Murder of elderly man in Owerri depicts how insensitive people can be and how we promote sensational journalism

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An unfortunate incident happened in Owerri this evening. It was the conscienceless murder of a very elderly man along Okigwe road, Orji. I got to the venue of the incident probably few minutes after it happened. Usually with incidents of this magnitude and perhaps any other incident, there will be different story versions, speculations and theories. It is not for me to propose any theory but just to give the facts objectively. The victim was driving a government registered vehicle as shown in the picture.

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Now, I know the typical headline tomorrow morning and for most online media platforms will read something like – man shot dead in Owerri (that is if he hasn’t been identified by then). I also know that most bloggers and online media platforms will be itching to be the first to break the news and pictures to their online followers since social media has made information sharing very easy and instant. But behind all those madness and rush to get traffic to our websites, I think we should apply some amount of discretion and humanity. We should also try to be sensitive. This is a human being for crying out loud. It was a very touching and painful sight but more painful and annoying was the sight of people struggling to take pictures of the dead man. They were just snapping as if snapping a couple making an entrance with their bridal train. How sad and annoying! What for? To be used as profile pictures? Wall photos? Or to be sent to popular social media pages and blogs. What is the gain? Imagine the wife, children or relation of the man finding out about his death like that. How devastating it would be. And there is a very big possibility of that happening with the way the social media is interconnected.

The media should be used as a medium to promote the culture of a people. It should promote developmental journalism. Tell stories that promote the economic and social development of a people not the negatives. People should stop encouraging media sensationalism by telling them we are interested in such stories. Because when we tell them we want such gory stories, then they give it to us. You post a story about a book launch or new innovation and few people will click or comment on the story but try posting a story or picture story that two headless bodies were found somewhere and you will understand what I mean.

I could have been the first to tweet or write about the incident but I ask myself, what value will it add to the people reading it? Yes, we are meant to inform, but in fact, not every information is necessary. And if it must be told, some discretion should be applied.

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