As a graduate of history who happens to have worked in media firm, this has given me the opportunity to compare history and journalist reports. This is what this piece tries to shed light into.
The Journalist do look at the immediate past as possible while historian does not believe in rushing to write about the immediate past. The way in which journalists often go about their work is fundamentally different adopting different methods in going about their work and this in-turn has influenced the end product of journalists.
Journalists are time bound in the sense that he/she has to produce his work within a limited time and in order to ensure this, he is given a time limit in which he must conclude his work (report) meaning that the collection of data, writing of report, and submission of report all has to be done within a given time. This does not give the journalist the time to carefully examine what he has written to cross check his work.
The main motive of newspapers is to make money (commercial venture) even though journalists will assert that they are saddled with the responsibility of disseminating information but this information is not for free (we have to pay for it). Because we have to pay for it, every journalist is competing with other journalists to write about an event to be the first to write hence he who reports first will determine the paper that would be bought and vice versa. This is often a factor influencing what the journalist write meaning that if a journalist failed to write his report on an event on time and some other journalist wrote on such event before him will mean that some paper will sell better than other papers.
The first thing to note is that we have different types of ownership and often the ownership of a newspaper determine the content of the paper. In other words, one should not expect a newspaper owned by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stalwart to carry a favorable report on APC or any other political party even though they know that such report is correct. Even when the journalist is not making up a story and reporting a story, such report will still reflect the ownership of the newspaper. For instance, if we were opportuned to watch a football match and asked to write about the match. Each account pertaining to the match will contain some specific detail which of course might be correct but which might be included or not included by other people because of the interest of each reporter. May be the way a player dribbled to score a goal. Even though what is being reported might be correct, the way it is reported and the emphasis that were introduced into the story will depend on individual interest with the fact that those who are interested in some aspect will lay emphasis on that aspect whereas those who are not interested in such aspect will not write about them at all saying they are not important.
Some newspapers are owned by state governments like Herald in Kwara state while some others were owned by individuals like the Pilot owned by Senator Bukola Saraki.
Another thing to note is the attitude of historian to current events as historians don’t usually write about an event immediately because if an individual is to write about an event in which he/she is part of, there is always a tendency for such person to take sides on such event hence to write about an event there is no way in which you can detach yourself from this event when you are writing because you will always take sides and see the event from your own perspective. The desire of a historian is to detach himself as much as possible from the event (a historian should be able to write as objective as possible about an event). Already people should be reading from an objective perspective and not from your own perspective. Historians believed that one can’t be objective when the event you are writing about affects you directly or indirectly hence historians usually do not rush to write.
The second reason why a historian don’t normally rush to write about an event boils down to the fact that historians believed that an event which has just taken place can be difficult to get objective material pertaining to such event because the event are still unfolding hence all information needed about this event might not be readily available therefore historians often wait until such a time when information about the event become available and when they are available, they can’t be tampered with.
There are certain information that are referred to as Classified information which are information that is yet to be released to the public especially very sensitive information that may cause some damage if released immediately. In fact, in Europe and America, no classified government documents are allowed to be released until after 30 years. That is why every New Year in Britain and America, you will see new documents released and made available to the public and such sensitive materials have a way of influencing what we thought we knew before. Information provided by classified document do not come out immediately to the extent that when Journalists rush to write, historians believed that there are a lot of information that is not available in drawing conclusion from journalistic perspective.
Asides this, people that Journalists rush to interview have interest on the matter/event such that they are likely to give all information. This is why historians are always critical about newspaper reports and information.
Conclusively, historians believe that as doubtful as information from Journalists are, they are still useful because they contain truth. In other words, historians don’t dismiss Newspaper reports especially when it tends to look at events from wider perspective vis a vis community, state to national perspective.


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