Former parliamentarian and veteran journalist Obie Wilchcombe recently charged young aspiring journalists at the University of The Bahamas (UB) to break the mold of humdrum news gathering by taking journalism to new heights through enhanced efforts at securing stories which do not revolve around political rhetoric.
His presentation was a part of the university’s observance of media week.
During his address, Wilchcombe challenged the journalism students to carve a name for themselves in the media industry by going above and beyond to tell the stories that others may shy away from.
“I think that journalists should lead the discussion and not wait for someone to tell them what to do,” asserted Wilchcombe.
“We are [now] regurgitating what someone says, but where is your research and where is the story that you are looking for that nobody has.
“The journalist must interpret, collect, understand, put history too it and put facts to it and then tell me about it.”
He continued, “When I was a young journalist the whole thing was about getting ‘the scoop,’ but now when you pick up local dailies, everyone seems to be telling the same story.”
While charging the budding journalists to dig deeper for harder hitting stories, he also quickly cautioned them not to be discouraged by the backlash they may receive while doing so.
“When journalists in our country become aggressive they are cussed and criticized,” he noted.
“That’s what happened to Clint Watson the other day. EWN has become very aggressive in news gathering and dissemination. I am proud of their work and I see where they are going. But, the problem is when they get the story and then try to get behind the story they are criticized.
“Clint’s show was dumbed down by a sitting cabinet minister and usually we just accept it, but he didn’t do that. He took a fundamental position that I applauded and I think it was the right thing to do.”
While calling on students to dig deeper for stories that matter, Wilchcombe also noted that journalists who decide to take these risks need to be offered some protection by their employers and legislators.
“I think we have to protect journalists so that they can do their stories without fear or favour,” he touted.
“Right now, the journalist is subjected to whatever somebody decides. So, if we can move in that direction where we are able to see more security for journalists then they can go out there and get the stories that need to be told; because he would be comfortable that he has a secure tenure with his employer.”
Wilchombe also challenged the young aspiring journalists to actively look into launching the university’s radio station.
He noted that during his tenure in government, UB received a license to begin its own radio station.
“I remember I gave this university a broadcast license and I think you still have it, so why aren’t you using it?” questioned Wilchcombe.
“Why aren’t we hearing your voices and how you think and hearing about the kind of country you want?
“Why isn’t UB leading the discussion to ensure that the next round of the General Election takes place here where it is done by you?”
He continued, “I believe if you can cause for further dialogue and comprehension it will bring the sort of change that our country needs.”