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Nigerian Journalism Defended Against Corruption Charge - 2002-05-05

The president of Nigeria’s Guild of Editors, Mrs. Remi Oyo, defends charges of corruption made by critics of the country’s press. The criticism is based on a recent Time magazine article citing brown envelopes full of cash that were handed out to reporters by government officials participating in a recent conference, allegedly to slant press coverage of the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo. The government says it was simply distributing per diem for room and board to reporters who could not afford to attend the conference on their own. Ms. Oyo agrees with the government response and says in the West, corporations also offer journalists “freebies.”

She says the Nigerian press has been on a “learning curve” since the end of military rule but is becoming better in its role as a government watchdog. What will help, she says, is the Freedom of Information Act that’s in the final stages of consideration by the National Assembly