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Wednesday, 20 November 2013 12:59(Opinion) – I read with utter dismay and disgust the fallacious and misconstrued postulations of the managing editor of Forayaa newspaper in its editorial of Thursday 14 November, 2013, titled “Was the Visit of the President of Nigeria A State Visit?”
The mismatch between the headline and the substance of the editorial in question is symptomatic of the cynicism and conceit, narcissism and insidiousness that are typically Foroyaa. It was a pathetic effort at grandstanding, unnecessarily playing to the gallery.
For the avoidance of doubt, I am a Nigerian journalist who has lived and practised here in The Gambia for the past 8 years and in all my years of practice both in The Gambia and in Nigeria, I have never seen such crass journalism by those who claim to be the high priests of ethical journalism.
The said editorial purportedly written by Musa Jallow alleged that Foroyaa readers saw an elaborate advertisement from the Nigeria High Commission indicating that the Gambian Head of State would be hosting the Nigerian Head of State, the managing editor and his reporters the xenophobic editorial claimed they were denied access to the venues graced by the two heads of state and have not received any communiqué issued by the two heads of state.
The managing editor of Foroyaa and Musa Jallow need be reminded that basic journalism teaches that the visit of any head of state is news and should be covered as same. Neither the managing editor nor his team of reporters made any attempt to visit any of the venues in the said advertorial carried by their paper in respect to the Visit of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Foroyaa owes its readers an explanation on why it failed to send a reporter to the airport to cover the arrival of the Nigerian President on Friday, 8Novemberand on Saturday, 9th November for the opening of the new Chancery building. Both events were extensively covered by local and foreign media, and anyone who was there will attest to the fact that there was no restriction to both members of the public and the media.
In fact, there was an open question and answer section on Saturday, 9 November at the New Chancery Building where the Nigerian President personally answered all questions from the public, including the nature and purpose of his visit. If Foroyaa, despite its smugness, had attended the open forum, it would have had the answer to its politically motivated self-serving question.
Laughably, the editorial also claims “we had assumed that the issue about Gambia’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth would have featured prominently in the discussion and communiqué”. It is a shame that the managing editor of Foroyaa bases his editorial decisions on assumptions, not on facts. No journalist worth his or salt acts on assumption –it runs counter to the canons of good journalism. It is no surprise that when politicians keep masquerading as journalists, ethical journalism is thrown to the dogs. Xenophobia or stoking the embers of hate against another country has no basis in journalism and must be condemned by all right thinking individuals.
A managing editor who twists facts to serve a hidden agenda is not only a discredit to the journalism profession but also a danger to society.
There is another sense in which Foroyaa is a danger to society. The chronic linguistic deficiencies of the paper as manifested by disjointed sentences, dangling modifiers, ungrammatical and inappropriate lexical usages are a mental poison to our impressionable children.
Because Foroyaa hardly gets an instant and appropriate response when it misbehaves editorially, that is why its editors are filled with an exaggerated sense of self-importance. The managing editor’s claim that his paper accepted the Jonathan advert from the Nigeria High Commission in the spirit of “pan-Africanism” in spite of its purportedly avowed stance against promoting a “personality cult” is, for the sake of a better word, a lie. This cynical afterthought rationalization is face-saving rhetoric. The plain truth is that he accepted the advert in the spirit of commercialism, to shore up his paper’s rapidly dwindling revenue.
Moreover, if the managing editor of Foroyaa had known the meaning of the noun phrase personality cult, he would not have used it at all because the editorial leadership of Foroyaa is the worst culprit of that failing. His is the sad case of a man who sees the speck in someone else’s eye but cannot see the log in his own. Or more appropriately, his delusion of grandeur evokes the chichi dodo bird metaphor in Ayi Kwei Armah’s classic The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born. The chichi dodo bird eats no excreta but feeds on the maggots that eat excreta.
More to the point, if the Foroyaa managing editor wants to be taken seriously he should have asked the purpose of the Jonathan visit when he received the advert placement - and then sought audience with the relevant authorities in order to do a more nuanced journalism. To be wise after the event, especially after you are a few thousand dalasis richer, is simply disingenuous. I challenge the managing editor of Foroyaa to publish the views of the readers on whose behalf he claims to speak for everyone to see. For him to translate his own fantasies into facts is arrant dishonesty. Credible papers around the world have a letter to the editor column where opinions of readers are published.
Foroyaa should lead by example by being transparent and open rather than conjuring up some imaginary readers whom nobody except only the managing editor knows about. Oh, Foroyaa, practice what you preach.
Laughably, the editorial also claims “we had assumed that the issue about Gambia’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth would have featured prominently in the discussion and communiqué”.
The Gambia and Nigeria are both independent sovereign states, the Nigerian President, Forayaa must be reminded is not an emissary of the Commonwealth and if Forayaa so cherishes membership of the Commonwealth, there is the National Assembly of The Gambia for it to channel its grievances to.
In all the epistles that we have all been accustomed to with the Forayaa on various issues, we are yet to see one addressed to the National Assembly in respect to The Gambia’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth, I would like Forayaa since they have mentioned it in the editorial as their grouse, to explain to their readers what actions they have or had taken in respect to the issue.
As the ethics of journalism dictate, I have copied the managing editor of Forayaa this response and challenge him to publish same with equal prominence as that given to his editorial.
If the managing editor had been reading the handwriting on the wall, he would have seen that Foroyaa is an anachronism, a sunken hollowed oak, which needs to be re-invented to make it 21stcentury relevant.
Written by Victor Ofuonye
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