Format: MS-Word Chapters: 1-5
Pages: 96 Attributes: Primary Data/questionnaire, Data Analysis
1.1 Background To The Study
Freedom of information specifically access to information held by public authorities is a fundamental element of the right to freedom of expression and vital to the proper functioning of a democracy. It is an act that makes provision for the disclosure of information held by public authorities or by persons providing services for them (Robert, 2000). This means that the act enables one see a wide range of public information because it gives the right to ask any public body for all the information they have on any subject.
According to the Media Rights Agenda (2011), this Act makes public records and information more freely available, provide for public access to public records and information, protect public records and information to the extent consistent with the public interest and the protection of personal privacy, protect serving officers from adverse consequences for disclosing certain kinds of official information without authorization and establish procedures for the achievement of those purposes and; for related matters.
In a state where freedom of information Act is in operation, anyone can make a request for information –there no restrictions on your age, nationality, or where you live. You can ask for any information at all, but some information might be withheld to protect various interests which are allowed for by the Act. If this is the case, the public authority must tell you why they have withheld such information. According to Bard (2001), unless there’s a good reason, the organisations must provide the information within seven (7) working days.
In a democratic world, the public is expected to have access to information (particularly through the media) not only on how they are governed but also on anything that is of interest to the individual or group. This is what the Act is all about. Until recently, the freedom of information in Nigeria has been overlooked. While many established democracies across the world have enacted freedom of information regime, Nigeria had (before now) regarded freedom of information as a luxury only practicable in the Western World and other established democracies (Ekunno 2001). Ekunno further assets that a culture of secrecy had become entrenched in Nigerian government and members of the public including the media are always denied access to official information, which in a democracy, they should be entitled to.
This breakdown in the flow of information impairs the democratic process and shows economic and social development as citizens are unable to participate effectively in the process of government, make informed choices about who should govern them and to properly scrutinize officials to ensure corruption is avoided. Government officials themselves also fail to benefit from public input which could ease their decision making or improve their decision. Also, without accurate information on matters of public interest, citizens must rely on rumours and unconfirmed reports with the obvious danger this presents for accurate and objective reporting by the media.
With the passing of the Freedom of Information Bill into law therefore, there will be flow of information hence this appraisal of the freedom of information Act on the practice of Journalism in Kogi State.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
When the military handed over power to a civilian government on May 29th, 1999, there was a high expectation that journalists were going to enjoy relative freedom to enable them effectively discharge their duties. However, this was not to be the case. Cases of assault of journalists were witnessed during the civilian democratic government of Olusegun Obasanjo. The cases include the brutalization of Akintunde Akinleye, a photo-journalist with daily Independent, the detention of three editors of the Insider magazine in 2003, the experiences of Isioma Daniel, the reporter with ThisDay newspaper and Cyril Mba of the Monitor newspaper among others. Similarly, two Nigerian journalists, Rotimi Durojaiye of Independent newspaper and Gbenga Aruleba of African Independent Television(AIT) were arrested and detained, following their coverage of the controversial air disaster involving Boeing 737 in 2006. The journalists, as noted by Eme (2008), were charged in connection with the materials they published on the cost and age of the controversial presidential jet purchased by the President Obasanjo’s administration. The journalists reported that the Boeing air bus was purchased at the cost of 72 million US dollars, about 9.3 billion naira. As a result of the foregoing predicament prevailing against the practice of journalism, journalists, civil society and coalition groups in Nigeria worked assiduously to achieve press freedom. This freedom providing press liberty to communicate ideas, opinions, information; the right to criticize the political, economic and social institutions of the country; the right to help enlighten every Nigerian by providing him/her with the day’s intelligence in an open market place of ideas without any overt or to covert systematic means of applying censorship, pressure or any form of inhibition on the part of the federal and state government institutions within the country, within the law of sedition, libel, slander and defamation. These efforts materialised with the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in 2011. In view of the above analysis, this project intends to appraise the Freedom of Information Act on the practice of journalism in Kogi State.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this study is to find out the perception of journalists in Kogi State on the influence of Freedom of Information Act on journalism practice in Kogi State. The specific objectives were to:
1. Determine the level of awareness of the provisions of the freedom of Information Act among journalists in Kogi State.
2. Ascertain the journalist’s perception of the strengths of the act in journalism practice in Kogi State.
3. Find out the journalist’s perception of the weakness of the Act in journalism practice in Kogi State.
4. Evaluate the journalist’s perception of the direction of influence (positive or negative) of the Act on journalism practice in Kogi State.
1.4 Research Questions
This work seeks to find the answers to the following questions.
1. To what extent are the journalists aware of the Freedom of Information law in Kogi State?
2. What are the strengths/weaknesses of the Freedom of Information law in journalism practice in Kogi State?
3. To what extent have journalism in Kogi State made use of the new Freedom of Information law in their practice of their day to day assignment?
4. What is the journalist’s perception of the direction of influence (positive or negative) of the Act on journalism practice in Kogi State?
1.5 Significance of the Study
In a democratic world, the public is expected to have access to information (particularly through the media) not only on how they are governed but also on anything that is of interest to the Individual or group. This is what the Act is all about. Until recently, the right of freedom of information in Nigeria has been overlooked. While many established democracies across the world have enacted freedom of information regime, Nigeria had (before now) regarded freedom of information as a luxury only practicable in the western world and other established democracies with the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act, the public will have access to information, thus can fight corruption/closet government and confront the few who misappropriate the resources to themselves alone. It also enables every citizen to know what the government is doing and how the government is spending public funds.
This research work will help the journalists to discharge their duties without any fear of intimidation. Furthermore, it brings to the full awareness of the journalists the benefits of the freedom of information act, the limitations/exemptions and how to use the act to the advantages of the masses.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study will look at the various laws that guarantee the press freedom from both state and national level. Also, how the Freedom of Information help the journalists to operate without fear of intimidation.
The obnoxious law of senate committee to override and create some exceptional clauses to Freedom of Information law (FOI) that guarantees press freedom in Nigeria cannot be over-emphasized.
1.7 Definitions of Terms
The following terms in the study are hereby defined conceptually:
Broadcast Media: Telecast, sent out in all directions especially by radio or television on usually a speech or news.
Education: Systematic traducing and instruction, usually intellectual and moral training.
Educational Programmes: programmes that impact knowledge to the people.
Adeleke, F. (2011). Prospect and challenges of FOI Bill in Nigeria.
Retrieved on 27th April from http://www.elombah.com
Anaeto, S.G., Onabanjo, O.S, Osifeso, J.b (2008). Models and Theories of
Communication. Maryland: African Renaissance Books incorporated.
Ekuno, M. (2001). Reasons for Non Implementation of Freedom of
Ayode, S.(2011). Right Nigeria: Freedom of Information Bill Proves
Retrieved on April 27th 2012 from http://www.info.rights.com
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