Academic journal article Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies

Nigerian Media Practitioners and Ethical Values: Media Audience Assessment

Academic journal article Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies

Nigerian Media Practitioners and Ethical Values: Media Audience Assessment

Article excerpt

Abstract

The mass media industry can be likened to manufacturing outfits; the only difference is in the product. Media product is news and information and its consumer is the media audience. Media industry will flourish to the extent of public trust in the quality of its product. Media industry should therefore do everything within its power to put in place trust building mechanism. Maintenance of ethical values and standards are found to be so effective in winning audience trust. It is therefore of significant importance to focus research attention on media ethics with the belief that by so doing all the stakeholders in the media industry would strengthen the struggle against unethical behaviour in media profession. This study examined audience assessment of the level of journalists' compliance with profession's code of ethics in disseminating value-lading news and information. The survey method was adopted and three out of the six states in the western Nigeria were randomly selected for the study. It was discovered that overwhelming majority of the sampled population thought that news and information disseminated by the media was credible and reliable and that activities of the journalists were guided by journalists' professional code of ethics. However, majority of the audience covered by the study were also of the opinion that journalists are largely corrupt as they freely accept bribes and other forms of gratification and that most media outfits lacked editorial independence. It can therefore be deduced that there exist in Nigerian media industry serious ethical problem. There is therefore an urgent need to address the problem. All the stakeholders in the media profession need to come together to address the problem of unethical behaviour in the media.

Keywords: codes of ethics, journalism ethics, unethical practices, media audience, news and information, news integrity, ethical behaviour.

INTRODUCTION

The only product that media industry offers for sale is news and information and so the quality of news items not only in terms of accuracy, brevity, consistency, coherency etc., but also but also in terms of ethical consideration is of paramount importance to the survival of the industry. Trust is the name of the game. Once news subscribers lose their trust in a media outfit such an outfit can easily go under. Audience would only patronize them and keep them afloat if they are sure that news and information emanating from the media outfits is such that could be trusted. That is why the integrity of the news gatherers and that of the news sources is of utmost importance. Integrity is an ethical consideration. In ethics, "integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one's actions. Integrity is a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes", http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrity. Integrity in the journalism profession can only be achieved when media ethics are entrenched in the profession by media practitioners.

Foreman (2010:17) defines ethics as a set of moral principles, a code-often unwritten-that guides a person's conduct. Ethical issues in journalism are quite complex as they affect several aspects of the profession-from numerous journalistic virtues such as accuracy of news items (the use of new technology to alter photographs also bothers on accuracy (Iggers 1999)), accountability, objectivity, truthfulness, conflict of interest, racism, sexism, privacy etc.,-to response of different media outfits to economic challenges. For example, media outfits could lie about their circulation figures in order to gain the patronage of advertisers (Foreman 2010, Iggers 1999).

Discourse on journalistic ethics is not new in the profession and is not peculiar to Nigeria. Advanced countries were the first to develop strong code of conduct, first in most elite professions and then in journalism. Media researchers believe that ethical issues could manifest in a variety of ways and cut across all facets of human endeavour and most elite professions such as law, medicine, engineering, accounting, etc. …

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