There is a compelling influence of media owners on media practice: a personal opinion
To say that media owners have a compelling influence on media practice is an understatement. This is because the practice of the media throughout the world has been denied the necessary freedom even though the journalist has an absolute responsibility to his society, his country and his conscience. You have to make a choice between the interests and policies of your media owners and the demands of professionalism. Consequently, serving the private interests of the owners signifies a subtle betrayal of the ethics of the profession. Drawing a line of compromise between the political goals of the media owner and the social responsibilities / obligations of the profession is never an easy decision.
Media professionals around the world, particularly Africa, have tried to navigate through the ever contentious issue of media owner’s political goals versus professionalism, in practice. For example, Kofi Buenor Hadjor, a journalist from Ghana, once argued that there must be “relevant journalism” for Africa. According to Hadjor, the media that daily absorb and disseminate information around the world should be seen for what they are: an integral art of society that reflects and, in turn, affects existing social relations.
As a result of the dominant influence of media owners on media practice, a policy of relevance was declared from July 22 to 31, 1980 in Yaoundé, Cameroon, in an African member state of UNESCO of the Intergovernmental Conference on Communication Policies. The conference statement said: “We need a new conception of freedom that truly grants the right to vote to men and society rather than subjecting them to the conditioning of those who control the powerful media; that contributes to the democratization of the communication and acknowledge rights “. of the people and the towns to be informed and to express themselves freely ”.
In many parts of the world, particularly Nigeria, competing power bases have been at the forefront of the problem facing media practice due to their contributions to the lack of enforcement of press freedom laws. . Various cultural, religious and tribal groups also disagree on how the country should be governed, hampering an agreed political philosophy, which forces media professionals to side with various groups within the country.
According to Herbert Altschull, an independent press is impossible because “the news are agents of the people who exercise political and economic control.” That is, regardless of the benevolence of the government or the democratic principles of society; Regardless of the advancement of any society, the media are usually subject to some form of control by those who own and operate the apparatus of power.
However, the basis of authoritarianism in Nigeria, which gave the government direct control and monopoly of radio and television stations, was broken in 1992 when private broadcasting stations were licensed for the first time, marking a new it was in the ownership of the transmission media.
In the United States, according to Amy and David Goodman, concentration of media ownership is very often seen as a problem in contemporary media and society because most people are driven by many things. Media ownership can focus on one or more inappropriate things which can then lead to a number of undesirable consequences that may include serving the interests of its sponsors (advertisers and government) rather than the public interest, and the absence of a healthy market. competition based. This has led companies that dominate the media market to suppress stories that do not serve their interests. As a result, the public suffers because it is not adequately informed about some crucial issues that can affect it.
Media censorship, which has been a recurring problem around the world, of the supposed freedoms expressed in their constitutions, will continue to enforce the practice of the media unless drastic measures are taken to checkmate it. Over the years, those who exercise political power have controlled the media in many ways in any society. They have often achieved this through arsenals of authoritarian control, such as repressive legislation, heavy taxes, direct or indirect control of essential production inputs, harsh treatment of media workers, death threats, and in some extreme cases, murder of media workers, and closing of media houses.
There is also the indirect control measure taken against media workers which may include the management structure where the media workers determine the daily activities of the organization; financing, production, structure and distribution of broadcasting signals, as in the case of broadcasting media.
In addition to government control of the media, there is the presence of other agencies such as the courts that exist and obstruct freedom of expression. Furthermore, the government’s attitude of preferential treatment to “buy” the most influential or critical journalists of the government, through appointments to the highest government positions, cannot be set aside. When journalists are co-opted to occupy government positions, that reduces them to mere puppets, since it influences the objectivity of their media products in handling issues that concern the government.
Private media owners, on the other hand, exercise significant control over their media organizations. There are cases in which owners demand self-censorship from their publishers to satisfy the interests of their sponsors.
Noting that unethical practices and negative attitude trends in the workplace can negatively affect an organization’s productivity, profitability, growth, and goodwill, the environment in which so many journalists work today has shown to be the other way around. Successes are now measured based on the number of “who’s who?” on an organization’s sponsors list. Can you imagine a situation in which unemployment, poverty and the deterioration of social values take center stage, and a journalist manages to secure a place where his daily needs are taken care of, no matter what happens there, regardless of the issues? ethical? In some parts of the world, where money rules everything, most journalists no longer even care about the ethics of their profession, instead yielding to the antics of dubious media owners to gain access to places and people to gain access. information. receiving high-paying advertisements from sponsors and questioningly tagging and distorting documents containing valuable information to satisfy the interests of your sponsors.
The question that demands an answer is this: if those who have the correct information refuse to give it, who else will? It all rests with the journalist who has taken the oath to tell the truth at all times, which is the basis of a solid journalistic practice. However, the signing of the Freedom of Information Bill on May 22, 2011 by the President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, is highly praised. The implication of the law is that certain types of information that are exempted from the general right of access under the law are listed in the law. This is really good news!