As usual, readers had many responses to last week's column. I have chosen to share some of the responses with other readers. Enjoy:
I agree with you on skepticism and verification of stories, but I disagree on a point which is inherent in the last two examples cited. Your tone seemed to show that you did not only have problems with the level of verification (you did not mention any authentication problem with regards the 'witch story' after all) but the fact that those fetish stories would be reported at all. As an individual, Iwouldn't pick any serious interest in any story involving magic simply because they can't be verified empirically and nobody can define a judicial procedure for dm. I also know that through such claims, many individuals end up being seriously manhandled by the mob.
But then, I see no problem with our media reporting them. I believe our media should reflect the society; the life and beliefs of our people. If our people still believe in a particular thing,say and practice it, our media should report it and that's not passing any judgment. It should simply be a reflection of our society. If any sociology scholars want to do any research about us, our media would definitely not fail him. What do you think if we are still Africans (and I am not sanctioning backwardness) our media shouldn't bring up imbued values from the West (which themselves may not be more correct than the fact of their origin) and spin our stories about them. We cannot hide a reality about us simply because some people make us think they are the wrong way of thinking. If they are really wrong, our media will bring them up for national deliberation and home-grown conclusions, and d society will progress in a natural flow instead of being stifled. This is what I believe, prof. God's blessings always!
Abdullahi Abdullahi Ginya, Bida, Niger State
Thank you, Farooq, for writing on a story that has disturbed me greatly of recent. Like you, I had also wondered at what happened to the ethics of journalism among Nigerian newspaper editors and reporters. Perhaps it has to do with the African culture of superstition.
But if that was the case, this is the 21st century when we Africans should be farther away from, not closer to, the superstitious and illogical beliefs held by our pre-colonial forefathers. If ten years ago the Guardian and Daily Trust would not write of the "magical powers" of village women and the transformation of a bird into a "witch", why should they do that today? There must then be another explanation. Could it be the quality of our journalism departments? Or the current confusion within the land, which presumably, has affected logical reasoning among newspaper editors? Or perhaps the widespread corruption in the land has led to otherwise right-thinking news editors absconding from their duties in pursuit of illegal income?
I think you Farooq are best placed to research on the subject and provide us with the right answers - which will benefit not only the Nigerian public, but also your students in Atlanta as well as practicing journalists, sociologists, psychiatrists and the like. Think about it please, and thank you for this piece.
Dr. Nura Alkali, Abuja
I can't agree more with everything you have said, Prof. Farooq Kperogi. I didn't actually spend a jiff reading the latter two stories, for, obviously, both sound more fantastic than a children's storybook or an aged folklore; but for the former, I ceaselessly 'cursed' Vanguard Newspaper. I was in fact among some concerned Nigerians that signed a sort of protest against the newspaper and sent mails to the editor via Emman Shehu. I am not a journalist, but I really found it hard to put up with such a display of crass ignorance, unprofessionalism and sheer stupidity. Wallahi, our problems transcend corruption and (now) terrorism; our journalists compound it greatly. They are just better at biased, unfounded and fabulous reportage.
Muhsin Ibrahim, Jalandhar, India
Nowadays what these papers do is to watch what is going on in the social media and rush to publish them. Just to pick their phones and confirm the story they wouldn't do. Yesterday there was a story, in the social media that Dora Akunyilli died. Akunliyi's media aide denied the story yet Leadership newspaper carried it on their website. Some of these problems have to do with funding. If you want to cover Chibok as a journalist, you go there with your money. Chibok doesn't interest them. The media is more interested in PDP vs. APC senseless vituperations and Christian vs. Muslim concocted lies by the same media to create tension.
George Onmonya, Abuja
Even if such phenomena are to be reported (for I have experienced them a number of times) what happened to comments from the police, the military, and other authorities? These could create context for such reports.
Odoh Diego Okenyodo, Abuja
Thanks for this piece. It made one ponder aloud. You are correct thatjournalism is really dying a slow death in Nigeria, and you captured it well. What is pathetic is that the killing of the media is being carried out by people who claim to know ABC of it.
Samaila Aruwan, Kaduna
This week's column is pure comedy. I couldn't help laughing from the beginning to the end. I don't really know how journalism works, but I'm sure a reporter writes a report and gives it to the editor who then processes and forwards it for publishing, right? How do such kinds of stories scale through these channels without question?