ABSTRACT: This study investigated the perception of journalists towards investigative journalism in Nigeria using journalists in Osun state as the case study. Investigative journalism has stood as a distinct and a vibrant genre of journalism that goes beyond the ordinary daily news reporting, to bring hidden facts especially of greater public interest that someone is trying to cover. The study was anchored on Libertarian Media Theory and Social Responsibility Media Theory. A cross-sectional survey method as a quantitative research was adopted while questionnaire was used to elicit responses from the respondents (journalists sampled in Osun state). Consensus sampling technique was equally used to select respondents. The study finds out considerable number of the respondents (69.6%) were highly aware of investigative reporting. Although, a significant number of the respondents (84.5%) claimed that investigative reporting is challenging. Hence, many of the respondents (76.4%) said the challenge to investigative reporting in Osun State lies in the intimidation by the affected personalities. Similarly, sizeable number of the respondents (48%) pointed out that freedom of Information Act has highly aided their access to official information. In order to lessen the disproportionate concentration of power in the hands of a small group of powerful and rich politicians and businesspeople who use the press as a weapon to advance their interests, this research strongly urges to study control of media ownership in Nigeria in respect to investigative reporting.
Keywords: INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM
1.1 Background to the Study
The importance of journalism comes from the peoples’ rights to opinion and expression since the right to opinion and expression would not be a reality without the press, people today depend greatly on the press for being informed (Nweke (2015) in (Yangkai, 2000). Journalism is taken as an inseparable part of any democratic system. The press plays a vital role in democratic society. It is an institution in its own right.
The press has earned the recognition of ‘fourth estate, and being the voice of the voiceless; It plays the role of watchdog in our society. It is the strong bridge between concerning authorities and the people. It handles all public issues; in fact, the press can be considered as the people’s open forum. The press makes such an environment where people get information and then partaker in democracy. Therefore the press can be regarded as the pillar of democracy.
Investigative journalism is arguably one of the most important contributions that the press makes to democracy. This could be linked to the logic of checks and balances in democratic systems and the role played by investigation Journalism in this regard. This form of journalism goes further by providing valuable mechanism for monitoring the performance of democratic institutions as they are most broadly defined to include governmental bodies, civic, organization and publicly held corporations. It is the kind of journalism that Ansell; et al. (2002) in Verbitsky (1997:16) describes as disseminating what someone does not want to be known. According to him investigative journalism makes visible what is hidden, and throws salt in the wounds.
Similarly, Harcup (2008) in Negrine (1996) writes that “Investigation Journalism requires active reporting, the unearthing and putting together pieces of information in contrast passive reception as in the following of leaks”.
Investigative journalism is considered as the third layer of reporting, it goes beyond the surface; it is a journalism that seeks to bring out news behind the news and reveals the secret a source is trying to conceal. In a nutshell, the generic concept of investigative journalism is the act of digging deep to get things or facts out in the open. That is, something beyond the straight news.
Herbert (2000) posits that the investigative report produces a story that is gathered and published or broadcast that would not have been revealed without hard work, which in turn provides a story of public importance that had to be pierced together from diverse and often observe sources. One fundamental area of investigative Journalism that has continued to draw huge attention has been its immense contribution and impact on democratic governance in most parts of the world, including Nigeria.
Today, many articles, publication and media professionals and commentator view investigative journalism as an instrument that demonstrates the power of the press as the guard to good democratic, governance and also journalism’s own instrument to restrain the abuse of political and economic power
As a tool of fourth estate model, investigative Journalism retains important agenda setting power which reminds citizens and political elites about the existence of certain issues. For instance, the performance of the press through investigation is revealed in the remarkable Watergate in the united state of America in 1972, when Bob Woodward and the Carl Bernsteirs’s revelation led to the resignation of the then united states president Richard Noxon from office in August 1974 (Itule and Anderson, 2007) in (Randall, 1996).
Investigation Journalism strives to explore and reveal information of public interest even if such information reveals abuses or crimes perpetrated by those in authority. A good example here in Nigeria is when the news magazine blazed the trail in investigative journalism and successfully exposed a case of certificate forgery by the then speaker of the house of representatives Salisu Buhari, during Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration. Similarity, tell magazine equally exposed the then president of the senate, Evans Enweren of certificate forgery, made him to lose his seat.
Also, channel TV recently aired documentary on not in Police College, Ikeja. The documentary shows deplorable state of Police College and this prompted formal president Jonathan to paid impromptu visit to the college to assess the situation.
Equally, between 2010-2016, Osun State Broadcasting Corporation, Osogbo carryout some in depth reporting on various issues bordering on socio-economic matters which include a stench coming out of a public pit latrine that had filled beyond capacity for more than 2 years which is now a dumping port for excretions. Also, there was a special report on a trade fair that has not only been abandoned but its state of dilapidation concerned the people especially those who witnessed its commissioning ceremony. These are few of a many investigative reporting which have yielded result as the concerned parties have acted in the direction of the news. This shows that Nigerian media are performing their watchdog role in the society. It is the strong bridge between concerning authorities and the people and it handles all public issues.
Palest (2002) remarks that “compared with other forms of reporting, investigative journalism usually involves more risk, more time and money”. There is even the occasional threat or act at violence when carrying out investigative reporting (Nwabueze, 2009) cited in (Garba, 2009). In Nigeria, investigative journalism being an integral part of journalism’s image in reality appears to be a minority pursuit. This means that journalistic in Nigeria seem mostly confined within the boundaries of straight news, titivating stories and entertainment, leaving investigative journalism unexplored. Perhaps this could because of the risk involved, or what is described as hostility to transparency. It is against this background that the research examines the attitude and perception of journalists towards investigative journalism in Nigeria with a particular focus on journalists in Osogbo, Osun State.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
There has been a cat and mouse relationship between the press, society, organisation, politician, secret bodies, kidnapper, terrorists, venders and the governments of all ages, whether military or civilian, except when the press allows itself to be cajoled, used and manipulated by the government or personal interest of the so called ‘big power” to suit its whims and caprices.
Investigative journalists are hunters that is been hunted especially in Nigeria and third world countries, this assertion stressed that Investigative journalists are hunting for information, secret, facts, figures, idea to be shared to the public while some individuals, government, agent, organization, group e.t.c want their information, activities remain hiding this make press to become their target and enemy.
However, the work of Investigative journalists placed them at the centre of society because they are regarded as the fourth estate of realm as it gather and disseminate information from government, group and individuals. Investigative journalism has been considered to be an advanced aspect of journalism which required special skills and experience, to this end many reporters find it difficult and see it as the most dangerous field while it is very hard to see women journalists engage in investigative journalism.
Palest (2002) remarks that compared with other forms of reporting, investigative journalism usually involves more risk, more time and money. There is even the occasional threat or act at violence when carrying out investigative reporting.
In Nigeria, investigative journalism being an integral part of journalism’s image in reality appears to be a minority pursuit. This means that journalistic in Nigeria seem mostly confined within the boundaries of straight news, titivating stories and entertainment, leaving investigative journalism unexplored. To this end, the study tries to investigate into the attitude and perception of journalists towards investigative journalism in Nigeria with a particular focus on journalists in Osogbo, Osun State.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The basic objective of this study is to find out the hazards facing journalists’ effectiveness and solutions in Nigeria. Others are:
- To examine the extent which journalists in Osun state are interested in investigative
- To ascertain the attitude and perception of journalists in Osun State towards investigative
1.4 Research Questions
Below are some of the research questions drawn from the statement of the problem with the view to provide answer to some issues begging for answer.
- To what extent are journalists in Osun state engaging in investigative reporting?
- What is the attitude and perception of journalists in Osun State towards investigative reporting?
1.5 Significance of the Study
As an academic study, it will add to the academic knowledge of the students, researchers and professionals. It will add to the body of knowledge in the field of investigative journalism and media studies in general especially on factors influencing investigative journalism practice in Nigeria and Osun state in particularly.
This study will no doubt be useful to mass media practitioners in Nigeria and beyond and will help the public appreciate the numerous role of the press in Nigeria so as to enable them rise in defence of the press whenever it is threatened by excessive power.
It is also expected that at the end of this study, the work will update knowledge within the framework of the investigative journalism. Particularly, it will assist people on the reasons while journalists need to be more freed and enjoy more freedom of information to the press and society at large.
This study will draw the attention of the government to empower the press and ensure journalists security in carrying out their duties. More so, those who want to engage in similar study will find it very useful by serving as a reference point as very few materials are available on the topic.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The scope of this research had been narrowed down to journalists in Osun state particularly those that can be accessed at the Nigerian Union of Journalists Chapel, Osogbo. The Chapel is selected because it offers the researcher to have access to as many journalists as possible because journalists especially those reporting from Osun state often visit the place. Other factors include inadequate time, lack of fund and other considerable logistics. The journalists demographic variables such as gender, age, educational level, and qualification, work experience, marital status and many more will be considered before the structuring and administration of the research instrument
1.7 Operational Definitions of Terms
Attitude: This is the behaviour and manner exhibited by the journalists in Osun state towards investigative journalism.
Perception: It refers to the opinions and views formed by the journalists in Osun state about investigative journalism.
Journalists: these are the people working in various mass media organisation in Osun state such as those working in the news and current affairs of radio, television, newspaper, magazine including online news blog among others.
Investigative journalism: This is the type of reporting that involves finding out facts beyond the straight news, especially about information that someone is trying to keep secrete.