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‘Media have vital roles to play’

The event organised by the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), was part of activities to mark this year’s World Culture Day” and was also…

The event organised by the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), was part of activities to mark this year’s World Culture Day” and was also aimed at bringing to the consciousness of culture journalists, their expectations towards making the art sector of the nation’s economy relevant to the scheme of things and to bring to public notice, the fact that the sector is viable enough to enhance the economic base of the nation if properly harnessed and packaged.

With resource persons, Mr. Tomoloju and the editor of ‘The Guardian’ on Sunday, Mr. Jahman Anikulapo, who dealt on the issues, ‘Arts Journalism and Cultural Diplomacy’ as well as ‘Media and Cultural Orientation’, respectively, the event brought together culture editors and reporters from across the country as the challenges militating against effective reporting of arts and culture in most Nigerian media organizations were analysed.

Pointing out the place of arts journalists in reporting cultural diplomacy and cultural relations, the veteran said, arts journalists may operate conveniently within either of the two but there is a likelihood that in a practical sense, one will be more of a diplomat than a journalist while the other will be more of a journalist than a diplomat. In his opinion, “cultural diplomacy, observed as the business of government, would tend to make a pro-establishment less flexible and doctrinaire personage out of a cultural communicator.

“On the other hand, a non-establishment cultural communicator has a wider room for objectivity and would leverage on influencing his publics on the basis of mutual trust and respect.”

In his discussion, Mr. Tomoloju spelt out the borders between arts journalists and culture journalists and concluded that art, which is about the expression of values, is in itself a category of culture and as such, the preoccupation of journalism with art is the same with culture.

“There is therefore, no ambiguity in the profile of an arts journalist as he engages the wider cultural terrain. In line with the conventions governing his practice, he functions as a disseminator of cultural information on a topical frequency for the purpose of enlightenment, education, criticism and the conferment of status.”

Regarding the common boundary between culture and journalism, the speaker buttressed the fact that, “culture itself is communication and that effective foreign policy cannot be based on military postures and diplomatic activities alone but also on how efficient societal values are communicated to the larger society.” It was in this light he remarked that the arts journalists, as principal communicators in the application of culture to international relations, have vital roles to play in the realization of foreign policy.

Recalling the significant contributions FESTAC 77 made to the nation’s foreign policy, he urged that, “though there has not been any major inter-cultural event of such magnitude in the past 33 years, the collective consciousness on the pride of the African personality and of the leadership role of Nigeria in projecting it to the rest of the world should not diminish. Rather, arts writers should take it a point of duty to promote the good image of the country across the international frontiers with zeal and vigour.”

In commending NICO’s efforts, he called for more of such interactions which he said should go beyond the shores of Nigeria as it will boost the writer’s capacity and sophistication in the intellectual demands of his job.

Mr. Anikulapo decided on a direct and interactive mode of addressing his topic which drew reactions as he dwelt on factors militating against efficient reporting of culture in various media houses.

While some participants blamed the situation on policies of their establishments, which tends to give preference to business and politics related stories over those of arts and culture, others emphasised the need for culture journalists to be versatile and grounded on the beat. These, that opined will critically and objectively raise issues of national interest that cannot be jettisoned by any editor irrespective of his sentiments.

The Executive Secretary of NICO, Dr. Barclays Ayakoroma, noted that it is part of NICO’s mandate to develop cultural materials to promote Nigeria’s image globally. This, notwithstanding he emphasised that the media has a role to play in oiling the wheels of global relations, using cultural diplomacy.

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