Keynote Address By Mr. Oseloka H. Obaze, MD/CEO Selonnes Consult Ltd. and Immediate-Past SSG of Anambra State At the Maiden Edition of Anambra Media Summit at Prof. Dora Akunyili Women’s Development Centre, Awka, Tuesday, 28 March, 2017.
It gives me great pleasure to be here. I thank the Media Summit Committee of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Anambra State Council for their kind invitation.
I feel exceptionally privileged to have been asked to deliver this keynote address for this maiden edition of Anambra Media Summit.
And so, let me first express my profound gratitude to the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Anambra Council for organizing this maiden media summit, aptly titled, “Vision Anambra Next,” which provides an important platform to discuss the past, the present and most importantly the future of this state, which all of us hold so dear.
Summits such as these offer us the opportunity to network; share experiences in lessons learned, best practices, and missed opportunities; and most importantly, they are tools for assessing mainstream media’s role is supporting good governance as well as its institutional role in capacity-building and confidence building measures.
In the end, they serve as veritable tools for molding opinion that shape the kind of society we want to live in.
My job this morning is easy. I have been tasked simply to set the tone and kick off the discussions with a short keynote address.
Other speakers, I believe, will do the heavy lifting with more intrusive, introspective and retrospective analyses.
Despite my warm personal affinity to many media practitioners, I am not a media professional. I will therefore speak as an attentive observer and from the vantage point of an outsider looking in.
When I received the invitation to deliver today’s address, I instinctively knew that I wanted to talk about the “Impact of Media Convergence on Good Governance in Nigeria”.
It is an important topic, particularly in this day and age, when traditional media a) is being challenged by more modern forms, not least social media – twitter, YouTube and BlogSpot—easily accessible (to content creators and consumers of all intellectual and moral persuasions) b) appears to be suffering a credibility deficit with the phrase “fake news” now common parlance, and c) perhaps more worryingly, the disruption that a combination of manipulation of new media forms and aspersions on the credibility of traditional media has wreaked on established democracies.
On a personal note, I have been privileged in life, at various times and in various capacities, to serve our country, Nigeria, the International Community and Anambra State.
Thus the temptation exists to approach my task conveniently from the mindset of an accomplished and exposed person.
On the contrary, I believe it will serve our common interest to tackle the issues before us, with humility, yet with forthrightness, since this summit should elicit some hardheaded questions that may stir our consciousness and collective responsibility, while underlining that though our action are seemingly negligible at the individual level, they do matter collectively and have huge, sometimes dire, consequences.
Accordingly, permit me to preface this keynote address by underlining the key role that media plays in any democratic society—something that each one of you is all too familiar with; do forgive me.
I will then attempt to define the term media convergence and address the benefits and associated challenges of convergence, including the tensions that persist between traditional and new forms of media.
I will then conclude with a synthesis of the salient points and some reflections on the future.
ROLE OF THE MEDIA
Universally, the media continue to claim a niche role as the Fourth Estate of the realm.
For Nigerian media, such aspiration and role is no less so, even as we encounter a redefinition of who is a journalist or media practitioners, and what are the acceptable methods of operation.
Indeed, the once coveted watchdog role of the media all seems to have fizzled out. That reality presents very unique and confounding challenges.
The truth be told, Nigerian media has evolved in way unimaginable. True to reality but hardly flattering, some of the changes are unsavory.
It was Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States of America who once said: “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate to prefer the latter.”
I like to think that President Jefferson refers to the power of the media. The media is simply a mirror that reflects society; its makeup, leanings, beliefs, value systems and aspirations.
What could be more democratic than this?
The most important byproduct of the reflection of society’s image is that it forces its members to have discussions.
It is through the media that members of society exercise their constitutional right of freedom of speech and within reason, express their views and opinions on the most pertinent issue of the day.