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SOCIETAL IMPACT OF CORRUPTION IN THE JOURNALISM PRACTICES

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.0     Background of the Study

As a profession that serves the interest of the public, journalists have vast responsibilities everyday facing challenges that test their ethical values and responsibility to truth telling. Despite professional code of ethic, most Journalists  violate the rules by accepting bribe (brown envelope) while covering news or features. This in some cases lower the Journalists, and the media houses  credibility and undermine it’s professional career.

Corruption is dangerous to society and can be extremely devastating to media. Therefore while acknowledging the attempt by federal government to fight corruption and economic crimes, there should be a conference call on all media practitioners and stake holders to adapt zero tolerances attitude to bribe (brown envelope) in the media, and indeed society at large.

Sanni (2007 p. 39) assert that corruption is the greatest albatross and the most virulent cog militating against good governance and national development in Nigeria. Journalist may use the media for their personal ends or for the good of the public. As human needs are insatiable, there are chances where some journalist may sacrifice the public interest for their selfish motives and ignoring social responsibility. Such behavior damages the profession integrity and reputation.

Thus journalism practices involve the gathering, packaging and disseminating of news for general public. Generally in today’s society that mass media are seen as a veritable instruments of information dissemination, social mobilization and as well as control, It is one of the means through which the public is been educated and sensitized on important issues affecting the lives of the public. And as such, journalism ethical values should be guarded to avoid the ethical pitfalls like (brown envelops) and favor, which journalist collect from their news sources called bribe. Bribe can happen in two ways i.e. journalist receiving from a news sources or journalist issuing it in order to get the needed information, Such reporting may  affect news content or dilute stories with hidden agenda.

As a noble profession, journalism demand discipline and ethical behaviour to uphold the tenets of social responsibility by the journalist, as the society depend on the mass media for survival. The public requires information Mac Bride at all (1981) posit.

This is needed in order to react knowledgeably to personal conditions, as well as be in a position to take appropriate decision. Through numerous educational programmers such as quizzes, debates and document arise; the public can be concretized on the need to accord people their proper position. Unfortunately, due to government pressure on the journalism, poverty and lack of training, many journalist engage in some unethical practices such as sensationalism, yellow journalism check book journalism, invasion of privacy particularly Brown envelop.

This study characterized the present Nigeria mass media landscape. The development affect the credibility of mass media, their audience i.e. listeners, readers, viewers etc who have all lost confidence in mass media content due to the influence of bribe on the journalists news judgment and objectivity. 

Ukozor (2002) posts that ethics should give  journalists the  standard by which they can judge action either to be right or wrong, good or bad, responsible or irresponsible, That Journalists today need to know their limitation so as not to abuse the power of the media. In coronation of this view, Okunna describes ethical Journalist as a position of democracy. The impact of this, shows the essence of ethical responsibility on media practitioners for balanced, objective and accurate news reporting. In an article he captioned “Settlement Culture and the Nigerian Media”, Waziri Adio, a former managing director of the New Nigerian Newspapers, writes that on April 15, 2002, the Time magazine published a story about Nigeria entitled “The Whole Truth”, which raised fundamental issues regarding journalism ethics in the country. Written by Stephen Faris, the story alleged that the office of the Minister of Information and Orientation, Professor Jerry Gana, gave foreign journalists reference materials on Nigeria and some brown envelopes containing $400 each after a press conference. The story further alleged that the minister’s gesture was aimed at bribing and pacifying some foreign journalists that were in the habit of carrying uninformed and sensational stories on Nigeria. Adio notes that although the federal government, headed by Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo, set up a panel to probe the allegation, the panel did not indict the official involved; making the then Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Kanu Agabi, to say that the story should have been more appropriately entitled “The Whole Lie”. Agabi said the gift of N50,000 to the foreign journalists was a normal thing, even among international media organisations. Adio, however, has a view contrary to Agabi’s understanding of the incident: As if this was not bad enough, Nigerian newspaper editorials, cartoons and columns have been making the specious argument that this is another instance of Western media bias and fixation with negative news from Africa. Perhaps fired by patriotism, perhaps motivated by embarrassment, Nigerian journalists have dumped their critical faculties on this issue. The press has chorused: this is not bribery, such practices abound even in the western world, everyone does it etc., etc. I had hoped that someone would be able to think outside the box and ahead of the pack in this instance. I pined for the contrarian view that should be the hallmark of a plural press. I am yet to come across one. And this is where the real danger lies: that we have come to the day that nearly everyone sees nothing untoward in the action of the government and the journalists who accepted the so-called honoraria. Everyone thinks this is standard practice in journalism. This incident and others like it call for a critical examination of the brown envelope syndrome, with a view to ascertaining if it truly has a legitimate place in the practice of journalism in Nigeria and indeed, anywhere in the world. What follows, therefore, is a treatise of the brown envelope syndrome and its debilitating impact on the future of journalism in the country.

Regrettably, communication in Nigeria is mainly influences by economic extremism on one hand and government pressure on the other hand. In developing nations like Nigeria, poverty debases human dignity and causes the scale of honour and trust for money through bribe to influence news as opposed to editors  sense of values. Also the wages of an average journalist is low considering the enormous task he/she performs in society. That may be seen as a contributing factor in  making him or her to compromise the profession.

Thus, recognition of this views the researcher to examine the effects of bribe on the practices of journalism.

1.1     Statement of Problem

Information has emerged as the most vital means of achieving development in this age. presently ,Nigeria is suffering from lack of quality and usable information from the media, media practices have lost it objectivity due to the level of bribe practices found in the media industry and the condition is worsening to such a point that if nothing drastically is been done about it, journalism as a profession will succumb to brown envelope. It is against this background that this study will try to examine the problem of bribe proffers appropriate solution.

1.2     Objectives of the study

To further the investigation properly, the researcher believed that the study will have the following objectives. 

1.    To ascertain if acceptance of bribe influences the journalist sense of news judgment

2.    To determine whether bribe affects journalism practice in favour of the giver.

3.    Finally to identify factors responsible for  receiving bribe with a view of addressing them.

4.    To reveal whether journalist demand bribe as requirement to discharge their duty

1.3     Significances of the study

The study will have the following significances

1.    To help put motivation among journalist in discharge of their duty

2.    It will help media houses to redirect and re-oriented their staff on the effect of bribe on media credibility.

3.    It will also serve as a useful guide for future researcher that may be interested in this area of study and policy makers on communication.

4.    It will help reveal some factors that militate against journalism practices, like news, commercialization, ownership influence, and poor salaries etc on media performance.

5.    Finally, this study will help to stress the need for process freedom and right of people to know for sound media Practice in Nigeria.

1.4     Scope of the study;

The project topic deals with the effect of bribe among journalism practices within Kaduna metropolis with specific references to FRCN Kaduna as scope of study.

1.5     Limitation of the study;

This study modern journalism and the effects of bribe  which should have encompassed all the media in Nigeria, but due to poor finances and logistics, it was limited to Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria Kaduna Branch (FRCN Kaduna) which is government owned media organization. Moreover, the limitation of time made it impossible for a further research work beyond one case study used (FRCN Kaduna).

1.6     Research Question of the study

1.    How does bribe influences the journalists sense of news judgment

2.    How does bribe affect the quality of a journalist report 

What factors are responsible for journalist receiving bribe?

3.    Could financial back ground play a role influencing the attitude of journalist towards bribe.

4.    Do journalist demand bribe as requirement to discharge their duty.

1.7     Definition of Terms

1.    Bribe conceptually refers to monetary gift and other incentive given gives to somebody at a point in time.

Operationally: Bribe refers to money, and other incentive given to journalist in media house, newspapers, magazine, radio and television by newsmakers to influence their news coverage as opposed to ethics of journalism profession.

2.    Effects: conceptually means impact on something

Effects: operationally means negative or positive influence of bribe on a journalists sense of news judgment.

3.    Journalism conceptually means the act of writing and printing of information or news reports for the media.

Operationally journalism refers to the process of gathering processing and dissemination of information to the heterogeneous, faceless and diversified audience by the media.

4.    Objective conceptually mean the publication of true, fair, accurate and unbiased report by journalists in their performances of information dissemination task in the society, and in line with ethical codes of the profession.

5.    Brown envelope; this is q paper cover with a gummed or tuck in flap to hold           a letter.             

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