Odogwu Blog: The Limits to Exuberant Journalism by James Eze

I have just read the mischievous misrepresentation of the friendly conversation I had with Emeka Odogwu, an Awka based Blogger yesterday. In the story published on his blog, Mr. Odogwu alleged that I “attacked” him‎ over a story he published, speculating that the governor of Anambra State would hold a special broadcast on Monday June 22, 2015 to announce a slash in salaries as well as the sack of his aides.

My initial reaction after reading the story was to wave it aside because Odogwu is my friend and I am familiar with his penchant for high drama. But on second thought, it struck me that the story may well be part of the general plot to foist on me a strange identity; to profile me as a cantankerous reputation manager who fights with his colleagues. I sensed that it is the same malicious strategy that they had attempted without success, to deploy against Anambra State Government and people associated with it. Consequently, I decided to recount what happened between Odogwu and I. Here is my story…

On Monday, June 22nd, 2015, I called my friend, Emeka Odogwu for a friendly banter over his report the previous day speculating that Governor Willie Obiano would hold a broadcast to announce a slash in salaries and the exit of some of his aides. In a jocular tone, I asked him if the governor had made the broadcast. I actually made the call from Abuja and was not even physically close enough to “attack” him as he later reported. Odogwu replied that he was still waiting for the broadcast. I told him that it was almost 7pm and very unlikely that a broadcast would be made on that day as his report alleged. I teased him for not showing enough patience and rigour to verify his stories before publishing them. Maintaining the same jocular tone, he said he was sure that the broadcast would still take place and that it was a pity that I had no knowledge of what was going on around me.

I told him that he was right…that I was not an intelligent man; but that he should at least accept that his story was untrue as the governor had not made any broadcast or sacked any of his aides on Monday, June, 22nd as he speculated.

This, as far as I can recall, was the kernel of our telephone conversation. Any other detail in Odogwu’s story was added to garnish the narrative and cast me in bad light.

I must confess that I am perplexed that what was a simple friendly banter on the telephone should be sensationally dramatised with a bold headline on his blog and elsewhere as a brutal physical attack on a journalist ‎for criticising a democratic government. I have been a journalist and a Public Relations practitioner for many years and not once have I had a spat with any of my colleagues. I am too much of a part of the Journalism profession to take up arms against my colleagues who are in active practice.

I suspect that Odogwu did not take kindly to being reminded that his speculative report had ended up as a hoax, at least on the predicted day. But if as journalists we expect certain standards from our leaders, we must also subject ourselves to the basic standards of the profession…that we hold our moral authority in trust for the people who depend on us for a factual, objective and fair account of every situation we build our stories on. I doubt that my friend, Emeka Odogwu is willing to subject himself to this sacred contract.

On the whole, Emeka Odogwu’s mischievous narrative that seeks to foist the profile of a combative media manager on me does not belong to me. Thanks but no thanks, Emeka. I don’t deserve that honour.

James Eze

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