The Nigerian media has indeed come a long way. From its humble beginning in 1859, it has become a vibrant tool for robust discourse towards socio-economic development. Thus, the country’s media professionals are recognised abroad for their professionalism and competence. Likening the media to the cat with nine lives is not an exaggeration for being able to withstand the repressive inclinations of the military era.
In different parts of the world, different levels of freedom of expressions have flourished. This has led to the emergence of four basic theories of communication, namely: the authoritarian, the libertarian, the communist and the social responsibility theories of the press. The type of press theory in a society greatly depends on the social-political and economic situation in the country.
The media, as an advocate of freedom of expression, is poised to engender freedom of expression for people. Global and national laws for protecting freedom of expression basically provide that everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without gaggling. Any restriction must be provided by law. The 1999 constitution of Nigeria specially provides that any restriction must be reasonably justifiable in a democratic dispensation.
In many developing countries, government-media-relations are not always smooth because of the tendency of governments of such countries to suppress all opposition, probably due to the desire to remain perpetually in power despite evidence of monumental failure. Thus, such governments, expectedly, are never comfortable with media beaming the searchlight on them. However, the laws enacted to regulate the media must be reasonable and clearly spelt out.
The press should be allowed to function effectively. Hence, a line must be drawn between laws meant to regulate the press by those in government and those meant to protect the general public from harsh and reckless journalism. The government on the pretext of protecting the public could be shielding itself from the searchlight of the press.
However, such should not be the case because the government remains accountable to all and sundry including the media. For proper development, the government should not be a stumbling block to the media, hence, it must be given the freedom to perform its watchdog role in society. Citizens should also be free to express themselves whether the government is on the right path or not.
This opinion story has been published on CAMPUS REPORTER with very minimal editing to preserve the original voice of the author. CAMPUS REPORTER does not bear any responsibility for the contents of this story, all views belong to the author.
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