Couple of weeks ago the pharmaceutical association of Nigeria Students (PANS) press’ weekly board publication was replete with all sort of articles citing an infamous act by a pansite or parasite (whichever you find in your dictionary) who ripped off select articles from the press board the previous week. I read with grimace as some writers displayed an obviously myopic sense of discretion as they analyzed the central theme of “press freedom“. What these writers painted was a side of the coin. My goal with this article is not to justify the cowardly act of the perpetuator but to mint the other side of this hypothetical coin. And I do hope this gets published.
Firstly, freedom is more difficult to handle than bondage. A caged parrot when freed soon becomes the prey of an archer’s arrow not because it talks but because it talks too much! Granted, a society would become a bedlam of maladies without the press; and press and pressmen serve an invaluable function in bringing to the limelight issues that require necessary action or reaction. However, when the pen of a journalist is wielded as a blood-thirsty sword rather than as stationery, something has gone wrong and something must be done. Like in every other system of society there should be checks and balances otherwise the Yin and Yang balance becomes disproportionate with untoward consequences (pardon my superstitious beliefs). Anyway press freedom is not a license to kill. Press freedom should not have borders but it should recognize boundaries; it should not have limits but it must have ambits. In brief, a pressman should have the guts to respect privacy when it matters.
Secondly, there must be a distinction between news and nuisance. Not everything about anything should become a talking – or writing – issue. In a bid to entertain, a pressman might be lured into the dastardly act of ‘publish or perish’ journalism no matter how squalid, sacrosanct or indifferent a story might be. This has become the overriding ethos of modern day journalism; but just because something is commonplace doesn’t make it common sense. Student press, above all I reckon, should serve the important task of building students up into men and women of formidable character who will hold the fort in the future. If PANS press fails to meet this criterion then it is seriously flying off-chart. In the publication in question a writer alluded that as men of honour we should join hands. I quite agree with this, only in a different light: If we are to join arms in unity why should I then twist your arm? What honour is there in that? Pressmen, we look at you with a measure of respect; we grip fists like PSN motto says not to arm wrestle but to mould ourselves into pharmacists of prestige.
Amebo and Love calculator editors, great job you guys! Keep the fire kindling but – yes there is a ‘but’ – remember, if your reports do more evil than good then it is evil. Just do the Maths. As much as possible you should get feedback from pansites on what they think of your stories lest people – like me – read your columns for one sole purpose: make sure their names are not there!
Finally, to the editor-in-chief and other editors I hope you have the guts to stomach (I should copyright this pun!) constructive criticism.
To the little things…