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PROJECT TOPIC- THE HAZARD OF JOURNALISM PROFESSION A CASE STUDY OF TELL MAGAZINE AND GUARIDAN

PROJECT TOPIC- THE HAZARD OF JOURNALISM PROFESSION A CASE STUDY OF TELL MAGAZINE AND GUARIDAN

ABSTRACT

The aim of this study is to examine the condition under which journalists operate in Nigeria and with the help of research methodologies the researcher discovered various degrees of hazards involved in the practice of journalists as well as the potential journalists. The study in its chapter one concentrated on hazards of journalism profession the introduction, background of the study, statement of the problem,

objective/purpose of the study, significance of the study, research questions, Theoretical framework and operational definitions. The chapter two centers on the review works of related works of others scholars. Such review is in form of comparison of varied ideas of different scholars in the area of the study, their comments and remarks and opinions of the researcher. In the chapter three the study focused on the

research method, where questionnaire were distributed to the respondents for the purpose of data collection, collation, analysis and presentation. The chapter four centered on data presentation. Here, percentage and tables were used in the process of the presentation, analysis, and interpretation of the collected data. In the last chapter, being chapter five the research summarized and concluded the work

and made useful recommendations on how the journalism awards, will be reduced. The researcher also recommended that, society, journalists and government should join in crusading against the hazards of journalism profession.

PROJECT TOPIC- THE HAZARD OF JOURNALISM PROFESSION A CASE STUDY OF TELL MAGAZINE AND GUARIDAN

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1  BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

          Journalists, the world over, accept that their job is hazardous, that there is a life in the line of fire, where the worst, even when feared most can happen  Nigeria’s history is fraught with several periods of attacks on journalist. And, not on any of these periods has this undue psychological and sometimes physical assault been for the good of this our beloved country. An ace communicator and consultant, Dr

Chidi Amuta, lamented that he “Surveyed the working conditions of journalist in Nigeria, vis-à-vis conditions of their Western counterparts and submits that Nigeria journalists suffers a lot of deprivations” He added that in spite of such deprivations, the industry is virile and Nigeria journalists are one of the best in the world” As several other commentators have posited, journalism, especially the

so-called great mind of it, has remained the most patriotic with a profound commitment to the ultimate survival and improvement of Nigeria. The cross the Nigerian government, usurpers of power and tyrannical leaders insists that the Nigeria journalist most bear is that of constant harassment and illegal detention. Ode (2004:13) was also in line with this observation when he wrote

                   “I wonder why our security

                   men support those who destroy

                   this country and the people

                   in the name of leadership

                   and then turn round to

                   harass their very victims

                   each time they start

                   complaining and lamenting

                   as a result of their  sufferings”

          Editors cannot sit on their desk to carry out her legitimate duties and their reporters operate in fear of illegal detention. Being the mouthpiece of the masses through which they express their criticisms, views and grievances about government activities. Dokun Bojuwode once quipped, “Nobody (or journalist) knows what is safe to be published”

Umechukwu (2000:65) writes that,

                   “Often dictators employ such

                   vague terms as contained in

                   the official secret Act of 1962:

                   “information”, “forbidden areas”,

                   to excuse their selfish, nefarious

                   actions and polices against

                   journalism practice”

In there, book many voices one world Macbride, et al (1980:138-139). Wrote that;

                    “Open to very narrow or broad

                   interpretations, the very indefiniteness

                   of which often forces journalist and

                   editors to apply self-censorship

                   constrictions on their work”

          The realization of these facts influenced the choice of the topic, the Hazards of journalism profession. A case study of Tell Magazine and Guardian newspaper. Tell magazine was established by five journalists; Nosa Igiebor, Kola Llori, Onome Osifo-Whiskey and Ayodele Akinkuafo who had previously worked for “News watch” Nigeria First Weekly News Magazine. The journalists were

uncomfortable with the coziness which had developed between “News watch” “founding editors and the government” Tell was initiated by the journalists to be more challenging and critical publication. After its first year on the News stands, “Tell” gained a reputation as a leader in questioning (military ruler Ibrahim) Babangida’s willingness to hand over power to a civilian government. “Tell editors did not mind

being referred to as practitioners of “guerrilla journalism” “Tell’s’’ popularity  soared in the run-up to the June 1993 Presidential election and the time, according to Igiebor. “Tell” becomes one of Babangida regime’s favorite targets in April after the magazine published an interview with former head of  state General Olusegun Obasanjo, which read, IBB’s regime is a fraud” Over the next four months state

security forces the magazine officers under constant surveillance, occupied them on more than one occasion, seized thousands of copies of the magazines, and assaulted its journalist. This consistent pressure from the government forced “Tell” to begin printing under ground in July of 1995.   On August 15, 1993, state security operatives and police ransacked the magazine offices and detained Igiebor,

executive editor Kola Ilori, managing editor, Onome Osifo – whiskey, and Senior associate editor, Ayodele Akinkuoto for 12 days. Even with the senior editors in detention the attacks on “Tell” continued. Two or three days after they were arrested they (state security operatives and police) came to their office (Tell) during production and assaulted their reporters took them away and tortured them, after a

magistrate heard the case against the editors and knew it was a phony holding charge. They were supposed to be release in bail before Babangida headed over power on August 26 and left Abuja the next day. But they were detained an additional few days because they thought it would be safer to keep them in Abuja while the president is still there.

          When the editors were finally released on August 27, Ernest Shonekan was Nigeria’s president. The end of the Babangida regime was a welcome respite for “Tell”. All told, 500,000 copies of the magazine had been seized from printers, distributors and Vendors in the streets during the last four months of Babangida rule according to Ilori;

                   “The magazine remained under

                   surveillance by the security forces

                   (General) Sani Abacha seized

                   power and lifted the proscription

                   decree, reinforcing how tenuous

                   press freedom remained in Nigeria

                   Government, especially Federal

                     Government circle, from a cynical

                     Populist perspective”

(Odey2005).

          The “Guardian” is an independent newspaper, established for the purpose of presenting balanced coverage of events and of promoting the best interest of Nigerians. Chief Alex Ibru established it. Two “Guardian” journalists, Nduka Irabor and Tunde Thompson were victims of the public officers protection against false accusation Decree No. 4 of 1983. They served one-year jail term each for publishing a scoop

on the number of diplomatic posting approved, but not yet made public by the Government.  It suffices to say that not only “Tell” Magazine and “Guardian” newspaper suffered these hazards alone. Another part of the history of the ideals of press in Nigeria is the killing of Dele Giwa through letter bomb on the 19th of October 1986, who was the editor and founder of news watch magazine. Similarly, that James

Baganda Kaltho, the Northern bureau chief of the news magazine, was killed by Sani Abacha’s security goons. Odey (2004:32) has it that;

                   “But after he had been killed,

                   Mr. Zakari Biu an assistant

                   Commissioner of police who headed

                   The presidential task force on

                   Terrorist activities, on August 18,

                   1998 told Nigerians that Kaltho

                   was the unidentified person who

                   planted a bomb at Durbar

                   Hotel in Kaduna on January 18,

                   1996 and that he was killed by

                   the bomb when it exploded”

Odey who was especially pained over the Hazards of the journalism profession. Added that;

                 “Governor of Lagos State, Bola

                  Ahmed Tinubu changed the name

                 of the press center built and named

                 Ibrahim Sani Abacha press center

                  by Brigadier-General Mohammed

                 Marwa, into Baguada Kaltho

                  Press center. According to Tinubu, the

                  Late son of the late Maximum dicta-

                   tor made no contribution to the press

                   rather, his father did all he could

                   to wipe it out. While Ibrahim Abacha’s

                    name symbolized military oppression,

                    Kaltho’s name symbolized freedom

                    because he was one of the many

                    Nigerians who paid supreme sacrifice

                     to save their country from Abacha’s

                      tyranny”

          This scenario, couple with the fact that Tayo Awatusin of the champion newspaper and Kress Imodibe of the “Guardian” lost their lives in Liberia while covering the Liberia civil war, also provided clues of what we mean by the Hazards. Sani Abacha security agents abducted Moreso, Onome Osifo-Whiskey, the managing editor of the “Tell” magazine on November 9, 1997. His where about remained

unknown till Abacha died. A further approach towards understanding the Hazards and plight of Nigeria journalist are draconian laws and decree design to unnecessarily censor the Nigerian journalist. According to Okonkwo (1995:88). “Whereas most of the press laws  enacted by the British colonial administration were designed to shield the colonial masters from press criticism and public ridicule a Nigeria seemed to

have seen in than opportunity for their own individual and collective protection from press criticisms.   This was seen when George Mba Assistant editor of the “Tell” magazine, Kunle Ajibade, editor of the “News” magazine, Ben Charles Obi, the editor of the weekend classique Newspaper were sentenced to 15 years in jail for reporting on the controversial coup plot on account of which president Obasanjo was

arrested on March 19, 1995. In this present regime, three journalists were arrested and treated roughly by the police while covering the strike called by Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on July 1, 2003 to protest against the president Obasanjo’s fuel price hike. The journalists were funmi Komolafe, labour editor of the “Vanguard” newspaper and George

Oshodi, a photojournalist with the Associated press Ewelukwa (2004:59) points that;

                   “In 1959, the press celebrated its

                   centenary in Nigeria, yet there were

                   still no concrete legislation

                   on the rights and privilege of

                   the press or even limitations of

                   the press”

          The harassment takes many forms in River states some years ago, Governor Alfred Diete Spia ordered that the head of a journalist, Minere Amakiri, be shave with a broken bottle for writing a story in “Nigeria Observer” that was not acceptable to him. Also in Akwa Ibom state, the state house of Assembly passed a resolution, on August 14th, 2004 declared that Haruna Acheneje, the “Punch” newspaper

correspondent in the state should quit the state within seven days of the resolution, as he had become a personal non grata in the state. His crime according to them was that he was found of giving unfavorable report on the activities of the house. Another scenario was the attack on “Insider” magazine on November 24, 2003. Three editors were arrested by State Criminal Investigative Department (SCID),

after detaining them for two days; they were handed over to the police. The journalists were Osa Director, Chuks Onwudinjo and Janet Mba-Afolabi, because of the November 24, 2003 edition of the magazine title Aso Rocks Oil Bunkering Scanda: Atiku, Gusau Linked 8 Arrested Ships to be Destroyed. On September 4, 2004 a team of State Security Service (SSS) operatives stormed the premises of the

“Insider” weekly magazine and arrested the production editor, after torturing him to lead them to the printers, which he did under duress. On reaching the place they impounded the whole edition of the magazine,which was titled “Condemn Biafra Now. No says Ohaneze” the attack continued they broke into 16 offices of the magazine, broke into the corporate safe and took away important files and documents,

carted away 1500 copies of the magazine, all the production plate, films and waste papers relating to the production, laptops, scanners and photographic equipment, took away the sum of Five hundred thousand niara (N500,000.00) cash proceeds from the previous sales and finally, sealed off the premises of the magazines Odey (2004:56-57). On 2nd, February 1996, chief Alex Ibru publisher of the Guardian group

of newspaper, was shot at close range and severely wounded. He was rushed abroad where he revived after intensive surgery. Journalists have become a convenient escape goat for whatever misfortune that befalls the country. They are held responsible for Nigerians ghastly image abroad. They are blamed for Nigeria loss of staging right for the world junior soccer championship 1995: They were held responsible

for the debacle in Liberia, for declaring that there was an epidemic of cerebrospinal meningitis in Nigeria, where there was nothing of the sort, and manufacturing a crisis between Nigeria and Cameroon over Bakasi. To summarize all that we have said so far, since Nigeria attained her political independence on October 1, 196o, the Freedom of the press has been a “force” a Silly notion that the government has not

paid any serious head to. The press had one, two or more ugly stories of maltreatment, torture, confinement and imprisonment to tell from one regime to the other either military or civilian. All these, coupled with the popular slogan by the publics and the journalists in particular that the acid test of real journalist depend on how often the journalist visits the prison, leaves us without doubt that Nigeria journalist is faced with enormous Hazards.

PROJECT TOPIC- THE HAZARD OF JOURNALISM PROFESSION A CASE STUDY OF TELL MAGAZINE AND GUARIDAN

1.2  STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

          The “government” constitutes major problems to the press especially, governments which acquired legitimacy through the barrel of the gun or falsified election results. These are dictatorship, and tend to shun all avenues of free speech and free dissemination of information. Thus, they crack down on the press. These crack down acquire dictatorial legitimacy through draconian laws and decrees Okonkwo

(1995). Some of the decrees are Decree No. 4 of 1984, No.2 of 1984, No.35 of 1993, No.36 of 1993 among others. Many journalist have fallen victim to these laws and decrees. For instance Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor of “Guardian” Newspaper were victim of these decrees. One of the biggest Hazards of the Nigeria journalism is death itself. A case of Dele Giwa is the good example who was murdered with letter

bomb on October 1986, also on the 28 August 1998, Okezie Amarube the publisher of the Enugu quarterly news service, was shot dead by a policeman . Another threat to journalist in Nigeria is compelling him to disclose his source of information. Journalists have been taken to court for this. For instance, Olusola Oyegbemi of the “Daily Sketch” newspaper was compelled to disclose a source of

information he obtained in confident, which found him in court. Knowing fully that it is unethical for a journalist to disclose his source of information. Disclosing ones source is  automatically selling the birth right of ones’ confidentiality and act of betraying the profession for the source will be scared to give out information. Like other professions, it is a veritable tool for the press.

          On many occasions, State Security Services (SSS) have been ordered by the leaders to harass the Nigeria journalist. The harassment took many forms which amount to torture, arrest, detention, and vandalization of media organizations equipment and even sealing off the media organization without enabling law. A case of “Insider” weekly magazine is a good example; these on September 2004,

“Insider” weekly magazine experienced all the above-mentioned harassment. To the extent that some group and individuals condemned the unlawful attitude of the SSS to the magazine. Odey (2004:60) was also among the individuals that condemned the attack. When he wrote “though the SSS operatives sealed off the premises of the “Insider” weekly magazine, we wish to make it very clear that they are not

authorized by any law”. No wonder why Okonkwo K.C. once lamented that “why should a journalist be everybody’s whipping boy? To make matters worse, legal protection for him is quite uncertain”

1.3  OBJECTIVE/PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

          This project is aimed at, finding out the problems that confront Nigeria journalist and to acquaint them, with the hazard inherent in their profession within a view to preparing them against the risk.  As well it is intended to provide the professional journalist with a vital knowledge in an aspect of his disciplines. Journalism is a profession that is charged with the responsibility of informing, educating and

entertaining the public. They are referred as the watchdog of the society. Therefore, journalists should ensure that their comments about governance are constructive, objectives, and factual. If they operate according to professional laws and ethics, society will be better off . They need to muster enough courage in the exposition of evil and defense of the truth, in good conscience, for “Conscience” according to J.F

Clarke “is the root of all true courage (Umechukwu, 2000:76)” The government always sees press as enemy; human beings run both government and press. There is a need to bridge the gap between the press and the government. There should be mutual understanding between them. Also this study will seek to advice the government to amend some of those laws and decree that hinder the journalist from

carrying out his duty. The study is also aimed at providing journalists with guidelines, which will assist them in evading some of the hazards. Also the study is undertaken to ascertain the levels of hazards of journalism profession. Journalists especially the independent media  always criticize the evil deed of the government leaders because of this they always fall victim to their “terror”. Since press has been

recognized because of its role in the National development. The study is encouraging them to go on with their good job.

1.4  SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

          The saying that pen is mightier than sword is undisputable. Napoleon Bonaparte, a man of the matter, acknowledged this fact when he said, “four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets. This is to tell the Nigerian journalist that they should not get intimidated by the leaders, they should keep on informing the public about what is happening in the government. It is their

legitimate duty. This study is important because it wishes to tackle a salient but often forgotten aspect of the journalism profession since most journalists and mass communication authors have not devoted time to this problem couple with the fact that the topic is rich with researchable material formed the choice of this topic. After the research finding it is believed that journalists and all those that have interest in the

profession will observe the risk facing practitioners of this important profession. There is a belief that this project will reshape the Nigerian journalists for the better. It will encourage them to operate according to professional laws and ethics, in order to serve the society better. The researcher belief also that any journalist that read through this carefully will be in a better position to know what constitute hazards in his profession and strives towards avoiding them.

1.5  RESEARCH QUESTIONS

  1. Does the Nigerian journalism profession have any hazards?
  2. What types of hazards does it have?
  3. What are the causes of these hazards?
  4. Can the journalist hazards be minimized or avoided completely?
  5. Finally how can intending journalist be encourage amongst these hazards?

PROJECT TOPIC- THE HAZARD OF JOURNALISM PROFESSION A CASE STUDY OF TELL MAGAZINE AND GUARIDAN

1.6  THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

          According to Mcquail (1987:4) “A theory is a set of ideas of varying status and origin which may explain or interpret some phenomenon. Asika (1991) sees theory as consisting of concept, definitions and propositions put together to present a systematic view of a phenomenon. Again a theory is an attempt to synthesize and integrate empirical data for maximum clarifications and unification. The essence of these

definitions is to give a background to the theoretical framework. Communication scholars over the years have devoted a substantial portion of their time to study and proffer an acceptable theory for media practitioners. The four theories are authoritarian, libertarian, social responsibility, and soviet communist theories. This study will use libertarian theory of the press. The libertarian media are well known for

their philosophy of rationalism and natural right. They exist (media) to check on government. And that requires that they will be free from government control. However, nobody has ever said that the freedom should include freedom to defame or indulge in unbridled obscenity, to violate individual’s privacy or to commit sedition. In short the libertarian theory does not advocate immunity to the rule of

law and the canons of civilized social conduct. The choice of this particular theory is informed by its benefits to both the Nigerian journalists and the entire Nigerians who want to express their opinions and views. Therefore, the following are the principles of libertarian theory.

  1. Publication should be free from any prior censorship by any third party.
  2. The act of publication and distribution should be open to a person or group without petition or licenses.
  3. Attack on any government official or political officer should not be punished etc.

The exponents of this libertarian theory-Jefferson, John Locke and Thomas Pain Saw man as a rational being with inherent natural rights, and one of these is the right to know or seek the truth without interference. The theme of this theory is the citizen’s welfare Professor Elochuhwu Amucheazi.

To this end, the study will apply the principle of libertarian theory of the press.

PROJECT TOPIC- THE HAZARD OF JOURNALISM PROFESSION A CASE STUDY OF TELL MAGAZINE AND GUARIDAN

1.7 OPERATIONAL DEFINITIONS

          To avoid misinterpretation, this section of the study will attempt to explain both the conceptual and operational definitions of term and phrases that is used in this work.

          WORDS  AND  MEANING

Journalism: The word journalism as it is used here includes: the activity of gathering writing, and disseminating  of news to the public those who fall with this umbrella includes; the reporter Editors, proof readers and the printers.

Profession: The word “profession” as used here is limited to those whose are trained in the area of gathering and disseminating news whose work fall time with the media and earn their living from the practice.

Journalism profession: This term is not applicable   to freelancer, and contributors   of articles to print media. this explanation is in line with the assertion of one expert in communic- ation, Mr Lasipo Anidegbe. According to him “the fact that the English language   is the medium of communication? does not make journalism Profession an all comers’ affairs”

Hazard:      This involves all the dangers, evils, risks, problems and encumbrance that militate against the Journalists as they strive  to keep public informed about the happenings in the   society.

PROJECT TOPIC- THE HAZARD OF JOURNALISM PROFESSION A CASE STUDY OF TELL MAGAZINE AND GUARIDAN

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