2nd May, 2012
From this title you might think this is one of those inspirational or guide to money-making kind of articles. Sorry to disappoint you, this is straight, frank talk from me. Might get me into a lot of trouble but I really do not mind.
I got a call from a colleague of mine who just entered the movie industry a few years ago. She is very beautiful, married, talented and hardworking.
She was crying on the phone as she was talking and I did not understand why. It was about an article that was published about her in magazines and on the Internet. As I listened to her speak with strong emotions, I felt sorry for her because unlike me she had not developed a thick skin for things like this. The story about her was ridiculously hilarious because she was with me in Abuja as at the time she was supposed to have committed these so-called atrocities.
I laughed so hard and said: “Welcome to the club my dear, this is supposed to make you stronger”. She did not understand what I meant so I promised that I would explain when I see her.
One thing was certain though, a human being has been hurt, her friends and family were extremely upset, her husband is thinking twice about allowing her to continue in this movie business because he cannot understand why someone who wants to work hard and entertain people should be treated this way. I felt bad for them because I have been there too many times and right now as I am writing I am still dealing with my own media issues. My case is different because I have become my own person in my career and at this point, I know what I want, who I am, where I am going and what I am doing. So, regardless of what is being said, my life is beautiful thanks to my God who has blessed me and no man can ever change that.
Anyway it got me thinking about my life and that of others who have had unthinkable things written about them. I also remembered that there is a saying that goes like this: “There is no smoke without fire” . My new journey as a writer has exposed me and taught me so many things about how some journalists have been able to use that saying to create stories about us and make people believe it. So you can say Stella is exposing them but I choose to say I am enlightening them. I will get to the real point shortly.
So, this is how it works. There is a list of entertainers and popular people according to a lot of journalists who write junk. This list is in categories
• Celebs who are A listers
•Celebs who have not been in the media in a while
•Celebs whose names can sell papers in times of slow news
•Celebs who like to react when something comes out. (when something is written about them)
•Celebs who have money to spend to kill stories about them
•Celebs who love publicity and like to pay for it
•Celebs who are very quiet so when negative things are written about them people are too curious to resist
•Celebs who are relatively new and who have not been in the news
The list is longer but let me stop here for now. So, it now depends on the target that the journalist has been given. He then looks at the list and looks for the celeb that fits into his plan to meet his target. For instance if his boss says, “sales have been low in the past two weeks”’, it means that they need something to draw people’s attention. The journalist then takes a look at the list of the celebs whose name and face can sell papers.
He picks the one they themselves have labelled controversial and starts to think about what he can write that will have some elements of recognizable factors around the person that will make you think there is an element of truth in the story
Let me explain that please: If Celeb A has a shop, just came back from a film festival in France, loves jewellery, has a black Range Rover, talks about her love for black underwear because she is light skinned in an interview, here is how this journalist X will make story around her.
“Based on a report from a close reliable source, Celeb A was spotted in France with a new lover whose identity will soon be revealed. We have it on good authority that Celeb A was taken to the airport in a brand new Range Rover which sources have revealed was bought for her by this new lover. Celeb A boarded a flight to France where she met with her new found man who took her shopping and bought her black underwear which the celeb was showing off to her friends. The new ring this celeb spots on her finger is worth N2million and close sources have revealed that even though this man is married, he is willing to throw caution to the winds by showing the celeb how much he loves her publicly. This show of shame did not stop there, we also found out that he has bought a lot of expensive things to stock her shop in high brow Victoria Island. Tongues have been wagging especially with the fact that the wife of this man heard about this escapade and has threatened to come and deal with Celeb A if she does not leave her husband alone. When XX magazine placed a call to celeb A, she denied the allegation and said we should talk to her publicist.”
I just made this up and I am not even a qualified journalist, so you can imagine how a professionally done story will come out. Now also imagine any name that you know is a celeb and put her name in place of all the places I wrote celeb A and tell me how you feel about it. You see how easy it is to write something using elements that you can use to identify somebody and how it will make people say “there is no smoke without fire”. Painful thing is that people will read these things, believe them without thinking twice, judge you instantly and start to talk about it with their friends who have friends, thereby helping to spread this story.
Truth is that sometimes there is no smoke and there is no fire, it’s just the business we are in. There are some stories that are true though but sometimes I wish our journalists will do more investigative journalism before they go ahead to destroy friendships, homes, businesses and opportunities. I don’t think they realise the amount of damage that they cause all in the name of getting a promotion or impressing their boss. I also wonder how some of them are able to sleep knowing that they have cooked up untrue stories about people that can affect the children and families of these people.
I believe that most of these journalists that write these “fictitious stories” are very creative though, because if you consider the amount of work they put into creating these stories you will see that they can be the best script writers ever.
I am suggesting that they start looking into scriptwriting, this brings in a lot of money, especially in our country where the movie industry is thriving; without a script there can be no movie. They can also write for advertising agencies for adverts, jingles and then move on to writing for television series, radio dramas, etc. The opportunities are endless as we must realise that that journalism is broken down into different types. Instead of writing junk to keep a job it might be better to consider things like setting up a small media consultancy company, become a publicist for individuals and corporate brands/ products. Your company can be on contract as the media department and public relations by big companies that need their products and services to be brought to the attention of the people.
If a journalist who has had experience in publicity, approaches an artiste who needs good media hype, all he needs to do is to spell out the benefit of having a publicist who would take the media aspect of your business and turn it into a money spinner. This means that if he succeeds in putting the celeb in the minds of the people as a positive role model, the celeb can have endorsement deals, be called to anchor events, become an ambassador for different organizations, etc. That way, the artiste will give a certain percentage of that to your media firm.
The more the journalist portrays the artiste positively, the more these brands will want to employ the services of the artistes and the more money the journalist will make.
Most of these journalists can also write small handbooks on how upcoming artistes can handle the media and how to handle their public persona, sale of the books can also bring in money.
They can also organize seminars and invite one or two big media gurus to talk about the country and how to resolve the issues we are facing in Nigeria today by giving people the right kind of information.
How do we get this present young generation to bring that change in governance if the media cannot contribute in giving them an idea of what should be and how it should be done?
I personally believe that instead of destroying people and feeding the public with so much negativity, these journalists can make money with their talents and at the same time help in the development of the country by being innovative and objective.
Please note that I am not referring to all journalists, just those that write junk and believe it is journalism.
I want to commend those that have been objective and truthful in their information, I appreciate those who have helped us one way or the other in the eyes of the world because now we are seeing the benefits.
Gradually Hollywood feels safe enough to come and work with Nollywood, brands can now use most of us as brand ambassadors, etc.
Let us try and see how we can use our talents and creativity to make money and develop our country positively.
Quote:If you want the unusual, avoid conventional wisdom. —Leke Alder