Have you ever seen a dead body or mutilated corpse on CNN, BBC, Sky TV or Al Jazeera, especially in close range? Or have you seen any such gory pictures in any newspaper from the UK or the U.S. like The New York Times, London Times, Washington Post, etc?
But the story is different in Nigeria. Except for a few media houses, display of gory pictures is normal in the Nigerian media. It is our way of proving that our story is authentic; it is also our way of attracting readers and viewers. There seems to be something morbid about us. Nothing shocks us anymore. From childhood, we watch as pickpockets are beaten to pulp and set ablaze on the streets. We watch as the corpses of pedestrians knocked down by hit-and-run drivers on the highways are crushed and flattened by other on-coming vehicles.
It is not unusual these days, while watching the news bulletins of some supposedly respected TV stations, to see pictures of the mutilated bodies of suspected robbers killed by the police or some other gory scenes showing blood or the human body in an undignified form. There is no week that passes without a fatal suicide bomb exploding in Afghanistan, Iraq or Pakistan. In all these cases, you can see the pictures of the wounded in the foreign TV stations but you never get to see the dead or badly mutilated. That is a testimony to the fact that these foreign stations have some regard for the human body and also consider the feelings of their viewers, especially children who may be watching their channels.
On our newsstands, there have emerged some faceless magazines whose focus is the display of gory pictures of all forms. It seems that since pornographic magazines were forced out of the newsstands, the desperate and the unscrupulous have found another way of showcasing their wares in their bid to attract readers.
If the actions of these publications are somewhat excusable because their sponsors are untrained and perhaps unaware of the ethics of journalism, can the established publications and TV stations that have won several awards be excused too? However, beyond the regulators of the media ensuring that the media are not blind to the sensitivity of their publics, it is important that all media houses should self-regulate themselves to ensure that we are not seen as sub-human by the rest of the world because of the pictures we display on our news pages or screen.