A journalist is said to be the general overseer of the activities of the government and the governed. This is in the sense that a journalist serves as an intermediary between the above, ensuring that government’s policies and programmes are conveyed to the public and also informing the government about the cry of the public. The contributions of journalists in Nigeria before and post-independence have shaped the society and the livelihoods of citizens. This is because society depends solely on them to make decisions on their daily activities.
However, as the time goes, journalists got divided into watched dog and watchdog. It is no longer news that some journalists are just perceived recorders of events, press briefings, press conferences and presenters of news and programmes to the public which limit their watchdog role. Unless reformation is made, the profession will continue to be perceived this way.
What it takes to be a complete watchdog? An investigative reporter who performs the role of a watchdog, is a journalist that goes extra miles to dig deep into stories in order to give the audiences more than the ordinary. What is common with this type of journalism is risk-taking. An investigative journalist must be courageous enough and sacrifice his leisure and pleasure as well as his money, time and above all, his life in order to serve the society. This type of journalism requires one who has the interest of people at heart and the willingness to bring positive changes into society for the good of all.
Ideally, ordinary reporters look without seeing but investigative reporter sees whenever he looks because of his intelligence, confidence and different way of analysing trending issues. Additionally, investigative reporter ought to be truthful and work with the principles of objectivity, balance and fairness. This too will not be achieved if the investigative journalist is not patriotic and corrupt-free, avoiding brown envelope.
After having the aforementioned qualities, an investigative journalist is expected to perform a watchdog role on the government and the governed. This is done by holding the government responsible for its policies, programmes and daily activities to ensure that funds are not embezzled and everything is done accordingly. And he works to ensure justice in the society. In carrying out this task, he must be a good researcher, critical thinker, observant, hardworking, computer literate, jovial and have the knowledge of photojournalism as well as having sound communication skills and seeing news beyond the scene.
With these qualities, an investigative reporter will be able to make a difference in the world, encourage transparency, accountability and fight corruption for the development of the society.
Anas Aremeyaw Anas, a renowned investigative reporter during a lecture at Dangote Business School, Bayero University, Kano once said “I am a normal journalist. But my journalism is different. The key things I look at when I do my journalism are to name, shame, and jail. My job entails getting hard-hitting evidence. Thereafter, I put those facts to the court of law to testify to ensure that bad guys are put behind the bar. I do what I do because I know there is no point in doing journalism that does not affect your society. For me, journalism is a hot kitchen, and if you can’t bear the heat, then get out of the kitchen.”
Bilyaminu Gambo Kong-kol, Mass Communication Department, Bayero University, Kano