Importance of Journalism in Nigeria

The importance of journalism in Nigeria is undeniable. Journalism plays a significant role in making the populace make sense of what’s going on around them, as well as encouraging public participation. Information, critical scrutiny,  advocacy, and participation in public debates are normative expectations of journalism in a democratic setting, such as Nigeria. This article will focus on explaining the importance of journalism in Nigeria.

Importance of Journalism in Nigeria

The importance of journalism in Nigeria will be discussed below:

  • Source of Information to the Public

When the military ruled over Nigeria, journalism had many restrictions. The masses, then, were usually not in the know on happenings in the government. But with the dispensation of democracy, journalism is given the liberty to deliver the populace with information. Information guides better decision-making, even on the political scene. For instance, when the populace is supplied with the reportage on happenings in politics, they can make reasoned and rational choices when they seek to fulfill their voting obligation at the pools. Thus widespread choices made on prejudice and ignorance can be sufficiently controlled within the populace. With the information provided, the citizens make informed inferences about candidates and parties at the polls. Though partisan reportage is permitted in journalism, citizens are assured of objective opinions on public debates. There are various high-quality news journalism across print, radio, online, and television platforms, in Nigeria, that deliver factual and thoughtful information, as well as carry out analyses on current happenings in the country. The ripple effect of the accurate, timely, and thoughtful information presented to the populace from media outlets contributes to the improvement of public participation in the society in the country.

  • Critical Scrutiny of Government/Watchdog Function

Apart from the role journalism plays as regards information function in a democratic setting like Nigeria, another important is the role it plays in the critical scrutiny over the powerful and influential people in the society. This role as watchdog over the people in government, business, and other spheres of the society, earned journalism the title of “Fourth Estate”, as coined by Edmund Burke.

As the fourth estate, journalists are entitled to monitor the exercise of power to prevent abuse. On behalf of the citizens of Nigeria, journalists across various platforms oversee the actions of the government. They work to find out how efficient, competent and honest the government is, and if they are fulfilling the responsibilities they were elected for, as well as monitor the policies and programmes of the government to know if such policies and programmes are designed with the interest of the people in mind.

Newspaper outlets, radio stations, television news stations, and news blogs in Nigeria perform this responsibility of being the watchdog of the government, and others, by engaging in critical scrutiny of their activities.  Journalists do this by fearless criticism of falsehoods and mistakes of the government, commentary, analysis, and asking tough questions, among others

  • Representation and Advocacy

The role of journalists as the fourth estate is embarked on behalf of the citizenry, and as such, journalism serves as the people’s representatives before people in government. This role of mediator/representative that journalism plays in Nigerian society assures that the voice of the populace is heard.

In Nigeria, this function of journalism as a mediator between the citizens and the government is performed in several ways. Through media outlets, Nigerians are provided with direct access to the public sphere in the form of phone-in contributions to broadcast talk shows, participation in-studio discussions about public affairs, and reader’s letters to print media, among others.

Fast and interactive technologies such as email, blogging, and text messaging have further enhanced journalism’s role of representative function in Nigeria as they provide new ways for Nigerians to communicate with political elites and participate in public debate. Through these technologies, the rate of public participation in the goings-on in government has witnessed an unprecedented increase among the Nigerian citizenry.

  • Objective Advocacy on Particular Positions

The role of advocacy for the populace positions journalists to be able to have opinions on happenings and events in the country, as long as those opinions are presented in objectivity and factual accuracy. Journalists can lend their opinions in public debates in a bid to convince people of a particular view but must feature a clear separation of fact and opinion. Say, for example, in the public debate on the presidential hopefuls of the forthcoming 2023 INEC General Elections, journalists can be partisan and advocate a particular political position, albeit objectively – separating fact from opinion. So, the populace can be assured to get objective reportage on varying opinions on public discourse from the media.  Hence, journalism can be used to present objective opinions on events, policies, programmes, and government actions, among others, to the public, in Nigeria.

  • Provide Coverage on Business and Market Activities

Business and the economy are important facets of the society, and extension, Nigeria. Through business and economic journalism, journalists cover business and market activities in the country by tracking, analyzing, and interpreting changes in the economic state of the country. There are specialized newspapers that focus solely on business, while others have some sections dedicated to business. In addition, most television and radio stations also cover business and market activities in the country. Business and economic journalism, therefore, hold businesses accountable for their actions and have the responsibility of finding the truth and reporting it to the people.

Journalism involves a great deal of public trust. To earn and maintain this trust in the Nigerian public, the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) finds it imperative to provide ethics that journalists working in Nigeria ought to adhere to. Therefore, the duties of every journalist in Nigeria must abide by the following ethics. They must ensure the editorial independence of the contents they produce, as well being report factual, fair and balanced news, refrain from publishing inaccurate and misleading information, and the separation of facts from connectors and comments. Other ethics include press freedom and responsibility, and copyright and plagiarism checks, among others.



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