By Richards Murphy
There are times in our existence where common sense ought to prevail. There are also times where national interest ought to rise above personal interest especially when National Security is at stake.
I have in many forums harped on the role of the media in national security in Nigeria because it is common knowledge that the relationship between terrorism and the media is symbiotic, in that terrorist organizations use the media as a means of expression for their political message to be heard by the targeted audience, while supplying ‘exciting news’ for the media and the media is further seduced into adopting the language that is provided by the terrorist organization.
The problem lies in how the press covers terrorism. It is by and large the case that the media covers terrorist acts by writing sensation-seeking, enlarging anecdotic stories, especially on who is to blame, and repeating the same images over and over again. Thus, repeating the traumatizing scenes and stories may also serve them, as the goal of the terrorists is to be in the news as often and long as possible.
The above can be said to be the case of the Newsexpress online publication that has devoted a substantial part of its time on publishing negatives stories on the activities of the Nigerian Army in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria. Week in week out, there is hardly anytime the Newsexpress online does not publish or republish stories on the activities of Boko Haram insurgents. It has taken the Boko Haram propaganda to an extraordinary height in recent times by dwelling substantially on the actions of the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP).
This has been the case that one is tempted to ask in whose interest does the Newsexpress online aims to serve with its avalanche of news stories promoting the activities of the Boko Haram Insurgents and recently the Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP). While it’s evident that monies must have exchanged hands, it is, however, worrisome that such funds no matter the amount does not equal the human lives that have been lost in North East Nigeria since 2009.
It is indeed worrisome that some individuals and organizations have made themselves willing tools for the propagation of terrorist acts in Nigeria. For them, it is called business not minding the effect of their actions on the sanity of others that have been affected by the Boko Haram conflict in Nigeria.
That is not all; the promoters of Newsexpress online have also taken the campaign of castigating the military to a worrisome height. There is hardly any day that passes by that they do not publish negative stories about the Nigerian army, which are in most instances a figment of their imaginations. They have taken the project to rubbish the Nigerian military as a personal one.
The interesting part of the whole scenario is the fact that the bulk of the negative stories published by Newsexpress online are half-truths and conjectures with no facts or data to back them up. As incredible as this sounds, this is what Newsexpress has resulted in recent times. And they forget that they are insulting the sensibilities of their unsuspecting readers and other members of the society.
The promoters of Newsexpress online have thrown decorum into the trash can by engaging in this despicable action that not only promotes terrorist acts, but also using their platform to provide psychological boost to the Boko Haram fighters and at the detriment of officers and soldiers of the Nigerian military who have sacrificed their all to protect the territorial integrity of the country.
And yet, the promoters of Newsexpress online does not see anything good in the efforts of the Nigerian military, but they see great efforts on the part of the Boko Haram and ISWAP fighters because monies have exchanged hands. It is indeed curious as to how much indeed exchanged hands for Newsexpress online to carry out a campaign of defamation against the Nigerian military. While it has been stated in numerous forums that the Nigerian media must rise to the occasion in this critical point of the existence of Nigeria to avoid been used as a willing tool or platform for the propagation of acts of terrorism, for the promoters of the Newsexpress online, it is not so. For them, it has to be business as usual, and they have stayed true to this; hence the avalanche of negative stories on the activities’ of the Nigerian military published on its news portal.
While this portends danger for Nigeria and its fight against terrorism, it also raises a red flag on the role of some media organizations in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria. This is on the heels that it has been speculated in some quarters that the Boko Haram insurgents have infiltrated most media organization through third-party arrangements to give bite and prominence to their activities in return financial gratifications.
The activities of Newsexpress online indeed confirms this unholy alliance, hence how does one justify a situation where a news portal would devote substantial time and energy promoting acts of terrorism? How does one also explain why a news portal would be so reckless in feeding its audience with half-truths? And the list goes on.
It is, therefore, my considered opinion that Nigerians must begin to ask questions as regards the activities of some media organizations in the reportage of the war against terrorism in Nigeria. We must question their sources and view with utmost care whatever news items they publish. The case of Newsexpress online is indeed pathetic and against National interest. I am very curious to know how much indeed exchanged hands in the deal.
In all, the promoters of Newsexpress online must realize that the Nigerian military has indeed made substantial progress in the fight against terrorism in the past four years and no amount of propaganda or skewed narrative can change that fact. I think the members of the public are well informed and can see through the mischief in the promoters of Newsexpress online. Enough is indeed enough.
Murphy is a security expert and write from Calabar.