As a journalism professor and former journalist, I feel obliged to point out that Channels Television’s Maupe Ogun-Yusuf and Seun Okinbaloye aren’t getting the plaudits they deserve for the excellent, well-conducted interview they had with Buhari last week in spite of the limitations they had to contend with.
Their questions were pointed, direct, relevant, earnest and in the public interest. Their follow-up questions were even more appropriate, probing, and intense. And their delivery and demeanor were commendably professional. They also came across as supremely assertive, confident, knowledgeable, and well-prepared.
It was their brilliant interviewing skills and their capacity to artfully pivot away from the pre-submitted questions Aso Rock compelled them to turn in before the interview that helped expose the all-too-well-known soft underbelly of Buhari’s mental and intellectual debilities, which his handlers have been working extremely hard to conceal.
The Channels TV interview was a model for interviewing a reclusive, carefully packaged know-nothing like Buhari particularly when you compare it to the professionally disgraceful PR show that Arise TV’s Reuben Abati, Segun Adeniyi, and their colleague did with Buhari on June 10, 2021.
As I pointed out in my June 19, 2021, column titled “Abati, Arise TV’s PR Show, and Buhari’s Dementia,” “The questions were feeble, obvious follow-up prompts were ignored, the questioners were diffident, and the viewer was left scratching their head about what they had just watched. It was the journalistic equivalent of a bad circus.”
I also said Arise TV’s “‘interview’ did not have the haziest resemblance to a professional journalistic interview. It was a predetermined, duplicitous public relations performance that stole and wore the garbs of journalism to give it undeserved professional legitimacy.”
It’s curious that while Arise TV is supposed to be a “PDP” (or “oppositional”) channel (if it’s possible for anything Nduka Obaigbena owns to be anything but mercenary, that is), Channels TV is supposed to be the “APC” (or “pro-government”) station. Yet it was Channels TV journalists who asked sharp inquisitory questions to Buhari and Arise TV journalists asked weak, transparently propagandistic questions designed to obscure Buhari’s failings, which Abati followed up with another nescient PR piece in ThisDay.
It’s also curious that Abati and Adeniyi are primarily print journalists while Okinbaloye and Ogun-Yusuf are primarily broadcast journalists. Print journalists are often stereotyped as deep and critical and broadcast journalists as shallow and obsessed with glamor at the expense of substance.
But it was Abati and Adeniyi who were shallow and uncritical and Ogun-Yusuf and Okinbaloye who were self-assured, probing, and who embodied all the high-minded virtues of journalistic integrity.
Stereotypes, even the most time-honored professional stereotypes, can and often are misleading. Good job, Seun and Maupe!