting the media to be fair and equitable was unreasonable, an unobtainable pipe dream. There was no point then for him to have proceeded further as everything else he sought to refute was negated by that self-incriminating proceeding third paragraph. How can I or anyone else for that matter take him serious both as a person and as a journalist? Why should I read beyond his self-professed inequity and unfairness? May I remind him that the paramount duty of any media, both print and electronic, and their personnel is to give a fair and unbiased reporting of issues of public value. That is the only way the public, who may not always be at the source of events, can reached informed(not mis-informed) opinion. Reporting has to be fair and unbiased, regardless of whose ox is gored. It also has to be equitable, both by proper dissemination to the stake holder public and by giving air time or pulp/web space to the various parties involved.

    It is the quest for such equity and fairness that will make journalists, true journalists risk their lives to venture into war-torn areas or ebola-infested areas for that matter, to tell the story from the other side, in the attempt to balance their reporting. If we should not expect equity and fairness in the things we do, then we should stop accusing our leaders of corruption, we as a nation in general and as Cross Riverians in particular should stop striving for excellence. After all, corruption and mediocrity abound in our country, so whats the point striving to be better. Journalism should be fair and equitable and not a case of who pays the piper calls the tune. And if some folks take offense for people scrutinizing their integrity as they run for public office, then maybe they shouldn’t run at all. Let them take a look at those societies the claim to emulate (or ape as the case may be), any indefensible act that happened from the age of accountability can ruin their chances of running for public office if made known to the electorate public.

    “Now in looking at your comment, your initial accusation that the media in Cross River, especially online journalists, have failed to bring equity and fairness to journalism is as old as journalism itself. In fact, it is hackneyed, not because it is not a just expectation, but because of its impracticability. Like sainthood, the two concepts, equity and fairness, though much desired are never attained in reality. Not even in the Courts, talk less of news room!” I earnestly hope Mr. Jalingo is speaking for himself alone. If Mr Jalingo’s brand of journalism cannot be expected to be equitable and fair, then maybe it is time he saved face and quit the trade.

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