Vladimir Duthiers, CNN’s correspondent in Nigeria, has been accused of preferentially choosing to break bad news emanating from Africa’s biggest nation.
The accusation was made by Daniel Obi, Editor of Marketing and Brands at BusinessDay Newspaper, during a panel discussing at Social Media Week Lagos yesterday.
According to him, Duthiers has become notorious for his negative style. “Duthiers is always looking for bad news in Nigeria,” Obi said.
Obi and Duthiers were both members of the panel, which also included the BBC’s correspondent in Nigeria, Tomi Oladipo, the founder of Enterprise Creative, Nkiru Asika, Founder of C. Moore Media International, Claudine Moore and Yellow Brick Road’s Founding Partner Nnena Onyewuchi.
BBC’s Oladipo defended Duthiers by stressing “we are journalists, not activists”.
He added that journalists have the responsibility of breaking news – good and bad alike, without allowing their emotions or sentiments to interfere.
“We have emotions, but we are not thrown around by them,” he said.
He also stated that from his experience at the BBC, he has discovered that only a few individuals respond to positive news whereas several individuals often confront the BBC when it broadcasts bad news.
In his own defense, Duthiers said the accusation was based on just emotions and not hard facts because he said he had done several positive-themed stories on Nigeria.
“Accusations like this are quite fallacious. Go to CNN.com and Google my name. You’ll see that I’ve actually done more positive than negative stories,” he said.
He added apart from his various positive stories CNN has several programmes that give Nigeria and other African countries the opportunity to showcase their nation’s positive exploits to CNN’s international audience, such as Inside Africa.
“The perception that we [CNN] come here with a negative mindset on the country is ridiculous. We owe travellers to the north the responsibility of informing them about the imminent threats from Boko Haram, I can’t because of trying to give Nigeria a good image to fail to report bad news.
“The reason why you are accusing us is that you only tune to CNN when you hear that something bad is underway,” he said.