OCCUPATIONAL HAZARDS OF JOURNALISM IN NIGERIA (A STUDY OF ATIKUS SECURITY AGENTS ATTACK ON JOUNALIST AT TBS)

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PROJECT INFORMATION

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

BACKGROUND OF STUDY

Journalism in Nigeria has its roots from the days of the struggle for independence from the British colonialists. The print media played an active role in the struggle for independence in Nigeria. Nationalists like Hebert Macaulay, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo among other set up newspapers and later on became great icons of leadership in the country, whose shoes have remained too big for the feet of modern crop of leaders in the continent to fit in. Hence, in the past, journalism in Nigeria was a profession that was credited to people of noble character. According to Adaja [1] , “It is pertinent to note that Nigerian Journalism took off much earlier than the proclamation or inauguration of the Nigerian nation. Evidently, Nigerian Journalism was not guided at inception by any law or regulations.” Early journalists in the country did not need to acquire journalism training to be able to write good stories. This foundation is still playing a role in defining the practice of journalism in the country, more than a century after the practice started in the country. Ownership and control play very strong roles in defining what news in the country becomes. Thus, a well written story no matter how well investigated it may be may not see the light of the day if it continuously steps on the toes of the government in power or the rich in society who constitute those that place advertisements in the newspaper or broadcast organization. Journalists are left at cross roads in the country from choosing between professionalism and survival. Amidst these confusion is the non-payment of salaries to journalists as at when due.

Isamoko (2011) says the press is a molder of the society. Although the facts have been lashed with numerous criticisms, we cannot deny the fact that the press shapes the society. Most journalists are aware of this fact; hence they are determined even to the extent of sacrificing their lives, to give the society what it desires. The reporter who is scampering to meet a politician who has just alighted from an airplane; the reporter who is on a wired boat sailing into a remote mangrove to find out the extent of damage flood has wrecked in an area is trying to keep the society abreast on what is happening around them (Ewuola, 2002).

The function of news gathering and news dissemination has not been a rosy one for the journalists, from the inception of journalism and newspaper publication in Nigeria. There has been cat and mouse relationship between the press, society, organization, politician and the governments of all ages, whether military or civilian, except when the press allows itself to be cajoled, used and manipulated by the governments or personal interest of the so called „big power‟ to suit its whims and caprices. According to McQuail (1999), Journalism could be defined as Newsgathering, fact finding and reporting of things the way it appears at the moment of reporting, not a definitive study of a situation. This also includes news reporting and commentaries delivered by Radio and Television. The Longman Dictionary 1984 (7th edition), sees Journalism as the collection and editing of materials of current interest for presentation through the new media. In a nutshell, it is the act of looking for news event and editing the unwanted part before it is served to the public who are the final consumers. The journalists are those that practice journalism in Nigeria and other countries, the journalists are always in problem each time they disseminate the news story that are against important personality, most especially the politicians.

Journalists all over the world, accept that their job is hazardous, that there is a life in the line of fire, where the worst, even when feared most can happen.  Nigeria’s history is fraught with several periods of attacks on journalist. And, not on any of these periods has this undue psychological and sometimes physical assault been for the good of this our beloved country.

This study focuses on the current state of journalism practice in Nigeria and how journalists are responding to the challenges they face as professionals. The literature on journalists and the news media in Nigeria portrays a negative image (Abidde, 2008; Idowu, 2014). It suggests that the standard of the journalism profession in Nigeria has dropped considerably, and this, the study interrogates. The literature suggests that journalists in Nigeria face various challenges including poor or irregular wages, job insecurity, overbearing influence of media proprietors, poor working environment and threat to personal safety. Journalists seem not to be holding on to their professional calling any longer (Golwa, 2011; Daramola, 2013). They tend to have abandoned the ideals of the Fourth Estate theory of standing for truth and serving as the conscience of society (Golwa, 2011; Jibo & Okoosi-Simbine, 2003; Ochogwu, 2011; Pate, 2011). Journalists in Nigeria are also accused of taking financial or other inducements to write or suppress stories, bias, partisanship, promoting ethno-religious interests, and the fabrication of stories in their coverage, in particular, of political activities and social conflicts (Adeyemi, 2013; Daramola, 2006; Suraj, 2013; UNDP, 2010). For example, Idowu (2014), head of a non-government organization, Media Rights Agenda, which has been involved in the training of journalists and promotion of a free and responsible media in Nigeria for over 15 years, described the coverage of the abduction in 2014, of over 200 school girls in Chibok Borno State, Nigeria, by Boko Haram insurgents as a reflection of the state of the news media in the country. According to him,

From the owners to the reporters, everyone is sworn to a journalism of convenience. This mindset explains why no medium invests enough resources to report stories beyond the relative comfort of urban centres, much less one in a conflict zone.

Similarly, Abidde (2012) opines that journalists in Nigeria have become more of passive watchers of events. He stated:

Unlike in the 1960s through the 1980s, news coverage is getting weaker and weaker. And many times, critical examination of people and events are missing. In addition, you don’t see strong investigative journalism anymore. What passes for news, many a times, looks like government dictated public service announcement. And many editorials are nothing but apologies and infantile opposing viewpoints.

This is a clear departure from the vibrancy found in the Nigerian media during the agitation for democracy between 1984 and 1999 when journalists refused to cave in to intimidation and maltreatment from the military government (Daramola, 2006; UNDP, 2010). They did not relent despite threats to their personal safety. In this regard, Adesoji (2006, p.38) noted:

In fact, more than any other period, the press became more vociferous and even took to guerrilla journalism, a practice of publishing and circulating newspapers and magazines underground, in order to prosecute a cause that it believed in.

Although similar challenges face journalists in other developing countries to varying degrees, the literature on the Nigerian situation suggests that news professionals seem to have also lost the will or drive to stand up to the challenges as they did during the struggle for the country’s independence and the return to democracy from military rule (Adesoji, 2006; Daramola, 2006). At both periods in the country’s history, journalists were undaunted by the challenges of their profession but stood firm in the face of threats, imprisonment, killings and proscriptions. They now appear to have given up on upholding their professional ethos and adopted the mantra, ‘if you cannot beat them, join them’ (Adesoji, 2006; Omoera, 2010).

STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Naturally, Journalism supposed to be a perfect profession. This is because, journalists are being trained properly with polished languages, balanced and fair reporting with sophisticated technology to meet with the functional society. However, in attaining this height, there are cases of incessant arrest of journalist by security agents and cases of loss of jobs with the existence of obnoxious laws in conflict with ethics of journalism. Hence, there has been cat and mouse relationship between the press, society, and government and lots of hazards that come with the profession. To this end, the study shall examine some of the occupational hazards associated with modern day journalism and away to finding out how these could be curbed. Using the medium of Freedom Information Bill (F.I.B) and giving the journalists free hand to carry out their journalistic profession without any restriction by the government and also provide adequate security to those in the profession.

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

The main aim of the study is to examine occupational hazards of journalism in Nigeria. Other specific objectives include:

1. to examine the hazards of journalism profession in Nigeria.

2. to determine if occupational hazards of journalism have effects on the performance of journalists in Nigeria.

3. to ascertain why Atiku Abubakar security agents attacked the journalist in Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos State.

4. to provide a series of policy recommendations aimed at securing effective professional standards of journalism practice in Nigeria.

5. to investigate how Journalist in Nigeria can avoid hazard in Journalism

RESEARCH QUESTION

1. What are the hazards of journalism profession in Nigeria?

2. What effect has occupational hazards of journalism on the performance of journalists in Nigeria?

3. why did Atiku Abubakars’ security agents attacked the journalist in Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos State?

4. What series of policy recommendations are aimed at securing effective professional standards of journalism practice in Nigeria?

5. How can Journalist in Nigeria avoid hazard in Journalism?

STATEMENT OF RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS

1. H0: there are no occupational hazards of journalism in Nigeria.

2. H1: there are occupational hazards of journalism in Nigeria.

SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY

The significance of this study will be helpful to the society in understanding the different hazards that comes with journalism. Through this study, journalist will be abreast as to what to do as regards the occupational hazards that come with their profession.

This study will also explain why the safety and independence of journalist in Nigeria is paramount if they must work as the watch dog of the society sincerely and with integrity.

This is important because a lot is known about how journalism is practiced in the developed parts of the world. A lot of studies also exist on journalism in Africa generally. Journalism is also facing a number of widely recognized problems globally (Donsbach, 2012; McQuail, 2013). However, there is a dearth of work on the peculiar social, cultural and economic dynamics that influence journalism practice in individual African countries like Nigeria, a deficiency addressed through this research project.

Lastly, this study will serve as a research tool for further study by researchers on similar or related study.

SCOPE OF STUDY

The study will cover occupational hazards of journalism in Nigeria with focus on Atiku’s security agents attack on journalist at tbs.

LIMITATION OF STUDY

1. Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

2. Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.

DEFINITION OF TERMS

Occupational hazards: An occupational hazard is a hazard experienced in the workplace. Occupational hazards can encompass many types of hazards, including chemical hazards, biological hazards (biohazards), psychosocial hazards, and physical hazards. A risk accepted as a consequence of a particular occupation

Hazard:      This involves all the dangers, evils, risks, problems and encumbrance that militate against the Journalists as they strive  to keep public informed about the happenings in the   society.

Journalism: Journalism is the production and distribution of reports on current or past events. The word journalism applies to the occupation, as well as citizen journalists who gather and publish information. Journalistic media include print, television, radio, Internet, and, in the past, newsreels.


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