One Year of Breaking The Times
By Demola Olarewaju
Very late in the Goodluck Jonathan campaign, those at the top of the PDP hierarchy discovered what we had known all along – that huge sections of the media and almost the entire online media world were slanted in their perception and reportage of events around then President Goodluck Jonathan. In line with that realisation, some of our numbers decided to take it on themselves to confront and combat the onslaught of online media who had their pens trained as guns against the government that was.
To be fair, not all the online media did so out of malice – most just wanted to see things better but rather than approach the problem as a societal or structural one, the approach was to find fault with the man that then was at the helm of affairs. Jonathan and PDP therefore found themselves constantly harried with all sorts of news and exaggerated reports that almost crossed the lines of sanity. We used to have an online media that almost seemed to be happy with news of Boko Haram attacks gleefully amplified on their frontpage and retweeted, reblogged, facebooked and commented on by thousands of social media users.
Into that madness came Breaking Times – exactly one year ago today and it could only have been earlier. With rare and amazing access to internal news straight from Aso Rock, an opportunity to combat the false news was presented but like a dog destined to get lost that would never hear the hunter’s whistle, the powers that were did not fully back the platform. Perhaps it was even too late but I firmly believe that a lot of things could have been done differently even as late in the day as January this year which may have changed the course of history. All that is now in the past however.
As though foreseeing the turbulence that would soon come and eager to stop the madness of concurrent voices singing the praise of the powers that were to come, BT morphed into a veritable opposition voice determined to prevent youths from slipping into a one-sided cacophony of ‘Hail the Messiah’ singers…and it has been successful.
Breaking Times has become the platform for the alternative voice – for those who do not blindly agree with everything churned out by this government and such is important (I will daresay absolutely crucial) for the times we live in right now. Without mentioning names, those platforms that used to galvanise divergent opinions and provide anti-establishment voices with an outlet have now joined the choir and are singing from the same hymnbook as the party in power. Name them, think about it and you will find this to be true.
Democracy thrives on the foundation of separations of powers according to Baron Montesquieu and here, the legislative arm of government deserves the backing of all democrats against those who would rather make the legislative arm an extension of the executive. Another crucial aspect of democracy was highlighted by Edmund Burke who on identifying the first, second and third estates of the realm immediately pointed the press gallery and described them as the fourth estate of the realm – a veritable arm of government that is necessary for balance.
The heavy usage of social media in our time has put traditional media in a small quandary – most people source their news either from social media personalities or from online news platforms. This is why BT is crucial but I must also explain that I do not always agree with BT but the platform has proved to be accurate in many things reported. From the house that Mr. President owns in Abuja to the news that Mr. President would retain the Petroleum Ministry portfolio for himself, BT was accurate. I will also say that I do not think BT to be a destructive force or an anti-Buhari platform but if Mr. President will record any modicum of success in the days to come, it will not be because of those singing his praise but more because of those who keep him on his toes and only few platforms are as well-positioned as Breaking Times to achieve this.
I celebrate Breaking Times today and look forward to a bigger year. The road will be rough: those who have used online platforms to destroy the image and character of others will accuse you of towing the same line – we often see in others what we ourselves are. Those who are bitter will accuse you of being bitter but those who are lovers of freedom and democracy, those who dare to be different will continue to support you and in the long run you will find, that more are with you than against you.
Kudos to Breaking Times – I celebrate you today and always.
‘Demola Olarewaju, a media and communications strategist, sent this piece from Lagos.