Citizen (Sports) Journalists
Posted: Mar 08, 2012
I RECENTLY concluded a research into the growing impact of the internet on journalism practice in Nigeria. One of the findings I made is the serious danger posed by Citizen Journalism.
As its name implies, citizen journalism is a situation where ordinary citizens who have had no training in journalism are playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information. Thanks to the internet, mobile telephones and social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, every Emeka, Abubakar and Labaika that you see on the street is now a reporter, editor and publisher of NEWS (North, East, West and South).
Now, you can have a dream, wake up in the morning, pick up your phone and “tweet” that Lionel Messi has decided to change nationality and become a Nigerian! Even before you had dropped your phone, the “news” would have gone “viral” as others “re-tweeted” the “breaking news.” In a matter of minutes, the news had gone “global” and nobody even remembers the original source anymore. It’s only when Messi comes out to say that he never told anyone (even in a dream) that he was dumping Argentina that the world starts to ask questions.
In the world of citizen journalism, there’s nothing like verification, checking or cross-checking of facts. Anything goes and consumers of news are left to decide on their own what is true or false; what is believable or unbelievable. It’s absolutely crazy.
Nigerian football has repeatedly suffered the scourge of citizen journalism in recent weeks and it is causing all sorts of trouble. Following the Super Eagles’ goalless draw with Rwanda in a 2013 AFCON qualifier last week, “news” emerged on the internet that coach Stephen Keshi had decided to blacklist five foreign-based players. Unfortunately, most local sports media latched onto the story without cross-checking it only to be collectively embarrassed by Keshi’s flat denial.
Before that, there was the widely-reported “news” about Ocean Boys disallowing Nigerian Premier League (NPL) television rights holders, SuperSport, from covering their home game against Kano Pillars in week 11. Again, the local sports media (press, radio and TV) went to town with the story and many “sports analysts” even suggested the type of sanctions the NPL should impose on Ocean Boys.
But it later emerged that SuperSport actually covered the game but couldn’t broadcast it live only because of a rainstorm. A simple phone call by a well trained journalist to check that “story” would have killed it in its tracks before it went viral.
I have decided to highlight this problem because of the confusion that circulation of falsehood can bring upon a society. The internet has rightly been acknowledged as a revolutionary tool that has completely changed the way we live and communicate. But one of its major downsides is the capacity to also circulate misinformation and disinformation very fast. Citizen journalists will continue to “upload” information on the internet via websites, blogs or the social networks. It is the task of any responsible media organization and/or responsible media practitioner to verify these “posts” before passing on such information to their audience.
Nigerian sports journalists, please take note. Let’s protect the integrity of our profession in the face of the onslaught from the citizen sports journalists. Or, are we ourselves the citizen sports journalists?!
Keshi And The Pros
WHEN I read the “story” about Keshi blacklisting some foreign-based players purportedly because they didn’t perform well against Rwanda, I knew instinctively that it couldn’t be true. Keshi is too smart to behave that rashly and I felt vindicated and relieved when he later debunked the “story.”
In the past two weeks in this column, I have been trying to educate the fans on the need to be patient with Keshi as he tries to rebuild the Super Eagles. Now, my appeal is to my colleagues in the media not to create unnecessary rancour amongst the players that will be counter-productive for us all.
The home boys that featured in Kigali deserve praise for what has been widely reported as an impressive performance by some of them. But the way the media has gone about it, you would think the home lads were the only ones on the pitch and that their foreign-based counterparts contributed nothing. Such reportage can only divide the team to our collective detriment.
I understand our disappointment (even frustration) with the foreign-based boys because they failed to qualify for the last Africa Cup of Nations. But let’s not forget that the home-boys, too, have failed to qualify for the African Nations Championships (CHAN) twice in succession. Both sets of players therefore need each other to redeem Nigeria’s image.
The sports media should stop creating or promoting division amongst the players. We should stop instigating the coaches to blacklist one group or another. Let the best players in the reckoning of the coach, home or abroad, be selected to play for Nigeria at all times.
Eagles Midfield Blues
PRIOR to the Rwanda game, I observed in this column that the creative midfield department may hold the key to a successful outing for the Super Eagles. Unfortunately, it came to pass that it was our Achilles heel.
Let’s face it: the departures of Austin Okocha and Nwankwo Kanu have left a big void in our creative midfield which even the talented Mikel Obi has failed to fill. Keshi confessed to me that he didn’t find any suitable candidates in the domestic league and that was why he called up Joel Obi and Dickson Etuhu. Unfortunately, he didn’t have enough time to rehearse his tactical philosophy with them, the result being that the strikers (Yakubu Aiyegbeni and Osaze Odemwengie) were starved of service in Kigali.
Aiyegbeni’s critics in particular have seized upon his failure to score to rubbish his recall to the Eagles. But fair-minded observers admitted that “The Yak was not fed” (I love that quote) and there was little he could do in the circumstance. Even Wayne Rooney could not rescue Manchester United in the 2011 European Champions League Final when Barcelona completely dominated the midfield and starved the United forwards of the ball.
Keshi must do something urgently about the Eagles creative midfield, otherwise Nigeria will continue to look bad against lesser opposition even when we win or draw. Your team looks good when you move the ball around and you dominate possession, while you look bad when you’re dominated, irrespective of the final result.
Ahead of the second leg against Rwanda in Abuja in June, debutante Victor Moses who played as substitute in Kigali may be promoted to start while Fengor Ogude is likely to be recalled to shore up the midfield. If the Eagles midfield is made effective, The Yak and the other strikers will score.
BY resigning from the technical committee of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) last week, former Super Eagles coach, Chief Adegboye Onigbinde, has restored some of his reputation.
Sometime last year, a reader asked in this column where exactly the Chief belonged, being a committee member that was always critisizing the NFF. My comment then was that Onigbinde was apparently in a dilemma which he has now courageously resolved.
Onigbinde’s grouse is that even as technical committee member, he hardly knew how decisions on technical issues were reached. He was rarely consulted and his opinion counted for little. It was like the NFF grudgingly appointed him, and he could leave for all they cared. As a self-respecting man, he decided to leave.
Onigbinde’s resignation is a loss for Nigeria because of his depth of technical knowledge garnered from 20 years of working for CAF and FIFA technical committees and study groups. I have always thought that he is more qualified for the NFF’s Technical Director job (responsible for football development), rather than a foreigner that the Glass House is still searching for. But it appears that Onigbinde is too outspoken for the NFF’s liking and the technical committee chairman Chris Green and the others are simply relieved that the Chief had finally gone away with his “wahala.”
Onigbinde has his short-comings like everyone else, but his departure from the technical committee is a loss to Nigerian football.
David Mark On NFF
PENULTIMATE week, Senate President David Mark described the NFF as one of the most corrupt agencies of government. So what?!
Personally, I’m not impressed by Mark’s pronouncement because I think he was only playing to the gallery. He did not say anything that we didn’t already know. In fact, every Nigerian knows that MR CORRUPTION is living happily in every sector of government, including the Senate. We don’t need anyone to tell us again; we can see it. What we need is someone who is ready to do something about it. And Mark is well positioned, if he wants to champion the fight against corruption.
I have a few suggestions for the Senate president:
1. Pass a law imposing a 14-year jail term (like the one for homosexuality) for corruption, without the option of a fine.
2. Do not appropriate money for any government agencies until they have satisfactorily explained at a public hearing, how previous votes were spent.
3. Pass a law barring legislators (Senators and Representatives) from going on international trips and collecting estacodes and contracts from government agencies under the guise of performing committee oversight functions.
Let’s start from there. If the Senate President can set these three recommendations in motion, I will start listening to his campaign against corruption.
NFF, go on jare!
Re: Happy New Yak!
THE reactions to my come-back article brought home to me how much fun I’ve missed while Soccertalk was away. The first person to hit me via a kilometre-long sms (I wonder how he typed all of that on a phone!) was Soccer Aficionado Godwin Dudu-Orumen who argued vehemently that there was nothing “Happy” about the return of “The Yak” to the Super Eagles.
“He is taking the place of younger players,” Dudu began. “Clemens Westerhof dropped Richard Owubokiri for the younger Rashidi Yekini in 1993 even though Richard was the top scorer in Europe at the time.”
“Owubokiri was given a chance before he was finally dropped for Yekini,” I responded. “If Yakubu also fumbles, he will be dropped and others will take his place. But I insist that Yakubu deserves his chance, irrespective of his age. The younger strikers must prove themselves at club level to merit their place in the Super Eagles.”
Meanwhile, I delivered readers’ feedback on probable team selection for the Rwanda game to Keshi through the team’s media officer, Ben Alaiya, as promised. Here is a few selection:
lWelcome back, Soccertalk. What is good about our home-based players who couldn’t qualify for the African Championship (CHAN) since inception? Just food for thought. But I thank Keshi for dropping Mikel Obi. – Ifeanyi Mbieri, Imo State.
I want Keshi to continue using only our home boys and forget about the foreign-based players. – Gerald Nwogu Owelle, Imo State.
lYou are instigating Nigerians against the coach by asking them to suggest team selection. Stop it!
– Mustapha, Ilorin.
* The suggestions are not binding on the coach. It was meant just to get the fans involved and is global practice.
HI, MR. ALAO. Kindly remind us readers on why the next Africa Cup of Nations is holding in 2013 instead of 2014. Thanks. – Femi, Okota-Lagos.
* CAF decided to shift the AFCON from even number years to odd number years to avoid clashing with the FIFA World Cup henceforth. After 2013 in South Africa, the next AFCON is 2015 in Morocco.
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