Why we should beware of the bad news trade by the mass media

Terror Headline Collage

I once heard Nigerian Bishop David Oyedepo say he doesn’t read the dailies; he almost never does! Truth be told, his claim got me thinking, especially as to whether it is possible, and, also, as to whether it is patriotic. While still brooding over Oyedepo’s claim, a certain great motivator, one I respect too much, Robin Sharma, the legendary author of the breathtaking The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, advised: sell your television. With this witness of two truly great men, the minimum number required for authentic witnessing, I just knew that something must be fundamentally problematic about the mass media.

But I should have known better, earlier. One fine thing studying philosophy at UNN did for me was that it got me into taking a bit of many different courses in the social sciences, arts, general studies, physical sciences… Yes, I did one or more courses with Foreign Languages, Economics, Sociology, Psychology, Religion, Computer Science departments and General Studies Unit. I particularly did four (4) courses with the Department of Mass Communication: Theories of Mass Communication, Principles of Advertising, Features and Interpretative Writing, and Editorial Writing. Of course, I’m not drawing up this list of courses to impress, but to say I got an appreciable insight into what happens on the mass media, and it is this: Bad news is business; good news is no news at all.

In Principles of Advertising, for instance, my professor taught me that it’s all about playing on the gullibility and sensibility of the people. Else, what’s the big deal about signing P-Square and other top-rate Nigerian artists and actors as Globacom ambassadors? Aside cowing their fans into taking Glo offers seriously, what else do they bring to the table? Nothing, actually. You see, that’s the game. Ms Ohaja of Features and Interpretative Writing and Dr. Ukonu of Editorial Writing both agree, and taught me, that it is all about the title/heading and a compelling lead. In their very own words, “Make it catchy.” And catchy is to catch, isn’t it? Let me already say that this is one reason why news shouldn’t be taken seriously. An example will do in this regard. This once ran on Vanguard: “Why I hate Okocha – Oliseh.” Truth be told, they caught me there; I was dead curious about why Oliseh should hate my dear Jay-Jay. And guess what I gathered from my anxious read? “He always beats me in our tennis play at Sheraton.

On CNN, AIT, NTA, Al Jazeera, BBC, NBC, Vanguard, Punch, Sun, Times, and every other mass media outfit you can remember, the story is no different. It is the business of bad news. And truth is that they get handsomely rewarded for it; their profit statement is unbelievable. They specialize in covering accidents, conflict, civil unrest, political instability, war zone, celebrity gossips, etc. These are all junks for God’s sake, and the least thing any serious human being needs to get a great day up and running. With their Agenda Setting power, they cow us into thinking and talking about what they want us to talk about. A good example will do. When the Chibok girls got missing, the media made it all about #BringBackOurGirls. After over a year now, no single media house, including CNN, remembers that our girls have not been brought back. What about Boko Haram? Are we done with them? No. But they long stopped making the kind of headlines they use to make.

Now, it is important we diagnose the problem, and then attempt saying a possible way out.

There is simply this part of us that craves bad news, which serve to confirm our fears of a troubled world. When a plane goes missing or a car crashes, we just want to know when, where and how. Not so much about doing something about it, but about both the joy of knowing and the reminder that “earth is bad.” And what does that leave us with? Nothing, I suppose. Again, there is this way we want to catch up with the joneses through being in touch with the latest happenstances around the globe; how we don’t want to be left behind. Perhaps that’s why we see a thousand and one fellas at the news stand every morning whiling away their time.

I must immediately save my head. Being in the know of happenstances around town is right and just; our safety even depends on it. However, I’m vehemently against our obsession about it. In fact, who says you must read today’s papers today?

This is one way forward. Realize that they’re two classes of people in this regard and choose where you belong: those that make headlines and those that read headlines. You choose. To make headlines, then you’ve to be caught dead diehard busy. To read headlines, then just walk up to the nearest newsstand and invest some good deal of your time reading, commenting and complimenting.

Finally, aside weather reports and business news, as to whether to go out with an umbrella or not or whether to put a call across to your stockbroker, there is really next to no item of news on any mass media platform that is worth the mad rush. You could even read the weather yourself and ask your stockbroker to alert you whenever a fair deal pops up. In all, while the mass media busy about their business of bad news, why not face your own business.

Tough love: love at its finest


Until I went over to boarding school for some realtime chiseling, I was a perfect example of mummy’s pet. Aside being her child, I was her last son, and I’m now learning that mothers are particularly into their last sons – having a younger sister, mum’s last child, didn’t reduce my preferential treatment one bit. It was so bad that mum only says ‘no’ when she couldn’t afford my request. I remember her going such extra miles like: buying the food of my taste when she’s got some food in the house; turning her last dime over to me because I needed to buy this or that. It was that bad.

However, it wasn’t really that bad. This same woman, my mother, did something that forever remains vivid on my mind. Yes, it is so vivid that I can still see the very faces of those that saved the day. On that fateful day, mum left me a simple and straightforward instruction: stay here watching over this stuff while I go over to the market with Nne (my younger sister) to get something. No sooner had she reached the market than she saw her dear son playfully following from behind. Unfortunately for me, I had an interesting cane in my hand with which I played. And that was it for me! As soon as I got close enough to her, she made for the cane in my hand and gave me that sort of beating I still vividly recall after more than 15 years. It took the intervention of really determined market women to get her to stop. Interestingly, I deserved every bit of that beating as the damage she foresaw happened back home while I was away.

I still wonder how she was able to do that; how she could beat me so mercilessly that the fear of my passing out or away didn’t cross her mind; how my ‘saviours’ almost couldn’t contain her rage. I got the answer to those puzzles in my recent visit to Lagos (I’m back to base already); someone shared the theme of ‘Tough Love’ with me. His name: Base One.

On one of my days in Lagos, I took a trip to Wazobia TV, located on 267A Etim Nyang Crescent, Victoria Island, to see Ezeugwu Chukwudi, the anchorman of the highly informative and rib-cracking As E Dey Hot. Kamikaze, as we fondly called him back in the UNN days, was Sammie’s best friend and always came around our place, and I’ve always known him to be amazing. And so I went to see him. But I had to wait for him since he was held hostage in the notorious Lagos traffic situation; it really proved to be a worthwhile wait. It was during this wait that I met Base One, a member of staff there.

The long and short of it all is that I got talking with Base One and somehow our discussion got us into the theme of love. Lest I forget, we were led into that theme by a colleague of his who expressed surprise at how the gentle Base One lashed at someone the previous day or so. Tough love he called it. Tough love is that point where you’re not so much carried away by the love you’ve for someone that you can’t insist that he/she gets certain things right. That point where my mother demonstrated to me that although she could give me as much as her ‘last card’, that does not give me the temerity to flaunt her orders; to be irresponsible, to put it lightly.

Methinks we all need elements of tough love in our various and varied relationships. It is in the very essence of love to want not just the best but the very best for the other, but we must come to grasp with the fact that it is only ‘tough love’ that can secure the very best for our lovers. Yes, it is our job to get them to be realistic, to push them to go the extra mile, to demand that they be the best of who they are, to insist that they meet minimum standards at least in the different ramifications of life…

Of course, ‘tough love’ goes with an expensive price tag. Sometimes it could even cost us the relationship itself. In this regard, Bishop T.D. Jakes instructs that our destiny is not tied to those that left; just let them go. And whoever is too blind to see that finest love is ‘tough love’, that one should probably be shown the ‘red card’.

A resounding Happy Easter to you, and 2 lessons from the women of the Resurrection morning


“What would life have been to us had Christ not risen from the dead?” This question is particularly important to all those who hold the person of Jesus close to their heart. It is also important to those who, though do not care a thing about Jesus, are enjoying the so far society has come in terms of enlightenment and scientific advancement. Of course, when Jesus declared, “I am the light of the world,” he really meant business, and all those who keyed into his illumination got the promised “light of life.” Just one instance would do: America is today the world’s leading power for more than one reason. Have you cared to ask why every single dollar bill cannot go without the “In God We Trust” inscription? Simple: the founding fathers of America knew that God is both the author of freedom and sustainer of any sovereignty that goals to stand the test of time.

And so, needless to say that we’re all an “Alleluia people.” We owe God heartfelt praise, for drawing us out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His very own beloved son, in whom we have redemption and the forgiveness of our trespasses. Yes, Christians and non-Christians alike.

corneliusndubuisi.com says: Happy Easter!!!

Importantly, may we not cruise through today’s celebration buried in eating and drinking and making merry, and passing by some of the beautiful lessons it brings along, especially those from the women of the resurrection morning. They teach us the following:

They loved on, even after death
During the passion experience, Scriptures say that those women were around; they watched from a distance. Then Jesus died. The apostles went about their usual businesses, but early before dawn these women were already on their way to see to it that Jesus got a befitting burial; what the horrific Good Friday couldn’t let them do. Don’t even think they were anticipating the resurrection; they weren’t. In this regard, Scriptures say that until the full reality of the resurrection dawned on them, none of Jesus’ followers had come to a grasp of the resurrection prophecy.

The point is: They loved truly. They really did. And we can learn from them. That sort of love that expects nothing in return. That kind of love that just loves on…

They moved in faith
Scriptures say that the big challenge that confronted them at the mental level was this, “Who would roll away the stone for us?” This challenge didn’t deter them. They moved. And when they did move, they ended up finding that the stone had already been rolled away. Plus the message of the risen Lord.

What do we learn from them in this regard? Mental obstacles are just not enough to hold us back from moving or setting out. Just move. In faith. And the Big-Guy-up-there just has this way of rolling away the stone before we get there. Or, He has this fascinating way of making the burden light.

This is why we must beware of the crowd…


“Hosanna! Hosanna!!” – “Crucify him! Crucify him!!” From the same mouths came forth those opposing chants, and the interval between their utterances wasn’t long enough to warrant forgetfulness. While he rode triumphantly into Jerusalem, the assembled crowd chorused, “Hosanna to the son of David,” and when before Pilate, about the same crowed chorused all the louder, “Crucify him! Crucify him!!” To be sure they acted in good fate, Pilate had to ask them, “Do you really want me to crucify him?” Needless to say that their response showed they meant business. The same crowd that sought to seize Jesus and crown him king by force was the same crowd that didn’t mind that his innocent blood be on their head and those of their children’s children. And if you’ve ever wondered why we’re advised not to follow the crowd or even to go against it, this incidence clarifies it all. To say the least, the crowd is grossly unreliable; the crowd is ‘two-faced’.

Shakespeare knew this so well that he reproduced a similar incidence in his Julius Caesar. When he won the Romans glory they cheered him on to more victory, such that they fully concurred with Mark Antony’s bid to crown him king. Thrice Antony presented him the crown, at each of which the crowd cheered with increasing intensity, and thrice Caesar turned down the offer. Of course, the wise and seemingly ambitious Caesar knew better than rest his fate in the hands of the crowd of ancient Rome. And true to her nature, they did turn against him on the Ides of March – the day the conspirators struck. The crowd was even funnier on this occasion. Brutus’s short speech instantly turned them against Caesar, and Antony’s speech that immediately followed instantly got them back to Caesar’s side, turning them against Brutus as it were. Such is the crowd.

Let me not proceed without giving another befitting example: the story of Bartimaeus. This son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, knew Jesus could let him see again, and would call out to him as soon as he learnt he was passing by. The long and short of it all is that the same crowd that tried to shut him up was the very crowd that said to him, “Courage, come, he is calling you.” And Bartimaeus already leaves us with a great lesson on how to engage the crowd. Scriptures say that as much as they tried to shut him up, he shouted all the louder. Yes, he was insistent that his voice not be drowned by that of the crowd. And as much as he persisted, he secured Jesus’ attention and the admiration of the crowd. May this lesson guide us still.

The crowd we can most likely identify with is public opinion; what they think and say about us. And sometimes we just take them way too seriously. In this regard, we feel we’re good when they think and say we are; we feel we’re bad when they think and say we are. So, somehow we just twist ourselves into the mould the crowd designed for us. Needless to say that many students are studying this or that course because they’ve been made to believe that this or that way lies success. Marriages have been contracted on the grounds of the conventional definition of who Mr. and Miss Right ‘ought’ to be. And there is just a way many a person has ordered his/her life to suit convention, win others’ admiration and to secure the spotlight. Nice.

However, it remains noteworthy that the crowd is unreliable. Never forget this.

This is one way to get around the crowd problem: individuate yourself. Though a member of a larger community, get used to the fact that the larger community can turn against you at an instant – like they were never for you in the first place. Jesus is a case study again. The 5,000 he fed would come again for food, and they all desert him when he offers them his body and blood. And Jesus offers us a great example of individuation, too. We find this in his disposition to risk losing every one of his followers. He turns to the 12 that stayed back, asking them, “Are you not leaving too? He was way too sure of himself and his message that he didn’t have a problem staying alone.

Let me not say it all. I leave you to reflect on the crowd problem and to find your way around it…

in praise of virginity and chastity


There was a time when virginity was the norm. In fact, losing one’s virginity at the time was a capital offence in some societies; punishable by death. Of course, there was a way to find out: the hymen. Though we’re now in the know that the hymen test isn’t very reliable, given that strenuous exercises and regular tampon usage could wear and tear it. Plus, pregnancy was one sure way of saying who’s had sex lately, given that contraception wasn’t very much around, with abortion being as feared as hell. Heard of ‘honour killing’? Even families were obliged to demand the life of a daughter who brings them ‘shame’ on the grounds of especially sexual misconduct. Annoyingly, even rape was a reason for honour killing. To say the least, virginity, at the time, was more of a duty than it was a thing of pride. And society even went as far as seeing to it by setting up institutions in this regard: female genital mutilation (FGM), chastity belt, virginity pledge, etc.

Little by little things started changing. And things really did change! With the invention, and further perfection of the various contraceptives, and some cures to prevalent STDs/STDs, sexual restraint began to wane, the line got blur and blurrier by the day until it disappeared. The intriguing part is that sexual indulgence became so prevalent that it became the norm, taking the stead of virginity as it were. As a result, professing virginity at a time like this is not just old-school but a thing of mockery. So, the 21st century virgin is jeered at, and even somewhat stigmatized.

The rationale for jeering at the 21st century virgin is not unfounded. Yes, it is for the same reason that sexual indulgence was frowned at when virginity was the norm; they basically switched sides. And so, the contemporary virgin may feel awkward, regrets her choice of virginity and is weighed down by the stress, and even depression, of how to survive at a time like this when the trend is sex.

The basic reason why the virgin is jeered at is anchored on the fact that he/she misses out on the purported many benefits of sex. The sexually active folks and their cronies say that sex is extremely valuable for the following reasons: good exercise; burns calories; relieves stress; improves health and general well-being; lowers blood pressure; reduces risk of genital cancers, especially the prostrate one; boosts self-esteem, etc. Of course, these benefits are true of sex, but… Can’t you already observe that those benefits of sex could be gotten elsewhere? Run a good race, for instance, and you wouldn’t need sex to complete the exercise part. And a healthy lifestyle counteracts most of those benefits.

Virginity does not say that one is never going to have sex; it says that one is waiting until when the time is ripe. And marriage is just that time. Of course, the sex people wouldn’t want to accept the fact that aside their “purported lack of experience” as a disadvantage of virginity, there are advantages to the virginity thing, too. If for no other reason, we especially know that there is no venereal disease that is airborne; they always happen with sex. Yes, back to the point: virginity is not no-sex forever (safe for religious people who take the vow of forever); it is wait until the time is ripe. And when the time is ripe, it is sex galore!

Mind you, I’m not talking about those who do virginity show; whose goal is to ensure the hymen is intact while exploring other sexual options, such as masturbation, oral sex, anal sex, etc. The very fact that we call them ‘technical virgins’ speaks volumes of them; it already says they’re not. Virginity is very much about the discipline, about the effort put into staying clean. That is where chastity comes in. And it is for the reason of chastity that ‘secondary virginity’ is possible. Secondary virginity designate those who’ve done sex before but are now resolved to keep clean henceforth. Yes, chastity is about the state of the mind. Call it sexual purity if you like, which cuts across thought, word and action.

Now, this is my point, so that I don’t get myself entangled in a much ado about virginity: we’re all born virgins, and aside for accidents such rape, we all get to choose to keep it or lose it. Whatever choice we’ve made, we should let others be with their own choice, too. I mean to say, especially, that we shouldn’t trouble virgins on account of their own choice.

Furthermore, a word for virgins out there: “Don’t peter out!” Sometime soon, we’ll talk about how you can get around this stigma.

Of course, I’ve written this irrespective of my own status. And the last time I checked, we’re all virgins until we’re caught. Lol!