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This study examined how conflicting editorial policy is managed by journalists in Radio Nigeria Network Centre, Abuja. It argues that, conflicting editorial policy put journalists in a difficult state where he/she struggles to satisfy two opposing principles. The study aims at finding out how journalists in the station manage the editorial policy of serving government interest by explaining new government policies and intentions and the policy of ensuring fairness, balance and factuality in reportage which is contained in item 2.6 (iv) and 2.3 (i) of the station’s operational guideline. The Gatekeeping theory of the media was employed and survey was used as research method. Census of all (96) journalists in the station was done. Data were collected using questionnaire and key informant interview. Findings revealed that, journalists in the station managed conflicting editorial policy through neutrality in reportage that is, desisting from injecting their personal views in their reportage but sticking to what their employers want. It was equally found that 52.7 per cent of the respondents out of the sample population hold that the editorial policy of serving government interest negatively affects the professional ethics of balance in news reportage as journalists are constrained by ownership interest. The study also revealed that 54.9 per cent respondents agree that government sometimes interfere with editorial decisions of journalists in Radio Nigeria, Abuja. Based on the findings, it was recommended that editorial policy should be devoid of conflicting provisions; and public broadcast outfits should take public interest as a watch word. Also, should be media autonomy in Government owned media in Nigeria in order for broadcast stations to independently generate revenues, pay staff and give journalists a free hand to carry out their duties.
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Every media organization,irrespective of the type and pattern of ownership has an editorial
policy which defines the mission and vision of such organization. It spells out the philosophy on
which media outfits operate. It also spells out to journalists, what to cover, how to cover it, and
how to present it. It also serves as a barometer to measure performance of journalists in a
station.Owums (2007, 2008) and Asemah(2011) agree that, every station has a principle that is
described as a written or unwritten statement that guide performance of managers, editors,
reporters, presenters, and programmers within such a station. It stipulates the acceptable norms
of performance which each worker in the station must observe in order to comply with the rules
and codes established by the station. It contains the mission statement as an avenue for attaining
the purpose of the station. It also contains the house style that determines how programmes are to
be produced for the station.
Awolowo (2009) note that, every media outfit has its own operational guidelines and laid
down rules and position or stand on some issues, which professional communicators in such
organization (the gate-keepers) must adhere to. Some of which according to her include; Policy
on Language/Diction-this media policy emphasizes how a media organization chooses words in
communicating to the public. The language or choice of words are often determined by location
and primary audience of the newspaper, magazine, radio or television station, advert agency or
film production outfit. The management of media outfit may choose to present their news items
or production using simple, understandable, or everyday English (e.g. for semi-literate people).
Example of such media outfits include: The Punch, Daily Sun, MITV, Galaxy. On the other
hand, a news media outfit may decide to use high sounding vocabularies and grammar in
presenting their news e.g. The Guardian, Channels Television, Ray power etc (for highly literate
audience). This policy also involves the language they will be using. Some radio stations
broadcast in pidgin e.g. Wazobia FM, while some in Yoruba and English e.g. Radio Lagos, NTA
Channel 10 while some may use either Igbo or Hausa. There are also soft-sell newspapers and
magazines published in Yoruba e.g. Alaroye. The editors or presenters of these media outfits
ensure that the words used don‟t go beyond the confinement and definition of the organization‟s
in-house style on diction and language (Awolowo, 2009).
Policy on Recruitment- Awolowo (2009) explains that, media houses have policy on the
criteria of employment of new staff, that is, who to employ and who not to employ. Apart from
educational qualification and experience, some news media outfits don‟t employ somebody that
is not a member of a recognized media professional institution like the Nigeria Union of
Journalists (NUJ), Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), Nigeria Institute of
Public Relations (NIPR), while some may decide to employ those that have been to Nigeria
Institute of Journalism (NIJ). After employing an individual, the policy of the media house may
require that person to be re-trained about in-house policy of reporting, writing and presenting
news in the media organization.
Policy on News Coverage and Reportage- (McQuail, 2007) identifies personality,
personal contacts of reporters, location, proximity, timeliness and exclusivity, as some of the
factors in news selection. Okioya and Adedowole (2011) note that, various news media houses
have their own area of interests when covering a particular news event or interview. For instance,
a reporter from Daily Sun may look for human angle or bizarre side of a news story for reportage
while others in Daily Trust newspaper or other newspapers may not. This policy therefore
defines which story to cover and which not to cover, which to give prominence and which not.
Policy on Editorial Philosophy- Awolowo (2009) further explains that, this policy has to
do with the overall professional standpoint or standards through which news media houses
perform their operations. It could be regarded as the mission or vision st
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