The Rise Of Yellow Journalism In Nigeria :A Threat To National Security...By Okey Ayogu

Yellow Journalism and Yellow Press are American terms for journalism and associated newspapers that present little or no legitimate well-researched news while instead using eye-catching headlines, exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering or sensationalism, and manipulating story content for sinister motives. It refers originally to the warmongering publications and disinformation by Joseph Pulitzer’s New York Word and William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal that fueled the outbreak of Spanish-American War (April 21, 1898 – August 13 1898).

The global competitions in 21st century are such that hostile foreign intelligence in collaborations with gullible and biased individuals in host country now deploys Yellow Journalism to fuel internal security crisis. The aim being to distract the host countries from pursuing any economic, political or security interests that conflict with that of the aggressor. It has become a useful tool in keeping the third world countries divided and paralyzed by internal wrangling and unable to challenge the imperialistic and neocolonial interests of the dominant powers.

Therefore whenever disinformation sponsored by foreign interests and their elements gains traction in any nation’s journalistic culture, the national security is in peril. Just before the war of 1812, the British imperialistic government using its surrogate American media mounted fierce disinformation campaign against Thomas Jefferson’s government. And the Legendry President Jefferson in a letter addressed to John Norvel, a newspaper Editor on 11th June 1807, wrote: “…..nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day……I will add, that the man who never look into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; in as much as he who knows nothing is nearer to the truth than the man whose mind is filled with falsehoods and error…”. Predictably the war of 1812 followed, and American Victory ensured the end of the British neocolonial interests in America.

The ugly situation painted by President Jefferson is clearly the situation in Nigeria today, and that explains why true unity and progress have remained elusive in our beloved country. With a media culture that promotes ethnic bias and disinformation with the sole aim of inflaming bad emotions and entrenching mistrust, national development and security will remain an unrealizable fantasy. This is why I am worried when I see national crisis of tomorrow being cultivated by the rise of yellow journalism in Nigeria, with the grain of discord, blatant bias, warmongerings and disinformation being fertilized with sensational coloration of ethnic and religious slurs.

Speaking at New York University, Noam Chomsky said: “the duty of journalists is to tell the truth, journalism means you go back to the actual facts, you look at the documents, you discover what the record is, and you report it that way”. It may alarm many to know that the yellow journalism deployed by hostile foreign intelligence regards neither truth nor professional standard and honors no obligation to the public. The mind inflaming, scandal-mongering and sensational disinformation planted by one Mr. Raphael Ede and published in Punch Newspaper on November 5, 2019, in an article titled: “South-East Commuters Lament harassment, extortion by soldiers” is a clear case of Yellow Journalism at its best. The disinformation is ingenious and the timing of the target audience is masterful and the effect of a combination of these factors is grave, and can only be confronted by those with the knowledge of the truth.

The background to Mr Ede’s disinformation eliminates any chance of it being an innocent mistake on his part: the Nigerian Army has on November 1, 2019 commenced its annual nationwide exercise aimed at eliminating crimes during the ‘mber’ months to allow for the safe passage of those traveling home for Christmas and to ensure a crime free Christmas celebration. Prior to that, Nigerian Army on October 31, 2019 held “Army Headquarters Civil – Military Summit” in 82 Division Enugu, in which a lecture titled: “Military – Media, Peace and National Development: ATILOGWU UDO 1 in perspective” was delivered by an erudite Guest Speaker, Dr. Ifeanyi Didiugwu with the theme: “galvanizing citizens’ support for military operations in Nigeria through the media”; in a bid to explain its mission and rally public support through the media for the exercise. Mr Ede who was in attendance was like every other journalist given the direct phone numbers of unit commanders and staff officers of 82 Division so as to confirm stories/ rumors in order to ensure accurate reporting of the military activities during the exercise.

The Army authority was equally aware of the disinformation mercenaries that have been engaged by hostile foreign elements and their local criminal collaborators to cause public disaffection and undermine its efforts.  And to limit the activities of those anti-Nigerian syndicates, the Army opened its doors to media practitioners and pleaded that in the interest of national security, they should do well to confirm their stories before publishing. But like it is said, the law is made for compliance of the law abiding, and for the abuse of the recidivists. Mr. Ede’s intention was in the plain view as he disseminated his propaganda without bothering to clothe it with even a tiny tissue of truth.

The Mr. Ede’s punch report which sought to inflame the minds of southeasterners against the Nigerian Army was not only malicious but false as I have personally confirmed. I went to the area of the check point near UNTH and interviewed the natives in a bid to ascertain the truth, and to my greatest surprise, nothing can be further from the truth than the disinformation contained in Mr. Ede’s article. The people were full of praises for the military which they say have succeeded in chasing kidnappers away from their area, and that their sons and daughters who hitherto were afraid to return home during yuletide for the fear of being kidnapped can now return home with no security concerns. They however revealed that some criminal elements whose businesses of kidnapping and armed robbery have been eliminated by the military presence in the area are working with other people with relative ulterior motives to undermine the military and possibly drive them out of that area. The Igwe of Ihe cried out that any attempt to remove the checkpoint is an attempt to expose his community and to abandon commuters plying the Enugu – Port Harcourt Road at the mercy of the kidnappers.

Beyond the immediate benefits accruing to criminals in the immediate environment, the ultimate beneficiaries of this rise of subversive yellow journalism in Nigeria targeting our national security architectures are the subversionist nations and the neocolonialists. As were the cases in Libya, Congo, Syria, Yemen, Sierra Leone, Liberia etc, what follows is anarchy which derails the national development trajectory and quarantines the people in refugee camps with no latitude to choose between what they now have and what they once had. This is why the rise of yellow Journalism is a threat to national security and development; and a threat to everyone regardless of religion and ethnicity, because it is an attack on our collective destiny.  When soldiers doing their jobs are disparaged by special interest media, it is our collective destiny that is at stake, and we must all rise up against yellow journalism or it will serve us a bad fate.

Okey Ayogu
National Coordinator CDSP


Chris Kehinde Nwandu is the Editor In Chief of CKNNEWS || He is a Law graduate and an Alumnus of Lagos State University, Lead City University Ibadan and Nigerian Institute Of Journalism || With over 2 decades practice in Journalism, PR and Advertising, he is a member of several Professional bodies within and outside Nigeria || Member: Institute Of Chartered Arbitrators ( UK ) || Member : Institute of Chartered Mediators And Conciliation || Member : Nigerian Institute Of Public Relations || Member : Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria || Fellow : Institute of Personality Development And Customer Relationship Management || Member and Chairman Board Of Trustees: Guild Of Professional Bloggers of Nigeria

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