A Public Relations, PR expert has debunked the notion that any kind of gift is unethical and tends to corrupt the communication industry.
Speaking at a Media Workshop on Legal and Ethical Issues in Investigative Journalism in Nigeria, Yushau Shuaib, a seasoned PR practitioner said that not all favours and gifts are intended to compromise the integrity of journalists.
The Media Workshop organized by Daily Trust Foundation in collaboration with Centre for Media Law and Development and MacArthur Foundation had in attendance journalists, public relations experts and representative of critical institutions and security agencies.
Mr Shuaib who is the founder of PRNigeria and author of an award-winning PR book ‘An Encounter with the Spymaster’ told the participants at the workshop that there is a clear line of distinction in professional conducts in public relations practice which is a legitimate business of communication and the ethical standard in journalism on news reporting.
“The western world by their orientation and contentment perceive a gift as an improper behaviour to gain an advantage through illegitimate means, while the rich African culture and traditional belief recognise a gift as a demonstration of mutual relationship and love.
“We should also note that there is a distinction between an advertisement which is a payment for media space and public relations practice which encourages mutual and beneficial relationships. In PR practice, seasonal gifts, honorarium, sponsored fellowship, reciprocal presents and other show of support and kindness are not intended to compromise the integrity of the recipients but to acknowledge partnerships, appreciate diligence in professional conducts and facilitate creativity and productivity.
“As PR practitioners, we strongly kick against any inducement that tends to compromise the integrity of reporters, but we nevertheless see nothing wrong in organizing events that appreciate the stakeholders through sponsored programmes, corporate Social Responsibilities, promotional gifts, facility tours and other expenses that are not necessarily provided in cash but in kind.
“The concept of ‘glocalization’ rather than globalization should address our local peculiarity as we see nations offer their partners a commitment to reciprocity and fairness. It is time Africans jettison some practices by the western media which are alien to our national identities and cultural peculiarities.”
Meanwhile in a paper titled, “Security Agencies and Media in Nigeria: An Overview,” the Executive Secretary of Centre for Crisis Communication, CCC, Air Commodore Anas Yusuf, stated that the relationship between the security agencies and press is very critical in safeguarding and shaping the democratic credentials of a nation.
Represented by retired Commodore Kabir Yusuf, the CCC boss urged the media to shun sensationalism in the coverage of security activities and endeavour to balance reports on military engagements with terrorists.
He said: “As much as possible, the media is expected to reduce or moderate its partisan disposition in reporting or analyzing security issues. It should be neutral as much as possible while covering security operations.”
Also speaking at the occasion, Mike Amarere, a veteran broadcaster with the African Independent Television, AIT, noted that national interests and public good are relegated to the background by state’s institutions like the judiciary, those who enact laws and security agencies, to pursue the vested interests or champion the narrow agenda of political leaders and some influential elites.
“In Nigeria, interests of ruling class constitute national interest. Unlike other developed society, the interests of the elite and ruling class are what constitutes national interest in developing countries such as Nigeria.”
Mr Amarere lamented the communication disconnect between the security agencies and the press, advocating for a strong collaboration between the two institutions.
Participants received certificates at the end of the workshop.