An Analysis Of Media Ownership And The Credibility Of News Reporting In Nigeria

Project and Seminar Material for Mass Communication

An Analysis Of Media Ownership And The Credibility Of News Reporting In Nigeria


The issues of media ownership and control can never be overemphasized due to the dwindling situations surrounding media practice in Nigeria. The media is said to take the coloration of where the practice is being carried out i.e the way the media operates in Nigeria cannot be the same as the way it will function in other countries such as Soviet Union, United States, Britain etc. The study is aimed at reviewing the various types of media ownership and how it is being controlled either privately or publicly and how the control affects the media operation linking it to the Marxist and Pluralist theory. The study revealed among other things that although Nigerian private media flourishes but their continuity depends on not overstepping or overriding on the government power. Individual own the media while government policies influences its operation. The study recommends that both private and government media should be allowed to practice freely without any internal or external forces. The media should not allowed to the hands of the rich at the expense of the poor.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

Media as a watchdog and the mirror of the nation perform crucial roles in the society and as well it is influence in its editorial policy. Lazar field and Kendal (2002,p.32), insist that mass is truly applicable to the medium of radio for it more than other media in reaching all groups of the population uniform’’ but before we proceed with this work, we will include not only the mechanical devices that transmit and sometimes, messages (TV cameras, radio microphones, printing press) but also the institution that use these machines to transmit messages. When we talk about the mass media of television, radio, newspaper, magazine, sound recoding and film, we will be referring to the people, the policies the organization and the technology that go into productions of mass communication Dominick (2007).

Mass media are technology that is intended to reach a mass audience. It is the primary means of communication used to reach the vast majority of the general public. The most common platforms for mass media are newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and the Internet Ngoa (2006). The general public typically relies on the mass media to provide information regarding political issues, social issues, entertainment, and news in pop culture.

Through mass media, news outlets have a major influence on the general public and a major impact on the public’s opinion on certain topics. In many cases, the mass media is the only source that the general public relies on for news. For example, when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon in 1969, mass media made it possible for the public to witness this historical event.

Sponsorship of the media house, its control and recruitment of its principal staff have formed the influential factors consequent upon the editorial policy of the media house since the owner(s) of the media house usually does or do the afore-stated factors (Nordenstreng 2005). The media ownership has therefore in some ways influenced the editorial policy and this has posed problems to journalism as a trade. In this case, the editorial writing has to function with the policy framework and editorial principles. Nothing runs the editor down as having the option of either doing it the way the policy dictates or he resigns or otherwise sacked. Influence of media ownership on editorial policy have made many newspapers to collapse in operations and have also made them to lose their readership grip (Nordenstreng 2005). In the case of a Announcer Newspapers, as a privately owned Newspaper, if dies not have so many policies that usually affect its readership except that its front and back page stories are centered on Imo state. Often times, it faces the stiff competition of the national and other local newspapers. Again, people from other state would always see the purchase of the newspaper as a waste since it does not usually spread its tentacles.

According to Uche, (2009,p.56). The owners of the media in Nigeria are not only major capitalists in their own right but are also closely linked to the ruling circles around the globe. Further more, result Indicates that the current media ownership pattern in Nigeria negatively affects the ability of the media to perform without hindrance. This is exemplified by the situation where media practitioners working in both private and public media organizations make sure that their reports are not perceived as ‘unfavorable’ by the government of the day.

The reality is that public media which are financed with public funds and controlled by public officials do not criticize government actions or inactions because of fear of sanctions (Uche, 2009). Many media executives in the public media have been known to lose their jobs because they disagreed with government officials. Some private media outfits established by associates of public officials indirectly influence the running of private media out fits.

“He who pays the piper calls the tune’’ is a common statement in the media. Ownership has continued to play an influential role in the editorial policies of media organisations. It is so bad in some media organisations that the ethics of journalism are exchanged with the opinions and decisions of the proprietors of the organisation. Dare (2000) while writing on the influence of ownership on mass media content said, “ there is no doubt that owners in market based media have ultimate power over content and can ask for what they want to be included or left.” This is against the ethics of journalism. The influence of media ownership is felt more by government owned media organisations especially in Africa. In countries like the United States of America and Britain, there are laws meant to check the excesses of owners. In Britain, there is limited (if any) influence on the content produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation by government. According to McQuail (2007), Meyer’s survey evidence confirmed that US journalistic ethics frowned on owner intervention, although editors reported a fair autonomy in practice.” Contrary to this survey, Schultz’s study of Australian journalists showed strong support for the fourth estate role but also a recognition that it was often compromised by commercial consideration and owner pressure. According to a report compiled by Media Development and Diversity Agency in South Africa, control of any media company can be divided into three: Shareholdings and equity, general management and editorial control.

According this report, “There are codes of good practise that govern how media controllers (editor and station managers) interact as laid out by regulatory bodies.” But how many media owners stick to these codes? In Africa, government has continuously used the state owned media to crush the voice of the opposition. Many governments have used these media to their advantage during presidential elections campaigns across the continent, especially if the government in power is contesting. In such cases, the opposition would have to turn to God for a miracle. Melody in Meier, stated that “in addition to ownership concentration of the mass media industry, content provision, packaging and distribution have also become a standardised production and marketing process in which the messages communicated are contained and directed in both quantity and quality to meet the economic imperatives of media owners.” Giddens in Meier said, “The media have a double relation to democracy. On the one hand the emergence of a global information society is a powerful democratising force. Yet, television, and the other media, tend to destroy the very public.” Within the context of supporting democratic transitions, the goal of media development generally should be to move the media from one that is directed or even overtly controlled by government or private interests to one that is more open and has a degree of editorial independence that serves the public interest.

Omu, F. (2000) stated that “the earlier mass media of press and broadcasting were widely seen as beneficial (even necessary) from the conduct of democratic politics.” Considering the fact that those who have the resources to own media organisations will always have the upper hand in terms of prominence in the news, McQuail (2009) said “the typical organisation and forms of mass communication limit access and discourage active participation and dialogue.” Government control of print and broadcast media in many African countries leave little scope for discussing opinions and therefore, public debate. According to a document produced by the Office of Democracy and governance in the United States of America in 1999, access to information is essential to the health of democracy for at least two reasons: First, it ensures that citizens make responsible, informed choices rather than acting out of ignorance or misinformation. Second, information serves a ‘checking function’ by ensuring that elected representatives uphold their oaths of office and carried out the wishes of those who elected them. In Africa, the perceived significance of the mass media in strengthening democracy on the continent led to the African Charter for Popular Participation in Development and Transformation, which was developed in Arusha, Tanzania in 1990.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

In Nigeria, most news covering are determined by the owners and gatekeepers of the organization. These owners are those in the helm of affairs of the government, and like the ruling government, the gate keepers take orders from owners. Their rank and file includes the management of radio stations and the various news editors and news and program producers. The philosophy of any media operation in Nigeria depends on the government in place. The problem in this study is examine the impact of leadership decision on radio news coverage.

Secondly, how these decisions can serve publics interest. Thirdly, how to convince the government to interfere less in running the affairs of the station to their own interest instead of the publics interest.

The right news covering decision and programming can lead to success for the radio station. Whatever the practice in Radio Nigeria (FRCN) federal Radio corporation of Nigeria, the influence of leadership and gate keeping on programs are still present and if is not handled well, it may greatly impair the success of any program, so this is what the research is aimed at finding out.

It is hoped that answers arrived would help the researcher make some observation and policy proposals that would help re-address the present problems of radio news coverage in FRCN, if ever.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

This research is up to achieve the following objectives:

  1. To find out the influence of ownership or leadership on radio news coverage of FRCN Enugu.
  2. To find out whether radio news covered (coverage) is people’s interest oriented or owner’s interest oriented.
  3. To ascertain the influence of gate keepers on radio news coverage.
  4. To try to make suggestions in likely areas of recommendation and improvement.

1.4 Research Questions

The following questions if properly answered will achieve the aforementioned objectives of the research.

  1. To what extent do media influence news coverage?
  2. To what extent is the pattern of news people interest oriented or owner’s interest oriented.
  3. To what extent does the gate keeper influence radio news coverage?
  4. What are the suggested areas of recommendation and improvement?

1.5 Research Hypothesis

The hypothesis mentioned below will help the researcher carry out her research more efficiently and will give her more focus and an agenda.

  1. Ho: Ownership or leadership does not have any influence on radio news: coverage.
    H1: Ownership or leadership of a media house has influences on radio news coverage.
  2. Ho: The news coverage of FRCN Enugu is not owner’s interest oriented instead of people’s interest oriented.
    H2: The news coverage of FRCN Enugu is owner’s interest oriented instead of people’s interest oriented.

1.6 Significance of the Study

The choice of FRCN as opposed to radio stations is because of its significance in Nigeria. Perhaps, as it has often been said to be the largest radio network in Africa, besides this, it has been a relying point for people (listeners) to hear at prime listening time. Much attention is paid to the news story on network period by Nigerians.

FRCN is believed to have surpassed any other radio station in terms of its wider reach. The ultimate significance of this study will lie with its final utility and its ability to influence the on-going policies on how, where and what news to cover for Nigeria(ns).

1.7 Operational Definition of Terms

1. Influence:

Means the effect of the government’s ownership or leadership on FRCN news coverage Enugu.

2. Media:

The media are tools of communication FRCN as a mass medium tries see how functions, whether it performs all the functions of a medium without intrusion of bias because of its owners or leaders.

3. Ownership:

Ownership means the legal right to possess something. It is the ownership of a media house especially the ownership of the FRCN station Enugu that manipulates the performance, news coverage and other programs of FRCN.

4. News Coverage:

This means sourcing for data, information (news) being covered. Also, to find out if the news covered is people’s oriented or government interest oriented.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

This chapter deals with the summary, conclusion and recommendations

This study is an analysis of media ownership and the credibility of news reporting in Nigeria. This chapter look at what is contained in previous chapters and gives a conclusion of the outcome of the investigations, make recommendations as well as give suggestions to future researchers.

5.1 Summary

This research work was set to find the influence of ownership on radio news coverage, so in chapter one, the researcher was able to determine the influence of media ownership on all news coverage by existing factors that influence the coverage of news in any media organization in any society, with emphasis on Nigeria as a society, and on FRCN Enugu’s news coverage.

In chapter two, a detailed literature review was undertaken by the researcher. The idea of ownership influence was thoroughly analyzed. To authenticate the study, theories like the social responsibility theory and Gramci’s theory of hegemony were used to give the study a solid background.

The third chapter of this study saw to the methodology used in gathering information for the study which happens to be the primary data collection which included the sharing of 140 questionnaires to randomly selected FRCN journalists.

In the fourth chapter, the data used for the research work was analyzed with the aid of simple percentage tables and the hypothesis tested using the chi-square method. It is clear to see from chapter one to chapter four that ownership of media houses be it private owned or government owned, influence their news coverage.

5.2 Conclusion

Radio is fully developed in Nigeria. Based on findings of the study, the following conclusions were reached: The research study has shown that government has influence on news coverage. It can be seen from the data gotten that 96.7% of the respondents say yes that the government or media owners have influence on FRCN’s news coverage and it could also9 be seen that 58.3% strongly agree that news coverage of FRCN Enugu is owners interest oriented instead of public’s interest oriented.

Most owners restrict workers (reporters) under them from covering event that will put the media in to problem with the government, talking about private owners.

Higher technology will lead to higher standard of news gathering rather than low method of news gathering. The best brain cannot do much where there is no money and equipment.

5.3 Recommendations

From the research conducted, it clearly seen that FRCN needs to be properly funded so as to clear economic factor that hinders better news coverage. FRCN should also provide infrastructure (technological devices) that can help cover news easier and faster since even the best brain cannot do much where there is no money and equipment.

The radio owners should reduces the rate at which the put constraint on reporters who go out to source for news.
Journalist should be journalist of conscience and should perform their social responsibility regard less of situation.
Poor remuneration, poor performance. Workers or journalist should be well and properly trained so as to meet up with professional methods of covering events. i.e cover necessary items.

The government should interfere less in the running of the station and focus on subvention and overall performance of the station as a tool for national developments covering news that are people’s interest oriented instead of owner’s interest oriente

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