ARISE TV presenter, Oseni Rufai is trending for his audacious shows. He amasses a captive audience stung by his style-cheeky, bold and blunt.
Oseni attacks his interviewees, mostly the political class and bourgeoisie in fearless soundbites, that gratify the emotions of Nigerians, troubled by systemic ineptitude.
Never a trained journalist, how did this graduate of Animal Anatomy & Physiology, University of Agriculture, Abeokuta become the most referenced media hand in recent times? Clever Rufai. Self taught, he must have mastered the magic of Adversarial Journalism.
Presumptuous reporting in which the journalist adopts a hardline posture of opposition to expose wrong doing in the society, whether real or imaginary.
Mass communication sage, Noam Chomsky (2011) described it as “confrontational or oppositional style of journalism that rejects balance and impartiality” in favour of subjectivity and personal bias.
It is cynical in model and antagonistic in agenda.
Preeminent American journalist, Matthew Hammer (2006) says adversarial journalism is all about “screaming,finger-pointing and accusations”
It thrives on imprudent staging of authorial presence, hard core propaganda, sensationalism, excessive invasion of privacy and over zealous scrutiny.
Oseni is inoculating the society with adversarial journalism and his fan base is growing with feverish fanaticism.
The intention-seeker objective is to attack and raise dust. With widespread frustration in the land, Oseni’s penchant to pooh-pooh those in power makes him the Tarzan of the people. He is swaggering over the moon, because people love the drama he creates on TV.
The plucky youngster seems to be irresistible, the troublesome watch dog, tormenting the tormenters.
But the tricks of adversarial journalism- argumentative and combative dialogue, embellishment and tracking of controversial story lines, appear to pay more in the Nigerian environment.
Compare with Ethical Journalism and the deception begins. As opposed to adversarial, it is a stickler to journalistic convention and professionalism
From my privileged professional experience, ethical journalists are not in short supply in Nigeria. Whether in mainstream dailies, public or private broadcast stations, established journalism- savvy online platforms, they are there reporting the Nigerian story with passion.
Their ethical stance in agenda setting pushes the frontiers of developmental journalism.
But here is the shocker…
The adversarial journalist not his ethical counterpart earns the respect/fear of the profiled.
Those the adversarial practitioner confront with his voice, pen, computer, Ipad or cell phone are compelled to regard him.
Adversarial journalism is the nightmare of most Nigerian political and corporate actors.
Psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud revealed that people pander to what they fear.
This explains why the adversarial journalist receives more attention than ethical opposite. He gets more recognition and visibility, in press conferences and assignments.
He may ask the dumbest question or write the worst copy, yet he generates frenzied spectacle and gets profuse pamper. He attracts higher offers and better favours. He has no business with the notorious and lean brown envelope, but jumbo prizes. Which could come in cash or kind.
The differing standpoints of Adversarial and Ethical Journalism call for equilibrium and rational thought. Aristotle said: “Too much food as well as too little food” is bad for health.
Given Individual Differences Theory, personal distinctiveness is unavoidable. But journalists must take note:
Bite rightly to correct and bask readily to build the society. There was a gallant, point -blank yet courteous Tony Iredia on NTA and Eric James on Bendel TV, later DRTV. Ditto Ray Ekpu, Dele Giwa, Dan Agbese and many more. A gentle reminder to the enfante terrible of the tube, Oseni and his ilk.
Generally to media buffs-
While you play your root, rough reggae, you should never forget to play smooth, soothing blues.
– Chiazor Norbert.