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Objectivity and gatekeeping are two of the most talked about concepts in journalism practice globally. However, because of the way facts are presented to journalists by news sources, there have been cases whereby media audiences assume that journalists are biased. This explains the idea behind this study on objectivity and gatekeeping in the Nigerian media, using two national daily newspapers in Nigeria (The Nation and Daily Trust newspapers). Using the Social Responsibility and the theory of media ownership, the study focused on the objective nature of journalism and also examined how the gatekeeping function of the media is affecting the practice of objectivity in the Nigerian media. With the aid of the systematic random sampling method, the research found that while attaining absolute objectivity in the media may be difficult, it is however achievable only if the reporters shy away from prejudices, pre-conceptions, feelings and ambitions. He must be able to keep his biases in check. The research also found that even though absolute objectivity may not be possible except as a target, proper adherence to the gatekeeping functions of the media can go a long way to actualize the objective principle of journalism profession. This can be done by sticking to verifiable facts, excluding inferences, judgement and slanty reporting. It recommends that efforts should be made to improve on journalism training in the country while media organizations should ensure that those saddled with the responsibility of handling media contents are constantly reminded of what is required of them.
1.1 Background to the Study
In journalism and media discourse, objectivity is a concept that is discussed almost on a
daily basis both by media practitioners, newsmakers and new readers alike. It is one of
the major news concepts often mentioned or discussed. It is the most central concept in
media history relating to information quality (Ekwueme, 2009). News objectivity is an
ethical aspect of journalism practice which has helped to isolate individual journalistic
biases and opinions from the actual state of events. The concept of objectivity in
journalism according to Potter (2006:9) developed almost a century ago as a reaction to
the sensational, opinion driven reporting that was common in most newspapers. The term
was originally used to describe a journalistic approach or method; Journalists would seek
to present news in an objective way without reflecting any personal or corporate bias.
Objectivity means the absence of personal biases, feelings, influence or opinion in
writing news stories as it may apply to reporting.
Objectivity hinges on separating independently verifiable ‗fact‘ from subjective values
(Schudson 1978:293). Commitment to objectivity in Journalism can be defined as
meaning that a person‘s statement about the world can be trusted if they are submitted to
established rules deemed legitimate by a professional community. Schudson stressed that
―objectivity norm guides Journalists to separate facts from values and to report only the
facts. Objective reporting is supposed to be cool, rather than emotional in tone, taking
pain to represent fairly, each leading side in a political controversy. According to an
objectivity norm, the Journalist‘s job consists of reporting something called the ―news‖
without commenting on it, slanting it or shaping its formulation in any way (Schudson
However, in discussing objectivity, another issue that readily comes to mind is the issue
of gatekeeping in the media as well as what the public expects from the media. As a
fundamental practice in journalism, gatekeeping describes the process by which news
stories are filtered by journalists and editors for dispersal in any medium. The process
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