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The ownership of a media house is one of the factors that its influences its ability to properly carry out its public role effectively. The extent to which a media owner gives their editorial staff decision making freedom influences the objectivity of the media house. This study investigates the influence of media ownership on editorial independence in Nigeria. Anecdotal evidence suggests editorial independence in Nigeria is under the threat of emerging ownership structures in Nigeria that give priority to political and commercial interests. Using a descriptive research method and in-depth interviews to collect data from editors from three media houses, the paper will study the extent to which media ownership structures interfere with editorial independence.
In Nigeria, we have three kinds or types of media ownership. These include, private ownership, government ownership and mixed ownership.The essence of embarking on this research work- Media ownership and its influence on editorial policy is to x-ray the extent the publishers, or owner(s) of various media houses has gone in using their ownership factor to determine the pace such a media (or media as the case may be ) follows.
However, the work is extensively treated from chapters 1-5. Chapter one has the introduction of the work while chapter two reviews related literatures on the study. Chapter three centers on the research methodology whereas chapter four has to do with data analyses and results. In chapter five, summary of the entire work was given as well as recommendation for further studies.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY
In Nigeria, there are three main types of media ownership namely, Government ownership, Private ownership and mixed ownership. In the case of government ownership, the media house is established, controlled and financed by the government, which the private ownership is when an individual or a group of persons establish, finance and control the media house. That of mixed ownership is when both government and private individuals are into some sort of partnership regarding establishing, financing and controlling the media house.
The researcher agrees with the ideas of NnanyelugoOkon and Ben Agbo authors of “writing for the media society”. They wrote that “it is obviously true that mass media owners exert a threatening control medium is managed by a board of directors appointed by private owners or by a public cooperation established by the government…
This work will go further to elaborate on media ownership influences on editorial policies in the chapters ahead.
We should understand that, media ownership influence is exercised through financial control, appointment of principal staff, and government legislative decrees. In this circumstance, the media in question are either print or electronics and taking cognizance of the fact that the nature of ownership of any medium lies as the determining factor on how the medium shall operate. It is therefore worthy to note that this ownership pattern will no doubt influence the editorial policies of such a medium.In agreement with the dictum that he who pays the piper, dictates the fone. The media house whether owned by government, individuals or both would no doubt be made to propagate and promote the ideas, personalities and projects of the owners and it can also be achieved through the house styles and editorial policies of the media house.Editorial policies can be said to be those plans of actions meant to control the editorial matters of the media house, adopted by the board Directors and endorsed by the publisher(s) or owner(s). According to Ben Agbo and NnanyelugoOkon in their same text, Editorial policy is the path a newspaper elects to follow as it answers the two basic questions:
· What shall we publish?
· How shall we publish?
Worth reference to my case study, “Announcer Newspaper” which qualifies as a print medium following the characteristics of newspaper laid down by Nkem Fab Ukozor and Ben Agbo, authors of Mass communication purpose, principles, and practice. They wrote quoting a German Schokr, OttaGrota for determining a true newspaper are as follows:
· The newspaper must be published regularly at least once a week
· That the newspaper must be mechanically produced, be available to any price.
· Vary in content such that the content will interest the larger audience, be published at specified times.
The publisher of “Announcer newspaper”, Dr. Ezeani has appointed a board of Directors whose duty is to formulate editorial policies as they (eie those policies) suit him. He established the newspaper sometime in 2001.As a politician, (ie the publisher) such editorial policies have been formulated to favour his political structure and ideas so as to project him to higher political positions. The publisher of the announcer newspaper has employed the services of an editor, who maintains the house style of the newspaper and operates within the editorial policy limits as formulated by the board.
Still on the “Announcer Newspaper”, the editor is answerable to the Editor-in-chief who is there to see that the newspaper operates according to the laid down (editorial) policy. The editor is expected to resign and leave if he is no longer disposed to such editorial policies of this paper and not to bend it. Every Monday morning, there is usually an editorial board meeting at announcer newspaper conference hall. The meeting is an avenue uses to make appraisals on the current edition and to resolve on the news to use for both front and back pages, (lead stories) etc for the next edition.
The Editor will only make his professional input but must dance to the tone of the publisher though the Editor-in-chief in terms of editorial matters.In “Announcer Newspaper”, the editor will be asked to write the views and ideas of the publisher inform of editorial and or comments, which stands out invariably to represent as the voice of the newspaper on any particular issue. Surprisingly, the editorial or comments may not even be the ideas of the writer (Editor) but he must do it as directed or he resigns or gets sacked. The announcer newspaper editorial policy as it concerns stories on governments ate not static. The newspaper criticizes government when it sees negative things and turns to praise the same government if it sees positive approaches.
In order words, balance, fairness and facts can still be associated with the Announcer Newspaper, but not when it has anything to do with the individual owner. In this case, selfish motives overweigh decisions and judgments. This has necessitated a research on the topic media ownership and its influence on editorial policy with a case study of Announcer Newspaper.
The Announcer Newspaper has reached some understanding with both state and local governments of Imo state in such a manner that the medium can be getting some adverts from these quarters and in this circumstance, the newspaper will no longer hit hard at the afore- stated in order not to destroy the mass media rapport.
Nevertheless, Editorial policy, determinants are the nature of readership, proprietorship, competition/lack of if, Geographical location, economic interest and political outlook, just like I said earlier, editorial policy is all about what shall be published and how it shall be published. There editorial policies are often expressed through the following:
· News-stories the paper carries.
· Cartoons the paper carries
· The paper’s slogan (motto), which is often carried in the nameplate or below the mast- head.
· The platform code where the paper enumerates the number of projects or principle for which it stands.
All Newspapers has editorial policies, which are however influenced by the ownership of the Newspaper. “Announcer Newspaper”, my case study has its own editorial policy which are highlighted in the paper and how the ownership of the media has house is also being influenced is highlighted in the paper.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
Based on the research made, sponsorship of the media house, its control and recruitment of its principal staff have formed the influential factors consequent upon the editorial policy of the media house since the owner(s) of the media house usually does or do the afore-stated factors. The media ownership have therefore in some ways influenced the editorial policy and this has posed problems to journalism as a trade.
In this case, the editorial writing has to function with the policy framework and editorial principles. Nothing runs the editor down as having the option of either doing it the way the policy dictates or he resigns or otherwise sacked.
Influence of media ownership on editorial policy have made many newspapers to collapse in operations and have also made them to lose their readership grip. In the case of a Announcer Newspapers, as a privately owned Newspaper, if dies not have so many policies that usually affect its readership except that its front and back page stories are centered on Imo state. Often times, it faces the stiff competition of the national and other local newspapers.
Again, people from other state would always see the purchase of the newspaper as a waste since it does not usually spread its tentacles.
According to the staff of “Announcer Newspaper”, the publisher (owner) brings to production room when it is already time for production. This delays production of the paper.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
a) This work is aimed at highlighting on ways by which media ownership influences editorial policy of newspaper.
b) To give some information on the extent (based on research influence) an editorial policy has gone in destroying journalistic principles. Vis-à-vis the consequences of such cases.
c) It would also act as a meditating factor and would go as much as proffering solution forwards checking these excesses.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
To use this work to attract some legislative amends or stop totally this ugly trend which is not for the good or Nigerian society.
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
In the study, an attempt would be sufficiently made to answer the following questions.
a) Does the media ownership factor influence editorial policy of a private (Newspaper) medium?
b) Can the job of the journalist in private Newspaper house be guaranteed?
c) Can the ethics of journalism be used to check the influence of media ownership, on editorial policy?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H1: Media ownership factor influences editorial policy of a private medium
H0: Media ownership factor cannot influence editorial policy of a private medium. (Like Announcer Newspaper)
H2: Job security of the journalist in private newspaper house can be guaranteed.
H0: Job security of the journalist in private newspaper house cannot be guaranteed.
H3: Ethics of journalism can be used to check the influence of the media ownership on editorial policy..
H0: Ethics of journalism cannot be used to check the influence of the media ownership on the editorial policy.
1.6 DEFINITION OF TERMS
In this area, certain key words will be explained into conceptual and operational definition.
1. MEDIA OWNERSHIP
The act of setting up or establishing a medium by a person or group of persons and or the government.
The pattern of establishment.
2. EDITORIAL POLICY
A guide for the publication of stories in newspapers or magazines.
It is the path a newspaper elects to follow as it answers the two basic questions.
üWhat shall we publish?
üHow shall we publish it?
In this study, it is obviously seen that
üThe media ownership and its influence on editorial policy in a private newspaper house affect the content of the news the paper carries.
üThe establishment of newspaper house and its role is of vital importance to the society.
üThe establishment of private newspapers are made for the interest of the owner(s).
LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
The following are the problems encountered during this research work.
üTime was a major factor in data collection and other relevant information for use.
üFinance is another problem. I could not travel to other states to find out how other private medium (print) completes the story.
üPhysical energy, because research work is a tedious work. Most times I get all worked up since I have to do the work alone.
üAlso, materials that will enable me get the work done were not readily available.
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