There is no doubt that liberalization of the written word and broadcast pictures is one of the most revolutionary phenomena of the 21st century which has indeed constripted the universe to a global village. The social media has thus grown to a Goliath almost reducing its predecessor formal broadcast media to a dwarf so to speak.
With purchasing power of a GSM set and recharge card any citizen can initiate, contribute and expand a discourse without necessarily been a trained Journalist.
With just the click of a button, the door is open for information dissemination instantly, simultaneously with the widest possible reach attainable. This is why the social media is called the Citizen Media.
Now that the Citizen media has forced journalism and communication to an all-comer-affair, it is unfortunate that truth, accuracy, objectivity and fairness which are virtues ingrained in the formal media have now in many instances become casualties.
Unfortunately victims of this ugly face of social media cannot successfully sue for libel or defamation as they helplessly watch their good names and integrity built over the years put into jeopardy by a fictitious citizen who in the comfort of his home may concert a story out of mischief, quest to settle scores, dress it up with photographs taken out of context and splash it on a social media platform.
Other unsuspecting players in the name of trending are trusted to help expand this unverified information believing it is true, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
The way things stand and the remote hope of change in the immediate future, it may be safe for players in the media to start the day’s prayer with “father forgive me in many instances that I do what I don’t know.” Take the trending news in the social media on the Minister of Youth & Sports -Barr Solomon Dalung and Former President Olusegun Obasanjo for instance. The author of the story maliciously showed what the Minister said in the middle of a press conference exchange only; without letting the public know what question was asked before the narration and deliberately fail to show in full what the Minister said just to malign and badly portray him as insensitive and unconcerned about the success of Dream Team VI.
Nothing could be further from the truth as I personally witnessed the event. A reporter had asked the Minister why the Ministry should allow a situation whereby the Under 23 Team should be neglected in far away United States to the extent that friends of the Team Coach were being begged to provide for players’ essential needs and now under threat of ejection from their hotel rooms in the US; to which the Minister explained that the Ministry was not put in the picture or briefed before their traveling to the US as should be the case and that he was hearing that from the reporter for the first time.
It was then he asked that the reporter should have found out how and who took them there. He equally cited instances when the name of the country had been dragged into the mud when teams without official notification and lack of adequate arrangement travelled out of the country only to rush to troubled water; saying such behavior would no longer be tolerated and he has made this position known to the sporting Federations.
Anybody familiar with Dalung will know that he is unpretentious in his commitment to masses welfare and this self-chosen route of struggle for masses emancipation predates his debut as Public Servant. In the same way, his commitment to sports and athletes is without pretence; he is therefore not the type of leader that fits to the bullying and insensitive image that detractors are trying to script for him.
Indeed, his consummate passion for sports and commitment to the welfare of the lumpen proletariat make him to adopt a martial uniform as a signature tune and constant reminder that the masses course is a life-long struggle. Just a few days ago, an innocent Chief Obasanjo who was at the Shehu YarAdual Plaza as participant in a public discussion on agriculture was portrayed with a trending picture to match, as gate crashing to the convention ground of the PDP thus portraying him as an unprincipled Statesman plotting a comeback to the main opposition party in Nigeria.
The former President had to issue out a rebuttal press release urging only those who can believe that their mothers can be turned to a woman to believe the story. This piece is therefore to all men and women of goodwill and fair-mindedness to be wary of shewing and swallowing all menu emanating from the social media as balanced diet. As for OBJ, Dalung and other public figures, they should resign themselves to fate that this citizen’s media empowerment without responsibility is a phenomenon they have to put up with. It is the sign of the time.