Monday, 4 July 2011

Editorial: Cross-hairs on prejudice and lazy journalism

Gunning down prejudices

The objective is to hit a target and whoever does takes the spoils as an accident of opportunity and occasion seems to be changing attitudes in an unusual place.

The professionals had been doing it for years and the regulars missing first the objective missed it again by being subjective to the possibility of humiliation by an unusual entrant rather than strive to improve and better what they thought they were good at.

This entrant inspires and as the scorecard shows; if we give more consideration to the facts of the achievement than the achiever there are rigid societal norms that can change to give the ones regularly discriminated against a shot at equality.

They arrived as chaperones, then offered help and in the process became champions after a sort. Tackling prejudices are two farmhand grandmothers from a very conservative part of Northern India who have become sharp-shooters, handling guns better than men and giving their daughters and granddaughters an avenue to recognition and respect through raw ability registered on targets as indisputable merit.

I celebrate Parkaso Tomar, 75 of Johri village in the Uttar Pradesh province of India and how about a new musical Grannie get your gun featuring the song, Anything you can do? She is doing it better as the trophy cabinet shows.

Lazy reporting is poor copy

The weekend saw the detention of an opposition politician by the State Security Service of Nigeria as he returned from a trip abroad.

He had published a piece that highlighted the huge spending cache of security agencies at a time when Nigeria seems to be facing huge security challenges.

The security agencies took umbrage with him for publishing figures they contend were wrong and by so doing might paint those agencies in very bad light – it is just a matter of magnitude, one can say whatever is spent is not really delivering value for money.

The matter is not such that the politician published wrong figures or that the security agencies had their own set of figures that they contend are the correct one but that the press reporting on the matter failed to take the discussion further by diligently ascertaining if the any of the figures bandied around were anywhere near the mark.

Sadly, this is lazy reporting and if news only involves the excitement of reporting spats but nothing that seeks to inform in useful detail on the elements that precipitated the dispute, we are the poorer for it.

If Vanguard, the Nigerian newspaper is to live up to the aspirations of its name; in reading their piece on this matter, they have come to the forefront of those I believe worthy of derision and as such risk bringing professional journalism into disrepute.

They surely can do better.

Acknowledgements

The BBC Urdu service reports on India's sharp-shooter granny fighting male domination in an interesting case of a very local event gaining global recognition. The subject of the politician’s resolve to keep fighting is hardly the news if the press fails to provide better information to help readers appreciate the facts better.

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