Danjuma Mohammed Ladan has practiced as a Broadcast journalist for over 30 years. He served with the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) and retired as Deputy Director News. He spoke to AMDF and enjoined journalists to focus on Development Journalism and not on promoting conflict, ethnic and religious differences. He notes that Media houses ought to lay emphasis on trained professionals and avoid seeking cheap labour.
I am Danjuma Mohammed Ladan, I was born on 1 January 1956 in Gombe, Gombe state, North East Nigeria. My formal education began from Jankai and Tudun Wada Primary Schools, Gombe and Government Secondary School Gombe where I obtained WASC. I then proceeded to Bauchi College of Arts and Science for IJMB, then Bayero University Kano to obtain a Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology. I also obtained a Post Graduate Diploma from Nigerian Institute of Journalism Ogba, Lagos. I also attended the Television College Jos and Administrative Staff College of Nigeria —Tapo-Badagry, Lagos.
Journalism experience began at Nigerian Television Authority Bauchi as Reporter II in 1984. I was Manager News/Current Affairs at NTA Gombe; Assistant Director News NTA Kaduna; then General Manager NTA B/Kebbi before I retired as Deputy Director News in 2016.
Experience in journalism
My experience was thrilling, exciting and job satisfying. I have worked with both Civilian and Military Governors from 1988-1993; very challenging but interesting. It shaped my opinion about both the leaders and the led. Real stories are mostly found in the rural areas and on the streets. Government officials are only for balancing of reports or getting data and statistics.
What were your interests and how did practicing satisfy these?
I was much interested in Investigative reporting. To some extent I feel fulfilled with some of my reports especially in getting Government attention to some issues for example: completion of Toro General Hospital, Drilling of borehole in some communities.
It was fulfilling putting public officers on their toes in execution of projects, promotion of peace among communities and youth; ensuring justice, fairness and equality in the society.
What constraints made your job more difficult?
Inadequate funding of Government owned media houses, lack of equipments and Bureaucracy were major constraints. You want to go for coverage but no vehicle; you share Cameras with other colleagues and also Government’s interference in editorial judgment.
Compare the practice years ago and what is obtainable now.
No basis for comparison; the passion, commitment and objectivity are no more there as obtained before. With the development in technology more is expected from the journalists but not much is done. Development journalism should be the focus not promotion of conflict, ethnic and religious differences. The journalists should go extra mile in research, investigation, balancing, authentication and objectivity in their profession.
What is your take on Journalism standard and press freedom in Nigeria and Africa at large?
The standard in Nigeria is high; we have professionals, well educated and experienced journalists who can take the profession to any height and can be counted among the best in the world. The level of freedom is fair. The shutting of Media houses and prosecution of journalists in Nigeria is not as high as compared to other countries of the world.
The emergence of many private owned media both print and electronic in the country is an indication of some level of freedom. The same could not be said of some African Countries, Egypt, Uganda, Zimbabwe even Cameroon very close to Nigeria.
Looking at professionalism and ethics, what could be done to maintain best practices in the region?
Journalists and media houses have to put emphasis on professionalism and ethics in the practice of journalism. Now that we have many Institutions offering Courses in Journalism, Mass Communication, and Information Technology among others, journalists must acquire professional training. While media houses should give emphasis on trained professionals, avoid seeking cheap labour by employing persons that are not trained or qualified.
The Nigerian Press Council, National Broadcasting Commission, Newspaper proprietors Association of Nigeria should be up and doing in punishing earring journalists and media houses. No room for quacks. The Era of anything goes is over in the media.
The emergence of the internet provides a great opportunity for media development and a daunting challenge to best practices in journalism, what’s your take?
Yes, the Internet is doing a lot to the development of the media in terms of training, research and outreach. But, there is danger in swallowing everything hook and line.
How do you see the future of news (fusion of the traditional and new media) and what it portends for the traditional news media in your country and Africa at large?
As I have started mentioning above, the internet is a double edge sword. Care should be taken in the use of the social media; in cases of authenticity, objectivity and intention. It is a challenge to the traditional media to be more investigative, objective and do a lot of research to remain on the job.
However, the authenticating of reports in the social media should be properly scrutinized. I had a cause to point out at a seminar about a report of a bomb blast that goes viral in the social media which was said to have occurred in Nigeria but actually the visuals are of an incident that happened in one of the East African Countries two weeks before the Nigerian incident and was later proved right.
The traditional media still has a role to play in maintaining its position as a unifying factor, a reliable source of information if only it could be more objective, authentic and investigative in its reports. Especially in this era of ‘fake news’, the traditional media in still important and relevant.
What is the most important thing an upcoming journalist should know?
The profession is not for lazy people. They should be ready to put in their best. They must be knowledgeable and realize it is not a money making industry though you can excel and become ‘rich’. They must embark on training and retraining; knowledge on information technology should be their vehicle to deliver the goods. Also shun corruption and be objective.
What sacrifices have you had to make to succeed in the field of journalism, and do you feel the sacrifices were worth it?
I have had to surrender the comfort of my home, family, friends and social circle. Indeed since I am not back to be with them after about 30 years on the job.
Any regrets being a journalist?
No! Never! No regrets whatsoever!