The Vice-Chancellor, Federal University of Kashere, Prof. Umaru A. Pate has advocated the establishment of the National Media Development Fund by the government to assist the industry as obtained in other sectors of the economy.
Prof. Pate made the call at the 2021 Biennial convention of the Nigerian Guild of Editors on the theme “the Media in Covid -19 Era, Challenges and Opportunities” recently held in Kano.
The Vice-Chancellor who was the keynote speaker at the event said the government needs to intervene and salvage the media in the democratization process and appreciate the role of the media as exemplified in its classification as an essential service during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
He said the pandemic devastated the media causing many job losses as small media houses closed in 2020.
Other challenges he stated are the already existing problem of fake news which undermines public confidence in the media, a decline in advertising, professional safety issues and the rise of digital platforms.
He added that “during the lockdown, many officials became difficult to access information that the media required, confirmation of stories became simply impossible”.
Prof. Pate further said confinement and social distancing measures led to the emergence of new television formats like the integration of consumers technologies such as zoom into programmes created under new conditions. “Confinement has caused many changes that have accelerated the digital transition of the media particularly broadcasters, readership declined in print but increased online”, he stated.
He, however, said there was a massive rise in misinformation and the Pandemic has brought it so clearly that “we need to have a more dynamic management system in the media sector in this country. We cannot continue as it is because so many things are changing”.
He said “the existing funding model of the media is collapsing, apparently, there is need to re-invent and redesign media businesses while still being coherent and consistent, signal sources or dependence on advertising and subvention only cannot continue. We have to explore areas like subscription and others”.
Prof. Pate added that the media needs to be developed and restructured instead of being trapped in old ways of doing things, outdated technology and neglect of the West. He added that it must adopt new technologies in management, gathering of information, processing as well as dissemination.
While re-emphasising the challenges fake news poses to the media industry, Prof, Pate said there is a need to promote media and digital literacy and critical thinking to be able to fight fake news. He further stated that fighting it is not going to be by criminalizing it but by preparing counter-narratives and equipping media organizations to be on time and challenged those that are engaged in the fake news business with real technology, adding that media must have better equipment, capacity and intelligence.
The event had in attendance, the Governor of Kano State, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, Former Governor of Ogun State Chief Olusegun Osaba who was Chairman of the occasion and a media icon himself.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on media Mallam Garba Shehu who represented the Minister of
Information Alhaji Lai Mohammed. President of the Guild Mr Mustapha Isa and Executives of the Broadcasting Organization of Nigerian (BON), NUD, Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigerian (NPAN), NAWOJ and MacArthur Foundation among others.