Audience Perception Of The Credibility Of Foreign And Local News Organizations
The thrust of thrust of this study was to ascertain how the credibility of our local news organization are being perceived by Nigerian audience, especially when they are compared with foreign news organization.
In general, I looked at those factors that militate against the news organizations to be perceived as being credible.
I raised a proposal in which I stated my interest and objective. I used survey research method in conducting this study.
My major objective is to ascertain if there is any significant differences between the audience perception of the credibility of foreign and local news organizations. And if there is, the factors that contribute to that, the implication and recommendations.
1.1 Background of the Study
Credibility, according to the “Living Webster Encyclopedia Dictionary of English Language”, is the capability of being believed, relied on, or trusted.
To effectively ascertain audience perception of the credibility of the foreign and Local News organizations, one needs to bring to mind how our local stations are viewed in terms of credibility, especially when compared with their foreign counterparts.
Most Nigerians believe that foreign stations like CNN, VOA and BBC get clearer visuals, more instant, objective, balanced, truthful and less distorted news reports. While our local stations are used by the government as propaganda tools, that the news items are filled with biased and opinionated information; that even the so called private electronic media industries are not operating in a free environment that they can face the real societal issues and leave praise singing that has been epitomized with government owned media, among others.
Nigerian communication climate is besieged with stringent regulations and journalists are forced to become government praise singers instead of watchdogs. And since the government is constantly churning out repressive laws, harassment and intimidation against journalists, through extra – judicial measures and powers to make them sycophantic and boo ducking tools, what implications do these have on the listening and viewing audience?
Outside this scenario, there exists a very big “competitor” that toy to “snatch” the highest number of audience members, from the local media organization and that is the foreign news organization. Some of these organizations unlike the local ones, operate in a freer environment where there is high respect for the freedom of press.
Technological, the media in these competing environment are so high that they can go to the whole world clearly with little or no noise. The CNN, VOA and BBC turned the whole world into Marshal Meluhads Global Village.
Thus, while it is still elusive for Nigeria media to reach our local audience with little or no noise interruptions, the foreign News organizations are already reaching Nigerians more clearly, more timely and more balanced.
In this competing world of these local and foreign news organizations, there is only one value that cab used in swaying the greater number of audience to their side, and that is CREDIBILITY.
There is no doubt that in period of crises, the audience rely more on the source they perceive to be credible.
Studies suggest that the more credible the contents, the likely that contents will influence perceptions of social reality (Okeef:1984,519), if an individual perceives that a medium has motives other than the more provision of information, this will weigh heavily in his or her evolution and explosive decision.
An interplay of factors like ownership, professionalism and available facilities affect media performance. For an agency (media) to enjoy widespread patronage, credibility is the name of the new game.
It is this foregoing, that necessitates my interest to carry out a study on THE AUDIENCE PERCEPTION OF THE CREDIBILITY OF FOREIGN AND LOCAL NEWS ORGANIZATION, especially during the periods of crises.
My aim is to ascertain which news organization (local or foreign), our local populace believes getting information from, during crises. Again from the above, I will review some literature in relation to the study, from the bases of some theoretical framework. Because perception is the conscious blending of message from the media (external information) and persons pass knowledge and experience (internal information) and the station organization and interpretation of the blended information (Kenneth, et al, 1975, 12), I shall try to test how the audience perceive the local organization and their foreign counterpart put into consideration, the two environments.
1.2 Statement of Research Problem
All over the world, especially in developing economic mass media are recognized in veritable tools of social changes. However, experts are of the opinion that for the media to perform this arduous task of social transformation, they must not only be perceived as credible by the audience, but must effectively reflect the needs, problems and aspirations of their audience.
Since Nigeria gained her political independence the country has witnessed decay in virtually all segments of the society. The mass media cannot be said to be free from this cancerous plight afflicting the nation. Thus, to most media outsiders and even insiders, media output in Nigeria have been nothing but abject lies, naked propaganda, half truths, sensationalism, blackmail and even worse, where as some of the foreign media are taken to be objective, balanced and truthful.
It is in the light of this contradictory perception of this communication environment that the researcher intends to tackle the following problems.
- The significant difference between the audience perception of the credibility of foreign and local news organization.
- Those factors that militate against the audience perception of a particular news organization as being credible.
- The impact of poor credibility of news organization towards their audience.
- The effect of the increase of the credibility rating of our local broadcast stations, when juxtaposed with the foreign ones.
1.3 Objective of the Study
This study will be based on some of the crises period in Nigeria, between June 12 1993 and March 2004.
The objective of this study will among others include:
- To determine if any difference exist between audience perception of the credibility of local foreign news organization.
- To find out how the political system of a country affects the objective presentation of news reports.
- To determine the influence or ownership in enhancing the credibility perception of a media organization.
- To determine the factors that militate against audience perception of a media organization as credible.
- To make recommendations based on the findings towards making our local news organization more credible.
1.4 Significance of the Study
It is expected at the end of this study, to update knowledge within the framework of the study. In particular, it will x-ray why our local media organizations have not been able to sustain the listening/viewing of Nigerian audience.
This study will be of benefit to media practitioners in their packaging of news reports and to the academics in their practice and training of journalists. Also the study will make some critical analysis of existing knowledge in relation to advising practitioners on how to make their news contents sound credible.
The study will make a policy statement as well as research, with a view to uplifting media image and credibility as necessary condition for national development.
1.5 Research Questions
- Is there any difference between the audience perception of the credibility of foreign and local news organization?
- Does the political system of any environment affect objectivity in news coverage?
- What factors militate against the audience perception of a particular news organization as credible?
- How can poor credibility rating of news organization of any country affect her development?
- What are the implications for local stations in Nigeria and other 3rd world countries when audience do not perceive them as credible?
- Has ownership any influence on the objective of news contents of any news organization?
1.6 Research Hypothesis
The following research hypothesis derives logically from the problem posed in the research questions.
- H1: Nigerian audience tends to perceive foreign news as more credible than local news
H0: There is no difference in Nigerian audience perception of the credibility of foreign and local news organization.
- H2: Nigerian audience tends to perceive local news organization more as tools of propaganda than their foreign counterparts.
H0: There is no significant difference in the audience perception as propaganda tools.
- H3: During the period of crises, Nigerian audience tends to rely more on foreign media organizations than on local ones.
H0: There is no difference on the reliance of Nigerian audience on the foreign and local news organization during crises periods.
- H4: Foreign news organizations are perceived to be less encumbered by policy and technical restraints in their task of news dissemination than local ones.
H0: There is no significant difference in the perception of foreign and local news organization in terms of policy and technical restraints in their task of news dissemination.
1.7 Scope of Study
This study was carried out on the audience perception of the credibility of foreign and local news organization. The locality of this study was limited to Minna, Niger state, Nigeria.
1.8 Organization of Study
The study is divided into five chapters. Chapter one deals with the study’s introduction and gives a background to the study. Chapter two reviews related and relevant literature. The chapter three gives the research methodology while the chapter four gives the study’s analysis and interpretation of data. The study concludes with chapter five which deals on the summary, conclusion and recommendation.
In 1995 when the Hausa news channel Aaj Tak was launched, there was a belief that like Doordarshan for over three decades, private channels will also cater to a national (Hausa) speaking audience. But soon the scene changed and in the last decade regional language news channels have flourished everywhere in Nigeria. It is not surprising given that the top five newspapers in terms of circulation and readership happen to be regional language newspapers. The Times of Nigeria is number eight, way behind the leaders Danik Jagaran (Hausa), Malayala Manorama (Malayalam) and Daily Thanthi (Tamil). The number of English language news channels is just eight and that in Hausa is a little over ten. But the largest number of news channels are in the other Nigerian languages- close to one hundred and growing. The saturation point for English news channels has been reached and soon Hausa will follow suit. The potential for regional language news channels in Nigeria is driven by economic realities as much as by the socio-political considerations. The true nature of Nigeria- unity in diversity- is translating into regional news hubs in virtually all states. Space for articulating and strengthening the culture that is specific to every state, and in some cases within states, is to be found in language specific television channels; more specifically news channels. Regional aspirations in the form of political agitation is finding voice in the language press (includes television). Further fragmentation of the existing news channels, specially the Nigerian language ones, shows the impatience of the regional aspirations trying to assert its uniqueness.
In all this the credibility factor seems to take a back seat as competition is driving the TRP wars. Everything is fine to get one more viewer to switch to your channel- ethics is confined to the text books to be taught in J-Schools and not practiced in news rooms. Its impact is obvious in the news and views on news one gets to see on news channels. The more harsh, shrill and noisy the debates on primetime news the better for TRPs, or so is the perception among the news heads. The fact that more people in cosmopolitan cities like Minna are switching to foreign news channels is a point to be noted by the decision makers in the local news channels. But it is also true that audience for regional language news channels is increasing faster than that for English channels. Credibility depends on the culture- the practices prevalent in news rooms of television channels. Unless that changes for the better with strict code of ethics, credibility will be low. What is also lacking is a role model that begs to be emulated by others in the industry. In case of newspapers we have The Hindu but the beating NDTV 24×7 took after the revelations in the Nira Radia tapes episode has left a vacuum in the broadcast news industry.
Far more cause for concern to the news channels per se is the increasing reliance on online news by the young population of Minna. The lack of credibility coupled with convenience may very well push a majority of viewers of news to online sources. The West, where majority get their news from digital media as opposed to newspapers or television channels, may get replicated right here in Minna.
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