WHEN BLOGGERS BECOME JUNK JOURNALISTS:
Let me start by giving all my readers the permission to conclude that this particular blog post is just another 'biff', or 'diss' or ‘bad belle’ from another attention-seeking struggling blogger called Stanley Nwabia. You are justified in your assumptions, at least with the ‘struggling blogger’ part.
I grew up with access to many foreign tabloid journals such as National Enquirer, Star and News of the world. On the local scene we had 'Prime people’, Vintage people, FAME and a host of others. From that period, I had always known that there was a difference between, for instance what I read on Guardian newspapers and what I encountered on Vintage people magazine-one (the former) was most likely saying the truth while the latter more often than not was a bunch of lies. I could identify these differences but I could not define it until much later in life when I understood the meaning of junk journalism and tabloid journalism.
Real journalism as a profession comes with a lot of responsibilities where stories are checked and cross-checked before being published or broadcast. Sometimes, professional journalism entails some dose of patriotism, loyalty and common sense when it relates to cultural values and the common good. Many seasoned journalists have been known to bury hot scoops or stories that are either too senstive, a cultural taboo or a threat to national security. Tabloid journalism on the other hand is a no-holds-barred bold structure where anything goes no matter whose ox is gored. Junk or Tabloid journalism (they both mean the same in my own opinion) are normally fed by screaming headlines that fuel the commercial viability of such stories, not necessarily about authenticity. Many modern day journalists had chosen to pick a spot somewhere in the middle.
Then came ‘us’ bloggers.
In recent times, especially in Nigeria, there seems to be a thin line between bloggers and journalists. Unfortunately, in a bid to attain quicker online commercial success, many Nigerian bloggers have moved deeper into journalism...junk journalism. We can’t really blame them because the Nigerian social media community is constantly in need of ‘gists’ and ‘gossips’.
Unlike my teenage years when the Nigerian entertainment industry was nowhere, today we have a huge entertainment industry with larger than life celebrities and divas.
In as much as a large section of society look up to these celebrities, many more are eager to see them fall, fail and re enact the age long ‘grace to grass’ story that has always existed side by side with the ‘rags to riches’ stories. A lot of Nigerian top bloggers seem to have taken it upon themselves to become champions of the 'Pull him/her down' syndrome. They publish highly sensitive stories at will, many times without seeking verification from the celebrities involved. As far as these bloggers are concerned, "so long as my website keeps getting hits and the sponsors keep knocking, it’s all good."
I used to think that blogging was a platform for talented and creative individuals to write their views on various issues and reach out to many more like-minds - All in a bid to maintain a healthy balance of continuous intellectual discourse.
In today's Nigeria, it seems some bloggers wake up each day deliberating on which celebrity's life to destroy. Don't get me wrong, I really have nothing against tabloid ‘tatafo’ journalism, but I have everything against individuals using their huge influence online as tools for running down equally influential celebrities that have also worked real hard to get to where they are now.
Most of our celebrities that constantly fall victim to these ‘amebo’ bloggers are gifted and talented-they are singers, actors, actresses, designers, sports men and women. On the other hand take a look at most of these so-called celebrity bloggers, most of them cannot compose an authentic article of more than 500 words. They just scout for gossips, pictures and videos, drop in a couple of one liners and that's it. Many times, even the one-liners they manage to put together are still plagued with grammatical errors.
Finally, I want to shout-out to Mercy Aigbe and her husband-Mr Gentry, I watched their defence video a couple of hours ago-reacting to a certain celebrity bloggers’ story about them. Personally, I don't care whether the celebrity bloggers’ story was true or false neither do I care if the Gentry's defence video was a charade or not. All I know is that I felt pity for the Gentrys after watching that video, because while others may watch the video and see a celebrity couple hitting back at a blogger, all I saw was a married couple taking on the burden of trying to protect the integrity of their marriage in a public domain. Totally uncalled for...