Intervention was five years old last week. It was born early morning of July 26th, 2016. Memories are still wet of the little discussion sessions here and there on what the name should be, what departure it should come along with, the values that will be uppermost and the models to try to replicate. Two media platforms, all British, can easily be convicted for provoking the idea itself: The Guardian from where the lofty idea of a newspaper which has no editor came up and The Economist for its empirical thoroughness as well as its ideological arrogance in never apologizing to anybody for its preference for capitalism.
But when it got off even without the initial funding sought in a few sources, it came in the image of nothing that existed before. This may sound immodest but demonstrable. Yes, it is a paper edited by nobody as such in that the editors are those who send in whatever they think ought to be allowed a hearing – from births to deaths, wedding, tussles of all kinds and much more. Someone moderates all such stuff but there are none of what the great communications scholar, C. S Hamelink, call journalists. He calls them “the caste of professional intermediaries”, (see his book: World Communication: Empowerment and Self-empowerment). In other words, Intervention came across the idea of a newspaper edited by nobody from The Guardian, it is a completely most emancipatory variant of it unfolding here in the principle of allowing all voices to be heard.
Then the name and the challenges as well as the implications of living up to it. That is, challenges in the sense that this is not a conventional news outlet with regular, predictable bulletins in print or broadcast or experts in Breaking News. Rather, this is a newspaper which intervenes at the moment when the society is stuck in one mess or the other as it may so consider or is forced to consider by its virtual editors and stakeholders. In doing so, its jump off point is not any arrogant claim about offering the answer or the correct position but putting on the table some ideas or claims which have equal chances of outpunching competing claims of reality, taking space and time into consideration.
One implication of locating meaning in time and space instead of the timeless wisdom of seers, sages and orthodoxies has meant that, initially, Intervention was on its own. But, as information seeking readers got attuned to the idea that this meant no harm but a critical ethos, they relaxed and some of the opponents are now the sources of much of our stuff. In the end, Intervention has been able to remain itself, not in any foundational sense of that but in tandem with the fluidity imposed on reality by the changing conditions of human existence as dictated by time and space. The near impossibility or even the danger of subscribing to the logic of space and time in a largely pre-industrial society such as Nigeria must be admitted. People who are used to seeing things in black and white have no patience with fluidity of meaning, sticking to what they prefer to call principles or the truth even when such foundationalism amounts to nothing but direct invitation to violent outcomes, especially in a deeply divided polity as in much of the world.
Intervention has no pretensions or plans to pretend any flat sense of objectivity beyond maintaining a ‘critical distance’ from and to the issues it intervenes in. The credo, in all cases, is to let all screams be heard, a credo which demands problematising the everyday beyond taken for granted meanings.
Those who show an attitude of liking the platform today for a particular story or feature only to unlike it the next day for seeing something they do not think should appear in Intervention might, therefore, need be told that they are in the wrong place. This platform is not that angry as to, ab initio, decide that certain people, events or places or ideologies are unwelcome here. Everyone is welcome. It is deliberate exclusionary practice that is more dangerous than the ethos of allowing all voices to be heard.
But, nothing is ever static. Intervention too is undergoing changes. Even as it declares its privileging of inclusive practices, it is consulting. A year ago, it asked 10 carefully selected friends of the House for their opinion on a set of questions. Seven and half obliged, half in the sense that the eighth person called to speak on the issues. Some of the suggestions have already been implemented and more are in the process of being implemented. The point to stress in all these is that it is in only in getting into this that one knows how disruptive the end of the Cold War has been. The end of the Cold War has left majority, including well located people, largely to what meets the eye, the confidence of insularity, the readiness to deny others what they are enjoying, the arrogance of ignorance, the fear of what is different and to banal conclusions. The imperative for striving for all angles to every situation cannot be over emphasised in a world like this. Intervention counts itself as a reliable in this.
There are still knotty questions such as how much of materials should be uploaded. For instance, many readers want space between one posting and another. They argue that the issues are usually such that require reflection. Others want as much as possible. Unfortunately, the latter are in the minority. How much blending should be fair remains an issue in speculation here.
Someday soon, it should be possible to pay beyond verbal gratitude to the many who intervene in one way or the other in making Intervention to transcend to something much bigger than it was originally planned. From correcting grammar to spelling errors to providing the story ideas and to fact checking to writing opinion and what have you, Intervention has relied on tireless, self-motivated individuals determined to assist in the circulation cum re-circulation of images, ideas and stuff generally considered to be capable of adding value to the human totality.
May God make many more years possible!