EDITORIAL POLICY AND JOURNALIST’S PROFESSIONAL DUTIES: A STUDY OF FRCN ABUJA NETWORK CENTRE

EDITORIAL POLICY AND JOURNALIST’S PROFESSIONAL DUTIES: A STUDY OF FRCN ABUJA NETWORK CENTRE

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ABSTRACT

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.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

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

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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

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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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