Imo State is described as the third hub of journalism in Nigeria. This is so because apart from Lagos State and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, no other state in the country harbours the number of print and electronic media houses like this South Eastern state.

As at the last count, Imo State has about 26 newspapers, majority of which are issued thrice a week. The newspapers are National Newsbreak, Nigeria Horn, Nigeria Newspoint, Hero, Eastern Lead Express, StarPost Express, Announcer Express, Newsday, Trumpeta, City Star, Frontline Express, National Question and The Onion.

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Others are Newsbearer, First Citizen, News Echo, New Order, Spartan, Daily Brief, Eastern Front, Imo Breaking News, National Newsblast, Eastern Update Express, Sunshine Express, Record Express and The Parrot.

Some of them may not be regular at the newsstands or may have even been rested but majority are fairly regular, providing information, education and entertainment to the avid Imo reading public who enjoy the offerings of these newspapers.

There are also many electronic media organizations in the state. There is the state-run Imo Broadcasting Corporation (IBC), operators of the Orient 94.5FM and Orient TV Channel 59. Stable Media, owned by Chief Kennedy Zanders operates Zanders 105.7FM and Zanders TV on Startimes.

The state also harbours Hot 99.5FM, Toast FM, Groove FM, Boss 98.9FM, Bizzbodi FM, MyRadio 101.1FM, Heritage 88.7FM, The Reach FM 104.9, Ozisa 96.1FM and Darling FM107.3.

It is surprising that a state that does not have industries or big corporations operating within its precinct; a state which is majorly a civil service state has many media houses domiciled in it.

Analysts posit that the high literacy rate and the huge appetite of the people for politics other than commercial benefits are factors responsible for this development. That could be true but it is also important to note that many media organizations are not established in other South Eastern states such as Anambra, Abia and Enugu that boast of large corporations and establishments.

But there is something that worries some people about the rising number of media houses operating in Imo State. The worries include what some pundits perceive as the lowering of standards, non-payment of journalists on the employ of these media organizations, resort to the use of freelancers and non-observance of ethics and ethos of the profession by practitioners.

Martins Ori is a senior journalist. He worked at The Sun Newspapers, Lagos for years before returning to reside in Owerri in 2019. In Owerri, he worked with News Echo newspaper before partnering with Afam Echi to establish New Oriental newspaper.

Ori says he had been appraising the operations of the media especially newspapers in Owerri and is having goose pimples when he examines some of the newspapers.

Coming from a background in which his father used to buy newspapers like Daily Times, The Statesman, Daily Star, etc for him to read and improve his knowledge of the English Language as a teenager, Ori says he is not comfortable doing same for his own children today especially with some newspapers domiciled in Owerri.

According to him, many of the newspapers have thrown excellence to the winds. In an article he wrote, he observed that most of the newspapers breach the ethics of writing in their reportage and articles.

He wrote; “However you cannot place today’s local newspapers in the dining for your children to read. The concord agreement is injurious, the technical accuracy is killing while the registers are out of this world!’.

Speaking further on Universal Heritage Television (UNTV), an online channel on Monday, December 5, 2022, Ori pointed out some of the flaws he sees in some of the Owerri newspapers that give him sleepless nights. Ori says he could not understand why a newspaper will publish ‘stay clear’ instead of “steer clear”, ‘loose’ in place ‘lose’, ‘at the crossroad’ instead of ‘at the crossroads’; ‘he has being’ instead of ‘he has been’.

He gave more examples of the grammatical flaws he has noticed in the newspapers like ‘Okechukwu weds heartthrob’ instead of ‘sweetheart’, or the book or article is ‘titled’ instead of ‘entitled’. Ori explained that heartthrob is the man while the sweetheart is the lady/bride. So, Okechukwu weds sweetheart’ is appropriate’, he declares. Going by Ori’s submission, Okechukwu could only wed his heartthrob if he is gay! And as rotten as Nigeria is, gay wedding has not started holding here.

Ori maintains that the newspapers in Owerri do little or no editing resulting in the many grammatical flaws he identified. The senior journalist is also scandalized by the non-payment of journalists working for these newspapers thereby predisposing the reporters to indulging in shady deals like blackmail and defrauding of newsmakers which demean the profession.

He therefore called on the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) to intervene to save the profession. Ori would want NUJ to insist on a certain amount of money which a potential publisher must deposit with the NDIC (Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation) before establishing a newspaper. Ori is of the view that once a publisher deposits the stipulated amount of money, his members of staff could be paid salaries from the money once he could no longer meet his obligation.

Gele Agbai, publisher of National Newsbreak Newspaper was also on the set of the UNTV. He admitted there are grammatical flaws which a careful reader will discover while perusing some of the newspapers that are issued from Owerri. He also pointed out that some of tabloids engage in awkward constructions, circumlocution (Israeli method) and the use of parasites in sentences.

Agbai also agreed that the quest for materialism could drive some publishers/reporters to cut corners. But he submitted that this development presents a business opportunity for professionals and investors who could tap into it.

He suggested that training programmes should be regularly mounted for practitioners in Owerri to sharpen their skills, learn new trends and techniques. According to Agbai, the difference between two individuals is simply training. He asserted that the one who gives himself to training will always come tops in his craft.

The publisher also harped on moral training for practitioners. A practitioner, he said, who is equipped with good morals would find it difficult engaging in underhand deals, unethical practices, fighting over brown envelopes or indulging in what they describe as ‘conja’.

According to Agbai, a skilled workman without good morals will deploy his skill for the wrong purposes and to harm the society whether he is a journalist or any other professional.

 Afam Echi who moderated the UNTV programme later offered his own recipe towards improving journalism practice in the state. Echi agreed with Agbai on the need for training and retraining of practitioners to improve on their skills. He also urged public-spirited individuals to help the practitioners through sponsorship of training programmes to enable them improve their practice.

Obviously, it is good that Imo State has many media organizations operating in it. That many people are getting their livelihoods working in these organizations cannot be ruled out. Some media practitioners in the state have even grown to become ‘big boys’ in the profession.

Two who are today publishers have served as Chief Press Secretaries. One later became deputy national financial secretary of one of the major political parties. One is today an aide to Senator Hope Uzodimma on Print Media. Their appointments might not have been informed entirely by their dexterity in media practice but their media practice contributed immensely to their rise.

Media practitioners are however called upon to give themselves to periodic training to improve on their craft.  Those who engage in shady deals and blackmail need to stop. It is not because they are journalists; it is mainly the nature they have which could be supplanted.

Investors could also open talks with any of the newspapers with a view to partnering with them to increase their capital base to enable them to operate optimally. 


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