Modern Journalism Practice And The Quest For Professionalism Among Journalism
The primate aim of this study is to explore modern journalism practice and the quest for professionalism among journalism. Survey method was adopted with questionnaire as primary instrument to generate data. The study evidently showed that the major cause of unethical behaviour among journalists transcends lack of training but inclusive of the operational happenings in the environment of the journalist. To restore credibility to the profession, the paper recommends that, a revisit to the existing code of conduct to explicitly state those who can practice journalism in Nigeria is necessary; the various media professional and controlling bodies should strive for enhanced remuneration for journalists and other media practitioners; training institutions should intensify efforts in the teaching of ethics to form a philosophical base for the new entrants into the profession while violation of ethics must be treated with all sense of seriousness it deserves. Evidently from all indications, the need for a national ethical philosophy in Nigeria becomes inevitable.
Table of Content
- Title Page
- Table of Content
- List of Tables
- 1.1 Background of the Study
- 1.2 Statement of the Problem
- 1.3 Objective of the Study
- 1.4 Research Questions
- 1.5 Significance of the Study
- 1.6 Scope of the Study
- 1.7 Limitation of the Study
- 1.8 Definition of Terms
- 1.9 Organisations of the Study
Review of Literature
- 2.1 Conceptual Framework
- 2.2 Theoretical Framework
- 2.3 Empirical Review
- 3.1 Research Design
- 3.2 Population of the Study
- 3.3 Sample Size Determination
- 3.4 Sample Size Selection Technique and Procedure
- 3.5 Research Instrument and Administration
- 3.6 Method of Data Collection
- 3.7 Method of Data Analysis
- 3.8 Validity of the Study
- 3.9 Reliability of the Study
- 3.10 Ethical Consideration
Data Presentation and Analysis
- 4.1 Data Presentation
- 4.2 Analysis of Data
- 4.3 Answering Research Questions
Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation
- 5.1 Summary
- 5.2 Conclusion
- 5.3 Recommendation
1.1 Background of the Study
Journalism in Nigeria has its roots from the days of the struggle for independence from the British colonialists. The print media played an active role in the struggle for independence in Nigeria. Nationalists like Hebert Macaulay, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo among other set up newspapers and later on became great icons of leadership in the country, whose shoes have remained too big for the feet of modern crop of leaders in the continent to fit in. Hence, in the past, journalism in Nigeria was a profession that was credited to people of noble character. According to Adaja (2012), “It is pertinent to note that Nigerian Journalism took off much earlier than the proclamation or inauguration of the Nigerian nation. Evidently, Nigerian Journalism was not guided at inception by any law or regulations.”
Early journalists in the country did not need to acquire journalism training to be able to write good stories. This foundation is still playing a role in defining the practice of journalism in the country, more than a century after the practice started in the country. Ownership and control play very strong roles in defining what becomes news in the country. Thus, a well written story no matter how well investigated it may be may not see the light of the day if it continuously steps on the toes of the government in power or the rich in society who constitute those that place advertisements in the newspaper or broadcast organization (Akabogu, 2005).
Journalists are left at cross roads in the country from choosing between professionalism and survival. Amidst these confusion is the non-payment of salaries to journalists as at when due. This is despite the fact that the salaries are not even enough to take care of the basic needs of the journalists (Singer, 2005). It is common to hear the word, brown envelope (a subtle way of calling a bribe). Journalists can be spotted at the end of every media event, waiting on politicians and other rich newsmakers to give them brown envelope. In this regard, the brown envelope is seen as the motivation needed to get the story written. News makers who are in the habit of not giving brown envelopes stand the risk of being avoided like a plague by the journalists no matter how important the information they have may be. At the end of the day, the dent on the profession becomes enormous.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The point being made here is that the press has a moral duty and awesome responsibilities that go with such power and influence it possesses. With such perceived power and influence, the media have fallen under more and more public scrutiny and sometimes public condemnation for what is generally considered unethical practices. For example, there is hardly any Nigerian who is not familiar with the term „brown envelope‟ or junk journalism, two euphemisms for unethical conduct.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
- To serve the political system by making information, discussion and consideration for public affairs generally accessible.
- To protect the rights of the individual by acting as watch dog over the government.
- To serve the economic system, for instance by bringing together buyers and sellers through the medium off advertising.
- To preserve financial autonomy in order not to become dependent on special interests and influences.
1.4 Research Questions
- What has brought about the offer of rewards and gratifications into journalism profession?
- Has Nigeria journalist serve the watch dog role in the society today?
- How has corruption affected journalistic practice in the Nigerian press?
- Do journalist preserve financial autonomy in the state?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.’ If these functions are any thing to go by, the press has a responsibility of professionalism and to uphold the ethics of the journalist profession to members of the society. Among others, truth, objectivity, accuracy, and balance are important values to be upheld in journalist practice.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The area this study cover are the problems facing the Nigeria journalist like public scrutiny, public condemination, unethical practices, influence of government over the journalist and the issue of brown envelop in Edo broadcasting station.
1.8 Definition of Terms
This is the act of gathering, processing and preparation of written, visual and audio material intended for dissemination by means of a public media.
Communication media that reaches a large audience especially television, radio, newspaper and magazine.
The act of watching or viewing an event, especially sporting events.
To find out facts and tell people about them in print or broadcast media or to give information about something that happened.
1.9 Organization of the Study
This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows.
- Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study.
- Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature.
- Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study.
- Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
- Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The primate aim of this study is to explore the influence that the workplace has on the professional conduct of journalists. The findings so far, have revealed that the organization influence weighs far more on the journalists compared the ethical knowledge acquired at school. Explicitly put, the study have evidently showed that the major cause of unethical behaviour among journalists goes beyond lack of training rather, we should examine the operational happenings in the environment of the journalist. In this respect,
Pate’s (2004, p. 7) view that in dealing with the issue of professionalism in journalism,” …one should be able to understand the contextual environment in which the journalist practices” is being upheld. This according to Alemoh (2011, p. 308) is predicated on the fact that some of these journalists, even when they appear competent are often subdued by the attitudes and policies of their individual media houses to the detriment of their professional honour. The submission of Fab-Ukozor’s (2008) submission is germane here:
“The situation is such that the few rich ones who own the media are either business friends of government or professional journalists who appreciate the position of the ‘fourth power’, but are reluctant to go headlong in search of truth due to government’s stance of intimidation and oppression. As a result, practitioners in the country are often faced with a conflict emanating from the need to protect their proprietors’ interests and the need to serve public interest. Thus, the press in Nigeria has not been consistent in their application of ethical precepts to societal issues”.
The study has also supported Schultz’s (2002) submission that, “much research… suggests that organizational and societal factors are more important influences in shaping mass media content”. It also upholds Centre for Research and Development’s (CRD) (2007) submission as reported in Yau (2008) and cited in Batta (2009, p.172) that, “there is a wide gap between what is taught in school and what practitioners meet and do on the field”. This connotes that there is a wide gap between what journalists learn in school and the actual skills and knowledge they need to practice”. This is what Khan (2006) as cited in Alemoh (2011) calls journalism deficits.
This study therefore recommends that the various media professional and controlling bodies should strive for enhanced remuneration to journalists through rigorous support for the signing into law of media practitioners’ salary package by the federal government.
This evidently will make it practically impossible for media organizations to enslave the journalists thereby predisposing them to unethical practices. A hungry journalist may not know when he throws away professional integrity to obtain gratification. Coupled with this is the urgent operationalization to the latter, the recently passed Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011. Journalists need an enabling atmosphere to professionally practice their trade.
Training institutions should intensify efforts in the teaching of ethics to form a philosophical base for the new entrants into the profession and while in training, efforts should be made by the trainers to venerate journalism ethics. A training journalist that is cultured in this way may not likely fall an easy prey to negative organizational influence at the workplace. The orientation on ethical integrity should start from the classroom.
Violation of ethics must be treated with all sense of seriousness it deserves. This is a clarion call to action on the part of the regulatory bodies especially the Nigeria Media Council (NMC) as the existing structures of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) cannot effectively regulate the professional aspect of journalism today in Nigeria. What journalists should work towards is an “irrevocable trend toward ‘professionalization’ in journalism that will most likely have long-term impacts upon the identity and forms of practice of future generations of practitioners’ (Aldridge and Evetts, 2003).
Professionalizing journalism practice in Nigeria, for instance requires that all entry level practitioners must be those who had been trained for the job. We are quite aware of the seemingly protracted conflict between insistence on journalism qualification for recruitment and organizational (media house) requirements, the latter believing that journalism is best practiced through a blend of multi-disciplinary training as reflects in a paradigm that; ‘journalism teaches something about everything, and everything about something’. In Nigeria today, anyone who has a degree elsewhere other than in journalism could simply acquire a post graduate diploma in journalism to qualify as a journalist. However, if journalism is truly set for professionalization, such degree holder should go for a first degree in journalism, which offers the basic training.
It seems that the profession of journalism in Nigeria has got to the point where professional examinations would be set for degree/HND holders as an entry point. This, of course, challenges the suitability of a diploma certificate as the entry point for journalism practice at the moment in a country where journalism is taught in many universities and polytechnics. Journalists who are already in the field should individually strive to live above board and set a good standard for new entrants in the profession. Veteran journalists would always would always assert that the professional stance of a journalist goes a long way to determining the resistance capacity of that journalist to unethical conduct whether induced by colleagues or from outside the organization. If journalists know the ethics of their profession and stand by it, they are not likely to be pushed around by just anybody. Folarin (1998:33) opines, “in order to safeguard the ideals of press freedom, journalists and other media workers should at all times faithfully fulfill their obligations and stoutly defend their rights in the course of their information gathering and dissemination tasks”.
From all indications, the need for a national ethical philosophy in Nigeria becomes inevitable. Such national ethical philosophy includes patriotism, hard work, reverence for one’s culture and personal integrity among others. Although, given the Nigerian context, bringing up such an ethical way of life here may be a herculean task, but nothing stops journalists, who are regarded as watchdogs of the society and those of other ‘dogs’ from starting it, for others to take a clue.
Base on the findings of the study, the following recommendations were made:
- Media establishments should liaise with the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the state to ensure that only formally trained journalists work as journalists in their organisations.
- Media organizations should make it a matter of priority to organize yearly refresher courses on ethics for their staff.
- Journalism training institutions such as the International Institute of Journalism IIJ should increase the number of ethics-based courses in their curricula in order to make the codes of ethics part of journalists. This will in turn increase the level of adherence to the ethics.
- The NUJ as a matter of urgency should institute a standing disciplinary committee like the National Judicial Council (NJC) that can sanction erring journalist both at the state and national level.
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