By Abdullahi A. Maiwada
“‘Parachute Journalism’ trivialize and sensationalize events that are more complex than a 30-second clip can capture” – Thomas L. McPhail.
However, this era of social media has made citizen journalists more dangerous than parachute journalists. While practitioners of the former are utterly ignorant about the basic principles of the profession, the latter is about placing journalists into an area to report on stories with little knowledge or experience. Lack of knowledge and tight deadlines often result in inaccurate or distorted news reports, especially during breaking news.
While citizen journalists lack the fundamentals of news judgement, one cannot neglect their relevance in the business of news reportage. In some cases, the traditional media rely on citizen journalists for updates about issues in the form of eyewitness reports.
The above implies that both parachute journalism and citizen journalism are interrelated at specific points. In most cases, their characteristics can be catastrophic and misleading instead of informing and educating.
Even though I am not a fan of CNN, my recent update about the strategies by the new CEO Chris Licht making frantic efforts to redefine the usage of breaking news is a step in the right direction. “Moving away from alarming news distributing styles”, he said.
Both citizen journalists and mainstream media have fallen into the trap of fake news and hate speech precipitated by digital media. This is to satisfy the urge to take the lead in breaking the news.
In the word of my journalism lecturer Dr Kola Adesina “no time to think syndrome”. The outcome is having limited know-how to strike a balance between speed and accuracy. Thanks to convergence which created a blurry line between mainstream and digital media.
The primary reason we dish out content is to inform and not disinform, misinform and mal-inform. Why can’t we think twice and have a sober reflection before writing or talking? We should endeavour always to put a round egg in a round peg to avoid misleading society towards the direction of Rwanda.
Influential media effect theories are still relevant in the digital age. The hypodermic needle/bullet, agenda-setting theories and the likes play a critical role in shaping the perception of the gullible and media illiterates who form the majority in our society.
I have encountered a colleague who changed his perception of Russia based on an American movie. We have so many of them out there.
Finally, I will end my piece with the saying of our beloved Prophet (SAW). “Whoever believes in Allah and the day judgment should utter what is righteous or keep mute”. Gbam!!!
Abdullahi A. Maiwada is a superintendent of Customs attached to the Public Relations Unit, Nigeria Customs Service Headquarters, Abuja.