Format: MS-WORD Chapters: 1-5
Pages: 83 Attributes: MSc PROJECT
This study investigated the possibilities of collaborative existence between mainstream and citizen journalism in Nigeria. Survey method was adopted to achieve the study aim. The sample size was 323 journalists and 50 citizen journalists selected through a systematic sampling procedure. The questionnaire was used as the instrument of data collection while data was analysed using the statistical package for Social Sciences, version 22. Findings showed that both mainstream and citizen journalists are of the view that journalism is no longer the exclusive preserve of professional journalists and that citizen and mainstream journalists can collaborate in the areas of information gathering and dissemination. Result further indicated that training of citizen journalists is very essential for the collaboration to be effective. To achieve effective collaboration between citizen and mainstream journalism, there is the need for legal, ethical and policy adjustments to be made to accommodate citizen journalism and at the same time uphold the integrity of the profession. Results also showed that effective collaboration between both genres of journalism is limited by factors like ego on the part of professional journalists, poor knowledge of journalistic ethics on the part of citizen journalists and lack of regulatory framework. The researcher recommends short courses for citizen journalists to be trained in the fundamentals of journalism practice and the retraining of professional journalists to become active citizen journalists, while advocating for the amendment of extant codes of journalism practice to accommodate citizen journalism.
1.1 Background of the Study
Journalism practice has been significantly influenced and reasonably modified by improvements in communication technologies. In contemporary journalism practice, the hitherto rigid mode of information gathering has been liberalized as journalists now source for news even without having any interpersonal contact with their sources. Information gathering and news dissemination is no longer the monopoly of professional journalists. The ubiquity and portability of modern information technology tools and software has opened up vistas of opportunity for non-professional journalists to actively participate in information gathering, processing and dissemination. This trend has raised serious concerns among professional journalists and media scholars, who continue to question the validity of news emanating from non-professional journalists using the blogs and social media to disseminate news. Al Rodhan, cited in Nwabueze (2014, p. 176) summarizes the situation:
Today information and news, public policy and national and international public discourse are no longer the exclusive domain of politicians and professional reporters. The emergence of blogs have allowed regular citizens with no political or journalistic background to reach substantial web audience, making their voices heard, and have a real effect on public opinion and policy making.
The age long structures of the traditional media are being remodeled by the rapidity of innovations in digital technology. Journalism practice has transmuted from the confines of newsrooms, media house styles and editorial gate keeping process to a free reign of individualistic, participatory, street, open source, networked, guerrilla and citizen journalism (Ward and Wasserman, 2010).
Each individual now defines his/her own role in their media space according to their basic understanding and personal biases and deploying individual media clusters domiciled in the Internet; the new platform for digital media practice. Renowned American communication experts, Ward and Wasserman (2010), submit that the current media revolution provides citizens with the publishing and communication technology to engage in journalism and the discussion of journalism in a global scale, adding that citizens’ participation in media is transforming the nature of journalism and its ethics.
Mainstream journalism is primarily the process of gathering, editing, packaging, and disseminating news, information, programmes and other media contents through the traditional media of television, radio, newspapers and billboards. These platforms remained the only means through which journalism was practiced for many decades and centuries. The traditional media, as they are also called, operate within a structured entity, consisting of professionally trained journalists and editors, working round the clock to churn out news stories, governed by laid down code of ethics. Some of the journalists are further trained in specialized reporting. Mass Communication studies, until 2004, when the web 2.0 became popular, had focused substantially on the study of mainstream media. The advent of this technology engendered a paradigm shift in journalism practice. This is the crux of Newman’s argument (2009), that the mainstream media organizations are now shifting ground to accommodate new phenomena and meeting up with the demands of current journalism practice. Alejandro (2010) observes that the mainstream media are facing stiff challenges as a result of the emergence of citizen journalism made possible by the web 2.0 technology.
Citizen journalism is the paradox of mainstream media because it is an all-comers affair. The concept has been variously defined by different authors. However, it is generally understood as a practice which enables the public to gather and disseminate information and news through the instruments of the Internet thus participating in journalism. Scholars (Armoogum (2013), Jurat (2011), Barnes (2012) , Ward and Wasserman ( 2010), generally agree that professional journalists will have to share the creation, control and sharing of media content with their former passive audiences, who are now actively involved in journalistic practice, by providing alternative sources of news and perspectives. Jurat (2011, p.4) succinctly sums up citizen journalism:
Citizen journalists have become regular contributors to mainstream news, providing information and some of today’s most iconic images, especially where professional journalists have limited access or none at all. While some hail this as opportunity to improve journalism, others fear that too much importance is placed on these personal accounts, undermining ethical standards and, eventually, professional journalism.
Citizen journalism encourages citizen participation. The participatory nature of citizen journalism was the thrust of Bowman and Willis (2003) definition as cited in Okoro, Diri and
Odii (2013). They see citizen journalism as “the act of a citizen or a group of citizens playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information.” Barnes (2012, p. 16) views it as the process where “people without professional or formal training in journalism have an opportunity to use the tools of modern technology and the almost limitless reach of the Internet in order to create content that would otherwise not be revealed, as this kind of journalism goes far beyond the reach of professional journalism”. These modern technological tools are domiciled in the Web 2.0, which makes the use of social media and blogs available and on the go to billions of people around the world. Radsch (2016) posits that citizen journalism is:
an alternative and activist form of newsgathering and reporting that functions outside mainstream media institutions, often as a response to shortcomings in the professional journalistic field, that uses similar journalistic practices but is driven by different objectives and ideals and relies on alternative sources of legitimacy than traditional or mainstream journalism.
That news is no longer in the confines of news rooms of media houses is stating the obvious. The editors are no longer the sole gatekeepers of news and media information. The reality of the phenomenon redefines the concept of journalism in its entirety and suggests a new paradigm shift towards citizen journalism. Ward and Wasserman (2010, p. 281) argue that it “alters notions of meaningful participation and content control. In a global media world, citizens do not need an invitation to discuss media ethics, to critique journalism practice or to suggest revisions and news norms” A media scholar, Talabi (2011, p.16) also concurs with the fact that there is indeed a new paradigm shift: “the digitization, convergence of computers and telephony technologies - which are the linchpin of the Internet, have greatly influenced the way news and information are produced and disseminated.”
Citizen journalists do not need to operate within a structured media system; the blog and social media are their news and editing rooms, printing press and vendors. They write about whatever that interest them, post pictures, audio and video from around their communities and bring them to the attention of other web users. The ubiquity of the web and social media gives them an edge over the traditional journalists due to their ability to reach readers and audiences faster, breaking all physical and spatial boundaries, while getting instantaneous feedbacks and conversations. Given the prevalence of citizen journalism, media scholars (Barnes 2011, and
Salman, Ibrahim, Abdullah, Mustaffa, & Mahbob, 2011) have argued that there is need for collaborative existence. The thinking of such scholars is that both mainstream and citizen journalists should form a synergy and complement each other in the business of information dissemination. Jones (2012) observes that maintaining such partnerships between citizen journalism and mainstream journalism remains a challenge. According to Jones, the mainstream media have been at ideological odds with many of the development communication principles apparent in online citizen journalism. Kperogi, (2011) observes that collaboration between citizen journalism and mainstream journalism is a dirty attempt by corporate media powers to coopt citizen efforts, but the partnerships may also lead to the emergence of alternative, ‘emancipatory’ journalism within the corporate partner. Hermida, (2011) posits that mainstream journalists are operating in the face of a dilemma between allowing the citizen to participate in the journalistic process primarily for financial gain, and the desire to disallow citizen involvement just to protect the profession’s integrity. Quandt (2011) opines that in current tug- of-war, the “journalistic traditionalists” see citizen journalism as a threat while the so-called “participatory evangelists” see it as a solution.
A study of the collaboration between citizen and mainstream journalism is central in contemporary society because both parties (citizen and mainstream journalist) have some driving forces and motives which may include finance, advertiser’s influence and corporate identity. This is in addition to issues of professionalism, legal compliance, ethical consideration and survival. For example, while mainstream journalism is guided by ethics as enshrined in the Journalistic Code of Ethics of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, the same cannot be said of citizen journalism. Mainstream journalism is also regulated by laws such as sedition, defamation, copy right among others but citizen journalism is not within the grip of these laws, mostly due to its virtual nature. This study, therefore, sought to interrogate the various issues towards paradigm shift in achieving effective collaboration between citizen and mainstream journalism in Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
There is considerable dearth of literature in the discourse of citizen journalism as it pertains to the Nigerian condition. There are plenty of literatures on how the citizen journalism phenomenon has worked in Europe and America and how the media houses, particularly CNN, BBC and SKY have adopted citizen journalism tools to enhance their reportage. However, the
Nigerian journalism community has not been investigated to find out the views of professional journalists on how they have adopted the phenomenon and how they are collaborating or otherwise with citizen journalists.
The Nigerian situation is epitomized in an event the researcher attended in Lagos, in April 2016. At the function, which was organized for both citizen and mainstream journalists, it was evident that the mainstream journalists congregated in one part of the hall while the citizen journalists bunched at the other end. The researcher decided to ask questions, and was told that the bloggers are not journalists; therefore, they are not recognized by the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ).
Most professional journalists across radio, television, newspaper and magazine recognize the emergence and potency of citizen journalism. In interviews conducted by this researcher in 2016, Ben Ezeamalu of Premium Times (online newspaper), Chris Nwandu of CKN news (online newspaper), Cosmos Ugwuoke of Nigerian Television Authority , Ibrahim Alege of Television Continental, Steve Nwosu of Daily Sun newspaper and Joseph Jibueze of The Nation newspaper, all agreed that citizen journalism has come to stay. However, they were equally disturbed about the unethical practices by most citizen journalists. On the other hand, citizen journalists (like Omoyele Sowore of Sahara Reporters) and news bloggers view mainstream journalists as adversaries. They complain that they are frustrated with the aloofness of the mainstream journalists, who often, are not interested in the suggestions they have to offer. From the testimonies, it is evident that citizen and mainstream journalists are working at crossroads in Nigeria, with very little effort at collaboration between the two genres of journalism. While this can be viewed as competition in a marketing sense, it is not healthy for the growth and development of journalism as a profession and as an institution of modern society. This is because the animosity between the two poles of journalism will negatively affect media credibility among the audience who are certainly confused about the ongoing battle of wits and crisis of confidence between citizen and mainstream journalists.
To exacerbate this situation, bloggers and frontline citizen journalists in Nigeria have registered their own unions, separate from the NUJ. This will further widen the polarity between mainstream and citizen journalists in Nigeria. For example, the Guild of Professional Bloggers of Nigeria is a new body registered by bloggers and operates independently. This further confirms the separate existence of these genres of journalism without active collaboration or efforts to integrate standards, ethics and harness the inherent potentials of both genres of journalism. So will each genre hold on to its existence and pretend that the other is non-existent? Or will the supremacy war between them continue? This study explores the possibility of synchronizing, synergizing and engendering collaboration between both genres of journalism. Failure to do this will adversely mass communication practice and negatively affect its credibility.
Objectives of the
1. Ascertain the views of citizen and mainstream journalists on the state of journalism in Nigeria.
2. Assess the possible areas of collaboration between citizen journalists and mainstream journalists.
3. Evaluate the legal, ethical and policy implications of a collaborative existence between citizen journalism and mainstream journalism.
4. Identify the obstacles to effective collaboration between citizen journalism and mainstream journalism.
1.4 Research Questions
This study interrogated the field to find answers to the following research questions:
1. What are the views of citizen and mainstream journalists on the state of journalism in Nigeria?
2. What are the possible areas of collaboration between citizen journalists and mainstream journalists?
3. What are the legal, ethical and policy implications of a collaborative existence between citizen journalism and mainstream journalists?
4. What are the obstacles to effective collaboration between citizen journalism and mainstream journalism?
This study is a contribution to the body of knowledge in the continuous discourse for a better understanding on the need for mainstream and citizen journalism to collaborate for effective information and news dissemination, especially as it relates to Nigeria. It will provide literature which will be relevant to professional and citizen journalists, as well as the academia, students of communication and owners of media establishments.
The result of this study will also be relevant to government agencies responsible for regulating journalists in Nigeria by providing a guide on how to recognize citizen journalists as influential news peddlers and seek ways to properly regulate them. The Nigerian Union of Journalists will also find the result of this study useful in arriving at some concessional decisions to admit influential citizen journalists as members of its union, and so doing, promote collaboration between mainstream and citizen journalism in Nigeria. The result of this study will serve as a spring board for further studies.
Since this study cannot cover the estimated 96 million Internet users in Nigeria (NCC; 2016), who can be broadly called citizen journalists; it will be restricted to the assessment of citizen journalists who have established themselves as recognized news bloggers, and who are also members of an approved association. In addition, the study aims to assess mainstream journalists who are registered members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, being the recognized body of professional journalists in Nigeria. In the area of geography, the study will be carried out in Lagos which is considered the hub of journalism in Nigeria because the state hosts a large segment of citizen journalism entities and mainstream journalism houses.
The following terms are defined as they apply to this study:
Citizen Journalism: The dissemination of information to the public by those who are not trained journalists through the online platforms like blogs and social media powered by the Internet.
Citizen journalists: All those who publish, share or disseminate information via the Internet to the general public, whether trained or not trained journalists. This is limited to those who have clearly defined online platforms for this purpose.
Collaborative Existence: This entails the mutual working relationship in the business of information gathering and dissemination between mainstream journalists and others in the business of information and news sharing.
Mainstream journalism: This describes information gathering, processing and dissemination activities done by professional journalists working in structured media houses; radio, television and print.
Mainstream Journalists: These are people who are trained in the business of information gathering, processing and dissemination.
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