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People get most of their news from television news channels. Nigeria has the unique feature of having news channels in English and in regional languages. The traditional media have been acknowledged for years as reliable sources of getting news but the advent of new technology, especially the internet variant which has introduced the interactive social medium, seems to be changing that notion. Common sense tells us that locally produced news and in the language of the people will have credibility as opposed to news coming from Minna. Many studies have established this hypothesis that television news audience believes in local channels more than the so-called national networks. Credibility factor depends on a nine dimension credibility measuring scale. The researchers would like to find out if this hypothesis is right and the reasons for the same. For this a combination of audience perception study using a questionnaire would be conducted along with in-depth interviews with the programming heads of the local news channels.
1.1 Background of the study
Credibility, according to the “Living Webster Encyclopedia Dictionary of English Language”, is the capability of being believed, relied on, or trusted.
To effectively ascertain audience perception of the credibility of the foreign and Local News organizations, one needs to bring to mind how our local stations are viewed in terms of credibility, especially when compared with their foreign counterparts.
Most Nigerians believe that foreign stations like CNN, VOA and BBC get clearer visuals, more instant, objective, balanced, truthful and less distorted news reports. While our local stations are used by the government as propaganda tools, that the news items are filled with biased and opinionated information; that even the so called private electronic media industries are not operating in a free environment that they can face the real societal issues and leave praise singing that has been epitomized with government owned media, among others.
Nigerian communication climate is besieged with stringent regulations and journalists are forced to become government praise singers instead of watchdogs. And since the government is constantly churning out repressive laws, harassment and intimidation against journalists, through extra – judicial measures and powers to make them sycophantic and boo ducking tools, what implications do these have on the listening and viewing audience?
Outside this scenario, there exists a very big “competitor” that toy to “snatch” the highest number of audience members, from the local media organization and that is the foreign news organization. Some of these organizations unlike the local ones, operate in a freer environment where there is high respect for the freedom of press.
Technological, the media in these competing environment are so high that they can go to the whole world clearly with little or no noise. The CNN, VOA and BBC turned the whole world into Marshal Meluhads Global Village.
Thus, while it is still elusive for Nigeria media to reach our local audience with little or no noise interruptions, the foreign News organizations are already reaching Nigerians more clearly, more timely and more balanced.
In this competing world of these local and foreign news organizations, there is only one value that cab used in swaying the greater number of audience to their side, and that is CREDIBILITY.
There is no doubt that in period of crises, the audience rely more on the source they perceive to be credible.
Studies suggest that the more credible the contents, the likely that contents will influence perceptions of social reality (Okeef:1984,519), if an individual perceives that a medium has motives other than the more provision of information, this will weigh heavily in his or her evolution and explosive decision.
An interplay of factors like ownership, professionalism and available facilities affect media performance. For an agency (media) to enjoy widespread patronage, credibility is the name of the new game.
It is this foregoing, that necessitates my interest to carry out a study on the audience perception of the credibility of foreign and local news organization, especially during the periods of crises.
My aim is to ascertain which news organization (local or foreign), our local populace believes getting information from, during crises. Again from the above, I will review some literature in relation to the study, from the bases of some theoretical framework. Because perception is the conscious blending of message from the media (external information) and persons pass knowledge and experience (internal information) and the station organization and interpretation of the blended information (Kenneth, et al, 1975, 12), I shall try to test how the audience perceive the local organization and their foreign counterpart put into consideration, the two environments.
1.2 Statement of research problem
All over the world, especially in developing economic mass media are recognized in veritable tools of social changes. However, experts are of the opinion that for the media to perform this arduous task of social transformation, they must not only be perceived as credible by the audience, but must effectively reflect the needs, problems and aspirations of their audience.
Since Nigeria gained her political independence the country has witnessed decay in virtually all segments of the society. The mass media cannot be said to be free from this cancerous plight afflicting the nation. Thus, to most media outsiders and even insiders, media output in Nigeria have been nothing but abject lies, naked propaganda, half truths, sensationalism, blackmail and even worse, where as some of the foreign media are taken to be objective, balanced and truthful.
It is in the light of this contradictory perception of this communication environment that the researcher intends to tackle the following problems.
(i) The significant difference between the audience perception of the credibility of foreign and local news organization.
(ii) Those factors that militate against the audience perception of a particular news organization as being credible.
(iii) The impact of poor credibility of news organization towards their audience.
(iv) The effect of the increase of the credibility rating of our local broadcast stations, when juxtaposed with the foreign ones.
1.3 Objective of the study
This study will be based on some of the crises period in Nigeria, between June 12 1993 and March 2004.
The objective of this study will among others include:
(i) To determine if any difference exist between audience perception of the credibility of local foreign news organization.
(ii) To find out how the political system of a country affects the objective presentation of news reports.
(iii) To determine the influence or ownership in enhancing the credibility perception of a media organization.
(iv) To determine the factors that militate against audience perception of a media organization as credible.
(v) To make recommendations based on the findings towards making our local news organization more credible.
1.4 Significance of the study
It is expected at the end of this study, to update knowledge within the framework of the study. In particular, it will x-ray why our local media organizations have not been able to sustain the listening/viewing of Nigerian audience.
This study will be of benefit to media practitioners in their packaging of news reports and to the academics in their practice and training of journalists. Also the study will make some critical analysis of existing knowledge in relation to advising practitioners on how to make their news contents sound credible.
The study will make a policy statement as well as research, with a view to uplifting media image and credibility as necessary condition for national development.
1.5 Research questions
(i) Is there any difference between the audience perception of the credibility of foreign and local news organization?
(ii) Does the political system of any environment affect objectivity in news coverage?
(iii) What factors militate against the audience perception of a particular news organization as credible?
(iv) How can poor credibility rating of news organization of any country affect her development?
(v) What are the implications for local stations in Nigeria and other 3rd world countries when audience do not perceive them as credible?
(vi) Has ownership any influence on the objective of news contents of any news organization?
1.6 Research hypothesis
The following research hypothesis derives logically from the problem posed in the research questions.
H1: Nigerian audience tends to perceive foreign news as more credible than local news.
H0: There is no difference in Nigerian audience perception of the credibility of foreign and local news organization.
H2: Nigerian audience tends to perceive local news organization more as tools of propaganda than their foreign counterparts.
H0: There is no significant difference in the audience perception as propaganda tools.
H3: During the period of crises, Nigerian audience tends to rely more on foreign media organizations than on local ones.
H0: There is no difference on the reliance of Nigerian audience on the foreign and local news organization during crises periods.
H4: Foreign news organizations are perceived to be less encumbered by policy and technical restraints in their task of news dissemination than local ones.
H0: There is no significant difference in the perception of foreign and local news organization in terms of policy and technical restraints in their task of news dissemination.
1.7 Scope of study
This study was carried out on the audience perception of the credibility of foreign and local news organization. The locality of this study was limited to Minna, Niger state, Nigeria.
1.8 Organization of Study
The study is divided into five chapters. Chapter one deals with the study’s introduction and gives a background to the study. Chapter two reviews related and relevant literature. The chapter three gives the research methodology while the chapter four gives the study’s analysis and interpretation of data. The study concludes with chapter five which deals on the summary, conclusion and recommendation.
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