When the 8th Assembly in our beloved Cross River State conceived the idea of a media center, it was seen as a more refined cadre that wants to be different from the 7th Assembly which never smiled at journalists.
With the speed at which it was conceived and tagged a necessity to making the House get a fair slot in telling her stories; it was as if within a twinkle of an eye it will be ready decoding from the body language of the House leadership.
This is what I mean; the present working condition for journalists in the House of Assembly is nothing to write home about.
The only place available for journalists who are expected to spend the whole day there is the lobby. I believe we all know what a lobby is?
Else let’s consult Google or the Mobile Friendly dictionary which defines a lobby as “a room in a building which is used for entry from the outside”.
By the nature of the job journalists do; recording, snapping, writing, strenuous concentration for the unseen etc., the only place they can sit to transcribe their recordings (videos and audio), work on pictures, voicing, pondering etc. is the lobby, a noisy place where nobody has the right to say “No Noise Please” with footsteps of visitors echoing in a manner that even the leadership of the House wouldn’t dare condone for their duties.
Even Honorable members who try to house some of the reporters in their offices, though with good intentions can’t meet up the routine because they too have not got enough space; the space available can’t even serve their staff not to talk of squatting journalists ad infinitum.
Of course here again, you can’t stop their boys from talking or doing one or two things a journalist will consider noise making.
Solid seven months and counting, nothing, I repeat nothing has been done to ameliorate the despicable working conditions of journalists at the Assembly because the proposed venue for the center is still waiting to be touched.
This is not the crux, yet necessary, seven months plus eight years on, there was and still is no commitment or readiness on the part of the leadership of the House to accommodate gentlemen of the Press because if there is, by now, this issue should have become one of the achievements of the present leadership of the House.
What is presently called a media center in the Cross River state House of Assembly is an empty space with just one table and not up to five chairs in there.
Matter-of-factly, even if according to the leadership of the House, they want the center to be as befitting as possible, to have modern day ICT aura and touch, it will only take a modest cost to just put the place in a manageable state for journalists to have a place to sit and do their stories as well as share conviviality.
If the House wants to make the center a kings’ court, it could as well do that later but at the moment, there is an urgent need to quickly get the center ready for use. The constant excuse by the House leadership that there is not yet funding for equipping the center only seeks to defeat the need to adequately accommodate journalists to enable them do their work.
The leadership of the House should immediately furnish the media center with a modest budget which can be provided by the leadership of the House.
Secondly, the lighting system in the media center is a case because only two sockets were working at my last check.
No doubt the 8th Assembly has done well by opening itself to the Press unlike the previous Assembly that shielded itself from the public, but it is worthy to note that in reporting the legislature, the working condition of journalists is critical to the work of the legislators.
Presently, the Chief Press Secretary to the Speaker, now perches on the Speaker’s Conference room while ‘his boys’ share the Speaker’s waiting room which has been long converted to an open office, while other journalists posted to the Assembly are left to their fate.
Also, to make the job easy there must be good and strong communication mechanism put in place as well as logistics. Those who understand the workings of the Assembly will agree with me that there is no strong flow of communication of the Speaker’s activities and that of the House to journalists reporting them, there is no means of mobility and other necessary requirement to make the work easy for.
If they insist on giving journalists a Kings Court for correspondence chapel, they can as well go ahead and build media houses for the journalists but if they can’t they should cut their coat according to their cloth now.
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