Worried by the poor welfare of journalists by employers, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Akwa Ibom State, Comrade Ini Ememobong has urged next National Assembly to ensure regulation of media ownership in Nigeria.
In a media chat with correspondents arm of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Akwa Ibom State, the Commissioner said such regulation would ensure a favourable welfare condition for journalists and other media workers, whom he regretted have been subjected to untold hardship due to poor welfare system.
He regretted that some media houses were not viable thereby exposing employees to sharp practices.
He, therefore, called on the NUJ to, in the interim, take steps to minimize the level of exploitation by insisting on improved welfare system for its members.
He said, “The next National Assembly should look into regulating the media sector but in consultation with stakeholders.
“How much do these people earn, it’s a profession, these people buy from the same market. We must find a way to ensure that newspaper houses are viable, if you are not viable, you have no business being in business, else you are going to licence people to go and beg, you are going to licence people to begin to murder the integrity of others.
“If a media house cannot run, there is absolutely no need for that media house to employ people and put them on the street because you are helping to spoil the profession.
“How many media houses can pay regular salaries in Nigeria? How many can fund journalists to fly to cover events, so that if they see something negative about the event, they could freely and objectively report?
“If the news source is responsible for your logistics and training, you cannot say anything wrong about him. How many journalists have gone back for post-school certification, courtesy of their employers?
“The media are what everyone needs to invest in. If the media is not well taken care of, it would show on the quality of reportage and at the end of the day, the nation would be worse for it.”
The Information Commissioner who acknowledged the significant role journalists play in keeping the society safe and in holding government accountable to the people, also tasked the NUJ to rid itself of quacks to sanitize the profession to take its pride of place in the society.
He maintained that a pliant press is harmful to the society and therefore encouraged journalists not to shy away from objectively playing their roles as watchdogs of the society.