The Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria, Buki Ponle, has urged the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers to ensure professionalism while discharging its duties in the society.
Ponle made the call on Thursday in Abuja when a delegation from the Guild, led by its President, Dotun Oladipo, paid him a courtesy visit seeking for assistance to enrich their news content.
He urged the association to continue its crusade and social responsibility in ensuring that journalism is practiced rightly for development.
The Managing Director also urged the Guild to use its noble platform to correct the ills in the society and highlight many developmental strides of the present government in the country.
He said: “No matter what, criticisms are needed but when they are not healthy criticisms or not in line with development, they will bring reaction.”
The NAN boss expressed delight to identify with the Guild, adding that social media had been put in a tight corner because of the noble role it assumed in the society.
Ponle said: “In recent times, we have witnessed news disinformation, misinformation and total lies just to serve a purpose, but it does not help us. It is high time we all looked forward to helping our country to get it out of this.”
The Guild had sought for partnership and to reach an agreement with NAN for the services being rendered to the huge platform of NAN to be given at a cheaper rate.
He said NAN, as a Federal Government agency, had been battling over the years to get out of its financial mess, adding that government resources were dwindling, especially with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ponle, however, assured the Guild that NAN would review its operations, but appealed for it to take what it could offer presently.
“We have in the past months reviewed our operations and added value; the ratings are there. I will urge you just to bear with us now. It is painful for us to review upwards. But how do we survive? We can only survive if we add just a little for us to do what you are expecting us to do.
“If NAN were to be a private organisation, it would either go down or increase its price to be at par with the market situation. To do it the previous way does not pay us.
“We have considered so many issues and put so many things into criticism before we came up with the slight increase we have added.”
Earlier, Oladipo said the Guild had come to seek NAN’s assistance in offering service to them at a cheaper rate due to the economic downturn, which affected every sector.
He said the economic downturn hit the Guild so hard that it decided to go into partnership with the NAN because it appreciated the role of NAN in intervention in terms of stories and wide coverage.
He added: “But for the online platform, it has not worked that way; we discovered that for both government and private businesses the level of patronage has drastically dropped due to bad economy, which has led to downsizing in most places.
“Our records will testify that since we started, we have always fulfilled our part in terms of payment in spite of the level of hardship and COVID-19 pandemic challenges.”
Oladipo described the Guild as a body of eminently qualified journalists, adding that for one to qualify for its membership, the benchmark was that the journalist must have practiced for more than 10 years in a reputable organisation.
According to him, the journalist must have risen to not less than the position of the level of an Assistant Editor to qualify to be a member to sustain professionalism.
He said: “Because we have seen a lot of disinformation and falsehood online and the question has always been how to help the country to overcome this challenge.
“We have seen in the last couple of years how the social media has developed and being put to negative use by many Nigerians
“How do we step in when there is authentic information to dwell on and we also believe that with the number of years that those who are members of this association have put into journalism, they have a name and people who keep following them wherever they go.”