TRUE artists are born, not made. Art is not something you stumble upon. It is innate. But the environment must nurture it to blossom. Parents must see it. They must encourage it. From their children’s childhood, they must invest in it. When it sparks, the world around him must fan it.
Journalism is an art of a different genre. Journalism is not just placed in the arts genre, it is because it is art, so the ideal journalist is an artist. If he is a true artist, his motivation will not be just for bread, milk and honey but for self-expression.
Every artist who excels does so in the expression of his self. So true journalists are artists.
In my Fajr Reflections, I try to interpret why most journalists are unsung or not celebrated. I discover that it is because they are not born as journalists but veered or forced themselves into journalism. So, they could not meet the highest demands or expectations of creativity of the quintessential artist which ideal journalist is.
Today, I offer the signposts of the ideal journalist who in every material particular is a creative mind.
First, a true or faithful artist thrives on originality because he is a fiercely creative person who has no boundary in his work. The total artist can be so good in music composition and at the same time transfer his themes to painting, sculpture or clay work. Enter the studio of a master artist and you find amazing productions, finished or half way, in skeleton, graphics or outlines.
For every of his work, there are motifs which may be obvious or subliminal. This virtue is applicable to the ideal journalist, for he is never in want of ideas to work on. So, the ideal journalist never suffers from writer’s block. His works are not so much dependent on events around him because he also has motivation and inspiration from within himself to take on assignments that are imaginary, abstract, speculative, investigative, muckraking or interpretive.
Like that of the faithful or quintessential artist, every work of the ideal journalist is a masterpiece, an award winning or collector’s item. This is because his works never suffer from lack of depth or detail. You find in his pieces recognisable form and aesthetic with its visible structure, rich content, discernible purpose set in proper context and admirable perspective derived from deep reflection on the issue he is addressing written in engaging style, deep awareness and sensitivity of his environment.
The ideal journalist constructs his works in imageries and vivid imagination, which take you into scenes and sceneries you never visited before and you’re immediately familiar when you get there eventually.
He paints scenes in words as an artist. This is why the ideal journalist is always the publisher or editor’s boy, because the nature of journalism does not permit exerting too much energy or wasting time on a work when you could use that time to work on the work of five other hands. The editor wants to work on a work that is almost good to go at the first reading.
The editor wants someone whose works always remedy situations of story drought. The editor wants a journalist whose work always put his paper on the frontline to break sales records regularly. He wants the journalist whose stuff is never perishable, always refreshingly evergreen
In my 35 years in journalism, bred and burnished at Mass Communication Department, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Lagos by the best in Africa's media and communication scholarship, I have seen journalists who, despite their character flaws, remain valuable assets to their news establishments. Hence, they are usually indulged or spoilt.
I have seen journalists, like the good or ideal artist who bypass the ladder to reach the peak because their talents cannot be accommodated at the bottom of the ladder. They are so good to dine with kings and princes, in kingly state houses and opulent palaces quite early in their careers because of their talents.
But I have also known journalists who withered too soon in their careers because they shot themselves in the leg. Many were perpetually on the binge and booze with smoky sticks ever dancing on their lips as they were surrounded by bevies of damsels when they should be building their homes together with their careers.
Ever the toast of parties, darlings of club houses and dance floors, they hardly had a settled home or nurtured a stable family. They could come straight from the clubhouse inebriated to the newsroom or studio and still be at their best in their news or programme script. This is not unusual because most artists are iconoclasts, bohemians and boisterous or even rebellious personalities.
But the toll of booze and smoke soon take over their lives and they become wrecked by their recklessness. So, when many look at the lifestyle of some journalists, they think they are not settled.
No. Journalists have ruled countries and run states before. Journalists are the real voices of many rulers as they creative artists use the skills to craft the scripts that presidents and governors read at special occasions.
Most journalists are not only artists. They are also philosophers ruled by the mind and the brain. Journalists as PR and advertising hands, as corporate affairs, external affairs officers or International Affairs gurus are in fields that burnish or rescue the image of all public officials or players in the corporate and business world.
Those who cripple themselves in journalism with their indulgence and those who soil the image of the profession are not faithful artists. The faithful or ideal artist is the one who can radiate the beauty of his work and recreate himself from his natural flaws.
Like the ideal artist who is always inspired and conscious of his own being, every journalist must always aspire for perfection not only of his art piece but of his person as well by always clarifying his purpose and pursuits in life.
Journalism is a missionary profession. So, every journalist, like the ideal artist must be shaped by a vision to live forever in peoples’ heart by the fidelity of his character and the eternity of writings or productions
First published in Nigerian Tribune on October 10, 2018 by Abdulwarees Solanke, Head of Department/ Director, Strategic Planning & Corporate Development, Voice of Nigeria