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INFLUENCE OF MEDIA ETHICS IN NEWS GATHERING AND DISSEMINATION

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ABSTRACT:  The study’s primary objective was to investigate the influence of media ethics on news gathering and dissemination with a particular focus on journalists in Osun State through the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Osun State chapter.  This study is anchored on Social Responsibility Theory and Source Credibility Media Theory. A cross-sectional survey research method was adopted, and questionnaires were used to elicit responses from the respondents. The collected data were analyzed using descriptive statistics (frequency and percentage), and the data were presented with the aid of tables. The study finds out that journalists in Osun State uphold ethical standards in its day to day activities to some extent as 67% of the respondents attested to this fact. It is recommended that media houses including NUJ, Osun State chapter should increase the salary of their workers and pay them on time while regular allowance should be made available for them. Training and workshops are to be organized regularly to train and re-orientate their journalists on how to uphold ethical standards.


MEDIA ETHICS


CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1        Background to the Study

            Media ethics are the principles that guide journalists in their work. They are designed to ensure that journalists report the news accurately, fairly, and without bias. Media ethics are important because they help to protect the public from being misled by false or misleading information. They also help to ensure that the media is a fair and accurate reflection of society.

            Hence, media ethics play a pivotal role in shaping the quality and credibility of news gathering and dissemination in today’s interconnected world. As the primary source of information for the masses, the media has the responsibility to uphold ethical standards to ensure accurate, unbiased, and fair reporting. This study examines the significant influence of media ethics in news gathering and dissemination, emphasizing the importance of adhering to ethical principles in the pursuit of truth and public interest (Society of Professional Journalists, 2014).

            Seek truth and report it, be accurate and fair, act independently, minimize harm, and be accountable. These principles are just a few examples of the many ethical principles that journalists follow. By following these principles, journalists can help to ensure that the public is informed and that the media is a fair and accurate reflection of society (Society of Professional Journalists, 2014).

            Media ethics are important for a number of reasons. First, they help to ensure that the public is informed. By following ethical principles, journalists can help to ensure that the news they report is accurate, fair, and unbiased. This is important because the public relies on the media to inform them about current events. If the media is not ethical, the public may be misled by false or misleading information (Meyer, 2020).

            Media ethics help to ensure that the media is a fair and accurate reflection of society. By following ethical principles, journalists can help to ensure that all sides of an issue are represented fairly. This is important because the media plays a role in shaping public opinion. If the media is not fair, it can contribute to prejudice and discrimination (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 2014).

            It helps to protect the public from being harmed by the media. By following ethical principles, journalists can help to ensure that the public is not exposed to harmful content, such as violence or pornography. This is important because the media can have a powerful impact on people’s lives (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 2014).

            However, a cornerstone of media ethics lies in the commitment to accuracy and truthfulness in news reporting. Journalists are expected to verify information from multiple sources before publishing or broadcasting a story (Meyer, 2020). By adhering to this ethical principle, the media can ensure that news content is reliable, thereby building public trust and credibility.

            Another vital aspect of media ethics is the obligation to maintain objectivity and impartiality. Journalists must strive to present news stories without bias or favoritism, allowing the audience to form their own opinions based on balanced and fair reporting (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 2014). Objective journalism promotes democratic ideals by enabling citizens to make informed decisions.

            Respecting privacy and confidentiality is an essential ethical consideration in news gathering. Journalists must obtain informed consent when using personal information or images, especially in sensitive or private matters (Singer, 2015). Protecting the privacy of individuals involved in news stories ensures that their rights are not violated and maintains the ethical integrity of journalism.

            Media ethics call for responsible reporting, discouraging sensationalism and misrepresentation of facts. Journalists should refrain from exaggerating or distorting information for the sake of attracting audiences (Meyer, 2020). Sensationalism undermines the credibility of news organizations and can lead to public misinformation. Media ethics emphasize transparency and accountability, encouraging journalists and news organizations to disclose conflicts of interest or potential biases (Singer, 2013). By being transparent about their affiliations or potential conflicts, journalists can maintain trust and credibility with their audience.

            Media ethics require journalists to prioritize the public interest over personal or commercial interests. Journalists have a social responsibility to provide information that is relevant, meaningful, and valuable to the public (Singer, 2013). By focusing on the public interest, the media can serve as a watchdog and advocate for the well-being of society.

            By and large, ethics form the bedrock of responsible and reliable news gathering and dissemination. Upholding accuracy, objectivity, privacy, avoiding sensationalism, and promoting transparency and accountability are key principles that ensure the integrity and credibility of journalism. By adhering to ethical standards, journalists can contribute to a well-informed society capable of making sound decisions based on trustworthy information. It is against this background that the research investigates the influence of media ethics in news gathering and dissemination with a particular focus on journalists in Osun State through the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Osogbo.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

            The influence of media ethics on news gathering and dissemination is a significant concern in the modern era. Media organizations play a pivotal role in shaping public opinion and disseminating information, making it crucial for them to adhere to ethical guidelines.

            However, there are instances where media ethics are compromised, leading to biased reporting, misinformation, and the manipulation of public discourse. Therefore, understanding the impact of media ethics on news gathering and dissemination is essential to ensure the integrity and trustworthiness of the media industry.

            Equally, it should be recalled that in the 2015 Presidential Election, the core ethical standards of journalism were eroded and traded in exchange for political benefits from concerned political parties by some media organizations. Although, some serious-minded media organizations adhered strictly to the ethical principles of their profession in the face of growing abuse of journalistic etiquette.        

            Meanwhile, in this era of citizen journalism, fake news, and hate speech among other sensational news that is capable of creating political, religious, and ethnic division are highly experienced especially during electioneering campaigns. It is against this backdrop the research examines the influence of media ethics in news gathering and dissemination with a particular focus on journalists in Osun State through the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Osogbo.

 1.3       Objective of the Study

            The general objective of this study is to investigate the influence of media ethics in news gathering and dissemination while the specific objectives are:

  1. To examine whether journalists maintain the ethics of the profession in newsgathering and dissemination.
  2. To highlight some of the challenges facing journalists in upholding the ethics of the profession.

 1.4      Research Questions

In order to explicate the aforementioned objectives, the listed questions provide answers to the research problem:

  1. To what extent do journalists in Osun State maintain the ethics of the profession in newsgathering and dissemination?
  2. What are the challenges facing journalists in upholding the ethics of the profession?

1.5       Scope of the Study

            The research investigates the influence of media ethics in news gathering and dissemination and has been narrowed in scope to journalists in Osun State through the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Osogbo. Hence, the geographical location of this study is Osun State. The choice of journalists in Osun State (Nigeria Union of Journalists, Osogbo) is due to its proximity to as many journalists as possible in a single place rather than visiting mass media outfits one by one, inadequate funds, and other logistics.

            However, research findings will be generalized to all journalists and media houses since it is difficult if not impossible to visit the entire media houses or all chapters of the Nigerian Union of Journalists in each state of the federation.

1.6       Significance of the Study

            The study on the influence of media ethics in news gathering and dissemination carries significant importance due to several reasons:

  • Ensuring accuracy and credibility: Media ethics play a crucial role in maintaining the accuracy and credibility of news. By adhering to ethical guidelines, media organizations can ensure that the information they provide to the public is reliable, fact-checked, and free from bias. Understanding the significance of media ethics can contribute to improving the quality of news and reducing the spread of misinformation.
  • Protecting democratic processes: Media serves as a watchdog in democratic societies, holding power to account and facilitating informed public discourse. Ethical news gathering and dissemination are essential for providing citizens with diverse perspectives and information necessary for making informed decisions. By investigating the influence of media ethics, this study can shed light on the potential threats to democratic processes and suggest measures to safeguard them.
  • Building public trust: Trust is a fundamental pillar of journalism. Media organizations rely on the trust of their audience to fulfill their societal role effectively. When ethical standards are compromised, public trust erodes, leading to skepticism, disengagement, and polarization. Understanding the significance of media ethics can help identify strategies to rebuild and maintain public trust, ensuring the continued relevance and impact of the media industry.
  • Addressing media bias: Media bias can distort public understanding and perpetuate divisions in society. Examining the influence of media ethics on bias can help identify areas where improvements are needed. By promoting unbiased reporting and providing tools for media professionals to recognize and mitigate bias, this study can contribute to a more balanced and fair media landscape.
  • Promoting responsible journalism: Media organizations have a social responsibility to serve the public interest. Ethical news gathering and dissemination practices are vital for responsible journalism. By studying the influence of media ethics, this research can identify best practices, guidelines, and recommendations for media organizations and journalists, fostering a culture of responsibility, accountability, and professionalism.
  • Navigating the digital era: The advent of digital media has brought about new challenges and ethical considerations. The study on the influence of media ethics in news gathering and dissemination can provide insights into navigating these challenges, such as the rapid spread of misinformation, the ethical implications of user-generated content, and the responsibility of media organizations in an interconnected and fast-paced media landscape.

1.7       Operational Definition of the Terms

Influence: In this study, influence refers to the impact or contributions or application of ethics to news gathering and dissemination in media outfits.

Media Ethics: It is the principle or code of conduct that governed the practice of journalism which includes but is not limited to accuracy, objectivity, fairness, etc.

News gathering: The act of reporting or finding news worth events and reporting it by journalists.

News Dissemination: This has to do with the news processing aspect of journalism after news gathering which includes publishing or broadcasting it.


INFLUENCE OF MEDIA ETHICS IN NEWS GATHERING AND DISSEMINATION


PROJECT DETAILS:

Format = MS Word, Price = ₦4000, Chapter = 1-5, Pages = 66, References = Yes, Questionnaire =Yes, Table of Contents = Yes and Abstract = Yes


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