THE CHALLENGES OF JOURNALISM PRACTICE IN NIGERIA
This research exercise is on the challenges of journalism practice in Nigeria (A study of Nigerian Television Authority, Enugu). The research study adopted the systems theory and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory as the theoretical framework for this study. The research population comprised 89 staff workers and the research study adopted the number as the sample size for the study. The questionnaire served as instrument of data collection. The data collected was analyzed using simple percentage method. The research work made some of the following findings; that too much of government control, shortage of staff, lack of modern /adequate equipment, poor salary, inadequate funding and employment of non-professionals are among the major challenges affecting the media in carrying out their duties. It was recommended that; journalists working in state government owned media station should realize that they are serving the public and not the state chief executives alone and so must pay adequate attention to social responsibility principle of the press.
1.1 Background of the Study
Journalism in Nigeria has continued to grow immensely in line with global trends despite strong infrastructural challenges. Communicating with a mass audience is not totally strange in Nigeria. Thus, mass media have been important tools in communication, and through which information is passed across within the society (Ben, 2016).
In mass communication, the media are divided into the electronic (broadcast) and print media. The print media involves mainly magazine and newspaper; they are informers which provide retrievable, researched, in-depth and interpretative news stories of events. The broadcast media comprise of the radio and television, it has not been as enterprising as it should be. This is due to the majority ownership and control of the broadcast media by the government. These two branches of the media has played vital role in broadcasting of information in the society.
Abdur-Rahman (2013) in describing the media roles noted that broadcast is a society wide type of message dissemination, which involves the transmission of ideas, words, sounds, pictures and values in the form of signals through the airwaves to a target audience. Ben (2016) opined that broadcasting is an activity of a branch of the media of mass communication called the electronic media that use transmitters and airwaves in the transmission of news and information to their heterogeneous audience.
According to Munyua (2010), information is the least expensive impute for societal development and it can also be viewed as a basic necessity ingredient for bringing about social and economic change in any nation. On this fact, Santas and Ogoshi (2015) stated that the mass media play crucial roles in achieving developmental objectives at local, national and international level. The further noted that the mass media has been recognized as an important resource for mobilizing an entire nation towards national development. Being an integral part of the social system, the mass media is a major stakeholder in the realization of sustainable development in Nigeria. Thus, in the process of information dissemination the media prepares the ground for development.
However, there are several factors hindering the effectiveness of the media in information dissemination. Santas and Ogoshi (2015) opined that factors like corruption, poor communication channels, illiteracy, inadequate infrastructure, poor implementation framework and political instability has continued to pose great challenges to the achievement of sustainable development of Nigeria media. Otolo (2015) also highlighted that ownership is one of the major problems facing the media in Nigeria, be it State or Federal. In most cases, there is a stigma on journalists who work in these media houses as they are often seen as government’s propagandists. Journalists are made to give the activities of their government owner more prominence at the expense of other important issues. When they fail to do so, regardless of their role or importance to the media organization, the reporters risk being sacked or demoted unless they are lucky.
According to Udeajah (2014), everything points to the fact that ownership has had some significant effect on the operations of broadcast organizations in Nigeria. The policy of the persons who pay the broadcaster’s salary determines the operation of the media station. Ben (2016) observed that the government owned media houses in Nigeria have been known to suffer a myriad of problems which have left them redundant and reduced them to mere “government handouts”. This is as a result of the overbearing influence of the government owners on the media houses. Barnabas (2017) stated that due to the government control of the electronic media, they lack credibility and objectivity. This can be accounted in the caliber of workers they parade. He further noted that the media is heavily being affected by poorly educated editor and reporters who are easily target for manipulation by the government and its agents.
In the same vein, it is important to note that beyond the control from the government as posing as one of the challenges affecting the media in disseminating information, the new media idea poses a great challenge to most media houses in Nigeria. The new media rely strongly on digitally powered technologies, allowing for previously separate media to converge. Media convergence is a phenomenon of new media and this can be explained as a digital media. According to Flew, (2012), “The idea of new media captures both the development of unique forms of digital media, and the remaking of more traditional media forms to adopt and adapt to the new media technologies”. This obviously accounts for the reliance on computers, smart phones, tablets, and other medium instead of the previous analogue means of information gathering. The most prominent example of media convergence is the Internet, whereby the technology for the streaming of video and audio has now changed the face of broadcasting and movies rapidly.
According to Barnabas (2017) a challenge in using the new media in public service is the fact that new media technologies are very expensive. This is a major limitation to the use of the new media technologies as advertising channels in digital television as it increases the cost of producing and running commercials. Daniel, Ezekiel, and Leo (2013) noted that countries like Nigeria have low level of technology penetration including new media technologies and lack of availability of these the basic postulates of these technologies. This has made the use of new media technologies to move on a slow pace. Just to highlight these few as being part of the challenges hindering the media in playing their role effectively. Hence, this research study aimed in examining the challenges of journalism practice in Nigeria with focus on Nigerian Television Authority, Enugu.
1.2 Statement of Problem
The media is regarded as the fourth estate of the realm, this can be said to be the role, bestowed on the media by nature. They are endued with the responsibility to inform and educate the public on the happenings in the society. Despite the essential roles play by the media in ensuring that there is free flow of information within the society, there are still some problems affecting them in carrying out these roles.
One of such problem is the freedom of information. All over the world, press freedom has always been a controversial issue, Africa is not an exception especially in Nigeria where there are often arrest or detention of journalists or media workers by security operatives. It is has gotten to the extent that journalists are often assassinated and there are no proper investigation to carry out for such incidence.
Nigeria media houses often complain about the epidemic power supply and inability of government of the day to address the issue have affected the media in disseminating information. Also, it is wise to note that to cover news periodically at anywhere and at anytime requires sophisticated equipments, which are new media technologies. These new media technologies are expensive to afford and this have made most media houses not to go total digital because they cannot afford to purchase new technologies.
Also, government control over the media is one of the problems affecting the credibility of the media in disseminating information freely in the society. Oloruntola (2009) noted that government control over the media hinders factual, accurate, balance and fair reporting of the media houses, especially those owned by the government. These problems mentioned above could be trace to be responsible for limiting the media from disseminating information freely.
1.3 Objective of the Study
The main objective of this study was to examine the challenges of journalism practice in Nigeria. Other specific objectives include to:
- Identify the challenges militating against the media in disseminating information.
- Ascertain the influence of these media challenges on the practice of journalism profession in Nigeria.
- Find out the influence of government control on the activities of the media in Nigeria.
1.4 Research Questions
This study was guided by the following research question:
- What is the challenges militating against the media in disseminating information?
- What is the influence of these media challenges on the practice of journalism profession in Nigeria?
- What is the influence of government control on the activities of the media in Nigeria?
1.5 Scope of the Study
This work will concentrate on the entire activities of Nigeria Television Authority Enugu, Enugu State.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study is significant in the following ways:
- It would enable the researcher to expand the frontiers of research in digital broadcasting especially with the use of new media technologies, and how to render solution to some of the challenges hindering the media if he later becomes a media practitioner.
- The findings and recommendation will be helpful to the government and its agents to administer effective control that will enable the media perform their functions effectively.
- This work will serve as a guideline to enable media practitioners to gradually transform from the present analogue state of broadcasting in Nigeria and embrace a broadcasting environment that is driven by modern Information and Communication Facilities as obtainable in western countries, as it will render solutions to certain problems hindering the media.
- It would add to the body of academic literatures on journalism in the mass communication department in different institution.
- Lastly, this work would be beneficial to future researchers who can now readily lay their hands on the result of this work by making use of the research report.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
- Media: conceptual (Wikipedia) Media is the collective communication-outlets or tools that are used to store and deliver information or data.
- Ownership: Ownership means the complete legal right to control or run a media.
- Content: is the information and experience directed towards an end user or audience.
- Media Ownership: is the act of establishing controlling and financing the media outfit either by the government or private individual.
- Government Media: This refers to government-owned newspapers located in the south-south geo-political zone of Nigeria.
- Media Practitioners: this refers to a professional journalist who has undergone training and is working with a media organization.
- Information: the created, stored, processed, retrieved and transmitted set of signals (or symbol)
- Communication: The process of receiving and transmitting information, ideas and opinions from one person or group of persons to another.
- Convergence: The merging and blending together of old and new media in terms of form, content and function.
- Information Technology: A term commonly used to cover the range of technologies relevant to the transfer of information (Knowledge, data, text, drawing, audio recordings, video sequences, etc) in particular to computer, digital electronic, and telecommunication (Cambridge Encyclopedia, 2012)
- Broadcast: Electronic means by which information is transmitted to a large and heterogeneous audience. The broadcast media include the radio and television stations.
- New media: Modern Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) used as a channel for the dissemination of information to a heterogeneous audience regardless of time, space and distance e.g. Internet, DVD, mobile phones among others.
- Old media: These are old media of communication that are essentially one directional like the newspaper, radio, television among others.