“Like the Chinese sage who sees no evil, hears no evil and speaks no evil”, so is the Nigerian mainstream media.
The media can leave activists in fits of rage as the TV, radio and newspapers seems to spew out so much one-sided capitalist propaganda. I am looking inside the media to analyze the conflicting pressures on owners, editors and media workers. The mass media is a capitalist enterprise, but it must also connect with the every day experiences of its audience, mainly the working class and other poor peoples.
The way the media works clearly depends on the politics order of the society. There are considerable differences between the way in which the mass media operates in a state capitalist society, a fascist society, a classical military dictatorship and under bourgeois democracy.
The media is always concerned with justifying the existing order and explaining the point of view of the ruling rich elite of the society. One of the essential features of capitalism is competition. While all capitalists have common interests, like keeping wages down and having an unrestricted right to manage, different capitalists have divergent individual interest. Debates and disputes between different interests and different sections of capital are a central and irremovable aspect of capitalist society.
Parties like the APC or PDP are formed around different sections of capital or groups of rich individuals. Newspapers and other media can adopt a wide range of positions, while remaining entirely within the framework of the existing society. Sometimes newspapers are directly linked to particular groups rich individuals (their owners) or to the political parties they favour. They carry material directly promoting their views.
The constitutional role of the media should be to be the “Watch Dog” of the society. But how can the dogs watch when it is the bosses who pay them? Large sections of the media benefited from “Dasuki-Gate”, the Nigerian Guild of Editors and the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria among others. How much is the media investigating this government before we wake up to another “Gate?”
If the poor steals, they may get an arm or leg amputated, jailed for years or die awaiting trial. Where is the media when many poor people rot awaiting trial or die without justice? When the rich or powerful steal state funds or a whole arms budget or slush fund, they are at worst guilty of “misappropriation, embezzlement or misallocation”. The truth is that, “authority stealing is worse than armed-robbery”, as the late legend Fela said.
- Ogbu A. Ameh