The Role Of Media Ethics On News Reporting

Project and Seminar Material for Mass Communication

The Role Of Media Ethics On News Reporting


Abstract


The broad focus of this study borders on the role of media ethics on news reporting. The study further examined the various media ethics that apply to news reporting, determined the role media ethics plays on news reporting and determine if these ethics are being followed by contemporary journalists.Survey research design was employed for the study and with aid of convenient sampling selected Thirty-Six (36) participant who are media practitioners and journalist as the sample size for this study. The sources of data collection was both primary and secondary with the application of questionnaires as an instrument to gather the necessary data. The questionnaires were properly completed as well returned by only 30 respondent after being administered and this was a basis by which the primary data were collected. Primary data collated was analyzed using simple percentage, frequencies and tables and the result were similar to those of the responses drawn from the questionnaires. Findings of the study revealed that The effect of upholding ethics during information and gathering and dissemination leads to accuracy in information they disseminate to their audience,helps journalist to promote universal principles of human rights, democracy, justice, equity, peace, and international understanding and guides a journalist on the need to strive to separate facts from conjecture and comment. The study therefore recommends that 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. Finally, media organizations should make it a matter of priority to organize yearly refresher courses on ethics for their staff.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

Since the media are social organizations who hope to offer a moral contribution to society, there is a need for laws to govern journalistic practice. According to Oso and Pate (2011), Johnson said that the media can be a “great secular church” and a “machine of evangelism for dispelling the darkness of confusion, expelling mistake, and maintaining reality.” Journalists have been accused of being subjective in the course of their duties, and their position has been debated. Briggs and Burke (2005) opine that “journalists are not to be believed” and that they are “slanderous”. The explanation for this is that, due to the existence of ownership, employers of the news industry, whether government-controlled or privately owned, are subject to editorial oversight. Politicians who can pay to operate a publishing company can control what is in the newspaper’s columns (Dare, 2010).

Government-owned media works to defend the government’s interests, while commercial media works to protect the interests of the founders, resulting in violations of the code of ethics. “He who pays the piper sets the stage,” as the phrase goes. This study would look into how the art of journalism is practiced in Nigerian news outlets. Journalism is a trading technique or occupation that involves using different media to convey news to the public. โ€œJournalists face several difficulties in collecting, processing, and disseminating the news,โ€ Stovall (2005). Journalists face serious obstacles in the course of their work. Journalists are culture’s watchdogs or gatekeepers and they determine what is news and making significant decisions on what society does about itself. As gatekeepers in culture, journalists are governed by a code of ethics that ensures they are performing their duties in accordance with the law. Journalism ethics refers to the code of ethics that journalists are expected to follow.

They provide a dedication to reporting the facts objectively without being swayed by self-interest; preserving the confidentiality of sources and attributing what is said to the appropriate source; and maintaining the secrecy of sources and attributing what is said to the appropriate source (Ike, 2005). Media has evolved to the point that it is as important as food and clothes. It has played an important part in the development of civilization. The media is sometimes referred to as a “mirror” of our society; nevertheless, it is the media that forms our lives.

The capacity of the media to inform us what topics are relevant is referred to as “agenda setting.” According to McCombs and Shaw, agenda setting is the news media’s development of popular consciousness and outrage over important topics. Much agenda-setting analysis is based on two assumptions: first, the press and media do not represent reality; they filter and mold it. Second, since the media focuses on a certain topics and subjects, the audience perceives those problems to be more relevant than others. โ€œThe news media are a principal source of those images in our minds about the wider field of public relations, a world that for most people remains out of view, out of sight, out of mind,โ€ wrote Walter Lippmann in his 1922 classic, Public Opinion. The aim of the media is to keep people informed about current events and to keep them up to date with the latest news and fashion. It tells the story of citizens who are separated by geography. In other terms, media will make a significant contribution to society. It has the ability to influence people’s minds when it has connections to people, which gives it a lot of power. This power may be utilized constructively by informing the public or destructively by deceiving the public. The most effective use of the media is to inform the public regarding fundamental human rights. The media serves as a link between government and the general public. With the media’s critical position in culture, there is a need for ethical considerations.


1.2 Statement of Research Problem

Journalism ethics refers to the symbols of values that the media are expected to respect. This includes a dedication to disclosing the facts objectively rather than subjectively motivated by self-interest; source privacy; and attributing what is reported to the right source. As crucial as it may seem, it is still ignored by a lot of news reporters. It is therefore essential to bring the matter to the fore and tackle it.


1.3 Objectives of the Study

  1. To examine the various media ethics that apply to news reporting.
  2. To determine the role media ethics plays on news reporting.
  3. To determine if these ethics are being followed by contemporary journalists.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What are the various media ethics that apply to news reporting?
  2. What is the role of media ethics in news reporting?
  3. Are these ethics being obeyed by contemporary journalists?

1.5 Significance of the Study

This study will be significant to the media and provide a call to awareness on whether journalists or news reporters are paying attention to these media ethics. It will be an addition to the academic world as it will provide further research for other researchers to use as materials when executing studies of their own.


1.6 Scope of the Study

This study will only cover media ethics and its role on news reporting only. An examination on the various media ethics will be looked into.


1.7 Limitations of the Study

The only limitation faced by the researcher in the execution of this study was a lack funds.


1.8 Operational Definition of Terms

1. Media:

It refers to any medium used to disseminate information.

2. Media Ethics:

These are the various rules and regulations guiding the act of news reporting.

3. News Reporting:

It is simply the act of reporting news. It refers to presentation of facts and prominent timely stories in news papers and so on.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Summary

The broad focus of this study borders on the role of media ethics on news reporting. The study further examine the various media ethics that apply to news reporting, determine the role media ethics plays on news reporting and determine if these ethics are being followed by contemporary journalists.

Survey research design was employed for the study and with aid of convenient sampling selected Thirty-Six (36) participant who are media practitioners and journalist as the sample size for this study. The sources of data collection was both primary and secondary with the application of questionnaires as an instrument to gather the necessary data. The questionnaires were properly completed as well returned by only 30 respondent after being administered and this was a basis by which the primary data were collected. Primary data collated was analyzed using simple percentage, frequencies and tables and the result were similar to those of the responses drawn from the questionnaires.


5.2. Conclusion

Ethics in journalism is the symbols of morals that journalists are supposed to uphold. These consist of a commitment to revealing thetruth objectivity without being subjective by self-interest; maintaining the privacy of sources and attributing what is said to the appropriate source. Finding of the study revealed that the factors that can lead to unethical practices in Nigeria are: poor technical knowledge, conflict of interests, ownership pattern and control, pressure of the market, poor pay, weak professional regulation, and loose organizational policies and control These factors that lead to unethical in journalism field is not only experienced in Nigeria, the problem is similar in many third world countries.

Findings of the study to a high extent most journalist in Ikeja are aware of the ethics and principles of journalism, however struggles to maintain professionalism during the practices of journalism. The effect of upholding ethics during information and gathering and dissemination leads to accuracy in information they disseminate to their audience, influences deliberate inclusion of vital pieces of information especially when it portrays the leadership of the day unfavorable in the sight of the masses, results to the professional standards and criteria of the functioning of the mass media communication, helps journalist to promote universal principles of human rights, democracy, justice, equity, peace, and international understanding and guides a journalist on the need to strive to separate facts from conjecture and comment.


5.3 Recommendation

Base on the findings of the study, the following recommendations were made:

  1. 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 organizations.
  2. Media organizations should make it a matter of priority to organize yearly refresher courses on ethics for their staff.
  3. 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.
  4. 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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