EDITORIAL | SIGNAL: One Year of Revolutionary Online Journalism #SignalAtOne
It was the afternoon of 10th October, 2015. An impeccable source had just alerted our newsroom of the death of the former Governor of Bayelsa State, Diepriye Alamieyeseigha. Knowing the personality and credibility of the source, it was difficult to question the veracity of the news. But how come no Nigerian news media had reported it? A hurried search on Google and Twitter revealed nothing about Alamieyeseigha’s death. Not even the so-called “more credible” print media who have migrated comfortably into the new media terrain of news dissemination had reported the news. So should SIGNAL go ahead to break this news? Not so fast. This was literally a matter of life and death. How about getting this source to connect us with the original source so we can directly glean a confirmation of this report? But that wasn’t going to happen. It would have been tantamount to exposing the source who had received and communicated this information in confidence. The tweet was saved in draft. We were fired up and ready to hit the send button. But again, what if this news turned out to be false? SIGNAL had just launched out as an online newspaper only five days before, precisely on 5th October, 2015. Was this not too much of a risky gamble? What would happen to the credibility of the platform if the news was proven to be fake? How do we mitigate any damage coming so early in the life of the organisation?
While we probed for answers, all hesitation eventually gave way to that journalistic instinct that tells your gut this is one risk worth taking. Hit the send button! We broke the news: “BREAKING: Former Governor of Bayelsa, Alamieyeseigha is Dead”. Barely five days old, SIGNAL became the first Nigerian news platform to break the news of Alamieyeseigha’s death. SIGNAL would later go on to become the go-to platform for juicy and exclusive reports on top-level happenings in the Nigerian polity. The Alamieyeseigha news turned out to be accurate. We had just received our baptism of fire into a news media terrain that was driven so competitively by who broke the news first. To survive in this jungle, we had to keep our fingers ready. Ready to break, update, retract and re-break news reports as the situation demanded. This is the code of the game.
Fast forward into the future. It’s exactly one year ago today that our journey began. The vision for SIGNAL has not changed. It was a vision borne out of a deep passion and desire to create an alternative and a professional balance to the “one-way traffic” narrative in the Nigerian media space that seemed to draw its very existence, sometimes from veiled partisanship, and in some interesting cases, brazen allegiances to certain political blocs and “special interests” as US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump would love to label it. But this in itself is a treatise for another day.
In basic journalism classes, journalists are taught that the media is not only the watchdog of society, but also the conscience of society. Sadly, the prevailing paradox in the Nigerian context, which is home to our operations, is a media that has increasingly abdicated its watchdog role, preferring instead the hunt for money, power, influence and above all, survival! As a country, we are fast losing the essence of our media and the spirit of our people to this strange notion that we can actually condone abuse of power in high places, tolerate abuse of human rights by tyrants and while at it, more tritely as some would love to couch it, let sleeping dogs lie!
Well, at SIGNAL, we do not let sleeping dogs lie. We arouse them to consciousness. At SIGNAL, we do not allow falsehood to win. We confront lies with the truth. And dear readers, at no time in our socio-political evolution as a nation has this become even more imperative than a time like this when incompetent leadership has driven our nation into its worst economic recession since independence! In the face of impossible odds, our resolve to constantly speak truth to power comes at no better time than this new dispensation when ethnicity trumps competence in public service, when political opposition is ruthlessly targeted for persecution, when bloggers are arrested and detained for exposing the excesses of autocratic public officials, when the war against corruption is placed above common sense, when the excessive flamboyance of the governing class continues to undermine our collective sensibilities, when the craze by elected officials to live like emperors overwhelms every call by citizens to cut governance costs!
Within the past one year, we have strived to attain and maintain the highest standards of online publishing. And one reason we have always been different is our steady resolve to pay careful attention to the small details that our contemporaries would usually ignore. We have learnt in the short time of our work that it is these little drops in our polity that gradually constitute the greater ocean of our collective realities as a society.
In the last one year, we have made mistakes, we have made corrections and we have learnt new lessons. We are well aware that we are nowhere close to our destination yet. Nonetheless, our commitment to stand out consistently as a voice of clarity and a torchbearer on the dark alleys of a world where evil is constantly at war with good, remains unflinching.
The last one year would have been impossible without our teeming readers, our impeccable sources, wonderful contributors and advisory team who have kept us inspired every step of the way. Our vibrant supporters in the social media; Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Nairaland have been simply incredible!
As we clock one year today, we hope we will continue to live up to expectations as that online news platform that always dares and aspires to be radically different!
SIGNAL News Global
5th October, 2016