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Media’s marvelous makeover: From honest messengers to political puppetry

Media’s marvelous makeover: From honest messengers to political puppetry

By: Mustapha Lawal

Once upon a time, in a land where the media held the lofty responsibility of being an independent body, the guardian of truth, and the voice of the people, a grand transformation took place. Citizens, in the good old days of handwritten messages and small societies, could engage directly in their democratic processes. Alas, as populations grew, communication had to go through the inevitable makeover – first newspapers, then radio, television, and finally, the Internet, where misinformation found its virtual playground.

The media, once a valiant watchdog exposing excesses and corruption, found itself in a theatrical role as a tool for political propaganda. A twist of events led to the media being more concerned with sensational headlines and unverified reports than the dreary business of reporting.

A wise Naija warrior had pointed out the absurdity in the recent media circus that passed as election coverage. In a post from the realm of X (Twitter), the sage was caught exclaiming, “In elections filled with drama – violence, ballot box snatching, and corruption – Naija Media reports generously sprinkled with fantasy tales like ‘Hope of the masses clears polls, Grand(god)father Dello wins all LGAs, Egbon Dapo delivers polling units against opponents’… It’s simply obscene!”

This peculiar line of thought isn’t isolated; it seems the Nigerian media has developed a talent for weaving baseless narratives, even during times of national crises. There’s a new drama unfolding, and it’s happening on Naija National Television! Shakespeare would be stunned.

What could possibly be the driving force behind this riveting media makeover, you ask? Enter the wizards of technology, particularly social media. The enchanting world of online platforms, with their dynamic nature and a distinct lack of fact-checking spells, has become a breeding ground for the spread of misinformation.

According to great scholars, the internet’s ever-connected nature and the need for speed over accuracy have birthed the false news phenomenon. In this virtual race for attention, online content providers are in a zero-sum competition – winner takes all, sanity be damned!

The once noble guardians of truths, faced with the frantic pace of the online realm, are now caught in a dilemma – to go fast or go home. Unlike the leisurely print media of yore, online publications are forced to publish hastily, racing against time and sanity. To poetically put it, “Because they are fighting for attention, many are driven to post first and verify later, which is harming our sanity.” A moment of silence for the dearly departed sanity.

But fear not, for there’s more to this tale! The landscape of journalism and media ownership has taken a dramatic turn, steering the media away from its once-independent stance. Independence is so last season; being a puppet has never been so chic.

Now, dear reader, brace yourself for the consequences of this media metamorphosis – the erosion of public trust. Journalists, once revered truth-seekers, now face the Herculean task of maintaining independence and credibility while juggling political pressure and interference.

But fret not, for in the face of these challenges, there is hope – the kind that springs from fostering media literacy among the masses. Imagine a world where individuals can critically evaluate news sources, separating fact from fiction. Ah, what a utopia that would be! Responsible journalism, committed to truth and ethics, becomes the sword that can slay the dragons of fake news and political manipulation.

Dear reader, as the media embarks on this marvellous makeover from independent thinkers to political puppetry, let us don our satirical glasses and view the absurdity with a discerning eye. Nigeria, in all its dramatised glory, becomes a stage for this cosmic comedy. Only through a vigilant and critical approach to media consumption can we hope to navigate this theatrical landscape, where truth and accountability wear the masks of political puppetry.

Mustapha Lawal is a curious guy who seeks to understand the ideals and ideas of the world. He can be found everywhere and anywhere there’s knowledge to learn. He tweets at @muslaw026 and can be reached via email: lawalmustapha1000@gmail.com

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