Raheem Akingbolu, who witnessed the public presentation of two literary works — “Practical Guide to Public Affairs for Journalists’’ and the “Dictionary of Media Terms’’, written by Jackson Akpasubi, writes on the relevance of the books to today’s practice
In what looked like a special gift to the industry that nurtured him, a veteran journalist, Jackson Isimeme Akpasubi, recently unveiled his new set of books -“Practical Guide to Public Affairs for Journalists’’ and the “Dictionary of Media Terms’’. Aside the relevance of the books to today’s practice, it is believed that the timing for their introduction is appropriate because a lot is currently being expected from the media in shaping the nation’s political atmosphere. The books were presented at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) in Lagos.
The author of the book captures what “Practical guide to Public Affairs for journalists,” is out to achieve when he stated in the preface to the book that it is designed to help and guide a journalist questing for information on public issues, covering the vast array of public agencies and issues by enabling him or her learn how government organisations function, how to access documents and sources, and how to make sense of the complex and convoluted bureaucracy.
The ‘Practical Guide’ which is divided into 11 chapters, thus summarises all the necessary tools required from journalists, who want to successfully report public institutions. In clear language, Akpasubi takes journalists through the steps and approaches that can help journalists nuanced in the complexities and even convolutions that define government business.
The reviewer of the book, who is also the Editor-in-Chief of The Niche, Mr. Ikechukwu Amaechi, agreed with the author when he declared that, “Governments all over the world play dominant roles in the lives of their citizens but there is always a communication gap between the two.
It is, therefore, the responsibility of the journalist not only to bridge that gap but also to hold the government accountable,”
The reviewer was quick to quote Malcom Dean, former Guardian of London journalist for over 40 years, who said, “Fewer well-informed specialist journalists means fewer awkward questions asked in ministerial briefing,”
With such reference, Amaechi aptly painted the essence of this book, which is to ensure that public affairs journalists understand not only the institutions of government but also the inner workings of those institutions and processes that lead to decision making and properly communicate such to their audience to enable them make informed decisions.
The book, which tries to task journalists on the need to look back and involve in investigative journalism, advised journalists, who cover war zones.
“Trained to be safe, never fight back or resist when confronted, undertake medical emergency training, don’t take sides in any conflict you cover, be as neutral as possible, ask the right questions, avoid becoming part of the war, be careful in deciding what images to show and don’t let down your guard, the book admonishes. And since “no story is more valuable than your life,” the book insists that safety of reporters who cover crisis must always be paramount.
Perhaps to drive home his point, he dedicated the book to Dele Giwa, Krees Imodibe, Tayo Awotunsi, Bagauda Kalto, and “all the journalists murdered by enemies of truth in their line of duty.”
However, aside criticisms from various quarters that the ‘Dictionary of Media Terms’ focuses more on electronic media, Amaechi also faulted the author for poor editing in some instances.
This notwithstanding, veteran journalists and friends of Akpasubi, present at the event described him as an excellent reporter who has used his wealth of experience to write many books and contribute to body knowledge of journalism.
His editor at the defunct Concord Newspaper, Mr. Dele Alake, spoke glowingly about how he invited Akpasubi from The Guardian, when he (Alake), was desperate in restructuring the business pages of the then Sunday Concord.
Alake, a former Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, who recommended the books to journalists that want to excel in public affairs reporting, said investigative journalism would keep the nation and the government on their toes. He also pointed out that that area of journalism would ensure accountability and service delivery to the people.
Akpasubi, who had written about 10 books with the first in 1990, said he would stop at nothing to expand the frontiers of journalism.