STILL ON FFK: What Is The Right Question To Ask As A Journalist?
The Femi Fani Kayode’s violent tirade on a journalist went viral as usual in our country that’s always hungry for a drama to break per day. Many have spoken; with majority condemning FFK in strong terms for bringing the noble profession to tatters . Some few others believed the journalist crossed the line by asking such question that got the son of the famous ‘fanny power’ on that angry lane.
Two respected colleagues however resurrected the question above from my inner mind when they contributed to the raging issue of the Daily Trust reporter and the former minister.
Wale Olaleye , a senior Editor at This Day Newspaper and Wale Ojo Lanre who was until his appointment as Director General of Council of Arts and Culture in Ekiti, a senior editor at the Tribune Newspaper.
Akanbi the Duke , as we like to refer to Wale Olaleye made an example of when Dr . Olushola Saraki died and the son Dr. Bukola Saraki invited journalists to his Ikoyi home for a press conference. According to Wale, ‘ a journalist asked the grieving man (Bukola) what nature of ailment killed the father” The question got the ‘grieving’ man angry that he stormed out of the room where the conference held.
In another instance, Wale Ojo Lanre wrote how he asked Ex Governor Rashidi Ladoja, saying ” you look so dull, drab, unattractive unintelligent, and without colour, do you think a dullard like you can be a reasonable governor of Oyo state where sharper minds have tried unsuccessfully?”. This was when I believe, Ladoja was aiming to rule the pace setter state. Instead of Ladoja taking the route of FFK or walking out like Saraki did, he simply suppllied Ojo Lanre the needed information to knock his earlier belief
Now, from the two above, what do you think is right a question to ask? To me, the man who asked the former Senate President about the nature of death is on a legitimate lane. This, I believe is because we are in a country where cause of death is shrouded in secrecy. The ‘oyinbos’ (whites) will tell the world if they are afflicted with any illness till the point of death, so there won’t be a need for any journalist to probe further.
On the other hand, I think ojo Lanre went too deep into crossing the lines with his question. If Ladoja wasn’t urbane despite his crude outlook, he would have ‘FFKed’ Ojo Lanre immediately.
I once interviewed Ex Governor Segun Oni and everything he said during the interview was about how Fayose did this and how he didn’t do that. I wasn’t impressed a bit that I had to tell him to leave Fayose alone and concentrate on what will sell him to Ekiti peole . This happened on the road beside the Ikeja Country Club when no chance was given to the engineer as a contender. He never got angry, he instead, thanked me for it.
I had an encounter with Jimoh Ibrahim when he acquired Newswatch and I asked him why everything he was buying then keeps going under. He got extremely angry and he started raising his voice,askng, if I was part of his team of accountants to know how his companies were faring . As angry as I was, at that time, I managed to rephrase the question and I asked again what he’ll do this time to keep the business afloat because of so many challenges facing business environment at that time. He then answered the question.. interestingly, like I asked, that business too has been ‘crucified’ and I don’t think there is any chance of resurrection.
In yet another instance, a journalist once asked Senator Remi Tmubu after getting reassurance that he was free to ask any question at a press gathering that how she and ‘Jabagan’ despite their busy nature still managed to get together sexually.. Many who were present at the briefing were scared and shocked at the same time for such a question. The whole room became a ghost town and a rare silence took over completely which made individual heartbeats to be heard loud and clear as if it was a musical practice. It got so scary that a drop of needle inside the hall will sound like vuvuzela. If the question was shocking , the senator’s answer too came as a surprise. She simply replied by saying: how many minutes does it take to have sex and the silence that once enveloped the hall bursted into uproar .
Is that suppose to be a good question or a bad one? Journalist are not meant to ask patronizing questions alone . At least, I learned from the best in the profession and couple with the fact that I read other people’s interviews I know when to ‘drill’ to get the news out and when not.
Before now, there was a TVC programe tagged ‘Fireworks’ that was handled by a guy who got an appointment with a state governor. His questions then, seemed like a court session that I instantly became a fan. Though, today, Bukola Wemimo Samuel anchors it, but it’s nothing close to the man who started it.
How then can we define a stupid question? Many people like journalists to massage their egos; they want to be asked questions that suits their needs at any particular time. Any question outside this , is regarded as ‘stupid’ question just like FFK believed.
We are indeed in a thankless profession that many use us to get their desired results and when they’ve achieved their aim, they discard us like waste.
Many ‘big men’s have this erroneous belief that journalists are not well to do; the publishers are not even helping matters by owing salaries and under paying their staff. That is why many unprivileged ones run after ‘brown envelop’ for survival.
Will you blame a journalist despite being humiliated like the one we all saw in that viral video to still wait for ‘thanks for coming’? No. His pocket may be lacking that purchasing power that he had to soak in the insult to get survival medal. I am however happy today that journalists are proud owners of houses in upscale Banana Island , Ikoyi, GRA Ikeja, Magodo, Lekki and all other good areas that are at once meant for the publishers alone. They also drive good cars and live very well.
At the beginning of my career , a senior colleague Femi Davies advise me not to always wait after press conferences; he even told me not to collect brown envelope from people. According to Gbobaniyi Femi, that would push up my respect. But then as a rookie journalist, my mind played tricks on me. After conferences , despite hearing Femi’s song loud in my ears, I’ll still wait and when the envelop’ is stretched towards me, my heart and soul will be saying ‘don’t take it, but my hand will disappoint me by grabbing it.
Also, I’ve seen journalists like the late Amadi Ogbonaya and Justine Akpovi Esade walked out of press conferences when they detected insult and we all followed whenever such occurred. If a journalist can damn the expected ‘egunje’ at any given time, then, objectivity will be the paramount in his judgement. And to the issue at hand, the journalist did not err in any way by asking Fani Kayode the question to know his motive for the ‘ajala travel round the country’ he embarked on.
What was wrong was how his colleagues left him to be disgraced like that without anyone coming to his aid even if he was timid and not strong enough to defend himself.
Now, lets wait for the next drama to unfold.
Mowi temi na
This is still kunle Rasheed reporting from my inner mind.
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