There’s no doubt that Nigeria has the freest press in Africa and probably one of the freest in the world. This is something we should all be proud of.
The easy accessibility to the Internet has also contributed to the freedom enjoyed by journalists in Nigeria, which has led to the proliferation of blogs and news sites that specialise in Nigerian news.
The unfortunate consequence of that, however, is the death of professionalism in news reporting. Before the advent of the internet news reporting was a very expensive venture that only very rich and influential Nigerians could go into. Only the likes of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, late Chief MKO Abiola, the Ibru family could afford to set up a publishing company.
These newspaper proprietors recruited the best journalists to report and edit their newspapers and you could almost bet your life on the accuracy of the news reports.
Thanks to the internet anyone can set up a blog now and even reach more people faster than print media can.
These days, most bloggers are quite happy to simply copy and paste any news report they come across anywhere else on the Internet without verifying the authenticity of the report.
The journalistic slogan used to be, “if in doubt, leave out.” These days it has become, “If it’s is interesting, print it.”
There is a story making its round among Nigerian bloggers that a Pastor has been jailed in the US for refusing to marry a gay couple.
A simple Google check would have revealed that the story is fake. It was published on a website called NBC.com.co, which is in no way affiliated to the popular NBC.
As a matter of fact, NBC.com.co is part of a growing number of websites ending in “.co” that attempt to disguise themselves as reputable brands. The list of fake websites doing this includes NYTimes.com.co, washingtonpost.com.co and USAToday.com.co. These are fake news websites and nothing on them should be taken seriously.
On a popular Nigerian website, however, it was quoted that the story was reported by the NBC.
Besides, the name given to the pastor who was supposedly jailed, Paul Horner, is a popular pseudonym used by these fake news websites and does not describe a real person.
The funny thing is that if you scroll down the page on which the story was published this is what you’ll find, Copyright © 2015, All Right Reserved. Proudly owned by NBC President & CEO, Dr. Paul Horner. We need writers! If you would like to write for NBC, please contact us! Looking to advertise? Contact us! All trademarks, service marks, trade names, trade dress, product names, images and logos appearing on the site are the property of their respective owners. BTC Donation:1J7di7KbXh8L3TxNMeZHKBSXTCxws8AVwB
How interesting that the jailed pastor and the CEO of the company have the same name. Lol.
Unfortunately, the trend to publish stories that have been verified seems to be growing among Nigerian bloggers.
A few months ago, some hacks published a story that Professor Wole Soyinka disparaged the Igbo nation and almost every other Nigerian blog and news site republished the story until the Nobel Laureate himself debunked the story with a characteristic acidic remark forcing the original publishers of the lie to apologise.
You would have thought lessons have been learned but no, shortly afterwards, the BBC published a fake story about human meat being served at a restaurant in Anambra state and without verifying Nigerian bloggers jumped unto the bandwagon. The BBC confirmed the story was fake and blamed it on their Swahili network.
What is even more pathetic with Nigerian bloggers is that when a story has been proved to be fake, those who have published the story don’t even bother to apologise to the people affected or their readers. They simply move on, looking for the next juicy piece of gossip to feed to the public.
As news publishers, we really have to try our best to bring the truth to the public who want to read real stories and for those who simply want gossip or lies there is a plethora of websites that specialise in propagating fake news just for fun but these sites always insert a caveat on their sites that the material is fake.
I think the time has come for some Nigerian bloggers to start inserting the same caveat on their blogs or better still, concerned Nigerians should start compiling a list of Nigerian blogs and news sites that publish news stories without verifying the stories.