Post Graduate School, Department of Mass Communication, Benue State University, Makurdi.
Journalists’ Acceptance of Rewards and Gratifications: Implication on News Reporting
Com 702: Broadcast Journalism Seminar
Kombol, M. A. (Ph.D)
Nigeria is one of the countries endowed with huge natural resources that if properly harnessed could uplift the living standard of her citizens. The negative effects of corruption on the body polity of the media is enormous, it is like the HIV/AIDS that feeds on the immunity system of an individual, as well as his nervous system and gradually consumes the person living his carcass to be picked by the owners. Such is corruption to every stratum or facet of the Nigerian society. Due to corruption all infrastructure are on the verge of total collapse. Thus this paper seeks to take a critical look at journalist acceptance of rewards and gratification and its implication on news reportage. It is the obstacles that have frustrated the efforts of the media in the fight against graft that this paper seeks to highlight, the paper made a strong case for the removal of the obstacles through good welfare packages for journalists and the passage of the freedom of information bill in order for the media to live up to its responsibilities.
It is no longer news that corruption is not only a cankerworm which has eaten deep into the fabrick Nigeria soul.
Although corruption started from heaven (Ezekiel 28, Rev 12:7 – 7) as the earth witnessed the first practice in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:1 – 5).
Corruption in Nigeria is as old as the beginning of formal bureaucracy established by colonialism. Corruption has always been an issue in Nigeria even before the country’s independence in 1960. IN the country’s first republic (1960 – 1966) allegations of corruption were life. Politicians in the opposition freely accused the parties in power both at the central & regional levels of government of corruption and criminal waste.
Corruption is dangerous to society and can be extremely devastating to the media. Therefore while acknowledging the attempt by the federal government to fight corruption and economic crimes, the conference calls on all media practitioners and stake holders to adopt a zero tolerance attitude to corruption in the media and indeed in the society at large. Some protagonists of African tradition have argued strenuously that corruption in its present mould and character is part of our colonial heritage such people argue that corruption is indeed consistent with the character of colonialism.
Sanni (2007:39) asserts that corruption is the greatest albatross and the most virulent cog militating against good governance and national development in Nigeria. It has remained an all pervading evil, afflicting all tiers of government in agreement with this point of view Osoba (2000:372) sees corruption as a form of anti-social behaviour by an individual and social group which confers unjust or fraudulent benefits on its perpetrators.
Corruption has become prevalent in Nigeria because the people want the fame and name without the collective aim which centre on an egalitarian and virile nation.
Thus news reporting involves the gathering processing, packaging and dissemination of news to the general public. Generally, in today’s society the mass media are seen as veritable instruments of information dissemination, social mobilization and control. It is one of the means through which the public is educated and sensitized about important issues affecting the lives of the people. The mass media comprise radio, television, films, books, sound recordings, Newspapers, magazine, internet among others. The mass media are pervasive part of our lives. In many ways we are reliant and dependent upon regular content with the mass media for information, opinion, entertainment, ideas and a range of other resources, which are deeply bound up with our continuing attempts to maintain as coherent sense of who and where we think we are.
The media play a role of the mirror in the society, the conciliator, the shaper of issues and events in the society, the press is an important institution in every society and which ever of these or other roles it finds itself performing at any time matters a great deal in the life of people, in doing so journalist in the life or people, in doing so journalist from time to time face a lot of challenges in the cause of their assignment but in this work we will be looking at the rewards and gratification journalist collect from their news source which is popularly called brown envelop.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Information has emerged as the most vital means for development in this age. Presently Nigeria is suffering from lack of information from the media which is base on truth, accurate, fairness, balance, objectivity due to the level of corruption in the country and the condition is worsening to such a point that if nothing drastic is done to the media industry the development aspirations will dies due to information starvation.
It is against this background that this study will try to examine the above problems and possibly proffer appropriate remedies.
i. What has brought about the offer of rewards and gratifications into journalism profession?
ii. Does journalist report the truth after collecting this envelops?
iii. Is journalism practice affected by this conduct?
OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
Words may mean differently to different individuals. Therefore it is important to draw some working definition of words to enhance understanding and better appreciation of this study.
Journalism: Journalism is a report of things as they appear at the moment of writing not a definitive study of a situation. It is also the event of the day detailed into pictures, a few words or sound, processed by the mechanic of communication to satisfy the human curiosity of a world that is eager to know what is new.
News: News can be regarded as an account of an event meant for the audience and that affects a reasonable number of people vicariously.
Corruption: Corruption can be seen as the inducement by means of an improper consideration to violate some duty for the advantage and benefit of self and the other, it portends the lack of integrity or honesty the use of position of trust for dishonest gains and advantage where in public or private domain.
Reporting: Reporting is giving account of some happening.
Brown envelop: Brown envelop is a package given to a reporter at the end of the function which he has covered.
The media is responsible for giving information to the public; thus the social responsibility is adopted to this work because the social responsibility theory demands that the media should act responsibly by realizing that they have certain obligations to the public. This is to say, the media should reflect all shades of opinions to enable the public reach rational decision. They should not impede access to the media.
The social responsibility theory surfaced, when high technological development made investment in the press increasingly higher and the press more commercially inclined. The ever-increasing cost of investment in the press meant that fewer people could contemplate the venture.
REVIEW OF THE RELATED LITERATURE
Several studies reported in the literature show that the collection of rewards and gratification by reporters has been a vital issue in News reportage. There are a lot of arguments about this very issue of which this is against ethics in journalism. Mass media people need to be concerned about ethics because they can have powerful effects on their profession.
Today media ethics codes universally condemn gift, rewards and gratification and certainly bribes but there are still many people who carry favour with the mass media.
Many ethic code do not make this important distinction, one that does is the code of the Associated press managing editors, which states that journalist must avoid impropriety as well as many conflict of interest of the appearance of conflict.
The concept of Journalism
Journalism is a report of things as they appear at the moment of writing not a definitive study of a situation. Journalism is the process of gathering writing, editing or disseminating News through Newspaper, magazines or by radio or television or through other media. It also means the event of the day detailed into pictures, a few words or sound, processed by the mechanic of communication to satisfy the human curiosity of a world that is eager to know what is new.
Why journalists collect rewards and gratification and its implication on news reportage: The collecting of rewards and gratification by reporter has been a vital issue in news reportage. There are a lot of arguments about this very issue of which this is against ethic in broadcasting. Ethics according to Dominick (1994:434) are rules of conduct or principles of morality that points us toward the right or best way to act in a situation.
Despite the consistent exhortation of the ethics codes against gifts, favours, free travel and special treatment and privileges, there is nothing inherently wrong in the journalist benefactor understand that.
The problem with favour is more a practical one than one of ethics. Taking a favour may or may not be bad but it look bad depending on what is on the mind of the person offering it and the journalist.
Some media organizations place a monetary limit on accepting these gifts; to others this practice may seem hypocritical. There are those who feel that any gifts regardless of how small should not be accepted on the other hand, nothing more than more politeness may be involved. Sambe & Ikoni (2004:182) points out that
Many media organizations forbid their journalists from receiving gifts, free tickets, care, accommodation and meals by organizers of events and there are also free admission to theatre or cinema, or exhibition, show or paid events. Such rewards sometimes get journalists emotionally entangled and present conflict of interest situations.
More so media institutions therefore, prefer to adequately provide financially for their journalists so that they would not be in want and be independent at all times, so that in whatever situation they are independent of their hosts. Kombol (2002:63) contributing to this issue he says
Some Nigerian journalists demand gratification for service provided in the guise of transport fare or honorarium, as a result the journalist twists facts to suit the client it must be noted that brown envelops are not the same with tips.
The collection of rewards and this gratification from source sometime make reporters to write their stories in favour of their source. Some reporters reveals that some time they collect this envelops but do not want to write in favour of their source but when getting to the offices their editors edit the stories in such a way that will pleased the sources. Journalist are influence through many ways and bring pressure on him to modify the performance of the communicator. Reporter may be offered gratification, praise and rewards such gifts meanly chip away at the ethical sensitivities by explaining why they are permissible. It could also take another form of a frontal and public attack aimed at drawing sympathy from the audience and discrediting the communicators.
Contributing to this issue Akinfeleye and Okeye (2003:148) says that:
This injunction is not for the journalist to keep. It is also a clear message to the publisher who sees his medium as a weapon of access to mouth-watering contracts from government” he finally say that we do not want this type in our journalism profession.
Bittner (1989:396) adds that at the time he never thought much about it but there are those who would say that personal ethics should prevent even this amount of gratuity.
Others would argue that each individual must determine for themselves if they can remain objective after accepting a gift, be it and even international travel.
Other journalists assert that collecting brown envelop is not good because nothing goes for nothing in the sense that the person giving you the envelop sometimes attach meaning to it and if you have conscience you have to write your story in such a way that it will suit them.
Some journalists agreed that it is unethical to accept any gift of value from a news source. Some editors contend that it is unethical to accept any gifts periods.
Tim Wood in Bruce and Douglas (1997:452) contend that accepting gifts usually is a judgment call, for example, several organizations bring food to the office during the holiday season. It is unethical to accept this food, because it has little monetary value. Turning it down could be interpreted as an insult, the people who bring this rewards sometimes don’t expect anything in return.
Black et al (1995:103) pointed out that reporter should accept nothing of value from news source or others outside the profession. All these rewards and gratification should not be accepted.
There are many issues which characterize the mass media, in fact, the mass media have thorny issues characterizing their content as well as their socio-political and economic relationship with the society.
The acceptance of rewards and gratification have a lot of implication on news reportage because every human being that has conscience after collecting this will not want to offend his source, so he will have to write his news in such a way that his source will be pleased with him because of the bribe he has collected. Thus the reporter should have in mind that this is against his profession.
This is causing serious effect in the news reportage of which journalism practice is based on fairness, objectivity and accuracy among others, so such issues like brown envelop should be avoided. These gifts can compromise the integrity of journalist and their employers.
These rewards seduce the reporter. These gifts are given with the intention to create a relationship where the journal will fail to support facts that would tend to hurt his benefactor. This leads to puffing, cover ups, omissions and outright manipulations of facts of the news story.
RELATED EMPIRICAL STUDIES
Journalist says that personal ethics should prevent event this of gratuity. There is a practical example of collecting rewards and gratification given by Godwin and Ron (1994:83) which they states that “Before the gulf war in 1991, it was widely reported that Kuwait routinely offered reporters Mercedes automobiles, which many British and continental journalis5ts were quite willing to accept also German large discounts on automobiles and tax breaks were also offered to journalist in the name of appreciation.
In some cases this gifts trail journalists in their work, while various media establishments have banned acceptance of gifts in their ethical codes.
Another empirical study is that of on Wednesday 10th November 2010, BBC world service focus on Africa reports that 2 journalists and a lawyer were charged to court for demanding the sum of 500,000 dollars from top government official in Uganda in order to seize investigating into the alleged corruption scandal in his public office.
This is has damage the reputation of the journalist and the entire media organization.
Conclusively, this study identifies multifarious corrupt practices that are affecting news reportage but I know the country could still develop and sustain this through coherent tacklements.
Professionals concerned with the news industry should standardize policy attention will also help the industry to grow.
Corruption is multidimensional and needs to be fought on different fronts simultaneously. Since the causes and process of corruption vary the resulting differences need to be taken into account in the design of anti-corruption strategies.
To counter the temptations of gifts, established and well capitalized media establishment pay full expenses and provide for extra expenses for their reporters.
Reporters should accept nothing of value from news sources or others outside the profession that is all this favours should not be accepted.
Reporters must avoid gifts and favours that turns out to be bribe, such gestures sometimes compromise the integrity of the journalist and the institution he represent.
The Nigerian mass media being the watchdog of the nation should be effective and honest in reporting events in the country and beyond those concerns the citizing and should not durge in discharge of its functions.
Media proprietors should live up to their contractual regular salaries and as the provision of appropriate work environment.
Reporters should avoid gifts that turn out to be bribe; also journalist should neither solicit nor accept, payment to suppressor publishes information. Because to demand payment for the publication of news in inimical to the notion of news as a fair, accurate, unbiased and factual report of an event.
Akinfeleye, R.A. (2003) Issues in Nigerian Media history: 1900 – 2000 AD. Lagos Malthouse Press, Ltd.
Bittner, J.R. (1989) Mass Communication An introduction. (5th) Prentice Hall, Inc.
Black ,s (1995) doing ethics in journalism ,a handbook with case studies massachusehs, ally and becon.
Dominick, J.R. (1994). The dynamics of mass communication. McGraw-Hill, Inc.
Kombol, M.A. (2002) Elements of Journalistic style. Makurdi: Starix book.
Makurdi journal of communication research major (maiden issue July –December 2009) The benue valley: journal of interdisciplinary studies.vol.6nai 2007.
SAmbe, J.A. & Ikoni U.D. (2004) Mass Media law and ethics in Nigeria. Ibadan: Caltop Ublishers Ltd.
POST GRADUATE SCHOOL,
DEPARTMENT OF MASS COMMUNICATION
BENUE STATE UNIVERSITY, MAKURDI, BENUE STATE
NAME: IGBOLO, PETER LIWHOH
SEMINAR ON CORRUPTION IN THE NIGERIAN PRESS
TOPIC: THE IMPACT OF CORRUPTION ON PRESS RESPONSIBILITY IN NIGERIA
This paper endeavours to critically examine the efficacy of, and continued justification for the watchdog role of the Press in Nigeria against the backdrop of its poor rating in relation to corruption. As a watchdog of the society, one of the primary roles among others for which the society solely depends on the Press is the dissemination of necessary information to ensure the maintenance of positive standards. Thus the Press, through its reportage of the society, strives to herald positive social conduct while conversely condemning the negative and ensuring that the appropriate authorities are put on notice for the purpose of bringing culprits to book. It would therefore, become absord if the Press that is expected to blow the whistle on corruption is similarly caught up in this same social milieu. Questions inevitably would arise as to the Press justification in continuing to assume the watchdog responsibility when it has equally failed to live above board. The Press is an integral part of the society, and like the parts of a body, it cannot totally and completely isolate itself from the characteristic nature of the larger society. And even as a natural consequence of human nature, there must exist a set of discordant tunes in the mix.
Corruption in Nigeria has become so widely notice, acknowledged and acquiesced a fact and tool of practice that one realistically pauses to wonder if this country could reasonably survive without it. Both in the public and private sectors of the society, this menace has assumed such monumental malignant cancerous proportions in the daily lives of the people, such that one is taken aback when confronted by one who seems to be the odd factor, who is not guilty of this practice. So prominent and renowned is this phenomenon associated with Nigeria the world over, that Nigerians in different walks of life have had to embarrassingly contend with its negative consequences whenever they venture beyond the shores of our international borders.
Corruption in Nigeria knows no bounds, neither is it specifically associated with a particular class of individuals in the society. According to Sesaro, the Nigerian Press has always been a corrupt body, the level of corruption being almost legendary. The only difference with current revelations is that stories are filtering out from within its camp. Nigerian journalists (most of them) are merely a reflection of the Nigerian sickness. However, the level of uncontrolled greed, avarice and lack of self respect amongst them is alarming, almost out of proportion to the malaise afflicting the Nigerian nation. They are greedy, shameless and simply operate on no moral code of conduct. They will write anything as long as money can exchange hands. It is nothing new to learn that stories are buried in Nigeria. It is also a well known fact that Nigerian journalists would publish any useless story as long as such have been paid for. The public have been fed with half-truths and distorted concoctions borne out of kleptomaniac dispositions.
It also stands to be emphasised that corruption in the Nigerian press is not confined to the top echelon alone. It involves the rank and file.
Rather, from the most highly placed to the least, each position of responsibility readily designs its unique set of unofficial rules that either accommodate or promote corrupt practices. Even among those charged with the leadership role of the country, who variously profess and initiate measures targeted as stemming corruption have at one time or another been found wanting and guilty of that which they proclaim naught.
Least of all and contrary to all expectations, the security operatives whose constitutional responsibility is to combat crime of which corruption is one are neck-deep in this unwholesome practice. The extent to which this sector is acknowledged to be enmeshed in this practice is so alarming that one is sometimes tempted to call for the summary elimination of the sector from the social system. For now, the society seems to be placed in the dilemma of the devil and the deep blue sea. With such a scenario, who can and will bail the cat? What reasonable expectations would justifiably lead to the assumption that the case of the Press should be otherwise when they equally inhabit the same sphere of existence with those who are subjects of the dog watch. Granted, that a responsible Press must be guided by the tenets of Press responsibility which observance would, of course, not be realistically expected to be 100%. Should the failings of a proportional section of the professional class be visited on others leading to the total condemnation of the whole? Of course not, because even in this negative perspective, there also abound within the significant proportion whose premium on strict observance of professional ethics is unshakeable. These still keep the ray of hope alive, and rather than dampening their expectations, the society should apply more grease to their elbows for their steadfastness.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Corruption has become a widespread, commonly associated factor in the Nigerian context. This practice is acknowledged as not being restricted by any bounds whatsoever. This therefore, means that even the Press whose primary responsibility it is to blow the whistle on this debilitating practice are invariably equally involved in it too. This is evident in the series of media publicities to this effect both involving individual practitioners and often times the media establishments too. The question therefore arises that where the Press is equally guilty of the sin of corruption, what moral right or justification do they have to maintain the watchdog function on other sectors of the society? Since by their nature, the Press has the opportunity of assessing the media of communication which they employ to draw attention to other erring members of the society, who then would do the same for them in their turn when they are guilty of the same offence? After all, we live in a society that professes equality and therefore, what is good for the goose should equally be good for the gander.
The following research questions have been posed for consideration in this study:
1. Is the Press’ watchdog role truly absolute and justifiable?
2. Should the Press retain the watchdog role even when equally guilty of corruption?
3. At what stage should the Press loss the right of recognition as watchdogs?
4. When the Press errs, who then should cry foul?
DEFINITION OF TERMS
All terms used in this presentation are intended to be understood in their normal wider contextual application.
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
Proceeding from a definition of the term corruption, there usually is a difficulty in defining this concept. Because of its relativity one cannot therefore simply put forward a dogmatic definition of the concept. However, that is not to say that we must not strive to put up an acceptable definition of corruption. We therefore need to determine what corruption is all about, so as to get a better perspective of it. The need for an operational definition is critical if we are to agree on what constitutes corruption. This is no overall perspective that would warrant an accepted definition of corruption. This is one of the most formidable obstacles to the study of corruption. Corruption is coined from the Latin word; corruptus which in essence means to destroy. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia offers that Corruption is essentially an impairment of integrity, virtue or moral principle; depravity, decay, and/or an inducement to do wrong by improper or unlawful means, a departure from the original or from what is pure or correct, and/or an agency or influence that corrupts. According Jeremy Pope (2000), corruption is defined simply the misuse of entrusted power for private benefit.
Simply put, corruption is giving or obtaining advantage through means which are illegitimate, immoral, and/or inconsistent with one’s duty or the rights of others. Corruption often results from patronage.
According to the Report of the Common Wealth Expert Group on Good Governance and the Elimination of Corruption, in the book Fighting Corruption – promoting Good Governance, produced by the Common Wealth Secretariat 2000, Corruption is generally defined as the abuse of public office for private gain. This definition has been encaged because of the widened scope of corruption to cover the abuse of all offices of trust for private gain, whether in the public or private sectors. Corruption manifest itself in various ways and it is useful to distinguish between Personal Corruption (motivated by personal gain) and Political Corruption (motivated by political gain). A further distinction can be made between individual corruption and organizational or institutional corruption. In the context of the state, corruption most often refers to criminal or otherwise unlawful conduct by Government Agencies, or by officials of these organizations acting in the course of their employment.
Joseph Nye (1967), defines corruption as a behavior which deviates from the normal duties of a public role because of private – regarding (family, close private clique), pecuniary or status gain, or violates rules against the exercise of private-regarding influence. This includes such behavior as bribery (use of reward to prevent the judgment of a person in a position of trust); nepotism (bestowal of patronage by reason of ascriptive relationship rather than merit); and misappropriation (illegal appropriation of public resources for private-regarding use).
In all the definitions of corruption given so far, it could be observed that corruption is seen as among others, the abuse of public office, the abuse of all offices of trust, misappropriation, private gain etc.
On their part, Transparency International (TI) has chosen a clear and focused definition of the term: Corruption is operationally defined as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. TI further differentiates between “according to rule” corruption and “against the rule” corruption. Facilitation payments, where a bribe is paid to receive preferential treatment for something that the bribe receiver is required to do by law, constitute the former. The latter, on the other hand, is a bribe paid to obtain services the bribe receiver is prohibited from providing.
Corruption is a type of strategic action in which two or more actors undertake an exchange relation by way of a successful transfer of money (material) or power (political or status) or promoting of gene (genetic), which sidesteps legality or morality or civility to regulate the relation. It is a strategic interaction or an art of nonviolent negotiation.
Agreeably, corruption is a worldwide phenomenon, elements of corruption are found in almost all countries of the world. However, it must be said that the incidences of corruption are much more prevalent in developing countries like Nigeria. As noted by Anderson, James H. et al (1999)
The conditions of these countries are such that corruption is likely to have different causes and consequences than in more developed countries. The socio-economic conditions in low income countries are more conducive to the growth of corruption. Corruption is a symptom of deep-rooted economic and political weaknesses and shortcomings in the legislative and judicial system of the country. To aggravate the situation, accountability in these countries is generally weak, the chances of being caught are small and the penalties when caught are light.
In a corrupt system, characteristics such as infrastructural decay, lack of patriotism, subjugation of collective interests, improper implementation of policies and programmes and a disconnect between vision and its realization are prevalent.
According to findings, much research work has been done on the detrimental effect of corruption in development. Studies show that a corrupt country is likely to achieve aggregate investment levels of almost 5 per cent less than a relatively uncorrupt country and to lose about half a percentage point of gross domestic product per year. It is also shown to slow down FDI. Investing in a relatively corrupt country, as compared with an uncorrupt one, is estimated to be equivalent to 20 percent private tax on investment.
High levels of corruption reduce economic growth. It can distort the allocation of resources and the performance of government in many ways. It has a pervasive and troubling impact on the poor, since it distorts public choices in favor of the wealthy and powerful, and reduces the state’s capacity to provide social safety nets (UNDP, 2000).
It exacerbates poverty, most especially in developing and transitional economies. Among the identified effects of a corrupt regime are:
• Lower level of social services
• Infrastructure projects biased against the poor, since public officials will design public projects that will maximize bribery receipts and minimize the chance of detection
• Higher tax burdens and fewer services
• Lower opportunities for farmers to sell their produce and for SMEs to flourish, as their ability to escape poverty using their livelihood will be severely restricted by corruption of the state regulatory apparatus.
According to the UNDP report (2004), that more insidiously, corruption has a far reaching negative effect on the national psyche which eventually goes back to undermine the whole system of good governance itself. Systemic corruption breeds a culture of corruption and skews the people’s perception of what is right and wrong. For a number of countries where it has been effectively institutionalized, where wealth and power have become the measure of success, corruption has become socially acceptable, sometimes even aspired to. Energies of a large number of people are channeled towards occupying positions in the government to partake of the fruits of a corrupt system.
Around the globe, corruption impacts people’s lives in a multitude of ways. In the worst cases, corruption costs lives. In countless other cases, it costs their freedom, health, or money. It has dire global consequences, trapping millions in poverty and misery, while breeding social, economic and political unrest. Corruption is both a cause of poverty, and a barrier to overcoming it.
Corruption thrives where temptation coexists with permissiveness. Where institutional checks on power are missing, where decision making remains obscure, where civil society is thin on the ground, where great inequalities in the distribution of wealth condemn people to live in poverty, which is where corrupt practices flourish. It cannot be stressed enough that corruption is alive and well even where political, economic, legal and social institutions are well entrenched.
The rot in the system is so deep the country needs deep cleansing. There is no institution in the country not affected and/or afflicted. It is even worse when the media, who ideally should be watchdogs have cut the virus. Journalists and newspaper editors make themselves unofficial press agents for our lootocrats, this is a major problem. Newspapers dish out awards for monetary gains to confirmed crooks..
The cost of corruption is four-fold: political, economic, social, and environmental. The effect of corruption on the social fabric of society is the most damaging of all. It undermines people’s trust in the political system, in its institutions and its leadership. Frustration and general apathy among a disillusioned public result in a weak civil society. That in turn clears the way for despots as well as democratically elected yet unscrupulous leaders to turn national assets into personal wealth. Demanding and paying bribes become the norm. Those unwilling to comply often emigrate, leaving the country drained of its most able and most honest citizens.
Rick Stapenhurst (2000) states that corruption is a negative factor which must not be allowed to grow. He said in his paper that “available evidence shows that if corruption is not contained, it will grow. Once a pattern of successful bribes is institutionalized, corrupt officials have an incentive to demand larger bribes, engendering a “culture” of illegality that in turn breeds market inefficiency”
The foregoing assertions have shown to us clearly that Corruption is an evil which must be combated as fiercely as possible with all the resources available. The press must however be in the fore front in this fight. Indeed, Section 22 of Nigerian’s 1999 constitution gives this specific assignment of serving as the watchdog of the society to the media.
The scales are not only tilted against the menace of corruption but also considering the relevance of the Press in such a situation, Sesora while commenting on Mr Azubuike Ishiekwene’s case, observed that the role of the media is no doubt critical in promoting good governance and curbing corruption. The media does not only raise public awareness about corruption, cause consequences and possible remedies, but also investigates and reports incidences of corruption.
A critical element of a country’s anti-corruption programme primarily should be an effective media; and the effectiveness of the media depends on access to information and freedom of expression, as well as a professional and ethical cadre of investigative journalists. In addition, such issues as private versus public ownership of the media, the need for improved protection of journalists who investigate corruption and media regulation are critical. The corrupting of the media mission through excessive reliance on advertisers and sponsors is one of the major problems in Nigeria, where political manipulation remains a more powerful influence.
The Nigerian news media, especially the Print Media have been unrelenting in carrying news reports on corruption and related matters. Infact this is the most important way the press has helped in the anticorruption crusade. Through collaboration with the anti graft and other law enforcement agencies, the press has exposed corruption by many highly and lowly placed officials. Such reports in the press have led to removal, resignation and prosecution of highly placed officials.
The press has also helped in unearthing corruption through investigative reporting thereby prompting anti graft agencies to launch investigation into such matters. A ready example is the allegation of financial impropriety leveled against the former Deputy National Chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman. He was alleged to have spearheaded a monumental mismanagement of the funds of the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) when he was chairman of the authority. Although the investigation was conducted and concluded by EFCC under earstwhile Chairman of EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, it is doubtful if the report could see the light of the day given the closeness of the accused to the seat of power, if not for the exposure of the investigation and its conclusions by The News Magazine and related reports by many other newsmedia. Another very relevant case is the allegation of secret telephone conversation against chairman Justice Thomas Naron and members of the Osun State First Elections Tribunal who were said to be involved in secret telephone conversation with one of the counsels in the matter before them. This is regarded as illegal, unethical and a gross misconduct in administration of justice. With the report, The News Magazine has opened a new window in investigative journalism from the angle of advantages offered by the GSM technology. The case is currently being investigated by the EFCC and other security agencies.
The press, through the consistent reports and news analysis on anti corruption issues has helped in reinforcing values of honesty and integrity in the society. The press has constituted itself to a positive force which has etched anti-corruption crusade in the consciousness of the people. Of course, corruption could not be said to have reduced drastically as there are dearth of ready statistics to support this, It could however be said that anti-corruption issues have been brought into the front burner of national discuss.
The issue of the press and corruption has become so complex that one no longer knows what to categorically call corruption in the Nigerian press. For many years, many editors and media house owners have condoned and still condone certain practices which could be regarded as unethical in the strict sense of the word. Some say it is a survivalist measure. I dare to say that the situation is same with most of our top media houses. It is common practice for media house owners and directors to ‘kill’ stories for various reasons that bother on vested business or sundry interests. Most of them use stories that are perceived as capable of damaging the reputation of certain organisations to ‘blackmail’ the organisations into doing business with them. Most times, the affected companies, in order to cover their misdeeds or mistakes, are ready to play ball. So, who do we really blame for this menace? Where do we start and where do we end?
Stories have been told of brown envelopes that change hands at press conferences. He told stories of the extent to which the Nigerian politicians and other affluent Nigerians would go to suppress stories or promote rubbish. Accepting brown envelopes is a mere part of the trade for the Nigerian journalist. In fact, they are expected and looked forward to.
The Nigerian journalist remains an indictable part of the Nigerian problem begging for an urgent solution. They worship money and would rather prefer to serve on the altar of Mormon. Now is the era of the greedy and hungry, the glorification of the flotsams and jetsam’s of the profession, amply encouraged and sustained by unscrupulous and corrupt Nigerians. It is indeed a field day for corruption.
However, it would be so difficult to crucify the Nigerian press without taking into consideration the environment that led to the germination, fertilisation and breeding of so much corruption. Nigeria remains a maze, a contradiction par excellence. Here is a country that glorifies everything beautiful and yet perpetuates everything so odious and evil. It is only in Nigeria that an arm-chair General would be allocated an oil block only for him to realise over 100million dollars for which he was at loss as to how to spend. Our National Assembly remains the international headquarters of graft and corruption. Our unchecked giant strides in this regard would ultimately lead to the enshrining of graft in our nation’s laws and statues as a national heritage. The Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representative boldly invested over 800 million naira in a custom-made bullet-proof vehicle. Appointed ministers routinely pay “homage” in different currencies to our esteemed legislators. Even the state assemblies are not left behind. It is one spectacle of corruption trailing another. These wicked antics of our despicable leaders are routinely suppressed by the Azubuikes of the media in a law of omerta only achievable with the greasing of palms.
Holding the Press responsible for its woes, some commentators opined that The Fourth Estate in Nigeria remains comatose and is afflicted from the debilitating influence of corruption and brutality it took under the successive military and/or other regimes that suppressed or bought press freedom as the case maybe.
Today many sections of this most important of estates have sold and continue to sell their obligations for money. They are now part and parcel of the malignant cancer that destroys any hope for Nigeria in that many of the home news houses are nothing more than self-censoring commentators for the 36 state capitals and Aso Rock. A most pitiable and sorry state.
They contend further that ever since Dele Giwa was brutally murdered and his co-Directors at Newswatch became government contractors and board members of government owned companies, the Nigerian media had turned into one behemoth of corruption. In those days, newspapers and editors went out of their way to dig out news – and dirt – in the finest traditions of investigative journalism. Today, newspapers and their editors are the ones hiding the news and dirt from the public in return for cash and influence. It is a known fact that the no reporter will report an event or cover it unless he/she is settled, and that no media house will publish or broadcast the event unless their editors and ogas are adequately settled. They then conclude that “the ethical rot in the Nigerian media is high and deep. If you really know what goes on behind closed doors in Nigerian newsrooms, you won’t read a newspaper again”.
What is held against the Press from the above discourse is only reminiscent of what transpires in the larger society. It has been acknowledged that Nigeria is corruption personified without any special ranking. According to media reports, the corruption of the Nigerian political process is now in full swing: major payments are now being made to each of the delegates of the political parties — particularly the overwhelmingly large ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) — who decide the primary elections which then select the party candidate for the presidential elections in 2011. Moreover, the incumbent President, Goodluck Jonathan, is said to be bribing PDP delegates out of Federal Government funds, making most of the party delegates wealthy enough to buy a new home with the bribery money.
This study adopts the Pluralist/Functionalist Perspective as an apt theory to ground the circumstances of the issues address. According to Mr. Ijwo, it is otherwise known as the Structural Functionalist theory, is credited to Parsons and holds that every society consists of a plurality of interests, view, values, institutions all of which are necessary for the existence of the society. It presumes that neither of these components is superior or predominant, rather each is an integral part of the whole. Each of these competing components basically functions to maintain the system. The Press which is one of such serves the society by creating public opinion favourable for a stable, ordered society through educating, entertaining, conscientizing, informing and socializing the people. Structural-functionalist theory (including here Parsonian theory and those influenced by it, and structural-functionalist versions of Marxism), is characterized by a number of important features; and there are some questions which need to be answered.
1. Structural-functionalists assume that society is a system.
2. Since the elements are characterized functionally, we need to know what they do and how they relate to other parts of the system. This is established empirically.
3. We can ask if these functions are ‘latent’ or ‘manifest.’ Merton (1948) defines manifest functions as ‘those objective consequences contributing the adjustment or adaptation of the system which are intended and recognized by participants in the system.’ Latent functions are ‘neither intended or recognized.’
4. It is often assumed that there is some condition which defines the ends or goals of the system.
5. As regards social systems, there is a problem of what counts as ‘internal’ to the system and what counts as ‘external’ to it. (As the term implies, for ‘world system’ theorists, no single society is an isolated system.)
6. A functionalist explains by showing that some element is functionally necessary for the system to be in its goal-state.
RELATED EMPIRICAL STUDIES
In a paper titled Nigerian Print Media and the Fight against Corruption presented by Alawode, Oyewole M, At The 4TH NATIONAL CONFERENCE Of SCHOOL OF ARTS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES,THE OSUN STATE COLLEGE OF EDUCATION, ILESHA November 18th – 21st 2008, This paper examines the efforts of the print media, the newspapers and news magazine in fighting corruption, especially since the establishment of the two Anti Corruption agencies; the ICPC and the EFCC by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. How have the print media assisted in the fight against corruption especially in reporting and exposing the scourge as well as helping to propagate the role of the anti-corruption agencies? Simple content analysis of newspapers and news magazines since the beginning of the current civilian dispensation in Nigeria, especially news reports and analyses shows indeed that an appreciable space are devoted to anticorruption reporting. The effects of these reports are manifest in the improvement in Nigeria’s ranking by the Transparency International and in other areas. The paper considers the constraints being faced by the media industry in waging effective war against corruption and make recommendations. In addition to this, the study reviewed a paper presented by Jenny Balboa and Erlinda M. Medalla and titled Anti-Corruption and Governance: The Philippine Experience presented at the forum organized by USAID, Foreign Aid in the National Interest, 2002. This rich material provided a lot of useful information about the relationship between the Press and corruption as it affects development and other spheres of national life. The study further reviewed a book titled Corruption in Nigeria : The Niger Delta Experience Edited by Christian Akani. This book documents five presentations made at a two-day conference on corruption, organised by the Institute for Academic Freedom, University of Port Harcourt in May 2000. The editor provides an overview, observing the extent to which the crisis of corruption – indivisible from the crisis of the Nigerian state and the colonial legacy – impinges upon national economic calculations; and sets out the anti-corruption and good-governance manifesto and the human rights agenda of the conference. The ensuing papers cover, and present possible solutions for: the political economy of corruption; the Nigerian state as an instrument of corruption; corruption and the challenges of development; and underdevelopment and corruption. Finally, the study reviewed the work of Dr. Abubakar H. Kargbo titled Corruption: Definition and Concept Manifestations and Typology in the Africa Context, presented at a forum organized for the The Training for Members of parliament and members of Civil Society from English speaking West Africa: Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, Bitumani Hotel, Aberdeen, 4th – 8th September 2006. Thus, in addition to defining corruption and setting out its relationship with government business, it concludes by providing an exhaustive catalogue of consequences attending corruption to include:
Ø Corruption slows down investment and economic growth, the fact that bribery contracts are unlike regular contracts that are enforceable.
Ø Corruption raises the cost of doing business. Officials may introduce certain conditions to ensure that they get bribes, through delays and unnecessary requirements.
Ø Corruption discourages new ideas and innovations.
Ø Corruption leads to the decline in real per capita incomes, inflation, a widening budget and balance of payment deficits, and declining official production and exports:
Ø Corruption promotes inequality among firms
Ø Corruption leads to a reduction in the quality of products.
Ø Corruption diverts funds from investment and other production activities.
Ø Politically, corruption leads to a loss of faith on the part of the people and thus its legitimacy and power. Political equality and democratic values are undermined.
Ø Corruption strengthens bad governance, through the absence of the rule of Law, respect for human rights, no accountability, and transparency.
Ø Corruption has also led to massive neglect of the social sector, which has substantially decreased the quality of human resources in African states over the years. The provision of educational and health opportunities have been limited, this impacting negatively on the quality of life, labour, productivity, incomes, innovativeness, competitiveness, and poverty reduction in Africa States
Ø Donor’s creditability has also been eroded. There have been instances in which donors have been critical as to the commitment of Africa State in handling corruption in their respective states.
Ø Corruption has also led to the weakness of structure and institutions crucial for better governance.
Ø Generally speaking, corruption is a species of governance failure and can only be mitigated when Africa states are committed to ensure Good Governance. Existing structures and institutions such as Anti-Corruption Commissions and Bureaus should be strengthened and the national Campaigns against corruption intensified in African Countries. Unless and until Africans are committed, corruption is the cancer that will eat up all the socio-economic and political achievements of the continent and Africa might not see the light of day.
From the above presentation, it is obvious that the characteristics of the press in a given society cannot be distinguished from the nature of the society itself. Just like the media or press takes on the colouration of the political system in its professional practice, so also are they overwhelmingly influenced by the social disposition of the society that they find themselves. As with all societies, not all its inhabitants could be classified the same characteristically. Just as some may be positively disposed, others most certainly will be negatively disposed as well. The same goes for the Press in Nigeria. Though they assume the watchdog function in the society, only a percentage of the practitioners would recognize and respect the professional ethics of practice. The other percentage would be tainted by the society’s negative traits and would have no need to observe their professional ethics of practice. This category, it is that easily become apostles of corruption in tune with the society’s norm and value system.
Because Nigeria as a nation has been widely acknowledged to be corruption personified, its media practitioners cannot be expected to fare any better. Gone are the days when we use to have reliable investigative news. The consequence of the protracted era of military oppressive rule has numbed the consciences. This in addition to the widespread spate of corruption associated with top government officials and leaders has only served to present corruption as a normal course of life in Nigeria. Why then can one expect the press or media practitioners to act differently when it is easier and more convenient to tow the line of others who command authority.
The press is only a minute reflection of what constitutes the entity called Nigeria. As an appendage of the nation, the press is like a branch attached to the trunk of the tree. Whatever affects the trunk equally affects the branches. Any reasonable expectation of positive change in relation to the press must start from a positive re-orientation of the national psyche and disposition. In fact, what is required is a collective approach towards imbibing positive change in all ramifications. The legal system must be conditioned to appropriately deal with situations of legal infractions brought before it without fear or favour. The security agencies must de-emphasize extraneous pecuniary rewards and consideration and take on their responsibilities more seriously and conscientiously. In a similar vein, those charged with the leadership role must discharge it selflessly and resolve to pursue all forms of corruption and lawlessness summarily and conclusively to a logical conclusion. Then also would the press be given a free hand to perform their responsibilities without fear or favour. At all times, reward for excellence should not rank the same with inducement intended to procure unmerited favours. All practitioners must learn to observe a high sense of responsibility and stand tall to defend whatever action taken for public interest. The interest of the self should not supersede that of the public will.
1. Abubakar H. Kargbo (2006) Corruption: Definition and Concept Manifestations and Typology in the Africa Context.
2. Corruption and Good Governance, Discussion paper 3, UNDP New York, 1997.
3. Corruption in Nigeria: The Niger Delta Experience| 2002 | Fourth Dimension Publishing Company, Nigeria, Christian Akani (ed)
4. Daniel Jordan Smith (2008) A Culture of Corruption: Everyday Deception and Popular Discontent in Nigeria
5. Dr Olusegun Fakoya(2010) Nigeria Mass Media – The Fourth Estate Of Graft
6. Global Corruption Report 2003, Transparency International, London.
7. Global Corruption Report 2005, Transparency International, London.
8. http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/corruption.html#ixzz153jEF84F; retrieved 11/11/2010
9. http://www.clad.org.ve/klit3.htm.p.1; retrieved 11/11/2010
10. http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2005; retrieved 11/11/2010
11. Jeremy Pope (2000) Comforting Corruption: The elements of a National Integrity System, Transparency
International, Berlin, Germany.
12. Joseph Nye (1967) Article titled Corruption and Political Development: A Cost-Benefit Analysis, American
Political Science Review, Vol 61, No2, June 1967
INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM AND SDANDALB REPORTING
OCHOLI JOSEPH ABRAHAM
THE DEPARTMENT OF MASS COMMUNINATION
This paper explores the role of the press in reporting scandals through a journalistic style known as investigative reporting. Investigative reporting is one of the several methods available to the journalist as he gathers information for broadcast or publication. It involves in-depth investigation into matters of grave interest to the society and serves as a manual of directives on the necessary steps the journalist must evolve to solve a very delicate issue that will expose nefarious activities like, dangerous crimes which include, murder, kidnapping, terrorism and corruption in society. As watch dogs of the society, journalists are saddled with the task of investigating corrupt practices in government which has become a canker worm plaguing our administrators and hindering development. The journalists as members of the Nigerian society are not spared from this situation. This paper attempts therefore to critically asses how the journalist particularly within the broadcast industry has performed its duties in providing information to the society. How it has acted within the dictates of ethical requirements demanded by its social responsibity clause. The paper x-rays the function of the journalist as he/she attempts to expose those involved in scandal in government in Nigeria. In other words, this paper explores the role of the pressmen in reporting scandals.
The Press is usually machines and or equipment that aid the production and dissemination of professionally mediated messages to a large identified audience. The press and its ability to carry information are often interchanged with the word mass media while, the professionals who often professionally package these information for audience consumption are known as journalists. Journalists are constitutionally empowered in Nigerian to serve as the bridge between the governed and government. In other words, it is the statutory responsibility of the journalist to use all means and methods legal to bring the activity of government to the people. This responsibility is predicated on the thinking that, for government to be seen as transparent and above board, their activities must be made known to the people it governs and must yield itself to scrutiny. Sambe (2005:37) in supporting this comment asserts that:
in performing its watch dog or surveillance function…. the mass media in Nigeria keeps watch over government, its three arms and the entire society, so as to keep their performance up to the expected standard that would encourage the development of the country.
This commitment points to the fact that, the media have the capability to carry information with great speed to a vary long distance and to a large diverse group of people at the same time. To achieve this, the journalists approaches his duties bearing in mind, societies expectation. Society expects the journalists to address his/her self to her duty doggedly with out fear or favour, but with a true sense of duty, commitment, objectivity and balance, pursuing truth only and bringing fort, all information no matter who is involved. In other to achieve the afore-mentioned, the journalist results to a genre of information gathering otherwise known as investigative journalism. By investigative journalism, it means the information to be so reported must be well researched, painstaking confirmed and thoroughly analyzed and made understandable to the audience it is meant for. Investigative reporting recognizes that, the society is changing and growing more complex thus, any report on events must be approached conscientiously, with clear and detailed explanation as well as interpretation. The investigative method suggest that the journalist must take on more delicate and complicated process to find out issues, events institutions, and relationships among people. Idemili (1992), so maintain that;
Investigative reporting has now begun to change the definition of news value. It is gradually shifting news reporting from the old style of reporting on spectacular single incidents and personal crimes to more original conscious reporting on the systematic operations of societies.
With recourse to the statement above, it is evident that the investigative journalist does not wait for news to happen, he is not given to events and locational beats.
According to Williams (1978:xi),
The beat system encourages the reporter to accept the official version of events. It restricts his movements
On the other hand William explains further,
The modern public affairs/investigative reporter invert tradition. He resists daily dead lines. He cuts across beat lines to pursue trouble wherever it originates. His main question is the essential question “why”.
The conscious aversion to accepted ways of reporting says Williams
is perhaps the most important gifts of today’s investigative reporter. He is not content to scoring a scoop saying that a public figure is under official investigation. He is searching instead for, the problems that government officials ignore.
In Nigeria therefore the investigative journalist is expected to direct his/her inquiry on why, one class of Nigerian citizens escape prosecution for corrupt practices and, illegal enrichment, while another class faces swift retribution or, why for instance are those responsible for the tragic modern of personalities that fall victim to political assertions not hunted and brought to justice. This are questions that frequently occupy the lips of the Nigerian people who the press of media conferment are supposed to exposed. Instead, corruption has been on the increase, government officials loot the treasury and still flowed their wealth and use it to oppress members of society whom the journalist have accepted responsibility to protect even when different theories of the press print to the enormous powers of the press in exposing actions of different aspects of society and bring to justice. Will it be justified to say that the Nigerian journalist is not professional to the extent of getting results that will liberate society? This and many others are the questions this study attempts to unravel. Apart from the above, the investigative journalist has joined the bandwagon of corruption. As such abdicates this role to report scandals to society.
How does the present media and political colouration affect the structure and operations of the journalist in his/her report of scandals/corrupt practices in Nigeria?
How do the regulatory laws/agencies in the broadcast media place any restrictions on the media reportage of corrupt practice?
To what extent is the broadcast journalist free to gather information and air same on the radio or television?
The inability of the broadcast journalist to carry out in-depth investigation on corrupt practices of government is largely due to a number of factors as literatures related to this discuss have shown. Several factors it is gather are responsible and among such is;
CORRUPTION IN THE MEDIA
The corruption that has become a common feature of the Nigerian society did not spear the media sector as it also forms part of the real sectors that are involved in the daily activities of development. The poor remuneration and different activities of media owners which include, their influence on news selection due to the drive for profit, their inability to meet their financial obligation to journalist has already prepared a ground for corruption. A survey study carried out by the International Public Relations Association covering 54 countries listed Nigeria as one of the 10 countries who use the media or pay to sway opinion through the media. It listed brown envelope or stuffing of money in envelopes and giving such money to the journalist as the most common type of corruption in the Nigerian media. According to the report, “Most journalist double as public relations consultants for business organizations or political group for a fee, do any thing from helping to draft press releases to handling of advertising placements (Olaniyan: 2005:137). Apart from Olanyan, Assay (2009:6) asserts that;
The high level of corruption in the media particularly under this democratic dispensation has been the major concern of communication scholars and media professionals.
He asserts further that;
Many are of the views that, editors and reporters compromise their integrity while carrying out their professional duty and this has affected media credibility.
Assay’s assertion points to the fact that, despite the ethical codes of conduct which prescribe how journalists should conduct themselves in the cause of their duties, they still go ahead to accept gratifications to fill stories. Adeyemi (2002:8-9) maintains that “until there is improvement in the welfare of the journalists, there cannot be strict adherence to ethical standards and professionalism”
Apart from Assay and Adeyemi, other sources lend their voice to the wide spread corruption that is plaguing the Nigerian press or journalist. In his contribution captured in the web resource http//www. The Nigerian voice.com/nvmovie/22350/3/Nigeria-mass-media-the-fourth-estate-of-graft.html, Dr. Olusegun Fakoya states that,
The Nigerian press has always been a corrupt body, the level of corruption being almost legendry…they will write anything as long as money can exchange hands…
If Adeyemi and Assay’s assertions are an indictment on the press, the broadcast journalist inclusive, Fakoya’s allegation finally nailed the coffin on the issue. In recent times, there hardly had been any significant reports of corruptions either in the radio or television. Even when public outcry indicate that government officials enrich themselves with public funds, flaunt these wealth and use them to oppress the poor, there hardly any attempt at in-depth investigation of the issue. Gone were the days of fire brand investigation journalism of the likes of Dele Giwa who got killed for his doggedness in investigating delicate issues. There is no doubt that, years after the death of Dele Giwa, the media is still in existence, their roles of watch dog or surveillance still intact and so are society’s expectation even a lot higher. Yet corruption has been on the increase. Usually the question is, will the journalist who is an individual do more than his strength can carry. The answer is yes, and he does not need to exact his energy, but use his professional intellect and the power inherent in the media, with due acknowledgement of societies support. The media as we have known is a powerful agent and if used rightly can serve as an agent of mass mobilization. Oso (2003) points out that, “the mass media have been credited with so much power that, we have come to agree that without them…” Oso also point out that, in Nigeria, “the mass media cannot transcend the level and context provided by the society within which they exist as the media do not exist in a vacuum”. In other words, the media operates within certain social context dedicated to it by the society. Thus if the journalist follows this context and aspires to actualize its tenets and shun its sit tight and lackadaisical attitudes of doing noting or pretending to do something while no effect is observed is certainly not within society’s expectation conferred on the journalist.
POOR SALARIES, OWNERSHIP INFLUENCE
Apart from the corruption that has revenged the media professionals, ownership influence, and poor salaries have added to the much trouble and have reduced the level of performance in investigating scandals in the broad cast industry. The investigative journalist usually takes great risks to which many lost their lives in the process. However, findings show that, they are poorly remunerated. This poor remuneration portends two things, one the journalist can readily back out of any investigation that has high implication to the person being investigated if offered money, as what he gets may not be enough. Secondly, he may refuse to follow a lead in a story when he realizes that, there is danger and if anything goes wrong, he will not have or leave any tangible legacy for his family.
This statement is supported by Assay (2009) who observed that,
…in addition to not being adequately remunerated, journalists in most news organizations have to endure long periods without salaries because their employees simply cannot find the money to meet obligations.
What this portends thus is, the investigative journalists results to all kinds of mischief to make ends meet. Olaniyan (2008:137) observe that;
Only 4 of 14 national newspapers pay their journalist regularly, while the remaining 10 owe their staff at any point in time-anything between two and eight months in salary arrears. Of the 4 which pay regularly, only two pay well above what the Federal Government pays its civil servant.
With this kind of situation described above, no doubt, there is bound to arise mobility of capable hands to other lucrative sectors as asserted earlier by Adeyemi. Apart from this poor remunerations, the owners of media influence the type of information transmitted in the broadcast media. After painstaking investigation it will be very discouraging if such information is not probably published, broadcast or televised, because the media does not want such information in the news. Most times owners of media influence selection of news for broadcast and at such instance, certain news bordering on scandals are stopped from being aired because of the owners affiliation with the parties involved in the scandal, supporting this assertion, Machie (1998:18) stress that;
The press in Nigeria is more responsible to its owners than the society, the press owes its allegiance and dedication first tot eh owners instead of been socially responsibility to the public. It is never critical of its owners views weather government owned or privately owned…however, it affords to go to any length to support vies of those who can buy air time or space (in the case of print media) to publish or broadcast any thing regardless of the interest of the society.
Machie’s assertion paints a valid picture of how the owners of media muffle the voice of journalists who attempt to broadcast stories that have scandals as their theme especially when such issue has a link with the media owners political affiliation or associates. Typical of this is the Nigerian television (NTA) and the other government owned radio station’s lack of interest in the Halliburton scandal, which robs upon some faceless top government officials. The officials involved in this scandal in the United States of American have since been prosecuted and sanctioned along side the company Halliburton. The United State’s government has since indicated its interest to support the Nigerian government with evidence to prosecute its own officials involved but up till now, nothing is being done. One would have expected some broadcast journalist to carryout in-depth investigation on the scandal, and have it broadcast, to inform the public of those involved. But till date nothing has been done. No doubt, no government broadcast media will fund such exercise to the detriment of its paymaster which is the government, while private broadcast stations who may attempt such, risk their stations being sanctioned. A good example is the closing down of the African independent television (AIT) station for broadcasting and televising scenes of the lisa plane crash of 23rd October 2005. Though this issue does not broader on scandal reporting, it points to the enormous powers of the regulatory agency of the broadcast industry. On the enormity of this powers, Ciboh (2005:222), reveal that, “some of those discomforted by NBC’s exercise of power have called on the national assembly;
To re-examine the powers of the NBC to shut down broadcast stations as the illegal and capricious exercise of such powers undoubtedly does gross damage to press freedom and freedom of expression (Okoye, 2005 November 7).
HARASSMENT OF JOURNALIST
According to Assay (2009:8)
Exposing corrupt practices by government officials can be a very herculean task for the media. Officials use the police, thugs and security operative to harass, intimidate, abuse and even assault journalists.
This statement is very true as, in early years of journalism practice and in recent times, a lot of journalists have lost their lives while investigating very delicate scandal stories. A very good example of this is the various arrest, detention and damages of working of fools like cameras, midgets of journalists covering scandals cases. Some even lost their lives in the process. The case of Dele Giwa of the News Watch magazine, and Baguda kaltho of the News are clear examples. Other good examples of harassment and detention are cases like that of Durojaye Rotimi, senior Advocate and Correspondent of Daily Independent, and Bayo Arelubu of African independent Television (AIT) who were arrested and charged to court for seditions by Olusegun Obasenjo’s government in 2006 for reporting on the presidential jet which was purchased with billions of naira. Apart from these arrests in other parts of the country, journalist were being molested for their investigative attempts. For instance, in Benue state, Morris Tsav a journalist was brutally manhandled by security agents for covering reports on the scandals making news of the state governors excuse of carrying a huge sum of money to purchase pigs in China. Likewise, in Eboyi state, two journalists, Imo Eze and Olowole Elenyinmi publisher and general editor of Eboyi voice, a local news paper were arrested and accused of sedition in a story they publisher titled, “Is Ebonyi a Failed State.” The publication which recounted among other allegations, the gross and monumental corrupt practices of the former governor Dr. Sam Egwu.
ACCESS TO PUBLIC RECORDS
One of the great hindrance to investigative reporting of scandal stories is, the lack of access to public records, with reoccurs to the laws governing journalism practice in Nigeria. Prior to this time, certain laws and decrees are in place which restrict the journalist from accessing certain public records. Ciboh (2008: 254) list some of this decrees as the official secrets order enacted by governor glover in 1891 was amended by the official secrets acts in 1962. Momoh (2002). According to Momoh (2002 p 26) in Ciboh 2005; 225)
the law classified matters as, any information of thing which, under any system of security classification from time to time in use by any branch of government, is not to be disclosed to the public and which disclosure to the public would be prejudicial to the security of Nigerian.
Though the Nigeria has since returned to civilian rule starting from May 29, 1999, there is noting or no significant digression from the rules that restated the press or muffed the voice of the broadcast investigative journalist. The only significant deviations were the immediate refusals and mollification of the operations of the military decrees, and replacing them with enforcements of all laws in our statutes book. This thus guaranteed the rights and obligations of citizens. From this year (1999) therefore, the constitution became the gulling principles of the press actions. However, the press was not granted any special privileges in freedom to broadcast other them the same freedom granted every other citizen in Nigerian. Ciboh (2005: 274) maintain that.
The constitutional base of the Nigerian press in the 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria is provided in section 6 (6) (c) which high courts enforcement of chapter 2; section 13, which makes it the duty and responsibility of all organs of government to conform to chapter 2 of the constitution
He states further that it is,
Section 22 which places the duty on the press to monitor governance, section 39, which guarantees freedom of expression and establishes mode of media ownership, section 45 which places restriction interrogations from rights under section 39, thus making room for laws in our books; and section 46, which allows enforcement of fundamental rights by high courts.
Form this forging it can be seen that, the journalist is not given any express rights or permission to access records that alive to official secretes. As such any investigation that provides official documents be may be see the journalist a liable. Chapter hour of the constitution which the journalist rely on any guarantees the fundamental rights of all Nigerians and speaks specially of the freedom of expression and the press in section 38 and 39 in chapter section 38 says;-
Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impact ideas and information without interference (FRN, 1999
It can thus be in place to say that, in the Nigerian constitution, freedom of the press is a derivation of freedom of expression. Ciboh (2009: 275) state that, “the press and broadcasting media are seen as extensions of the right of freedom of expression.”
Ciboh citing the case, of Innocent Adikwu V. House of Representatives (1982) 3 NLR 394, the court said, the purpose of section 39 of the 1979 constitution:
Is not to erect the press into a privileged institution but it is to protect all persons (including the press) to write and print as they will and to gather news for such publications with out interference (P. 412)
What this invariably means is that the Nigerian constitution does not treat freedom of the press as distinct and separate right but as contingent upon the right of freedom of expression. The case, the National Assembly V. Tony Momoh (1983) 4NCLR 296, confirms this fact where justice Nnaemeka Agumamtan that,
he saw nothing in (section 39), to entitle a pressman or any other media man to any separate treatment other than one which belongs to all who hold opinions, receive and important ideas, disseminate information and contemplates no separate treatment to mass media.
This statement simply made it clear that, the press or the journalist is not protected in any way, just like he/she is not protected when indicted for possessing unauthorized documents. Thus the investigative broadcast journalist works at his own peril when he is denied access to official records and still goes ahead to publish or broadcast information of such very secret government issues to buttress the authenticity of information on scandals.
Theories are sets of ideas intended to explain something which happen or exist, or a set of principles on which an activity is based. There are certain mass communication theories which are relevant to this study. Three major theories bear direct relevance to the issue of corruption in investigative journalism and the need for the journalist to be upright and shun corrupt practices. They are the Media Effect Theory, Deontological Theory, and the Social Responsibility Theory.
MEDIA EFFECT THEORY
The media effects theories are sets of theories which explain the way or role which the media plays in the society. These theories surface as the media relates with different segments of society and plays its role of informing the populace. The theories known as media effect theories include (but not limited to), limited effects, powerful effects, agenda setting, gate keeping, and status conferrals, serve as models which describe the power that the media have on behaviour, if the media is used in certain manner. This study hinges its presentation therefore, on the powerful effect theory. The powerful effect theory was developed by Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann in 1973, with her spiral of silence theory which describes the effect of the media on behaviour. It assumes that, the issues people discuss in the society, often stems from the knowledge they have of that issues. She maintain that, people participate in discussion only because they have knowledge of such issues as presented to them by the media, and is widely discussed by a large group; while the lesser group fearing reprimands abstain or lapse into silence for fear of breaking norms or rules set down by the media. Like the agenda setting theory, the spiral of silence control what the society discuss and the way it behaves.
Apart from the spiral of silence, other powerful effects theory explains how powerful the media controls and affects attitude. The relevance of the powerful effects theory is that, journalists or the broadcast investigative journalists no doubt has a strong medium with which to influence the pulse of the society but of course only if he/she recognizes this and uses it intelligently to achieve results. Already, the powers to operate on the side of society have been given to such journalist but he/she must put it to use. Section 22 of the constitution of federal republic of Nigeria imposes some obligation on the mass media it states that:
the press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to up hold the fundamental objectives contemned in the chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.
All the investigative journalist ought to equip his/herself with, is the recognition of this powers as well as the exercise of same especially as empirical studies have shown that, the Nigerian journalist instead has yield himself/herself to corruption at the expense of the enormous power they possesses. In an empirical study carried out by Kombol Michael, it was ascertained that some media outfit can be objective and refuse to be involved in the process of being corrupted. Using Patricia Etheh’s case of corruption leveled against her in the house of representative, Kombol was able to argue in favour of balanced reporting without alleging that, the reporters enriched themselves. What Kombol’s study points to is that, some investigative journalism can still be carried out – even in the face of dwindling opportunities like poor ownership support, remuneration or even within the frame of good conditions.
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY THEORY
Onwubere (2002:110) maintains that, the social responsibility theory describes the:
general strategy for purposes and ideals which allow and individual to act according to the dictates of his conscience and judgement.
Unlike the legal framework in Nigeria which regulates the action of the journalist, the social responsibility theory relies on the absolute free will of the journalist with recourse to moral duty and sense of purpose. In this case, the journalist puts his responsibility first before the act, unlike law which puts the act first before responsibility. According to McQuail (1987) in Ojobor (2002) cited in Anaeto, Onabajo and Osifeso (2008) the principles of the social responsibility media theory are as follows:
The media should accept and fulfil certain obligations to society.
That, through professional standards of information, truth, accuracy, objectivity and balance, these obligations can be met.
That media should regulate itself within the frame of law and established institutions to be able to achieve its responsibilities.
That whatever might lead to crime, violence, civil disturbance and offence to minority groups should be avoided by the media.
That the media should reflect its society’s pluralistic views and grant access to various points of view and granting all the rights to reply.
Based on the principles of obligation to society, the society has the right to expect high standard of performance from the media. Intervention can only be justified to secure public safety.
Accountability of media professionals should be to the society, employers and the markets.
The theory which was propounded by, Siebert, F.S. Peterson, T.B. and Schramm, W. maintain that,
…freedom carries concomitant obligations, and the press enjoys a privileged position under the government to be responsible to society for carrying out certain functions of mass communication.
The relevance of the social responsibility media theory is multi-faceted in the sense that it outlines the context in which the owners of media and journalist must relate with society members. As an investigative journalist, the knowledge of this blue print will thus guide the journalist who is caught up between the house policy of the media outfit he works for and the people he is responsible to. This comment conforms to Folarin (1998:27)’s views as he explains that,
the right of the press to publish should be followed by their social obligation, which entails, being absolutely responsible to society.
In support of Folarin’s view McQuail (1987:716) states that:
The media have obligation to society and media ownership is a private trust.
News media should be truthful, accurate, fair, objective and relevant.
The media should follow agreed codes of ethics and professional conducts.
Media should be free but self regulated.
Under some circumstance, the government may have to intervene to safeguard the public interest.
The emphasis on the ethical imperative of truthfulness, accuracy, fairness and objectivity as cardinal principles of media practice in Nigeria, and as the off-shoot of the social responsibility media theory, points to the relevance of ownership interference in news flow and suggests a better approach of allowing free flow in information broadcasting. The social responsibility theory seem flawed in that there is a lot of interference in news broadcast, as most times certain very important events do not find their ways into the news and vise-versa.
The deontological theory is among those theories relevant to this study. The theory when applied in journalism recognizes that, certain actions like sycophancy are intrinsically wrong whether the consequences of such action are beneficial or not. Kant believes that peoples’ actions should conform to universally accepted laws or, that which are within one’s ability to do, should be considered within universal laws. He thus assumes that, a good man is one who acts with the idea of right actions. The relevance of this theory borders on adherence to journalism rules of conduct by the journalist in the course of his investigation. First, he must bear in mind that whatever he does is within the context of universally accepted ways of behaviour. Accepting gratification before reporting a story or refusing to report a story that is of great relevance in society, is to fall short of expected code of behaviour. The journalist must choose to act within the ambit of socially accepted norms. The journalist thus must strive to shun mediocrity, avarice, and lack of interest in his job. He must realize that society expects so much from him/her and as such must endeavour to above board, especially in shunning any act that might negate the performance of his duties.
As a result of literature available, there is no doubt that corruption in the Nigerian society has become a major disease ravaging the economy and machinery of progress. Momoh (1999:115) captures the corrupt tendencies of Nigerians when he wrote that:
If there is anything which operates efficiently, uniformly and smoothly all over the country, it is the twin engine of the machinery of corruption and bribery. The phenomenon of corruption seems to be our unofficial ideology, our lingua franca, and the universal language which is spoken and understood in every nook and cranny of Nigeria.
Since the journalist themselves operate within this social decadence, they can hardly be exonerated, especially with reference to several studies which have showed how complacent journalist are. This indictment has really dented the very grandiose responsibility foist on journalist by society and it is only proactive and preventive measures that can save the profession from imminent collapse.
The National Union of Journalism which is the umbrella body responsible for regulation of the activities of the professionals must be re-organized along contemporary statutes that will be in conformity to the present reality. That is, the excos must be selected from seasoned and vastly experienced practicing journalist.
The NUJ must as a matter of urgency lunch an ant-corruption campaign which will be aimed at intimating colleagues on the negative and destructive consequences of corrupt practices on the profession.
The NUJ must as a matter of importance stipulate stiffer penalties for offenders.
The body (NUJ) must also take actions by relating with newspaper proprietors on the need to improve staff welfare packages, including life assurance schemes, and other incentives. This will go a long way to encourage loyalty and serve as motivation for hard work.
The NUJ should endeavour to mobilize the entire members of the society to agitate for the passage of the freedom of the press Bill that has stayed long in the Federal House of Assembly. This grants investigative journalist free access to information, and legal backing as they acquire evidence on facts uncovered in the course of their investigation
Sambe, J.A. (2008). Introduction to Mass Communication: Ibadan: Spectrum Books Limited.
Idemili, S.O. (1992) Reporting Politics: unpublished work: UNN
Williams, Paul N. (1973). Investigative Reporting and Editing: New Jersey: Printence Hall Inc.
Olaniyan, A (2005) “The Problem with the Nigerian Media” Daily Independent, December 19.
Fakoya, O. (2009) Corruption in Nigerian Mass Media, the Fourth-Estate of Graft/NFC Blogs/
The Nigerian Voice. Retreived on the 19th of November 2010 from
HYPERLINK “http://www.thenigerianvoice.com/nvmovie/22530/3/nigeria-mass-media-the-fourth -Estate-of-graft.html” http://www.thenigerianvoice.com/nvmovie/22530/3/nigeria-mass-media-the-fourth -Estate-of-graft.html
Adeyemi, S. (2002) “Many Journalist Are Corrupt” Media Rights Monitor, vol. 7, No. 7
Oso, L. (2003) Mass Media and Democracy: Enlarging the Space. The Nigerian Journal of Communication: vol 2, November and July.
Ciboh, R. (2005) Mass Media in Nigeria: Perspectives on Growth and Development: Makurdi. Aboki Publishers.
The 1999 Constitution of The Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Com 702; seminars in broadcast journalism
Name ; suemo Jacob shagbaor
Matriculation number; Bsu/ss/M.sc/09/4632
Government owned broadcast media and news manipulation
The study sets to chronicle with a pinch of exactitude the entirety of the concept of corruption and its monumental impact on the Nigerian polity with particular emphasis on Government owned broadcast media. The study adopted the analytical and investigative approach for studying the variables in perspective. Consequently the study found that, a significant relationship exist s between broadcast news contents and ownership structures. That objectivity, accuracy, and balance have all became quite expensive luxuries that government owned media can rarely afford. Thus frustrating the genuine efforts of the members of the society to accessing quality and reliable information hence the bridge of trust between the broadcast media and the audience has been broken by corruption. From the fore going findings the study therefore recommends for a constitutional autonomy for government owned media as it concerns editorial independence. And that appointment into key positions in the broadcast media should strictly be effected by merit and virtue but not by vice or political manipulations to help check these anomalies for a more efficient and reliable journalism practice that places public interest as paramount and central
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
According to Akpa (2006; 1) NIGERIA as a geo-political entity stands at a precipice of collapse brought about by corruption w hose age may be put at about forty years. Corruption has arrived in this country as a result of primitive accumulation behavior of public office holders and has since been gnawing into the entire fabric of the polity.
Broadcast media organizations as part of the larger umbrella of journalism are mandated by the NUJ Code of ethics to according to Orpin (2006;1) ensure that the people and individuals in this context audience members are garnished with true and full information that exudes elements of accuracy in explicit totality.
Further stressing the essence for truth and full information, the NUJ code o f ethics stresses that, public trust and confidence can only be acquired through truth and complete information.
Unfortunately, the harsh economic situations of the country and other prevailing circumstances have conspired to dissuade Nigerian broadcast journalist from religious adherence to ethical expectations and societal obligations.
Thus one of the most potent hindrances to objective journalism , fairness, and balance in broadcast organizations is ownership structures of course the popular maxim of ‘he who pays the piper dictates the tune’ now comes to perspective hence of immediate relevance . regrettably this kind of dictation has now began to toll a very dangerous path that most obviously threatens the relevance ,sustenance and stability of government owned broadcast stations in a society that is dominated by highly competitive private structures that to an extent, according to Suemo (2007;25) appear to be pursuing public interest or towing the path of society.
The relevance of corruption in this discuss is situated in the motivations for and criteria for selecting components of broadcast news contents.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Ideally, the NUJ code of ethics for journalism practice in Nigeria clearly emphasizes in its second principle, the people’s right to full and true information. Thus by that provision, people have the right to acquire an objective picture of reality by means of accurate and comprehensive information.
Regrettably what is obtainable precisely in the government owned broadcast media reflects a very sharp deviation that appears to be in consistent with the ethical and societal expectations from journalists. Consequently a significant relationship is suspected between broadcast news contents and media ownership factors/structures.
1. To what extent are the ethical virtues of accuracy and fairness allowed expression in public broadcast stations?
2. Is there any significant relationship between ownership structures and the news contents of government owned broadcast media?
3. Is there any relationship between corruption and broadcast media contents?
OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
a. GOVERNMENT –OWNED BROADCAST MEDIA ; this is a classification of broadcast media structures based on ownership and government owned as used here refer to the public broadcast media structures which naturally survive on subventions/budgetary allocations from the government
b. NEWS MANIPULATION; it simply put, refer to the slanting of news reports to suit specific interests by changing the meaning, focus ,bearing, and intensity of news .
c. NEWS; Any fresh and timely account of an event, occurrence, personality, and or issue that interest s a significant number of people.
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE/ RELATED EMPIRICAL STUDIES
Iwokwagh (2005; 7) sees news manipulation as the abnormal control or undue influence of news usually through subtle clever but unfair means. It is an unprofessional method of gate keeping in that it is all about slanting, twisting, polishing, embellishment and even killing of news stories usually for some particular gains.
Arising from the above elucidations on the subject of news manipulation, the need for valid analysis in relation to this discuss is only essential.
The government ‘s insistence on the quest to exerting it influence on its broadcast media structures has began impacting the quality of the broadcast contents of these media negatively since they appear to be depreciating drastically towards a decline.
This Samba (2008;78) observed that it is for some very clear reasons very hard to cultivate public trust in the absence of truth a situation which best describes the true position of public broadcast stations in Nigeria .
Supporting this argument in a different capacity, Inyamkume (2006; 45) asserted that government –owned stations have been reduced to near oblivion judging by societal expectations and ethical considerations, a situation which raises a lot of doubt on the credibility of their news bulletins and focus and monotony of their editorial policies that glorifies and celebrates the government of the day higher and above critical developmental objectives that border on public interest.
Iwokwagh (2005; 10) again poses fundamental questions which are basically rhetorical but crucial to this discuss thus;
1. Why the present political leadership would manipulate what is expected to be in public service and meant for public consumption?
2. Have those in positions of authority not yet realized that the continuous and consistent manipulation of news is capable of taking the ordinary Nigerian news consumer far away from the thresh hold of reality into the celebration of falsehood.
Tarhule (2006;8) attempted to proffer concrete answers to the above questions when he submitted that, while privately owned media can be praised for rising up to their responsibilities, and to a reasonable extent satisfying public interest , the government owned broadcast media sadly appear to be retrogressing .
Most of the government owned media today are at the point of decaying and not better than the mouth piece of the governments that set them up. The news contents from these media out fits leave so much to be desired.
At the heat of the unpopular term agenda debate during the Obasanjo’s regime, the Nigerian television Authority introduced the programme, you and the constitution’ to shore off sympathy for the government.
Back here in Benue state, The Voice Newspaper and Radio Benue have all reduced themselves to nothing better than the Voice of government in power.
Thus when you listen to Radio Benue’s news cast it carries nothing better than the so called achievements of the regime, achievements which are at best illusory.
Tracing the rationale for news manipulation, Jibo (2003; 2) cited Antonio Grimace to have said that media are used by the bourgeois to create false consciousness in the citizenry in order to have hegemonistic control over their minds.
The audience or members of the public and, having continuously on the other hand having continuously consumed manipulated news, the Nigerian people especially the rural folks and those who are not critically minded have themselves become manipulated.
Three very relevant theories availed themselves as the foundation for these studies thus;
The theory of structural functionalism also called the social system theory. lights and Killer (1982;16) explained that the theory holds that society is like a system made up of many parts with each of these parts contributing to the overall maintenance of the whole . And as the parts within the society interact, they inevitably affect one another.
The relevance of this theory to this study is tied to the fact that, the media is an active component part and or structure of society which has very fundamental obligations crucial for the effective functionality of the entire whole- society (the surveillance function)
The news distortion theory; Here Defleur and Dennis (1994;407) explains this mind blowing theory as pointing to the fact that news can be distorted because of multiplicity of factors of which ownership is one of them.
There is the realization that it is not all the information around us that get to us through the media because the media have filtering mechanisms which are christened as ‘gates’ in the journalism parlance(Iwokwagh 2005)
Folarin (1998;23) speaking about the gate keeping theory in relation to the media explained that at every point in the process of news dissemination, a crop of individuals have to decide which media contents to publish, which to defer and which to delete completely. Thus these individuals have the capacity to open or close these media gates respectively depending on the nature of their editorial policies, ownership patterns media and individual styles respectively.
From the above elucidations the following recommendations have been generated.
1. That the government in the interest of the public should allow her broadcast media structures some freedom concerning decisions patterning to the composition of their news bulletins
2. Government owned broadcast media journalists should at all times strive for objectivity, accuracy, fairness, and balance.
3. That full and truthful information should be made the acceptable ways of acquiring public trust confidence and confidence in public broadcast media stations
4. That some kind of constitutional autonomy be acquired for public broadcast stations to help silence and eliminate all manipulating forces
5. That public broadcast media organizations must at all times and in all matters Endeavour to strike a balance between ownership pressures and public interest.
This study does not in any way pretend to be exhaustive in its elucidations and elaborations on the variables under study and for want of time ,and resources could not really embark on survey or detailed content analysis to enable an exploration of the expected debt however, communication researchers interested in development journalism can take up the challenge of garnishing the issues raised here with more creamy, fleshy, and obviously concrete research evidence to help drive home the anticipated change for a more functional, reliable and clearly dependable public broadcast media in Nigeria.
Akpa , A.(2006). Sustainability of The War Against Corruption; The Role of The
Public Sector Auditor. Paper presented at auditors general’s conference in Makurdi at Benue hotels November 2006
Defleur M.and Dennis E.(1994). Understanding Mass Communication; A liberal
Arts Perspective (5th) Boston; Hong ton Mifflin Company
Folarin , B.(1998) Theories of Mass Communication; An introductory text.
Ibadan; stirling Horden Publishers.
Iwokwagh N. (2005). The politics of Nigeria’s fourth Republic and Government-
owned Broadcast media; The issue of news manipulation. Makurdi ; Aboki publishers.
Inyamkume, u.(2006) public broadcasting and the issue of control.
Jibo ,M.(2003). The Nigerian Media and the 2003 Elections . Ibadan; JODAD
Light D. AND Killer, S. (1982) Sociology (9THED). NEWYORK; Alfred AKNOPT
Orpin, T. (2006).How Ethics-Compliant are Nigerian Journalists? A paper
presented at an NUJ workshop on; Media law and Ethics in Makurdi, at Royal choice Inn. 6th November. 2006
Samba, T. (2008).Public Affairs Broadcasting; A basic approach. Ibadan; stirling –
Suemo, J.S. (2007). Public Interest and Broadcast media contents; A study of Radio
Benue.A project work submitted to the department of mass communication at Benue state university Makurdi in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of a B.sc Degree in mass communication.
Tarhule ,V.(2006). Legal Implications of Modern Reporting, in Nigeria. A paper
presented at An NUJ workshop on media law and ethics in Makurdi at Royal Chioce INN, NOV 2006
JOURNALISTS AS STAKE HOLDERS IN CURBING CORRUPTION.
JONAH, ALADI ALICE. BSU/SS/M.SC/ 4610
Corruption is prevalent in Nigeria and has permeated every facet of the society including journalism. It is a hindrance to development. Journalists are in a better position to curb corruption in Nigeria but the study revealed that even the journalists themselves are partakers in corrupt practices and promote the spread of corruption. The study also highlighted the effects of corruption and its major causes among journalists, the various ways corruption is practiced and the need for ethical guidance among journalists who should expose corrupt practices. Recommendations were given among which are the need for journalists to be well remunerated, adequate security provided for journalists and the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) to monitor the activities of journalists as they discharge their duties.
Background of study.
Corruption has remained a canker worm militating against national development in Nigeria. It has remained a faceless monster that is prevalent in every facet of the society whose demise seems to be an illusion.
Corruption can be said to have started in years past within the family, in offices, schools, religious organisations and so on. For a long time now Nigeria has been battling with the issue of corruption which has been identified as the major cause of our backwardness. Corruption is a faceless monster that has eaten deep into the fabric of our political, social, and economic system of the Nigerian society.
During the regime of military dictatorships and even after the swearing – in of former president Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria was and is still ranked among the ten most corrupt countries in the world. Corruption is a world wide phenomenon which presents itself in different colourations and dimensions depending on where it rears its ugly head from. Some people refer to it as the perversion of public affairs for private advantage because it is a transaction which violates the duty of a public office holder with a motive for acquiring resources illegally.
Journalists have been charged with the primary responsibility of watching over the society and government and reporting back to the society what goes around it. They are vested with the task of informing, educating and entertaining the society among others but the question that readily comes to mind is how are the journalists carrying out these responsibilities in a corrupt nation like Nigeria?
Journalists disseminate this information through the broadcast or electronic medium (radio, television, e.t.c), print medium (newspaper, magazine, e.t.c), bill boards, posters and in most recent times the internet. These media have become part of the society on which they depend massively for information on various issues and events as they affect their lives. Little wonder then that we see people around newspaper stands scanning through the pages, listening to radio or watching television, and searching the net for important information reported by journalists.
In the years that followed, the Yar’Adua administration established the Economic and Financial Crime commission (EFCC) and Independent corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) all in an attempt to combat crime and corruption or better still reduce it to the barest minimum.
At this juncture, it is imperative to define corruption.
What is corruption?
Corruption has been given different definitions by various scholars based on the context from which they look at it.
Corruption can be said to be an act of dishonesty among public officers in the society.
Shishima and Apenda (2009: 11) define corruption simply as “immorality” adding that it refers to immoral thoughts, behaviour, actions, practices and relationships. They identified the following forms of corruption:
1. Embezzlement: where a person diverts public funds for his own personal use. These funds could belong to the government, religious institutions, a corporation, a cultural association, an educational institution, students union or a professional association.
2. Fraud: a criminal deception. A person uses deceptive means to obtain money from a corporation, or government for his personal use. Cheating is a form of corruption in which a person plays tricks or is dishonest in business.
3. Rigging is another form of corruption in which one fraudulently manipulates votes at election to favour his or her party or group. Thus to rig election is to fraudulently aggravate votes to a particular candidate or group of candidates or a political party of their choice. This could be achieved by means of tricks, or bribing voters, election officials, preventing the submission of nomination papers, providing illegal ballot papers, destroying ballot boxes with valid votes, exchanging votes, inflating figures, falsifying election results or openly using the gun to prevent political opponents from voting.
Yema Sen, writing in Daily Trust newspaper of July 13 2010 says corruption means to destroy or break, from its Latin origin. He went further to say that corruption is synonymous with bestiality, depravity, dishonesty, improbity, crookedness, barbarism and vulgarism.
Effects of corruption.
Frisch (2010) provided the following effects:
1. It is an obstacle and a hindrance to development.
2. It increases the cost of goods and services and the national economy suffers the consequences of an unjustified surcharge in the goods and services, with the difference being pocketed by some government officials or politicians and this operations are sometimes financed by bank loans.
3. It leads to substandard quality of service for example if a contractor bribes someone in order to get a contract for road construction, he will do a substandard job after deducting the bribe from the actual money for the construction.
4. It creates lack of basic amenities such as food, shelter, education e.t.c which leaves the masses in constant suffering.
5. Corruption leads to poverty among the masses.
In spite of all these adverse effects, corruption has remained pervasive in our dear nation Nigeria. Consequent upon this is the involvement of journalists in fuelling the stance of corruption. Journalists are in a better position to curb corruption by bringing to the fore knowledge of the society corrupt practices for adequate actions to be taken against the culprits.
Statement of the problem
Nigerian journalists are supposed to condemn corrupt practices in Nigeria and expose the culprits but more often than not, they are involved in and promote the spread of corruption in Nigeria.
1. Do Nigerian journalists suppress stories to punish or favour their clients?
2. Do Nigerian Journalists collect brown envelops in order to publish stories?
3. Are Nigerian journalists biased in news reporting?
Definition of terms.
Journalist: Sambe (2008:230) defines it as: reporters, writers, editors and columnists who work for newspapers, press associates, and syndicates, news magazines, and other magazines devoted to public affairs.
Stake holder: the term is used in this wise to mean people who are connected with corruption and are to be held responsible for its success or failure.
Curbing: this is a term used to mean to control or reduce something especially if it is done to cause harm.
This study is hinged on the Social Responsibility Theory.
The theory was propounded by Siebert, Peterson and Schramm in 1963. It originated from the Hutchins Commission on Freedom of the Press, set up in the United States of America in 1947 to re-examine the concept of Free Press Theory, due to the fact that the free market of ideas had failed to guarantee press freedom and to yield the expected benefits to the society. Instead, the commercial development of the press limited access to the media for individuals and groups. Media power was however seen to be concentrated in hands of a few business men and media professionals who had the means to set up media outfits. The press was thus charged with six specific functions which include:
1. To serve the political system by making information, discussion and consideration for public affairs generally accessible.
2. To inform the public to enable it take self – determined action.
3. To protect the rights of the individual by acting as watch dog over the government.
4. To serve the economic system, for instance by bringing together buyers and sellers through the medium off advertising.
5. To provide “good” entertainment, whatever “good” may mean in the culture at any point in time.
6. To preserve financial autonomy in order not to become dependent on special interests and influences.
The major premise of the social responsibility theory is that freedom carries concomitant obligations, and the press, which enjoys a privileged position under the government, is obliged to be responsible to society for carrying out certain essential functions of mass communication. (Anieto, Onabanjo and Osifeso 2008:57).
The theory is based on the assumption that:
1. The media should accept and fulfil certain obligation to society.
2. Through professional standards of informativeness, truth, accuracy, objectivity and balance, these obligations can be met.
3. Media should regulate itself within the framework of law and established institutions to be able to carry out its responsibilities.
4. Whatever might lead to crime, violence, civil disorder or offence to minority groups, should be avoided by the media.
5. The media should reflect its society’s plurality, giving access to various points of view and granting all the right to reply.
6. The society has the right to expect high standards of performance from the media. Intervention can only be justified to secure public good.
Accountability of media professionals should be to the society, employers and the market.
Information in journalism is understood as a social good and not responsibility for the information transmitted and is thus accountable not only to those controlling the media but ultimately to the public at large, including various social interests. The journalists’ social responsibility requires that they will act under all circumstances in conformity with a personal ethical consciousness.
The social role of journalists demand that the professionals maintain high standards of integrity, including the journalists’ right to refrain from working against his or her conviction or from disclosing sources of information as well as the right to participate in the decision making of the medium in which he or she is employed.
The integrity of the profession does not permit the journalist to accept any form of bribe or the promotion of any private interest contrary to the general welfare. Likewise, it belongs to professional ethics to respect intellectual property and in particular, to refrain from plagiarism.
Journalistic code of ethics holds among others:
1. Reward and gratification: journalists should neither solicit nor accept bribes, gratification or patronage to suppress or publish information.
2. To demand payment in the publication of news is inimical to the notion of news as a fair, accurate, unbiased and factual report of an event.
3. Access to information: a journalist should strive to employ open honest means in the gathering of information. Exceptional methods may be employed only when the public interest is at stake.
4. Plagiarism: a journalist should not copy wholesale or in path, other people’s work without attribution and or consent.
Review of related literature.
Shishima and Apenda (2009:133) opine that:
The development and prosperity of every society is predicated on how disciplined or undisciplined its citizenry is and in response to the embarrassment this development has caused the nation, the war Against Indiscipline and corruption (WAI-C) was formally inaugurated by Sani Abacha on May 4, 1994 to save the nation from continued decay and imminent disintegration occasioned by unbridled indiscipline with the view that renewed crusade for a national rebirth and regeneration remains an imperative and desirable national goal.
Invariably, the main objective of this programme was to among other things mobilise the nation to fight corruption and economic crimes, create a better and humane society through the inculcation of such basic values as honesty, integrity, patriotism, respect for the rule of law and a host others.
In the view of Dr. Olusegun Fakoya in his contribution to NFC Blogs of 11/9/2010,
The Nigerian press have always been a corrupt body, the level of corruption being almost legendary. Most of Nigerian journalists are merely a reflection of the Nigerian sickness. However, the level of uncontrolled greed, avarice and lack of self respect amongst them is alarming, almost out of proportion to the malaise afflicting the nation. They are greedy, shameless and simply operate on moral code of conduct. They will write anything as long as money can exchange hands.
Dr. Fakoya here has bluntly described Nigerian journalists as symbols of corruption as most of them publish anything that comes their way in as much what the consequences are likely to be. If this is the case however, it could be argued that journalists could furnish the public with stories whose facts have been distorted or better still exchanged for money. This surely spells doom for the future of the Nigerian press if they as custodians of morale decadence, lack in themselves the actual decadence that they preach to the public. It becomes the case of do as I say and not as I do.
Asemah (2009:314) observes that:
Journalists must be free from association and activities
that may compromise there integrity or damage
there own or organisational credibility. Journalists
must seek out competing perspectives without
being actually influenced by those who would
use there power or position to counter the public
interest. This means that in many instances,
personal interests collide with that of public
He contends that the journalist in the course of discharging his duties has a number of ethical problems to grapple with. Some of such problems include:
1. Plagiarism: the journalist should always accredit his /her source and not claim ownership of their write up.
2. Acculturation: the tendency of journalists or media professionals to accept the ideas, beliefs, attitudes, opinions e.t.c of the group that they cover or with whom they have a great deal of contact. When a reporter or other media professionals become so used to people, it becomes difficult for such a journalist to maintain the ethics of the profession. Acculturation calls for concern when it begins to affect the judgement of the journalist.
3. Sycophancy: some journalists praise other individuals, government, or organisations so as to gain favour or undue advantage. The sycophants shower encomiums on important personalities in order to get something from them. Thus, sycophancy is a kind of insincere praise that is geared toward winning favour especially from wealthy individuals in the society. Excessive and insincere praise has turned out to be a common ethical problem in mass communication today as the sycophant journalists praise political leaders, wealthy citizens and the owners of media houses who as employers have formidable powers over journalists.
4. Character assassination: when the journalist damages the reputation of an individual, such a journalist is guilty of character assassination. This is of course both unethical and illegal. In most cases, some politicians go as far as paying journalists to help them seriously castigate their opponents, the essence is to damage their reputation and integrity before the right thinking members of the society. The ethical problem of character assassination is closely related to sycophancy in that, while flattery favours prominent and powerful people, the sycophant journalist could indulge in vilifying the opponents of such people.
5. Bribery, freebies, junkets: the ethical problem of materialism in the media can be manifested in the form of bribery and acceptance of gifts. Journalists often accept money and non monetary gifts to perform their normal responsibilities of information freebies, junkets and perks are arrays to a journalist. They include Christmas presents, offer of free rides, or air travels e.t.c. junkets are trips with expenses paid by someone who may expect favour in return while freebies are gifts for which the giver may expect favour in return. In many cases, freebies go with the job and unethical journalists expect them to accompany visits or coverage.
The question of accepting bribe and gifts and lavish entertainments continue to pose problems for journalists and their credibility. The quest for journalistic independence has gone far in most advanced nations.
6. Cartel journalism: it is the formation of beat associations for the purpose of protecting mutual interests. It is unethical in so far as it leads to the suppression of and distortion of information. In fact, it is censorship which is an impediment to press freedom.
All these can be taken care of if the journalist keeps to the ethics of the profession.
Odunewu (2000:1) writing on “Ethics and professionalism” says “ethics deals with the criteria by which decisions about right and wrong are made”. He added that:
The press needs to do more particularly in the area of ethics and keeping professional standards this will enable it generate, earn retain and maintain public respect. The press must therefore lay emphasis on factual reporting and presentation of issues.
As for Adeyemi and Okorie in their submission to the Journal of the African Council for Communication Education (ACCE Vol. 8, No. 1, 2010), they believe that corruption is an ethical problem and that it should be the major struggle of the press. They argue that corruption is a threat to the existence of Nigeria as an entity and journalists are expected to join all other patriotic forces to fight the menace of corruption but they cannot do this successfully because they are accused of being corrupt themselves.
As far as these scholars are concerned, journalists cannot fight corruption since they are also guilty of corruption.
Yema Sen in his contribution to Daily Trust (AllAfrica.com) of 13 July 2010 strongly believe that the mass media as the forth estate off the realm, are a corner stone of the society and so must fight for its improvement. He argues that the mass media must expose and condemn crooks, criminals and bad practices in the society and they must be vigilant as well because the crooks also desire to use the mass media to fight back.
Sen has a good point here taking into cognisance the fact that perpetrators of corruption actually use the media to fight back in self defence. Journalists have the power to expose their evil and put them on the right pedestal.
In the views of Peter Nkpanga writing on “Journalists discuss corruption in Nigeria”, says
Journalists are to be blamed for prolonged corruption in Nigeria and that “if the press had been saying ‘no’, we are not going to tolerate a bad government, give us electricity, good education, repair our roads, the people will follow the press and Nigerians will be united. But because journalists are involved in spreading corruption, the masses have accepted this and now it is embedded in their psyche.
This writer believes that if the mass media do not speak out against corruption, the masses will be dumb over certain corrupt practices.
Ekerikevwe writing on “the manifestation of corruption among journalists in Nigeria”, analyses the nature of corruption among Nigerian journalists to include the following:
(a). Bribery: journalists collect money to publish favourable stories about corporate bodies, political office holders and other important personalities or asking for transport fare after an interview from the interviewee.
(b). Distortion of facts or withholding of information.
(c). Selling of news stories to other media especially from government established media to anti – government media outfits.
(d). Slanting of news stories / subjectivism mostly to protect a big friend who gives them money or material gifts.
(e). Publicity for financial and material gains where journalists give publicity to personalities who reward them with financial and material gifts.
(f). Plagiarism: where journalists in an attempt to get rich quick, have lost their creativity and virtue of hard work therefore there is no originality in their work but a duplication of other people’s work.
(g). Brown envelop syndrome: where journalists ask for money for the services they render.
(h). Deliberate falsehood: when journalists deliberately publish false stories for financial gain.
(i). Wrong application of journalism advocacy: most journalists use their medium to advocate for their friends and god fathers who have political power in order to secure their confidence and get some reward.
Reasons why journalists carry out unethical practices.
1. Poor remuneration: journalists are not well paid and this leads to them to collect brown envelop, free gifts and so on.
2. Greed: as a result of greed most journalists go against the ethics of the profession and go all out to make money. This is the main reason why corruption has lingered on in the first place.
3. Expectation from society: the society expect certain things from people once they working. Such expectations include cars, houses, and modern ones at that, sophisticated handsets, electronics e.t.c and in order to meet up with these demands and expectations, journalists go against ethics of the profession.
4. Lack of professionalism: some journalists do not have adequate training in mass communication or journalism and so lack the basic knowledge of ethical considerations of the profession. Some of them studied geography, law, sociology and other courses which do not have mass communication or journalism background. In view of this, the Nigerian media council decrees (59 of 1988) made it mandatory for all practicing journalists to obtain at least a diploma in mass communication or journalism before they are registered as members of the Nigerian Union of Journalists.(NUJ).
As observed by Ciboh (2007:290) the factors of any profession are its professed public service or the protection of its members. The latter function is fulfilled through training and acquisition of new skills and also the regulation of entrants into the profession.
Lack of personal principles: some journalists just lack personal prestige and principle. They can do anything as long as they get some money at the end of the day.
Corruption is universal and may not end because human beings are fallible, insatiable, and greedy by nature. It is glaring that the entire Nigerian system is in a way corrupt. Therefore, corruption is inevitable and there is too much poverty in the land. Nigerian journalists have tried in many ways to curb corruption by exposing the culprits but sadly enough they have equally contributed to the ravaging corruption saga. Most times they fail to follow up their stories and sometimes they allow brown envelop syndrome to blindfold them from exposing corruption.
Nigerian journalists have the power to fight corruption much more than EFCC because the information they send out go to the length and breadth of the world which has become a global village. The internet has made information dissemination much more easier.
Journalists can do much better if they make up their minds to do so. They only need to be guided by the ethics of journalism.
Having ex-rayed the meanings of corruption and its possible causes, the following recommendations are made:
1. Journalists should be well remunerated so that they will not expect so much from their clients out there.
2. They should be well equipped with investigative journalism skills.
3. They should be well protected from assassins, hoodlums, and kidnap which seem to be the order of the day now. This should be provided by their employers and the government.
4. Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) should monitor the performance and conduct of journalists and take disciplinary actions on defaulting journalists.
5. In the same light, the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) should from time to time organise seminars and workshops for journalists where issues bordering on hindrances to development in Nigeria such as corruption can be tackled.
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Adeyemi, A. And Okorie, N. The Journal of the African Council for Communication Education (ACCE), Nigeria Chapter, Volume 8, No 1, 2010
A SEMINAR PRESENTED
BY: AGBANA OLUBUNMI FUNMILAYO
TO THE DEPARTMENT OF MASS COMMUNICATON, BENUE STATE UNIVERSITY, MAKURDI.
IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE COURSE BROADCAST SEMINAR, COM 702.
LECTURER: DR. MIKE KOMBOL.
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The press worldwide is gradually loosing up and embracing corruption in different coloration. Corruption has found its way into the pres world wide and is gradually forming a structure within it. The Nigerian press is not left out of this; sharp and corrupt practices are gradually carving a very strong niche and becoming unwritten laws the journalistic milieu. Highlighting corrupt tendencies within the Nigerian society, Momoh (1991, p.115) notes that;
‘If there is anything which operates efficiently, uniformly and smoothly all over the country, it is the … engine of the machinery of corruption …. The phenomenon of corruption seems to be our unofficial ideology, our lingua Franca, and the universal language which is spoken and understood in every nook and cranny of Nigeria.’
In different forms, corruption has become prevalent in the Nigerian press for different reasons. One will wonder how it began and in what capacity it has eaten so deep into the Nigerian press. Ekerikevwe (2009, p. 25), identifies that corruption in Nigeria is as old as the nation itself. Odey (2001, p. 18), notes that corruption has existed from the times and identifies that the Nation’s leader in the First Republic, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa did not see it until the military ousted him in 1966. he further recognized that Gen Gowon did not see it until he was removed from office, other leaders couldn’t stop it until this dispensation where even the press who is supposed to watch public office holders and hold them accountable to society, have joined the train. Achebe cited in Ekeriekvwe (2009, p. 25) wrote that the corrupt nature of the Nigerian society is such that;
‘Keeping an average Nigerian from being corrupt is like keeping a goat from eating yam. Corruption in Nigeria has passed the alarming and enters the fatal state. Nigeria will die if we keep pretending that she is only slightly indisposed.’
Professional indiscipline within the Nigerian society and the press has been linked to corruption. Eze (2002,) notes that the act of corruption is rampant among elites and the affluent that abuse their position and wreck havoc on the society. These elites and affluent member of the society are also members of the press. The Nigerian press as well as the press all over, has certain functions. In Nigeria, the constitution of the Federal Republic, 1999, Sec. 22 states categorically the functions of the Nigerian press. It provides that;
‘The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter 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; how has corruption affected journalistic practice in the Nigerian press?
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Observation has shown that over time, different sharp practices among journalists have given room for unethical practices. These unethical practices have in their one way or another distorted the responsibility of the press to the society.
What specifically are the practices that amount to corruption among the Nigerian press? What factors are responsible for some of these practices? Most importantly, how have these practices affected the journalistic values of objectivity, accuracy, balance and truth?
In the course of this work, the following questions will be critically examined;
a. What action or inaction of the Nigerian journalist amounts to corruption?
b. Why do we find some of these among the Nigerian journalist?
c. With a close look at the functions of the Nigerian press, how have these practices affected professional and credible journalistic in Nigeria?
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Some of the terms identified and worthy of contextual definition in this work are;
THE PRESS: this refers to journalists working with both the print and the broadcast media.
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
This part of the work examines contextually some related concepts and literature as they relevant to the problems addressed.
THE CONCEPT OF CORRUPTION
Corruption has been identified to mean different things. It is said to occur when public property is mismanaged for private or personal benefits, (Shleifer and Vishny (1993), cited in Kombol 2009, p. 228). Akanbi (2001) describes corruption as the abuse of the power entrusted in public office holders, the press inclusive. To corroborate this, The World Bank (1997, p. 3) states that;
‘Corruption is the abuse of public office for private gain…. When official accepts, solicits or extorts bribe. Public office can also be abused for personal benefit even if no monetary value is exchanged: through patronage and nepotism…’.
The press, by virtue of duty and responsibility to society is a public office; journalists therefore, are public office holders. Where therefore there is an exchange especially in forms of gratifications, that influences the action or inaction of journalist in carrying out their duties to the society, then a corrupt act is perpetuated. Macrae (1982, p. 678) notes that corruption is an outcome of;
‘An arrangement that involves an exchange between two parties (the demander and the supplier) which i. Has an influence on the allocation of resources either immediately or in the future; or ii. Involves the use or abuse of public or collective responsibility for private ends.’
Activities related to the definition above abound among members of the press, including the Nigerian press.
THE CONCEPT OF CORRUPT JOURNALISM
In line with the discussions from the latter part of the above definition of corruption, it is clear that corrupt journalism exists. In the words of Kajo (2007, p. 66) corrupt journalism is;
‘The practice of journalism that is not ethical and truthful. It is a journalism that goes against public opinion’.
Corruption in journalism practice can thus be identified as any form of distortion of truth by a journalist while carrying out his journalistic duties. To the charging of all, this nefarious act exists within the Nigerian press. Fakoya (2010) highlights that the Nigerian press has always been a corrupt body, the level of corruption being almost legendary. He notes that,
‘… the level of uncontrolled greed, avarice and lack of self respect among them is alarming, almost out of proportion to the malaise afflicting the Nigerian Nation. They are greedy, shameless and simply operate on no moral code of conduct. They will write any thing as long as money can exchange hands.’
This menace has eaten deep into the Nigerian journalism practice that some of its stand points are gradually been accepted as a norm.
ETHICS IN JOURNALISM PRACTICE IN NIGERIA
Today’s circumstances have made a commitment to ethical standards very exigent. It is true that journalism training worldwide, and Nigeria in particular has intensified in recent times. In spite of this, the Nigerian journalism landscape is still riddled with people who call themselves journalists but know more of writing and talking but little or nothing about the ethics of the profession. If admittance of journalist at major public events were to be based on recitation of NUJ codes of ethics; majority of “accredited” newshounds would be denied entry because of their ignorance that is mixed with apathy they don’t know that ethics exists and they do not care. Oseni (2002:4) had put this blatantly when he said that:
‘I am appalled by the motion that some of those who practice journalism in our country not only do not care about ethics, they do not even know about any such thing. I have discussed my concern with colleagues and I fear that some of those who come into the profession “in a fit of absent mindedness” are doing journalism a lot of harm.’
This work is anchored on the social responsibility theory of the press. With its origin from the Hutchins commission of 1947, the theory holds that the press should accept and fulfill certain obligations to the society by setting professional standards of informativeness, truth, accuracy, objectivity and balance. The press must therefore be self regulating within the frame work of the law. (Mc Quail 1989). Findings in this work shows that the Nigeria press have not be fully responsible to the society thereby deviating from the essence of their existence in the Nigerian society.
VIEWPOINTS OF CORRUPTION AMONG NIGERIAN JOURNALISTS
Certain practices colored with seemingly harmless attitude or behaviors exist among journalists. Some of them are discussed below;
a. Receiving gifts or rewards before publishing or broadcasting certain news or stories.
Although it looks like a harmless behavior to receive a gift from someone, for journalists, such gifts can constitute a breach of duty and can also amount to bribery. Where a corporate organization gives money to a reporter after attending a function at the organization, it becomes an indirect responsibility of the reporter to ensure that stories from the event are published by all means and in favor of the organization. Where such remunerations are not made, the reporter could simply excuse his non-reporting of the event on the grounds that space or air time is not sufficient so not all stories available can go on air, (you rub my back I rub your own). This behavior has been tagged the brown envelop syndrome gotten from the fact that such money are put in a brown envelop to conceal its content. It is so unfortunate that this attitude has become a norm for journalists so much that it is usually expected from organizations, and where it is not given, such organization is blacklisted among them to become one of little or no relevance.
b. Editing stories available or available information.
Under the guise of editing, media practitioners sometime distort facts or withhold vital information from public knowledge to gratify personal and selfish aims. This is very common among practitioners in government owned media. For many different reasons, certain stories are killed or covered, or sometimes repainted, distorting facts and hiding truth from public glare.
c. Conferring status on members of the public.
As one of the functions of the press, Sambe (2005) notes that they confer status on members of the public. But unfortunately, undue publicity given to certain members of the society is motivated by financial and material gains. Some Nigerian press practitioners make it a point of duty to give publicity to personalities provided they have money or material things to dole out in return. People in need of such publicity, according to Ekerikevwe (2009) make efficient and effective use of this flaw to their advantage and in most cases to the detriment of the society especially when such individuals are of questionable character.
d. The agenda setting function of the Nigerian press.
Among other functions of the press, Bitner (1989) notes that the mass media is expected to raise certain issues in the society to the plain of discussion among members of the society. But today, they use this function to favor certain members of the society above others. In many cases the media are used to raise issues not favorable to their god-fathers who in this democratic dispensation consist of political office holders and top government functionaries seeking to out smart competition.
Some other corrupt practices found among the Nigeria press, as identified by Ekerikevwe (2009) include;
1. Sensational journalism.
2. Brown envelops journalism.
3. Deliberate falsehood.
4. Journalism of terrorism.
6. Impersonation, and
7. Subjective journalism.
FACTORS THAT PROMOTE CORRUPT PRACTICES AMONG THE NIGERIA PRESS
Some scholarly positions, Odey (2001), and Ekerikevwe (2009), have identified some of the following as factors that promote corruption in the Nigerian press. They are;
This is borne out of lack of contentment on the part of the journalist. Their desire to gather wealth to themselves and acquire properties quick some times pushes them into committing such corrupt acts.
b. POOR REMUNERATION
Many journalists in Nigeria are not well paid. They give people recognition are themselves not recognized. For instance, the press is used to fight increase in workers salaries and such income as equals their labor are denied them. For an average Nigerian journalist, you can say his ‘take-home’ pay can not take him home.
c. LACK OF PROFESSIONALISM
Journalism today is a profession for every field of endeavor. It is often said that all you need as a journalist is the ability to write. It has become an all-comer’s affair where every kind of profession finds their way in, a place where some who could not make a successful career run to find footage.
d. LACK OF ADEQUATE MONITORING BY RELEVANT REGULATORY BODIES
The necessary regulatory bodies have refused or failed to effectively monitor journalism practice and the welfare of its members. Such bodies include The Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), The Nigerian Press Organization (NPO), The Nigerian Press Council (NPC), just to mention this few. A situation where many press organizations operates outside their guidelines without penalty encourage all sorts of sharp corrupt practices among media practitioners. Professional bodies are therefore challenged to stand up to their responsibility and show concern, take necessary actions against defaulters and look critically at factors that cause such bad behavior, such as poor remuneration.
CONSEQUENCES OF UNETHICAL BEHAVIOR AMONG THE NIGERIAN PRESS
These behaviors as previously identified have their influence on professionalism in the Nigerian press. Among other things, Chiboh (2007, p. 289) notes that a code of ethics is a vital ingredient for professional performance in any field of endeavor. Maintaining stipulated standards and initiative with responsibility in relationship with government and members of the society is another vital ingredient for professionalism among journalists, (O’Brien (1976) cited in Chiboh 2007, p. 289). According to Ugboajah, (1985), professionalism in journalism is
‘…an implied contract that the press shall serve the public interest, defend public interest against corruption, censor government, show honesty, courage, good conscience and good manner.’
Professionalism has been mortgaged for other things, some of which are;
a. DISREGARD FOR EDITORIAL INDEPENDENCE.
The Code of Ethics for the Nigerian Journalists approved by the NPO, referred to as the journalist’s bible states that only professional journalists should be responsible for the decision concerning the content of the news. But this responsibility has been handed over to affluent members of the society who have personal interests to protect in national matters or issues. For instance, a radio commentary these days tell only of the achievements of a particular public office holder, who may be canvassing for votes for a second tenure in office, leaving the unsuspecting members of the public to hear only what the elite members of the society wants them to hear about.
b. DISREGARD FOR ACCURACY IN NEWS REPORTING.
A journalist is expected to present information and news as they are, no biases added. He should present an accurate, factual and balanced report devoid of conjectures or opinionated comments. But some cash-in-envelop has made some journalists lose focus on this and embellish news with biases in favor of the highest bidders, that is the one who releases more cash. These actions in turn affects the society especially the less privileged masses that are depending on the media for justice and a better society.
c. PUBLIC DISREGARD FOR INDIVIDUAL PRIVACY UNDER THE GUISE OF MAINTAINING PUBLIC INTEREST.
The Nigeria press today show disrespect for individual privacy of oppositions to their ‘god fathers’. Where any one of the journalists decide to favor a person of ‘importance’, any opposing factor or behavior form any member of the public will be strongly antagonized by the journalist even if on unjust grounds. Little wonder, only persons opposing the powers that be gets to be arrested and prosecuted for a misdemeanor that occurs every where.
d. DENIAL OF ACCESS TO MEDIA USE.
Every individual member of the society is expected to be given a fair access to media use, but where it is perceived that such access will be detrimental to certain personal benefits, such access are denied, leaving no voice for the voiceless. Where possible, some other people float media out fits in other to be able to air their views but how many members of the society can do that. The social responsibility of the press, to up hold equity, peace, human rights, and justice is sold for some penny precious to the media practitioner.
Corruption in the Nigerian government and other social institutions has eaten into the Nigerian press. The same Nigerian press has the ability not only to sanitize the press but the nation also. They can effect this change in themselves and among their colleagues by serving as a check first to one another and then to the government combating this issues fearlessly and with courage.
Even though there are a lot of corrupt journalists around, a lot more still, have not defiled the profession. Such people should be given a hand and encouraged to fight this scourge of corrupt journalism. The Nigerian journalist has a role to play in the fight against corruption in the journalism profession.
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CORRUPTION IN NIGERIAN PRESS: THE ISSUE OF BIAS NEWS REPORTING BY JOURNALISTS
OGAH ERIMA MARGARET
Generally, all mass communication media always operates within a “nexus of mediating factors” which usually conspire to dilute, condense or unduly magnify media content News manipulation is one great enemy of “Objectivity, one of the cardinal principles of news.
The ability of mass media outlets to produce credible, factual, balance and objective news, either in the form of editorial, features, opinions, interviews, commentaries etc to its audience (target) depends largely on the editorial independence of the media professionals involved.
Deprived of news and public discussion opinion Dani (1986) note that, we will lose not merely the feeling of their importance, but also their very meanings, ideas will become mere dogmas formally professed.
According to Dani (1986). The press has power in two ways:
• It has poor (freedom) to decide what report and how it can determine the quality of its reportage. Readers, listeners and viewers have relatively little capacity to influence (manipulate) much less control press performance. And,
• The very existence of the press serves to give notice to centres of power (government, economic and social) that they are being watched and will be held accountable by the people.
• Realizing the gravity of these responsibilities of the journalists, the National union of journalists (NUJ) code of ethics No:1 states that decision concerning the content of news should be the responsibility of a professional journalist. This implies that, the media houses are free to write and report news without influences or pressures from those in authority it therefore leaves decision making as what becomes news in the hands of the professionals.
BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Journalism is bouncing back from the dark days of militate suppression and is painting a picture of a courageous press against the challenges of sustainable democracy and good governance.
Ciboh (2007) noted that, laws such as official secrets Act still deny journalistic access to public held information. Also, declining ethical standards and the environment for journalism practice are still hostile.
Hassan (2010) posits that, it is heart breaking seeing what the media in Nigeria disseminates as news to its readers or listeners. According to him, the practitioners (Journalists) in such media houses have turned to be sycophants, praise singers and trumpet blowers, who are good in polishing devils to be saints and sin to righteousness” and that, they no more see any bad thing in those in power no matter the magnitude of evil these people they want to favour commits.
Inspite of the NUT code of ethics, similar efforts by other bodies of journalism practices to enshrine professionalism and devote the practice of journalism in the country, the Nigerian press has come under much criticism as a troublemaker, a spoil sport of some sort and a destructive agent, particularly from the ruling class as a result of bias reportage of news by journalists. (Ciboh 2007 316). Nkanga P. (2009) posits that, the press encourages corruption in the country by writing in support of one person or the other that is being bias in their reporting.
WHAT MAKES NEWS BIAS?
Iwokwagh N. (2005) noted that, news manipulation (biasness) entails an abnormal control or undue influence of news usually through subtle, clever but unfair means. It is an unprofessional method of gate keeping in that, it is all about slanting, twisting, polishing embellishment and even “killing” of news stories usually for some particular gains.
In it most simplistic form, biasness in news reportage is both an activity and a process. As an activity, it has to do with any act or deed by the journalist that changes or tend to change the meaning, focus, intensity or the bearing of news.
And as a process, news biasness is a systematic arrangement or a pattern carefully orchestrated to redefine, redirects, shape or condenses news items to achieve some goals.
Such goals according to Iwokwagh (2005) are usually selfish, dishonest or diabolical. If that be it, then another question that needs to be answered is “how is news bias in reportage? News bias can be in various shapes, scales or scopes. For clarity, the following ways, according to Iwokwagh (2005), have been identified as ways by which journalist perpetuate biasness in news.
(1) The use of euphemistic language in news presentation.
(2) The “befitting diction” strategy in news presentation.
(3) All is well news.
(4) The strategy of condemnation.
(5) The strategy of interpretation.
(6) The strategy of news placement.
(7) The strategy of selective reporting.
(8) The strategy of correlation
(9) The headline strategy
(10) The supplanting strategy
(11) The timing strategy
(12) Audio-visual technique
(13) Personality attachment to good news
(14) Personality detachment from bad news
(15) Reporting facts truthfully without reporting the truth about facts.
THE NATURE OF CORRUPTION AMONG NIGERIAN
There are four (4) kinds of journalists in Nigeria. This classification, according to Ekerikevwe (2001) is necessary to understand the nature and the seriousness as well as the extent to which this canker worm called corruption has eaten into the journalism profession. These include:
(1) The “yes sir, yes sir”, errand journalists.
(2) The bread and butter or fake journalists
(3) The heavy suited or big bag Journalists.
(4) The professional journalist.
The yes sir, yes sir journalist are those who do not have the courage to write and publish the truth. They dance according to the dictates of their payers and employer.
Bread and butter journalists are those who write for the sake of their stomachs. They are solely interested in returns that they will get from the enterprise. To this group of journalists there is no room to register a foot print in the sand of history, they are out to make money through writing and not necessarily to practice the profession in line with the ethics, these are the ones who do not care to register and identity with the NUJ. They are also referred to as fake journalists.
The heavy suited journalists on the other hand are mainly chief press secretaries of top government functionaries who are usually in suit with big bags, protecting and defending the lies of their employers.
While professional journalists know their onions. They maintain the ethics of the profession and can hardly be bribed and corrupt but this group are few compared to the other mentioned above. (Ekerikevwe. 2009).
WHY JOURNALISTS ARE BIAS IN REPORTING.
According to Ugboajah (1985) in Ciboh (2006) professionalism in journalism is an implied contract that the mass media shall serve the public interest, defend the interest of the public against a corrupt and incompetent public officials, censure the government, be honest, just, courageous and clean, and while growing, have a conscience and good manner.
There are many factors that render the journalist helpless when it comes to news reportage. These factors however, are the most prominent
The influx of non- professional into the journalism practice.
The bread and butter journalists’ also known as fake journalists are not professionals in the field of journalism. These “quacks” because they think they can express themselves through writing, see themselves worthy to practice the journalism profession without having any formal training.
As Igwenagu (2010) rightly puts it, these people find it difficult to separate ethic from laws and public interest from selfish interest; it is this lack of understanding that gives the media owners and their cohorts the impetus to push the journalist around with reckless abandon.
Ideology of the Media Owner
The interest of a publisher or media owner which is always transformed into a mission statement of the medium according to Assay B.E (2009) is an overriding factor in the determination of what goes into the medium as news content.
Contended that the interest of proprietor is over hanging over the editorial conference whether that proprietor happens to be a government, a corporation or an individual (Folarin 1998).
In agreement, Olupohunda B. (2007) using The Sun Newspaper as an example noted that the editors of the sun threw away their mission statement and resorted to gutter journalism when their non-performing publisher who after spending eight years as governor of Abia state with nothing to show for it was indicted with corruption charges.
The editors of the paper were very eager to prove that governor Orji Uzor kalu was innocent and would not wait for the court to adjudicate the case, and that, then no day passes without the readers having to face one obscene report on the travails of the former governor (the publisher).
Appointment and Job Security of Journalist
The issue of appointment is one of the gravest factors militating against efforts towards achieving programming that is diametrically free of bias reportage. (Iwokwagh. 2005)
To begin with, the journalist is a human being, who has a life to live, a family to cater for, needs to satisfy and more. He cannot discharge his duty creditably if he is suffering the deprivation of the most basic human needs and the principal means by which he attends to these needs is his job so then, it is logical that, he would hardly engage in activities that could cost him his job. (Udoakah, 1996).
This essentially explains why most Journalists are found wanting of moral or ethical misdemeanour. This is also one of the reasons why most journalists in public media houses, would not resist being part of the manipulative agenda of politicians and people who have the means.
Funding of the Media
Mcquail (1992) concluded on this note that the content of the media always reflect the interest of those who finance them”. In this vein, it has been said that he who pays the piper dictates the turn”,
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The rate at which sycophancy and praise singing of people in authority by journalists in Nigeria is quite alarming, as journalists, have throw away the cardinal principle of fair and objective reporting to the pit.
Where then, is the credibility of the Nigerian journalists and who is to blame for their actions and in actions?
Among the multitudes of challenging questions and thought – provoking issues, the study focuses on the issue of bias news reporting by journalists. In doing this, the study seeks to offer answers to the following questions:
(1) How is a journalist bias in reporting news?
(2) What is the rationale for the journalist to be bias in reporting?
(3) What strategies or approaches can safe-guard the journalist from being bias in reporting?
OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
1. Mass Media
Television, radio, newspapers and magazine as a means of communication to large group of people.
A person who reports news for a media organization.
Ness information about an event that is of interest to people
A person who does the work of writing or reporting for a media organization.
An incompetent or fake person
Journalists who tries to win favour from news makers by flattering them.
Doing something according to the ethics of that work rather than as a hobby
The reporting of news
Willing to suppress the fact of trust
Owner of a media organization
This study derives a measure of her strength from the gate keeping theory, according to Iwokwagh (2005), the media have filtering mechanisms which are christened as “gates” in the parlance of journalism.
To this end; the importance of the gate keeping theory becomes obvious, and more so that every news is always affected by the gate keeping process (Folarin, 1998). The study is also backed with the “News Distortion theory”, Defleur and Danis (1994( noted that, this mind going theory points to the fact that news can be distorted because of a multiplicity of factors, of which corrupt journalist is one.
Furthermore, the study makes use of the patriotism – inhibition theory of the media”, because there is a close correlation between bias news reporting and media incredibility. Interestingly, this study seeks to establish link between the low levels of credibility of most Nigerian journalist as a result of corruption in most media organization.
The patriotism – inhibition theory holds that if the dominant medium in a nation has little or no credibility, or has a poor and negative audience perception, such a medium has the tendency of impending the cultivation of strong national feelings or patriotic attitudes. Observation according to Iworkwagh (2005) has reveals that when the members of the audience find it extremely difficult to believe in or rely on the dominant medium within their society, they tend to be unhappy or dissatisfy with that medium.
RELATED EMPIRICAL STUDIES
A search of studies in this field shows that several related studies have dealt with attitudes of journalists in news reportage, and corruption in the Nigerian press.
Iwokwagh N.S (2005) conducted a study on the issue of News manipulation by government owned media.
In 2003 CBS insider by name, Goldberg B. conducted a study that exposes how the media distort the news. It cited 163 related articles
In 2007 Barorri B. carried out an empirical study in America, on persistent media bias and cited 130 articles.
Bob Majirioghene Etemiku, presented a paper on the 19th july 2010 with the topic” Nigerian journalism Heal thyself of corruption
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION.
On the whole with this disheartening trend, journalists have at several times been lambasted for not only insulting but also wounding the, collective sensibilities of Nigerians’
And journalists should know that people are beginning to feel that the mass media has litter or no credibility. Or has a poor and negative audience perception and such media has the tendency of impeding the cultivation of story national feelings or patriotic attitudes.
In view of these, the following recommendations are being made:
(1) Professional Journalists should be the ones to manage and work in the media establishments, because, they are conversant with the tenets of journalism and would not sell their conscience for a “pot of portage”.
(2) Journalists should be well paid to enable them have courage to resist all forms of temptation of bias reporting.
(3) Journalist should always speak the truth no matter who the piper dictating the tune is.
Rodney Ciboh (2007), Mass Media in Nigeria; Makurdi: Aboki Publishers.
Nicholas S. Iwokuagh (2005), The polics of Nigeria’s fourth Republic and Government owned Broadcast Media the Issue of News Manipulation; Makurdi: Aboki Publishers.
Ekerikevwe. (2009) Manifestation of Corruption among Journalist in Nigeria. Makurdi Journal of communication Research (MJCR) Maiden Edition, Edited by Prof. J.A. Sambe; Published by Communication Research Circle (IR) Dept of Mass Communication BSU: Hakem Publishers.
Olupohanda B. (2007), Nigeria’s Sun Newspaper & Gutter Journalism;http://www.nigeriansionamerica.com/articles
Peter Akaanga (2009) Journalist discusses corruption in Nigeria 234next.com/esp/cms/sites/next/home.
Ajomale.J. (2010 may 6) Hagging the Press? The News p13.
Hassan. Z. (2010) Editorial Independence in News day@nasarawastate,ortg.