CHRISTINE Amanpour, Hala Gorani, Fareed Zakari and Richard Quest are top CNN super correspondents who have made reportage enormously thrilling, informative and entertaining. And they are driven by CNN’s philosophy of go there: Go there simply means the reporter has to go to where action is, where things are happening and from there report.
Mike Osarogiagbon, our own freelance crime reporter, is one young man in Observer family that is driven by the go there philosophy.
Gradually but steadily, this energetic reporter is redefining investigative journalism and taking it to a level that meets international standard and best practices.
Unlike some of his initiative deficient and lazy colleagues who idle away in newsrooms and NUJ press centres, waiting for press releases from politicians and mushroom NGOs, Mike is always on the move hunting for stories that make the headlines.
His capacity for news gathering and descriptive prowess delivered in enthralling prose sets him apart and puts him in a special class /the class of those who are qualified to be called and addressed as journalists.
Blessed with irrepressible spirit and boundless energy and unmatched passion for the job, he performs his duties with unswerving integrity, fearlessness, enthusiasm and patriotic zestfulness. His frank, forth right and honest attitude in relation to any matter he is investigating stamps him out as being destined for the skies.
And yet, he does not get paid for his job. He is not on salary. Just a freelancer who gets little or nothing for his stories. While the permanent staff, some of whom can’t justify their salaries eagerly await end of the months to receive alerts, Mike has nothing to expect. But his commitment to the job continues to soar and to the marvel of all especially at a time like this when salaries can hardly take workers home.
Despite absence of financial reward and unappreciative environment, he gives lavishly of his time and efforts. In fact he is a rare combination of immunity to pressure and fidelity to truth.
His approach to issues, his industry and perspectives on issues of public import has earned for him the admiration of editors and respect of his colleagues.
He has become the source of news stories for some lazy correspondents of national papers who have no qualms lifting his reports from the Observer without giving credit. One particular incident was so bad that I had to formally protest to the editor of a national paper whose correspondent brazenly copied Mike’s story in Observer and presented it as if he did the investigation.
Mike has continued to place his time, energy and talents at the service of the Observer titles without getting anything in return.
In his years in secondary school, he developed interest in English literature. He had a good teacher who made him to love the subject. His communication skills and descriptive gift certainly had their foundation in literature that prepared him for the task he is performing today.
In his first attempt to gain admission into the university he was offered political science instead of Mass Communication he applied for. He spent a whole session reading political science after which he re-applied for mass communication. So right from the onset, he knew what he wanted, to be a journalist driven by a passion for excellence.
“Why do you always like to go to action spots for your stories?” I asked him.
He said he feels better being a witness to a story he is reporting. “I don’t like second-hand stories. I like to be the one to report first”, he enthused.
I have gone out with this young man to few places on assignments and in him I have discovered a professional with amazingly boundless energy and enthusiasm for work. And all the journeys were made using his car. We were at Ekiadolor, UNIBEN, Ekpoma etc to investigate stories. My brother Mike is a journalist.
Unfortunately I have no power to offer him appointment. My prayer is that should BNCL be directed to engage new hands to strengthen reportage, Mike would be a great asset. If he can go the lengths he is going now without salaries, just imagine what would happen if given employment. This is a young man that chases stories around spending his time and resources to get to the roots. You can’t see Mike doing patronizing stories on politicians and self-styled Human Rights Activists.
I doubt if there is any community he doesn’t know in Edo state. He goes round and round and whenever he gets a whiff of any untoward thing happening, he moves in.
He can be in the midst of a cross fire writing his stories and from there dash to the police headquarters for confirmation. My prayer for him is that the year 2017 shall be a year of Breakthrough With Evidence.