A STUDY ON THE PROBLEMS OF INFORMATION SOURCING IN NIGERIA
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
There are legal and social problems to have continued to restraint the Nigerian Journalist from adequate and effective news reporting. These laws are meant to dictate to journalists what they should and should not publish. Whether in a military or civilian government, these laws are always there to serve the objectives of the powers that be, and to brow beat the press. In the past military dictatorship, many journalists and reporters suffered all sorts of deprivation and depredations. When the military relinquished power to a democratically elected civilian government in May 1999, there was general relief owing to belief that members of the “fourth estate” of the realm would have relative freedom. However, this is not the case. This article examines this and other issues pertaining to press freedom in the present democracy.
In concluding this article, it will be pertinent to reiterate the idea that the level of democracy in any nation is determined by the government media relationship of that nation.
In spite of the turbulent circumstances in which Nigerian press finds itself, it will continue to be the mouthpiece of the people because it seems that government has mastered the art of hide and seek and the press has got the will and tenacity to find the administrative gimmicks of the government and inform the press is usually the mirror through which the public sees how the state is run. This was put in a more succinct way when an American justice, George Sutherland, had this to say about press freedom in 1935: “a free press stands as one of the great interpreters between the government and the people. To allow it be fettered is to be fettered ourselves”. This goes to say that, the freer the press of any nation, the freer the people. Freedom of the press is not an end in itself but a means to a free society (Umechukwu, 2003:12).
Only a free press can endure the exposure and sustain democracy and development. A lot of changes could come if the press was allowed to operate unrestricted. In many developing countries, journalist continue to be harassed and killed for their constituent; and citizens often are unable to assert their rights to access information needed to make good decisions.
Through the incidence of harassment and detention of journalist in Nigeria has subsided since 1998, the importance of press freedom as a cornerstone of human rights and a guarantee of other freedom has been the hallmark of media is referred to as fourth estate of the realm, is assumed to be their arbiter, the umpire and its executive, the legislature and the judiciary. The press stands between the government and the masses and it is through the press that the voices of the masses are heard.
The “press” has to be defined and exemplified for the understanding of the research topic.
The press is the molder of the society. Although this fact has been lashed with numerous criticisms, we cannot deny the fact that the press shapes the society. Most journalists are aware of this, so they determine the society what it desires and what it needs.
According to the marginal note in section 39 of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria which read thus: right to freedom of expression and the press, and the constitutional provision of some section (39 (2)) which reads thus: without prejudice to the generally of to own, established and operate any media for the dissemination of information and opinions from the forgoing it is deducible for us to say that press is the vehicle through which information ideas and opinions are disseminated.
Press is therefore a trained individual who have a sound knowledge on the rudiments of journalistic ethics on to cover and gather information for news report. Press, the journalist and photographers who work for the Newspaper and Magazine.
For the purpose of this research, it is important to explain some key word such as:
News and Media collectively.
DISSEMINATION: it simply means to spread information, knowledge, which reaches a large number of people.
NEWS AND MEDIA COLLECTIVELY: This is the encompassing words that cover both the print media as well as the electronic media as noted down in the cassel concise dictionary.
NEWSPAPER: it is unbounded printed publication that is issued at regular intervals which present information in words, often supplemented with pictures.
PERIODICALS: This are magazines that are published every week, month, bi-monthly, especially one that deals with academic subjects.
MAGAZINE: it is a publication, bound in book form containing news, information, sport articles, advertisement, feature stories, photographs and a price tag.
RADIO: it is an audio oriented media of communication that appeals, only to the sense of hearing.
TELEVISION: by means of the radio definition, television combines with both sound and sight. That is why it is known as audio visual set.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
This research work is geared towards critically examining the press and problem of information gathering in Nigeria. That is to trace where the problem itself originated from.
The press metamorphosed from being instrument of religion, commercialization, to objective news gathering and presentation. The governments of all ages promulgated enacted and made decrees to curtail the rising influence of the press. These barrages of law contended with press freedom.
In the recent time the social responsibility function of the press have however been restricted by laws of the land and other factors. This is what this work however examines.
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTION
Research has been defined as an organized enquiry that is aimed at providing information for solving identified problems. This research is aimed at providing answers to the following questions such as:
To what extent is the freedom of information bill effective in dissemination of information?
What is the relationship between the press and the government?
Do journalists find it difficult to get credible information?
Why do people, law enforcement agents and others find it difficult to give journalist information?