By Akeem Busari
One of the leading Nigerian newspapers, The Nation has slashed the salary of its staff by fifty percent. And this has been attributed to the economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic ravaging the world.
Inside information confirmed to this writer, that the management of the company owned by a prominent politician had delayed payment of salary for two weeks before eventually paying half salary, Friday.
The shocked workers complained bitterly because the underpaid junior workers were mostly affected.
”The management met with the Union last week and promised to pay 75 percent only for us to get alert of half salary,” our source explained.
However, The Nation newspaper is not the only media affected by Covid-19. The Guardian newspaper, National Telegraph, ThisDay, Vanguard and some electronic media are also feeling the brunt of the economic pains occasioned by the coronavirus.
Some affected respondents who craved anonymity, described the situation in the Nigeria media as most unfortunate and bad.
” I work with Vanguard newspaper and I am not happy with the situation here. Before now, we are being owed up to five months salaries. Now, we don’t know what would happen to us because the management would use the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to further deny us our due wages,” he lamented.
A junior worker with ThisDay newspaper regretted the situation of staff welfare and unpaid salaries and allowances, as one of the worst in the media industry in Nigeria.
” Most times, we go without salaries and allowances for five to seven months. And whenever dem wan pay us na small small dem do do am. And the managers dem dey ride big big Moto,” he said in a spiced English language.
Concerned observers of the industry are quick to attribute the falling standards in the industry to the poor and irregular salaries and allowances of the average journalist. According to findings, not a few of the media practitioners would rather go for the proverbial brown envelopes than stick with the ethics of the profession.
According to a retired sports journalist who worked with several media organisations, the media industry is gradually losing its appeal and respect. He recalled with fond nostalgia, the glorious days of journalism whence the profession and the practitioners were reverred by the public for their invaluable roles and contributions to human and nation building.
” I know we can’t turn back the times. However, the present situation in the noble profession is unfortunate,” he stated emotionally.
” I am not surprised that most of the present generation of media practitioners and journalists have turned arm- twisters and blackmailers. Many have thrown the ethics of the job to the dogs, due to hunger and poverty,” he lamented.
Investigations further revealed that high- handedness, greed and self- aggrandisement by the top echelons in the industry, are strong parts of the problems bedeviling the media practice.
It was gathered that whilst the junior workers and the journalists in their organisations are wallowing in hunger and poor working conditions, the top management staff are exhibiting comfort and wellness. And they somewhat pass wrong informations most times to the media owners that everything is well in the organisations.
Another concerned junior worker said, “the top members of the management, even in the editorial department, most times, do not care how the other workers feel. I have severally heard some board members admonishing journalists to take advantage of the platform to take care of themselves.
” And what did you expect from a journalist who hasn’t been paid for more than six months? He would surely do whatever is possible to get money to feed his or her family,” he added.