According to the Macmillan English Dictionary, a journalist is someone whose job is to report the news for a newspaper, magazine, radio program, or a television program. Simply, a journalist is a person who gathers and reports information to print and/or media house(s).
A journalist is engaged in the profession of journalism. A journalist is seen as an upright person; a person who is engaged in a profession of people with noble character.
A journalist is a professional who put pieces of information together for public consumption, taking note of the differences in the audience.
A journalist is bound by the ethics of journalism. According to Reuters Handbook, 2008; a journalist is a professional who: always hold accuracy sacrosanct, always correct errors openly, always strive for freedom and balance from prejudice, always guard against putting his/her own opinion in a news story, never plagiarise a story, never pay for a story and accept bribe.
From the explanation above, it can be deduced that a journalist has positive set of attributes which could make him or her contribute positively to the growth and development of the nation.
Despite these positive attributes, journalists in Nigeria face challenges in their hallowed profession. These challenges and their possible solutions are discussed below.
Journalists are noble professionals who practice journalism. Journalism is always referred to as the fourth estate of the realm because It gets attention from governments at all levels and the general public.
Governments of all nations have high expectations from journalists; they are always eager to know what they would write about them.
Because of this, most governments have put in place rules, regulations, and mechanisms to persecute, censor and control them with some degree of success.
Problems of Journalists in Nigeria:
1. The Brown Envelope Syndrome
The brown envelope syndrome is a common occurrence in journalism. It simply means bribing a journalist to trade objectivity and truthfulness for pecuniary gains.
Also, it refers to money, gifts, food, drinks given to journalists in order to influence their judgement. It means bribing a journalist to either write stories that would give the Nigerian governments, politicians positive reviews in the public domain or edit/delete negative stories that would earn them negative reviews in the public domain.
Journalists are bribed to write stories that would arouse public sympathy for the governments, politicians, political parties, etc.
Brown envelope has other names. In some climes, it is called public relations, Brown kola, white envelopes, money paid into bank accounts of journalists.
The brown envelope syndrome is worsened by the fact that some unscrupulous journalists demand for brown envelopes after an interview with a news maker or after a press conference.
Journalists in Nigeria are paid poorly. They are paid poor salaries and wages. Compared to other professionals, they are the least paid.
The salary of an average Nigerian journalist is not enough to sustain him/her throughout the month. They result to sharp practices to argument their income.
Most People See Journalism As A Get Rich Quickly Profession To Make Ends Meet
Some people go into the profession of journalism with the erroneous belief that they will get rich quickly. If this fails to materialise, they get easily fraustrated.Fraustration eventually leads them to commit unethical practices.
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2. Non-Payment Of Salaries
Journalists are not paid their salaries. Even when they are paid, they are not paid on time. This makes them fraustrated.This makes them to engage in sharp practices to sustain themselves.
3. Harassment From The Nigerian Government
Journalists are often harassed by the government for publishing information they perceive as offensive to them. Journalists are upright and noble professionals; people with integrity and focus.
They report objective and truthful news. However, truthfulness and objectivity are not the forte of most Nigerian governments.
These governments feel insulted about such stories written about them. They feel the journalists have stepped on their toes.
Such governments employ tactics which include harassment of press men and media houses, hounding them into exile, enacting decrees and laws which enforce blanket ban on journalists and media houses, arresting and imprisoning perceived offenders, and press gag.
Journalists face insecurity when doing their job. Some of them are kidnapped and killed by insurgents. Sometimes, they are attacked by harmed bandits on roads and highways who dispossess them of their phones, electronic gadgets and other valuable items.
They are also caught in crossfires between law enforcement agents on one hand , militants and insurgents on the other hand. Many journalists have lost their lives because of insecurity.
5. Problem of Logistics
Journalists travel a lot to cover events and present news. Their work is hindered by bad road network, inaccessible areas, network problems and inter-communal strife.
1. Private and government owned media house must ensure that journalists are well paid. This will eliminate the brown envelope syndrome from the profession of journalism.
2. Private and government owned media houses must ensure that journalists are paid well and paid regularly. These will eliminate sharp practices from the journalism profession.
3. The government must ensure that it provides a secure and healthy environment for journalists to practice their profession. This could be in form of attaching security escorts to journalists.
4. The government must ensure that it upholds the principles of honesty, fair play and integrity at all times. They must understand that the profession of journalism is built on credibility, integrity, honesty, objectivity.
They must be willing to accept objective and truthful information without bias and sentiments. This will make them to see journalists as partners in progress and not their enemy.
They must enact policies that will prevent the entrenchment of dictatorial tendencies against journalists and press houses.
5. The government and media houses must partner together to institutionalize award and merit ceremonies to reward excellence , hard work and Integrity among deserving journalists.
This will make journalists to give their best to further uplift the profession of journalism and let them know that money is not everything. This will also eliminate the brown envelope syndrome from journalism.
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