ABSTRACT: The paper examined news commercialization and its implications on media credibility, professionalism, and management. The paper was anchored on Social Responsibility Theory and Social Exchange Theory. A survey research method was used while a questionnaire was adopted to elicit responses from the respondents. One hundred journalists were purposively selected from the Nigeria Union of Journalist Press Centre, Osogbo. The data collected were analyzed using the frequency and percentage method with tables. Findings show that broadcasting media organizations in Nigeria are engaging in news commercialization a lot (83.3%) especially in this era of high media proliferation and competition while substantial numbers of the respondents (70%) admitted that news commercialization affects media objectivity, credibility, and fairness strongly. Also, poor remuneration and funding (63.3%), the corrupt nature of Nigerian society (16.7%), and personal self-interest have been identified as major factors responsible for news commercialization. It was recommended that irrespective of what news commercialization offers the media and journalists, members of the audience should not be deceived or cheated. Journalism ethics should not be taken for granted otherwise, traditional media may lose its credibility and professional image while this incredible notion may change audience passion.
Keywords: NEWS COMMERCIALIZATION
1.1 Background of the Study
Day by day, the management and operations of mass media especially broadcast take a different approach, especially in this 21st century, and requires the media manager to adapt to this dynamism in a careful way, if they really want to survive and still gain control of the audience. For the purpose of this paper, the focus is on news commercialization otherwise known as commercial news.
The nature of the mass media’s job in society as a watchdog, mobilizer, gatekeeper, and agenda-setter demands media be independent so as to be able to ethically and legally discharge their constitutional duties especially as stated in Chapter 2, section 22 of the Nigeria 1999 constitution as amended. But the big question is how would the media source all it needed to survive, equipment, hire qualified staff, and other logistics that the job demand especially now that the subvention from the government is no longer enough, talk less of the private media that wear privatization and business garment from the outset like every other business.
In the media, the quest for financial independence is not always easy. Often, financial pressures push news organizations towards rescuers who assure their solvency but exert a heavy price in terms of their independence. Financially weak media in fragile democracies are particularly vulnerable to absorption by a narrow set of political or economic interests that are inclined to operate the news organizations not as self-sustaining businesses but as propaganda units.
Carrington & Nelson (2002) states that: Worsening economic pressures often push mews organization to seek a safe harbor which can mean turning to politicians or special interests for support. They do this, however, at the expense of their editorial independence, because the rescuers, rather than investing in the long-term profitability of the news concerns, look for the short-term gains of owning a propaganda arm that they can commandeer into advancing their political or economic interests.
Also, advertisers capitalize on the difficult economic situation to inject their influence in the newsroom, a situation that lightens the birders between advertisement and news. And, Itule and Anderson (2003) laments that as a result, “the line between advertising and news becomes less clear every day”
For the past three decades, Nigeria’s economic situation has been on a downward swing, and, both the government and individuals have come up with different survival strategies. Among them are the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) and other economic policies which encourage people and businesses to ‘tighten their belts as a strategy for survival. The mass media are not left out in the battle for survival. They are faced with the challenge of either how to break even or sustaining their performance while remaining free from external influence and socially responsible to society. This has been an uphill task as the difficult economic realities continue to bite harder. The effect is here with us; poor service delivery, poor wages/salaries, and the attendant cyclical effect.
According to Udoakah and Nwabueze (2007), following the difficulty in getting operational funds… some media houses hardly pay transport fares or sundry allowances to their reporters. This affects the investigation of stories since the money to fund the investigation of stories may require lots of traveling. Moreover, a journalist whose salary is owned for months will lack the motivation to go into adventurous investigative reporting.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Critics have identified distortion of news, imbalanced reports, and the growing tendency for the public not to believe the media news (lack of objectivity) as major problems inherent in news and other information as a result of using some news that is sponsored. Objectivity as an ethical standard is one of the most pervasive in all of journalism and commercialization of news on the contents of news media in Nigeria seems to be crippling, thus affecting professionalism and public acceptance.
Although, lots of studies have been conducted on news commercialization and brown envelope in Nigeria the increasing reliance on such sources as part of the major sources of funding in a media outfit is the concern of this study while the influence on both professionalism and media management. Hence, the research is geared towards examining the effects of news commercialization on the contents, revenue, professionalism, and management of media outfits in Osun State.
1.3 Objectives of the study
- To examine the extent to which broadcast media in Osun state engage in news commercialization.
- To highlight factor(s) responsible for news commercialization in the broadcast media.
1.4 Research questions
- To what extent do broadcast media in Osun state are engaging in news commercialization?
- What factor(s) is responsible for news commercialization in the broadcast media?
1.5 Significance of the study
The significance of this study aims at revealing to the media practitioners and broadcast students, the effect of commercialization on media credibility and professionalism.
The study will help media practitioners and managers to know the havoc of news commercialization on the future of media outfits in terms of credibility and trust on the part of the audience which may make them less credible.
Media professional bodies should see reasons to be more serious in maintaining ethics in the media industry by sanctioning defaulting journalists to ensure that journalism practitioners adhere to laid down codes of practice, sound education, and professional training of journalists.
It will enable the general public to know that some of the news they listen to and watch is paid for and become sensitive to media messages.
1.6 Scope of the study
The paper which examines news commercialization and its implications on media credibility, professionalism, and management has been narrowed in scope to journalists in Osun state. The rationale for selecting journalists in Osun state is to be able to see as many journalists as possible, especially experienced ones. Another factor for this choice is its proximity to the researcher while inadequate time to study all broadcast media organizations in Nigeria is another important factor.
“NEWS COMMERCIALIZATION AND ITS IMPLICATIONS ON MEDIA CREDIBILITY”
WHAT TO EXPECT: (Chapter 1-5, Abstract, Table of Contents, Questionnaire, and References)