Monday 4 January 2010

Nigeria: Can we engage politely?

Nigeria: Can we engage politely? Was first published at NigeriansTalk.Org you can follow the link to comment or review comments there.

Sahara Reporters on the global stage

The issue of the Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab [1] put me in the middle of an unintended experiment with interesting consequences.

On the 28th of December 2009, I posted a blog on my site with the title Nigeria: Sahara Reporters comes of age [2], this came about because CNN especially used a photograph from the Sahara Reporters website with the copyright of Sahara Reporters clearly emblazoned on the picture, I really thought it was a coming of age, Sahara Reporters introduced to a global audience.

Points of view

So, there were a few points I raised in my blog in the light of this global recognition which was the earning respectability by appearing more professional; so I asked that the adverts to removed and be replaced with a new funding structure, I have been blogging for 6 years and paid a subscription to keep it free from adverts and intrusions I have no control over, I could not see why a site like Sahara Reporters could not do that.

Then I asked for the content to be better vetted by some editorial board, not to censor content but to introduce a clear standard, which for any publication is a standard procedure, finally, I talked about the comments asking for comment moderation, refinement and some sort of policy.

In fact, I suggested two comment areas a reflection of life where you have marketplace conversation resplendent with its colour, noise and raucous language then a place where the conversation was like you will have in an office where decorum, respect and comportment help the way of business.

My blog on Sahara Reporters

Some operative at Sahara Reporters noticed my blog on the 31st of December copied and pasted my blog posting on their web site [3] without first seeking my consent or fully following the proper attribution guidelines; a clear case of copyright infringement, I made quite a fuss about the whole thing in a blog that I later withdrew because I really do like the work Sahara Reporters is doing as a guerilla news agency.

There was no point embroiling them in some battle to assuage my pride from being subjected to the savagery of the injurious commentary of Nigerians – I have a clear comment policy on my blog, very few of the comments on Sahara Reporters will pass the muster on my blog.

Reviewing the comments

By this morning 33 comments [4] had been made with reference to my blog and that forms the basis of this NigeriansTalk posting which wonders if Nigerians can engage in polite conversation and discourse on any matter whilst fully comprehending the matter at hand. The comments are a microcosm of a broad spectrum of Nigerians talking in a globally accessible forum.

Considering the points clearly raised in my blog, I can only say only one comment seemed to indicate it had any comprehension of what I wrote, all the other comments deigned to understand and in the end just missed the point.

The core point being, the blog was written to praise Sahara Reporters, not effusively, but guardedly and to encourage improvement. A majority of the comments were abusive, derogatory and unnecessary.

Did I say that?

Some thought I was attacking Sahara Reporters whilst others thought the call to professionalism was a veiled threat to the freedom of expression and the ability to maintain independence – I fail to see how my blog could have in anyway advocated that.

In some comments, I was asked to become helpful by becoming a roving reporter for Sahara Reporters, others went off topic plugging their own personal agendas for Sahara Reporters to champion.

In all the people preferred the marketplace exchange of insults and more than a better coordinated exchange of ideas, interestingly, this is the case where an open forum exists for Nigerians to fulminate and write before comprehending what they are writing about – and now I can say that for sure because the guinea pig in this exercise was something I wrote and has been totally misunderstood, misconstrued and vilified.

The question remains, whether Nigerians can engage in polite conversation and discourse on any matter whilst fully comprehending the matter at hand; whilst I have met many who can, you have to read the blog [2] and the comments [3] to decide if we really can.


[1] Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[2] Nigeria: Sahara Reporters comes of age []

[3] Nigeria: Sahara Reporters comes of age – Hosted at Sahara Reporters

[4] Nigeria: Sahara Reporters comes of age – The comments

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