Channels TV’s Embarrassing Cut



Not for the first time in his position as presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina stirred wide-eyed reactions with another exaggeration this week. Speaking with Channels TV’s Seun Okinbaloye on Sunday Politics, he referred to a global military standard as the reason why the Presidency does not have an official number for soldiers lost in Metele:

“All over the world, the military does not or rarely discloses the figures of its casualty”

Adesina’s words were transmitted live, so it was heard by many at the same time. As soon as it sparked a mild reaction on social media, someone at the station with a PhotoShop (or Windows Movie Maker) skill was set to work. What to do? Edit the 30 second bit and publish the rest of the interview on YouTube.

Now, Channels is Nigeria’s best indigenous television station. It’s anchors have gained fame for being competent, knowledgebale hard-hitters able to put guests on the hot seat and enlighten the audience. They do a good job of publishing their content on the internet, both live and recorded versions, for free. Their twelve Nigeria National Merit Award gongs as the nation’s best television station is a record (TV Continental and NTA were second and third in 2017).

But their integrity has come under increased scrutiny since 2015. Before and during that election year, their reportage was significant for the opposition and the change movement. With the Buhari government in power, significant unforced errors are popping up arousing suspicions about its (non)partisanship.

One was the “next question” edit in the interview of Ibrahim Magu about the Ganduje videos. Now this.

Be guided: these are not enough to ‘cancel’ them. Those notably most enraged and dismissing them at this point are reliably cheering for the PDP. However, editing parts of a live broadcast that appear to embarrass the government of the day is bad journalism. It threatens faith in future reports and increases paranoia, especially with an election near.

Re-publishing the edited segment as a separate video (as they have done)  is merely damage limitation. People have taken note of the act which was clearly not a slip of hand (sleight of, more like). Editing a video takes expertise and effort; it is called manipulation. Election season is a time when Nigerians do not deserve to be manipulated.

Channels TV is one of 10 media outlets in a coaltion against fake news. Not quite the case here but as the saying goes, na from one dey take dey count two.


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