The Assessment Of Nigeria Press Council As A Regulatory Mechanism For Nigerian Journalists

Project and Seminar Material for Mass Communication

The Assessment Of Nigeria Press Council As A Regulatory Mechanism For Nigerian Journalists


Abstract


In any academic pursuit all over the world, there must be situations and reason which could propel a research or project of this nature. This same thing applies to this project which was tentatively researched and written in order to help students who may want to inquire more on the role of the Nigerian Press Council as a regulatory machanism for the conduct of journalism practices in Nigeria.

The Nigerian Press council though not performing quite to expectation in regulating journalism practices can also play the role of making sure that individual rights are not fringed upon by journalists in the course of covering analyzing and interpreting of issues as they affect the people.

The study on this project topic was based upon the premise that the press perform a vital function in the society as it relates to educating, entertaining, informing of people in order to build a society where its citizens knows their right and enlightened to be able to meet up to the challenges of this modern world. There is as doubt this project handy as they go further in gaining more knowledge on this topic.


Chapter One


Introduction

1,1 Background of the Study

The world is a global village through information link of the media. A society without the media the is dead, that is to say that the media play a vital role and these roles include to educate, inform, entertain the public on the happenings in the society, to enlighten and to mobilize, etc.

The media had played these vital roles creditably, especially in this inception of new political dispensation. In an attempt to carry out these functions to the masses, the media had made use of various medium of communication with development as its goal. The media in question are the electronic and print media. In electronic medium, we have the radio and television and in print sector, we have Newspaper and Magazine.

In view of the above developments, all these media cannot function effectively without a regulatory body, which controls their activities and affairs as it relates to journalistic practices in Nigeria. This gave birth to the press council. Press council, therefore is an institution that is closely associated with the maintenance of the freedom of the Press and which also protects the liberty of individuals from being infringed upon by the media men.

The Nigeria Press Council was inaugurated on December 29, 1992 after a long chequered and bumpy journey. This journey began over 30 years ago when the need for self-regulatory mechanism in the practice of journalism in Nigeria gained currency among practitioners and public spirited individuals alike.

Although the practice of journalism had been established long before some Nigeria other leading professions, it lacked any self-regulatory mechanism that would have won for it due recognition with attendant prestige of a body that had rendered loyal service to the nation. However, an endless acrimonious debate over the fun, scope and functions of the envisaged press council had bogged and delayed its inauguration.

The quest for a press council got an added momentum when the Federal Government set up the Ekineh commission on the future of Nigerian Press in the late 60’S. right from the then, media professionals began a more converted move for the establishment of a press council. According to the speech made by the then Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) Alhaji Lateef Jakande during the annual general meeting in Benin in 1972, he said, “I think we have talked so much about the press council that it would be appropriate for us at this meeting to take action. In this connection, the ball is in our court. The public wants a press council and the government is willing to legislate. So with this the Nigerian Press Council was established.

On the other hand, the press council consist of Nigerian Union of Journalist (NUJ) Nigerian Institute of Public Rlations (NIPR), Nigeria Bar Association (nBA).

The council decree is aimed at promoting high professional standard for the Nigeria Media and to deal with complaints emanating from the members of the public about the conduct of the media and journalist in their professional capacity, or complaints from the media about the conduct of persons or organization towards the media.

The council has the function of researching into contemporary media developments and engaging in updating media documents. In all ramifications, the council is charged with reviewing developments likely to restrict the supply, through the media of information of public interest and importance or likely to prevent media access to information and advising on measures necessary to prevent or remedy such development.


1.2 Statement of the Research Problem

These are many envisaging problems facing the press council today in the society and these problems are:

  1. That working journalist should not allow a body composed or non-journalist to serve as arbiter between them and the government.
  2. Because of the lopsided of appointment of non journalist into the council, working journalists felt that if there is any crisis, these non journalists will work against them.
  3. The Nigerian Union of journalist prescribed a different standard for admission into the council while the council thinks otherwise.
  4. The Nigerian Press Council is empowered to protect the right of Nigerian journalists in the lawful performance of their duties but working journalists said, it is a right/true that the body that projects their right is NUJ as a Professional body and a union.
  5. The decree establishment the Nigerian Press council said that the body is autonomous. But how can a body which is established be autonomous, the federal government rejected this challenges to make sure that journalist regains the glory in the eyes of the people.

1.3 Objective of the Study

We have embarked on the study to find out how this council function effectively in regulating the journalistic practices. To find out the responses of journalists towards the press council decree. To evaluate on the misconduct’s of journalist in the profession and how fare the council has gone in tackling these abnormalities.

After a critical appraisal and analysis of the Nigerian Press Council, a lot will be achieved in helping to place the council in its rightful position as a regulatory body and also help in shaping and championing its cause as it relates to protecting the Nigerian Journalist, as they go about gathering information and disseminating same to the overall citizens of the country.

Subsequently, the council after this analysis and write-up will seize to be a toothless bulldog as it concerns the profession but rather help bring out the flaws and things that hamper the journalist practices in Nigeria.


1.4 Significance of the Study

This study will assist the determined the level of assistance the Nigerian Press Council can give to the Nigeria Journalism in serving as a regulatory body of the press.

This study will also be essential to help as asses on how far the Nigerian Union of Journalist has gone in ascertaining the code of conducts of journalists.

Moreover, the significance of this piece cannot be over emphasized as it will help the Nigerian Press Council in going about its duties and also how to tackle some legal problems relating to individuals like libel, slanda, defamation etc. which the journalist used in one way or another.

In addition, some other works only handles the issue of press council and their various functions to the journalist but this unique project goes further to add the issue of check and conduct of regularism of the behaviour of practicing journalists.

The existing works on this top will be enhanced by the attributes of the Nigerian Press council especially as they go about acting as checks and balances of journalist practices in Nigerian as clearly detailed in this project.


1.5 Research Questions

The following questions are formulated to guide this study.

  1. Can the federal government, especially under this democratic setting help in improving the affairs of the Nigerian Press Council.
  2. Can the Press council guarantee sustain the freedom/right of the working journalists?
  3. Is the Nigerian Press council functional in piloting the affairs and freedom of journalist based on the established decree of 1978?
  4. Should the Federal Government appoint non-journalist to oversee/check the actions of working journalists in the Press Council?

1.6 Research Hypothesis

The following hypothesis are well formulated for the purpose of this study.

  1. HI: Numerous problems facing the Nigerian Press Council in its quest to check the conducts of the journalists hamper the council in its discharge of duties.
    Ho: Numerous problems facing the Nigerian Press council in its quest to check the conducts of the journalists does not allow the council to perform/discharge its duties effectively.
  2. H2: The Press Council guarantees and sustains the freedom and rights of the working journalists.
    Ho: The Press council does not guarantee and sustain the freedom and right of the working Journalists.
  3. H3: The federal government especially under this democratic setting has helped in improving the affairs of the Nigerian Press Council.
    Ho: The Federal Government especially under this democratic setting has helped in improving the affairs of the Nigerian Press Council.
  4. H4: The Nigerian Press Council is functional in piloting the affairs of the journalist based on the established decree of 1978.
    Ho: The Nigerian Press Council is not functional in piloting the affairs of the journalists based on the established decree of 1978.

1.7 Conceptual and Operational Definition

Assessment

Conceptually, according to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, assessment is a carefully considered opinion or judgement.

Operationally, it is the act of assessing opinions.

Press Council

This is an institution that is associated with the maintenance of the freedom of the press and which also projects the liberty of individuals from being infringed upon by media men.

Operationally, it is an institution that oversees the operation of the pres.

Journalist

According to the dictionary, means a person whose profession is journalism. He/she does the work of gathering and dissemination of information to the society.

Operationally, journalist is another name for press men and women.

Journalism

This means that the work of collecting, writing, and publishing material in newspapers and magazines or on television or radio. In other words journalism is a profession, which sets standards of members.


1.8 Assumption

It is assumed that the Nigeria Press council is performing its duty by acting as a regulatory body to journalistic practices in Nigeria.

It is also assumed that the press on the other hand is adhering to the laws as stipulated by the Nigerian press council as laid down by decree 31 of 1990.


Chapter Five


Summary Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is pertinent to note that this research was to assess the role of Nigerian press council in sustaining effective journalism in Nigeria. Thus the topic “the assessment of Nigerian press council as a regulatory mechanism for Nigerian journalists”.

In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the challenges associated with freedom of information from journalists in Nigeria.


5.2 Summary

This study is predicated on the need to have a free viable and independent media in Nigerian journalism. Therefore, it set to unearth the basic constraints of journalism practice in Nigeria, staffs of the Nigerian press council and the Nigerian union of journalist Abuja was randomly selected as the population of the study. The study revealed that there are so many constraints militating against the professional discharge of journalistic practice in Nigeria. These constraints range from Management not being given free hand to operate their stations, Poor remuneration of staff, Lack of modern equipment, Employment of non-professionals, Inadequate funding, Censorship, Termination of appointments to intimidation amongst others.


5.3 Conclusion

The role of journalism in the education and dissemination of information cannot be overemphasized, thus, the study after thorough research, critically came to the conclusion that the Nigerian press council needs to be looked into journalist challenges with a view to improving its present performance and credibility. The findings reveal that the Nigerian journalists are currently in a very poor state economically, managerially, technologically and politically.

Government need to put in more effort to upgrade and improve the performance of the media by tackling the above stated problems.

Availability of fund is imperative as no development could be achieved with nothing, therefore, government should define clearly ways through which these constraints will be efficiently and effectively curbed and this can only be achieved if government make funds available and avoid politicizing appointments into managerial cadre, dismissal of journalists for writing the truth and censoring the activities of the journalists who have been trained to carry out their responsibilities.

The researcher concludes that such constraints suffered the Nigerian union of journalists in Nigeria are not peculiar to it. Also the legal and ethical stance of the media establishment and journalist’s level of adherence to media laws and ethics constitute one of the bases of assessing media professionalism. Audience members have a way of assessing journalism practice and passing judgement on the performance of journalists, even though the audience members may not be media professionals. This judgement in turn affects the credibility of such media establishments. The major yard stick for this judgement is the level at which the media professionals adhere to the applicable media laws and ethics in their practice.


5.4 Recommendations

Arising from the research findings, the researcher wishes to make the following recommendations.

  1. The Nigerian Government should stop unnecessary and undue interference in the media.
  2. Unnecessary Censorship should be discouraged by the government and when it is inevitable, it is should be left for the media professionals to determine.
  3. Objectivity and fairness should be the watch word of the Nigerian press in order to retain readership and even improve on their market share.
  4. Under-funding is inimical to the operation of any newspaper organization and should therefore be avoided.
  5. Journalism training institutions should increase the number of ethics-based courses in their curricula in order to inculcate the culture of media ethics in future media professionals. This would plausibly reduce instances of journalists’ non-adherence to media law and ethics.
  6. Finally, the researcher wishes to state that this research may not be free from unavoidable human errors and therefore suggests that further research be carried out on this topic but with a different sample size and a wider coverage as the case study area.

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