Journalism ethics and standards comprise principles of ethics and of good practice as applicable to the specific challenges faced by journalists. Historically and currently, this subset of media ethics is widely known to journalists as their professional “code of ethics” or the “canons of journalism”.The basic codes and canons commonly appear in statements drafted by both professional journalism associations and individual print, broadcast, and online news organizations.
While various existing codes have some differences, most share common elements including the principles of—truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability—as these apply to the acquisition of newsworthy information and its subsequent dissemination to the public.
Like many broader ethical systems, journalism ethics include the principle of “limitation of harm.” This often involves the withholding of certain details from reports such as the names of minor children, crime victims’ names or information not materially related to particular news reports release of which might, for example, harm someone’s reputation. Some journalistic Codes of Ethics, notably the European ones, also include a concern with discriminatory references in news based on race, religion, sexual orientation, and physical or mental disabilities. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe approved in 1993 Resolution 1003 on the Ethics of Journalism which recommends journalists to respect the presumption of innocence, in particular in cases that are still sub judice. Journalism practice wields such enormous powers and calls for the highest standards of ethics and commitment to truth. Ethics and truth in journalism have assumed global concern as scholars recognize that their basic constituents of objectivity, accuracy, fairness and balance have merely assumed mythical qualities as journalists battle to assign credibility to their news stories. Tuchman (1978: 2) describes objectivity as `facticity’ (a mechanism which allows the journalists to hide even from themselves the `constructed’ and `partial’ nature of their stories). This view seems to have garnered force as increasingly scholars suggest that news even when professionally `selected’ is guided more by organizational needs than by professionalism. The journalist thus becomes `a walking paradox’ (Nordenstreng 1995) as one cannot fail to see that journalism is so full of contradictions that “we have to question even the most fundamental dogma of the profession – truth seeking – because the way it has been conceived and practiced in journalism serves as a deceptive filtering device preventing as much as helping the truth being discovered” (Nordenstreng 1995:117). News commercialization practice in Nigeria media industries adds to this contradiction and deception, creating a continuous dilemma for ethics and objectivity in journalism practice in Nigeria. The issue of freedom has remained contentious in the history of the Nigerian radio broadcasting. This contention among other things stems from the constitutional provisions on the obligation of the radio broadcasting and the right to freedom of expression as well as sections of the same constitution that negates the constitutional demands on the radio broadcasting. This work looked critically at the provisions of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, sections 22, 39 and 45 precisely, juxtaposing it with what is obtainable in the society. The survey research method was employed and the questionnaire was used as instrument of data collection to elicit information on the topic. The social responsibility theory which advocates a free and responsible press and the public spheres theory which encourages an open radio broadcasting system that is widely accessible and advocates free circulation of information without government interference were used as the theoretical anchor for this study. The work revealed that the radio broadcasting in Nigeria are relatively free and that press freedom is essential for the radio broadcasting to discharge their constitutional duties without interference. The work recommended that the Nigerian government should expressly guarantee freedom of the press in the constitution and that the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill which has been passed into law should as a matter of urgency be implemented in the real sense of it to give the press access to public information to carry out their legitimate functions.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Truth is either nailed to a bleeding cross, or it dons a variegated cloak. That is the nexus between the ‘brown envelope’ syndrome and the cancer of corruption. Siyan Oyeweso (2009).
Journalism practice wields such enormous powers and calls for the highest standards of ethics and commitment to truth. Ethics and truth in journalism have assumed global concern as scholars recognize that their basic constituents of objectivity, accuracy, fairness and balance have merely assumed mythical qualities as journalists battle to assign credibility to their news stories.
Tuchman (1978: 2) describes objectivity as `facility’ (a mechanism which allows the journalists to hide even from themselves the `constructed’ and `partial’ nature of their stories). This view seems to have garnered force as increasingly, scholars suggest that news even when professionally `selected’ is guided more by organizational needs than by professionalism. The journalist thus becomes `a walking paradox’ (Nordenstreng 1995) as one cannot fail to see that journalism is so full of contradictions that “we have to question even the most fundamental dogma of the profession – truth seeking – because the way it has been conceived and practiced in journalism serves as a deceptive filtering device preventing as much as helping the truth being discovered” (Nordenstreng 1995:117). News commercialization practise in Nigeria media industries adds to this contradiction and deception, creating a continuous dilemma for ethics and objectivity in journalism practice in Nigeria.
In the same manner, in our noble profession of journalism, when a journalist gets hooked on the ‘brown envelope’ malaise, or a media house engages in ‘cheque book journalism,’ professionalism and ethics get crucified.
While the definitions are wide, within the media, they have precise applications as defined by the Nigerian Union of Journalists’ Code of Ethics Clause 4 of the Code says: “A journalist shall not accept bribes nor shall he/she allow other inducements to influence the performance of his/her professional duties.”
The Nigerian Guild of Editors concurs in Clause 7 of its Code of Ethics for Nigerian Journalists where it says emphatically that, “A journalist should neither solicit nor accept bribe, gratification or patronage to suppress or publish information.” It further states that “To determine payment for publication of news is inimical to the notion of news as fair, accurate, unbiased and factual report of an event.
Terje S. Skjerdal of the Gimlekollen School of Journalism and Communication, Norway. In a research article titled, Research On Brown Envelope Journalism In The African Media, (African Communication Research Vol. 3, 2010) states: “The term ‘brown envelope journalism’ is applied to denote journalistic activity which involves transfer of various types of rewards from sources to the reporter” (p. 369).
He further identifies the “three characteristics” that are commonly involved in the disturbing phenomenon. One, it usually occurs at a very personal level; two, it involves a reasonable degree of confidentiality to succeed. That is, it is not usually done in the open. And three, it is an informal contract. This presupposes that there is a willing source who is ready to give ‘something’ to influence the processing of the information gathered by the reporter; and a reporter, willing or reluctant to take but who collects all the same for his/her personal use and the ‘deal’ is wrapped up in utmost confidentiality (pp. 369-370)
The Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria is the Pioneer Broadcast Organization in Nigeria with a rich culture of excellence. Available records reveal that Radio Broadcasting was introduced into Nigeria in 1933 by the then colonial Government. It relayed the overseas service of the British Broadcasting Corporation through wired system with loudspeakers at the listening end. The service was called Radio Diffusion System, RDS. From the RDS emerged the Nigerian Broadcasting Services, NBS in April 1980. Prior to the NBS, the colonial Government had commissioned the Nigerian Broadcasting survey, undertaken by Messrs Byron and Turner which recommended the establishment of stations in Lagos, Kaduna, Enugu, Ibadan and Kano. Mr. T.W. Chalmers, a Briton and controller of the BBC Light Entertainment Programme was the first Director-General of the NBS.
Radio ownership and control has since colonial times been subjected more to political exigencies than economic forces. Successive governments have, in the laws they enact and enforce, made it abundantly clear that the press was at the mercy of politics, and that the political tune to which a paper dances was enough to ensure its survival or death Abramsky, (2005). The laws and their implementation have seldom encouraged private investment in the media nor given radio proprietors reason to believe that it is feasible to run it as a business by attracting advertisement revenue with good circulation figures.
The government shows that it is more interested in containing the media politically than in providing its proprietors and practitioners the enabling economic environment they need for professional excellence and financial independence.
This has brought about the underdevelopment of the press by imposing on it a series of constraints. No one who knows what a radio looks like (in content and form) take seriously what is passed on news Akpan, (2008), of course, some of the constraints to a vibrant, professional and financially viable radio are obviously internal to the press itself. However, even these so-called internal constraints can be explained by the overt political control and administrative determination to stifle all forms of creative and liberating difference from the status quo that a free press of any kind might seek to encourage Beder, (2002). This necessarily means privileging ignorance over knowledge, and encouraging media practitioners who know little or care little about professionalism.
Thus, the first and main threat to free-flow of information is still largely from wielders of political power, efforts at economic liberalization notwithstanding (Konings, 2006). Control by big business or financial magnates is perhaps a future danger, as overt political interference has made it too risky for the business world to contemplate any meaningful partnership with or investment in the press, the critical private press in particular. During the monolithic era, the sole political pace-setter was the government. Today, there is the added danger of power elites other than the governing, manipulating the press in similar ways if not worse.
Often, the journalists I have interviewed tend to think, quite mistakenly, that the only real threat to their freedom and independence comes from proprietors. This is quite understandable, given that the government is directly responsible for repressive laws and their day to day application, and given that the radio owners have consistently worked to keep the press divided through sponsoring the creation of private papers or thwarting attempts to create strong unions of media practitioners (Guiffo, 2003; Nyamnjoh, 2006; Nyamnjoh et al., 2006).
This notwithstanding, it is important for journalists to bear in mind that threats to their independence could also come from big business, such as experienced from government. They ought also to note that an equally dangerous threat could arise from unwittingly playing into the hands of the power elite in the opposition, as even they would agree has happened during democratic process. Among the internal constraints to a free press (constraints induced, of course, by governments and radio owners monolithic inclinations and severe laws over the years), is the inadequacy of professionalism and unity among journalists.
The splits, squabbles and instability we have witnessed among radio proprietors and journalists over the past eight years of democratic struggle, mean that the press has been preoccupied more with internal wrangles of its own, than with a conscious, concerted effort as an institution, to pool their resources together and fight for better laws and for persecuted journalists, as well as better inform their readership or viewership Bleifuss, 2005. If journalists are more united and better organized, they could resolve most of the problems that currently plague them and their profession, even if such professional independence.
Lack of job security is equally a constraint. Radio owners have capitalized on the helplessness of the job-seekers, who have not been guaranteed regular salaries. No firm arrangements are reached; as the owners are often more interested in whatever commercial gain they can muster than in professional excellence. This has inevitably led to prostitution by journalists or to what one may term a hand-to-mouth journalism, if not a journalism of misery Burton, 2004. In 1994 and 1995 when I ran a series of training and refresher programmes for journalists under the auspices of the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation in Cameroon, it was not uncommon for journalists to show more interest in the perdiem that the foundation paid them for 4
attending, than in the training itself. Journalists find themselves being forced to make unreliable promises to publish stories or slip in an advert here or there; promises which have led to untold problems for them. Any bit of money can lure a journalist to write anything, including blackmail. Even with the official media, a journalist thinks that if he writes this or that flattering article about this or that highly placed person in the ruling party or in the administration, he could be recognised and promoted. The main reason is that journalists do not receive good salaries and therefore have to aspire to extra-professional appointments which can fetch them a little more. The lack of job security has thus negatively affected professionalism as journalists seek to make ends meet through unprofessional practices, usually referred to derogatorily as ‘le journalisme de Gombo’ (‘Soya Journalism’ or ‘bread and butter journalism’) (cf. Tueno Tagne, 2006). Such gombo-isation of the profession has, together with other factors, done much to devalue the journalist and his product in public esteem (FFE, 2003, 2006).
The next type of constraint pertains to financial difficulties that have compounded the problems of news-gathering and news-production, and made papers even less credible as they stretch and strain to make possible every single edition. The high death or hibernation toll among radios Boh, (2007, p.193-230), is clear proof of these difficulties. If currently there is little advertising in the press, and if industry and commerce behave as though advertising were doing journalist a favour, this is due largely to the very unprofessional approach to journalism of which the press is guilty, but also to the fear on the part of businessmen, of drastic government sanctions on anyone caught keen on investing in the private press. Increased professionalism would most likely lead to high circulation and more advertising, and consequently, more revenue 5
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
A study on journalistic professionalism argued that it is a combination of two factors, secondary socialization of journalists in the workplace and the fetishization of journalistic norms and standards. In this way, undesirable traits in new journalists can be weeded out, and remaining journalists are free to cynically criticize journalistic professional norms as long as they keep working and following them. This criticism is adapted from sociological work on journalism and from philosopher Slavoj Žižek’s concept of ideology. It is clearly stated in the ethics of journalism that journalists are not to receive any form of bribe whether white, blue, green or brown envelope which has become common phenomenon among Nigeria journalists.
Many journalists derive pleasure in collecting brown envelope which is sending a bad signal and making public loosing confidence in journalism activities.
This research will x-ray the position of the Unity Fmas against the collection of brown envelope by its staff.
Democracy is nurtured and sustained by press freedom. This is because, the radio media give accurate account of the day to day happenings within and outside the polity. As a result, press freedom is essential to ensure that the media constantly monitor those in positions of authority without interference.
The media in Nigeria have found themselves in one form of restriction or another. There is restricted access to some information that will be of public interest. The constitutional duties assigned the media are not backed up with freedom to perform such duties. Indeed, governments at all levels mount pressure on the media through various laws and decrees, some of which were inherited from our colonial masters. In addition, some provisions of the code of ethics of the media act as restriction to them. In order to live up to their constitutional mandate of holding the government accountable to the people, the media dig deep and bring to the limelight “news behind the news”. In carrying out their duties they are harassed and sometimes the fear of being harassed has kept some media practitioners in their “shells”. These scenarios have sometimes, robbed the citizens of vital information that would help them make informed decisions and participate fully in the day-to-day governance of the society.
Though the world has divergent standards of democracy, best practices tend to suggest that radio media freedom is a prerequisite to democracy. In Nigeria, the clamour for democratic ideals does not carry along with it the freedom of the press that is imperative. Because Nigeria is operating a democratic government and is resolved never to assume a pariah status, she is determining her own standards of democracy. This paper, therefore, examined the level of freedom enjoyed by the media people and institutions in Nigeria.
Among the problems to a free press (constraints induced, of course, by government’s unchanging inclinations and asphyxiating laws over the years), is the inadequacy of professionalism and unity among journalists. Independence in journalism means freedom from all obligations that might interfere with the fidelity to the public interest. Therefore what the study wants to find out is; how does Radio Ownership Influences Professional Journalism Practice?
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
1. To know the code of ethics expected of radio media to maintain in news broadcasting in Nigeria.
2. To evaluate the role of NUJ in maintaining legal and ethical standard in radio broadcasting in Nigeria especially in Ebonyi state..
3. To determine Radio ownership as constraint for professional journalism practice in FRCN.
4. To determine how journalist are been restricted from their duty.
5. To ascertain the extent to which journalist protect the confidentiality of their news sources.
6. To know the possible ways of solving the constraints and restrictions posed to media in maintaining legal and ethical standard in news broadcasting.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTION
1. What are the code of ethics expected of radio media to maintain in news broadcasting in Nigeria?
2. What are the roles of NUJ in maintaining legal and ethical standard in radio broadcasting in Nigeria especially in Ebonyi state?
3. Do journalists restricted from discharging their duty?
4. To what extent do journalists protect the confidentiality of their news sources?
5. Are there possible ways of solving the constraints and restrictions posed to media in maintaining legal and ethical standard in news broadcasting?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
H0: There are no code of ethics expected of radio media to maintain in news broadcasting in Nigeria.
H1: There are code of ethics expected of radio media to maintain in news broadcasting in Nigeria.
H0: NUJ does not play any significant roles in maintaining legal and ethical standard in radio broadcasting in Nigeria especially in Ebonyi state.
H1: NUJ is playing a significant roles in maintaining legal and ethical standard in radio broadcasting in Nigeria especially in Ebonyi state.
H0: Journalists cannot protect the confidentiality of their news sources.
H1: Journalists can protect the confidentiality of their news sources.
H0: There are no possible ways of solving the constraints and restrictions posed to media in maintaining legal and ethical standard in news broadcasting.
H1: There are possible ways of solving the constraints and restrictions posed to media in maintaining legal and ethical standard in news broadcasting.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study will help government policy makers, radio owners, Journalist and all students conducting research on the same topic. In the same vain it will be of immense help to the students in Mass Communication department. Work like this will benefit a lot of people; few among the beneficiaries include but not limited to undergraduates and graduates of mass communication, advertisers and public relations. It will as well benefit the media practitioners on what is expected of them in a company. It will serve as eyes opener to the management and journalists the need to uphold the ethics of the profession in order to sanitize the profession.
In addition, this research work tries to provide satisfactory answers to some questions that are disturbing the mind of policy formulators, students and researcher.
Moreover, policy formulators will benefit from this research work because they will be able to identify the usefulness of the ethics of journalism in their day to day assignment.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
With the selection of the Unity Fm as a case study, this project work has been limited because it will be difficult to contact all radio media houses in Nigeria. However, the demography of the journalists and management of the Unity Fm such as : age, sex, working experience, academic qualification will be considered before the distribution of questionnaires.
There are ethical lights which guide the journalistic enterprise. A good journalist is judged by the extent of his commitment to these ideas of them acting based on their codes.
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Although this study has accomplished the purpose, which is set out to achieve, one of the very limitations is that the validity of the results or findings is depending on the honest of the respondents in providing the needed information.
Due to constraints of time and money, it is difficult to carry out the research extensively. This led to the limiting of the scope.
Cognizance was also taken to the fact that the academic calendar was too short and academic workload was enormous, as a result of this, no time to run around for the work.
1.9 DEFINITION OF THE TERMS
Press: This is a collective name for media practitioners
Ethics: It is the principle or code of conduct that governs a particular association or group.
Brown envelope: It is aterms in the media sphere which means bribe given to journalists?
Journalism: This is a profession of or act of writing, editing and dissemination of information to the wider audience.
Professionalism: It is an act or way of standardizing a particular organization profession or organizing.:
Radio: The transmission and reception of electromagnetic waves of radio frequency, esp. those carrying sound messages.
Constraint: A limitation or restriction.
Journalist: A person who writes for newspapers or magazines or prepares news to be broadcast on radio or television.
Proprietor: The owner of an establishment
Professional: a person who is expert at his or her work: You can tell by her comments that this editor is a real professional.
Influence: The effect that a person or thing has on someone’s decisions, opinions, or behavior or on the way something happens.