2.1 LITERATURE REVIEW
Focus of Review The importance of inputs from already existing literature in every academic discourse cannot be overemphasized. Such inputs in the form of references, quotes and citations assume greater significance, especially if their emphases are relevant to what is being studied at the present. This is why it is imperative to evaluate previous findings by scholars to provide framework and foundation for the present study. According to Ohaja (2003:70), "the literature review is a discourse on the topic with the help of contributions from previous scholars and writers". It usually presents an overview of the field in a way as to provide a background for the work and draws a possible conclusion that may or may not be vindicated by empirical verifications. It gives an insight necessary for location of the present study in the context of previous research efforts. The ownership of media organization is always warranted by socio-political and economic imperatives of societies. In Nigeria, the ownership and control of the media has been a reflection of the various stages of transformation in the society. Thus, Nigerian Constitutions have, at different periods, guaranteed both private and government ownership of the media.
Credibility, in itself, is identified as a critical factor in any communication environment. Its components, among others, include trustworthiness and expertise. However, the implication of low credibility on mediated messages is a negative phenomenon which can spell the death of a media organization. In this chapter, therefore, we shall review the related literature under the following sub headings: i. Media ownership in Nigeria: Historical perspective ii. iii. iv. The print media ownership in Nigeria Electronic media ownership in Nigeria
Credibility: Its components Media ownership and credibility: A critical analysis Implications of low credibility on media organization
Media Ownership in Nigeria: Historical Perspective The literature on ownership influence on media contents in Nigeria are not in acute shortage. Some of them go further to unequivocally suggest that government ownership is opposed to press freedom. However, conspicuous in their absence are well structured researches that incorporate and interlace credibility and ownership studies in a holistic and coherent manner. Rather, scholars have tended to concentrate on historical exegesis of media evolution in Nigeria, designating government ownership as a negative phenomenon and private ownership as the best that can happen to mankind. This is fundamentally flawed The media in this context cannot be taken to be one of the communication outlets available to media practitioners. According to Dominick (1996:27) our definition of mass media will include not only the mechanical devices that transmit and sometimes store the message (TV cameras, radio microphones, etc) but also the institution that use these machines to transmit messages. Dominick (1996) further maintains that the mass media of television, radio, newspapers, magazines, sound recoding and film refer to the people, the policies, the organization and the technology that go into producing mass communication.To Bello (1998:1), "mass media involves not only the transmittal, but also the creation/publication, gathering and distribution of the news, information, messages and other forms of communication designed to reach the general public". The overall motive of the media, he argues, is to set standards, ideals and aims of the masses. Mass media, as noted by McBride et al (1981:62), "has opened the doors to larger audiences, expanded sources and resources for information and entertainment, and supported important cultural and social changes". Hence, the motive for establishing and controlling the media include public interest, profits, power and knowledge (Okenwa, 1998:1). Though, agreements and disagreements still surround the effects or no-effects potential of the media, there is a consensus among scholars that mass media performs the following functions in the society: surveillance, interpretation, continuity, entertainment and mobilization (McQuail, 2005: 97). Print Media Ownership in Nigeria The print media ownership in Nigeria is largely an admixture of private and government ownership. According to Dinkpa (1997:19), "private ownership of newspapers first emerged before government joined the business". Christian missionary societies were the first owners of the printing press in Nigeria with the establishment of a printing press in Calabar. In 1859, Rev. Henry Townsend, a white missionary from Sierra Leone, started the first newspaper in Nigeria called Iwe Irohin. The paper was published in Abeokuta in Yoruba language. Another privately owned newspaper was the Anglo-African established in 1863. This paper was founded by Robert Campbell, a Liberian emigrant in Nigeria. Omu (1978:19) contends that "the goal of Anglo-African was to exploit the growing interest in western education and enlightenment in Lagos in the 1860s by providing cheap and accessible materials which could educate, inform and entertain its readers". In 1880, Richard Beale Blaize, a wealthy Sierra Leonean established the Lagos Times. Other newspapers founded by foreigners include the Iwe Irohin Eko founded by Andre Thomas on November 3, 1888; the Weekly Times established by John Payne Jackson, a Liberian-born businessman, on May 3, 1890: the Lagos Weekly Record, founded by J. P. Jackson; the Standard founded by George Alfred Williams on September 16, 1894; the Lagos Echo founded by J. S. Leigh on September 1, 1884 and the Lagos Reporter founded by Victor Manson on September 12, 1898 (Ogunsiji, 1989:9). The common denominator of all these papers was that their owners were alien dominated.
Indigenous private owners started venturing into the press after the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates in 1914. A Yoruba lawyer, Kitoye Ajasa founded the Nigerian Pioneer in 1914. Ernest Ikoli started the African Messenger in 1921, and in 1925, Herbert Macaulay established the Lagos Daily News which became the first paper to exist along the west coast as a daily newspaper. The Daily Times Newspapers was launched in 1926 with Ernest Ikoli as the editor and Duse Mohamed Ali launched the Weekly Comet in 1932 (Dinkpa, 1997:20). Perhaps, of all the indigenous newspapers, the West African Pilot stood head and shoulders above all others. Established by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe in 1937, after escaping the wrath of the British colonialists in the Gold Coast (now Ghana), Zik's philosophy or motto was "show the light and the people will find the way." He attacked racialism, advocated universalism, and his was noted for sensationalism. Zik was the first newspaper publisher to introduce chain ownership of newspapers in Nigeria. On attainment of independence in 1960, another phase was opened in the history of the press in Nigeria. Government ownership of the press began. Starting with the Western Region in 1960, the Daily Express and Sunday Express were established in partnership with Roy Thomson of Canada, to serve the interest of Yorubas. The Tafawa Balewa government founded the Morning Post in 1961 for the purpose of providing adequate publicity for the government. In 1966, the Northern Region government established the New Nigerian newspaper. By 1974, almost all the then 19 states of the federation had newspapers of their own. Although, the history of magazine ownership is not as exhaustive as that of the newspapers, their contributions to the development of information dissemination have been noteworthy. The Nigerian Magazine, born in 1939 by the Federal Office of Information, was the first magazine in the country. In the 70s came Newbreed, Drum and Spear, and in the 80s and 90s, Newswatch, This Week, Tell, The News and Ovation, among other magazine (Dinkpa 1997:23). Electronic Media Ownership in Nigeria For over 50 years after its official commissioning on 1st December 1935 in Lagos, radio broadcasting was the exclusive preserve of government. The first radio station in Nigeria, which took the name, Nigerian Broadcasting Service in 1952, belonged to the Federal Government. It later became the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation at the prompting of nationalist politicians in 1956. The WNTV (Western Nigerian Television Service) was established as the first television station in Nigeria in 1959. The ENBS (Eastern Nigerian Broadcasting Service) came on air in 1960 and the NNBC (Northern Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation) hit the air waves in 1962. All these were regionally oriented broadcast stations, designed to advance the interest of their owners, the regional governments. The expansion in the number of stations followed the pattern of state creation till date, as a replacement of regions and their governments (Owuamalam, 2006:9). The 1979 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, vested the ownership of broadcast stations solely on governments. Consequently, there are more than 40 state owned radio and television station in Nigeria. There is also a national radio, formerly known as Radio Nigeria but now, the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, (FRCN). It operates a network of more than 30 radio stations located in various states of Nigeria. The external broadcasting need of the country is satisfied through the Voice of Nigeria which has an international reach and appeal. (Owuamalam 2006:9) However, the promulgation of decree No. 38 of 1992, establishing the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), ended over fifty years of government ownership of broadcasting in the country. Private ownership of stations in Nigeria therefore becomes possible. The 1999 Constitution vested the ownership on the people, who apply to the president, to be given a license to operate a station, cable or satellite distribution stations in Nigeria. Currently, there are more than 20 private broadcasting stations in Nigeria with many awaiting their license to commence transmission. Notable among them are Minaj Broadcasting International (MBI) and African Independent Television (AIT) (Owuamalam 2006:10) 2.3 Credibility: Its Components According to Savolain (2007:2), credibility studies date back to early 1950s in America. The studies were and still are to find out how modifications in sources' characteristics influence people's willingness to alter their attitudes to certain topics. This approach focuses on qualities of sources as well as contents. Results show that trustworthiness of sources affects acceptance of the message and changes opinion.
Ordinarily, the New International Webster Dictionary of the English Language defines credibility as "the capacity of being believed, the capacity as of government or public official of maintaining the public confidence that its report of the conduct of public affairs is worthy of belief". The above conceptualization is similar to that of Udoakah (1998). Writing on "Mass Mobilization Communication for Development", Udoakah (1998:46) avers: For a government or any institution or person to succeed in any mobilization, it has to be seen as credible otherwise, people would not be willing to listen to its message. The credibility of government comes from its ability to provide citizens welfare and solve other problems satisfactorily; it comes from the expertise and trustworthiness of its officials.
Apart from this; the message must bear a stamp of credibility. Facts alone do not persuade always, though they may elicit some kind of behaviour or rationalize an action. Facts become more persuasive when they are supported by events or actions.(italics, mine) Media credibility is a complex concept. Researchers from various countries have used a wide range of approaches to evaluate it and to understand its component. Savolain (2007:3), for instance, notes this situation in his study on "Media Credibility and Cognitive Authority" conducted in Tampere, Finland. He discovers that, though credibility is difficult to define unambiguously, the quality of information, believability of media, reliability and trust worthiness of information are some of the components with which it has been associated. In their study in Miami, USA on "The Credibility of Newspaper, Television and On-line News", Abdulla et al (2002:12) added twelve other dimensions to the components of credibility. According to the researchers, "the components of credibility include: fairness, completeness, accuracy, respect for privacy, watch for peoples interest, concern for community, separation of fact from opinion, trust, concern for public interest, factual, level of training and truth".
Similarly, the European Society of Professional Journalists, SPJ (2010) is of the view that credibility and codes of ethics are Siamese twins. The Society situates itself on the assumptions that "public enlightenment is forerunner of justice and foundation of democracy and that professional integrity is the cornerstone of journalists' credibility." Hence, as code of ethics, the society expects its members to: seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently, and be accountable. (SPJ 2010:2) Media credibility, therefore, can be conceived as performing ones roles competently both to the audience and to the stakeholders in the industry. It involves formulating a workable agenda that can satisfy the information and entertainment needs of the audience, and at the same time bring returns to media owners. The objective must be service defined in the user perspective. In the final analysis, "it is only those who know something we don't, and who know what they are talking about are cognitive authorities". (Wilson 2009:14). Credibility and Media Ownership: A Critical Analysis Credibility implies performance in the service of the audience. It includes all that can be done to build public trust and confidence in the mediated message. It is dependent on the judgment made by the audience, and its question is strategic to an effective communication process. The benefit derivable from it is that it places a stamp of reliability on the affected media organization.
Governments, media practitioners and scholars have, at different times and places explored, ways through which media credibility can be built and maintained. While some of these efforts have resulted in the development of certain media theories or philosophies, others have translated into principles, generalizations and standards advanced as codes of conduct for media practice. The Nigerian Press Council, NPC, for instance, makes this point clearer when it states in preamble to Code of Ethics for Nigerian journalists that: Journalism entails a high degree of public trust. To earn and maintain this trust, it is morally imperative for every journalist and the various news media to observe the highest professional and ethical standards. In the exercise of his duties, a journalist should always have a healthy regard for the public interest (NPC 1998). Thus, in the codes of conduct for the Nigerian journalists, the Council first provides for editorial independence as the cardinal principle, for maintaining public trust, stressing that "decisions concerning the content of news should be the responsibility of professional journalists". But Dan Agbese, the editor in chief of Newswatch magazine, has pointed out that no publication, no matter how independent it may claim to be, can escape servicing certain vested interests, either knowingly or unknowingly. These interests may be commercial, political, communal, and tribal or even religious. The result is that the gathering and dissemination of news is secondary to certain other interests. (Agbese, 1995). This brings the question, how does ownership interfere with the decisions concerning the editorial contents of news and to what extent? This question is a tough nut to crack. However, scholars agree that newspaper publishers do influence the editorial policies of their papers but the degree varies from paper to paper and from owner to owner. There are instances where publishers in collaboration with editors of their newspapers, have trimmed, killed, slanted or displayed a reporter's story in such a way as to support an official version. (Ogunsiji, 1989:175). Similarly, commentators on media matters like Abubakar Jika (1984) claim that the freedom of the newspapers starts where fundamental interest of owners ends. According to him, "it is obviously true that mass media owners exert a threatening control over the press, whether a mass medium is managed by a board of directors, appointed by private owners or by a public corporation established by the government" (Nwogbunyama 2009:52). Two major areas identified by Nwogbunyama (2009:52) in which owners influence media contents and indeed credibility, include: Financial Control: Media owners control the media by their decision to invest or not to invest. It is obvious that fund is the live-wire of any organization. It has been discovered that government owned media suffer irregular subventions that lead to their epileptic state. The method of their funding has been described as faulty and inadequate resulting to the media operating far below capacity with obsolete facilities and equipment. Appointment of Principal Staff: Ownership influence transcends beyond the proprietor's interest to invest. The publishers' interest is reflected in the appointment of staff. Careful selection of a team that will dance to the dictates of the publishers ensures that the publishers' interest and dreams are not wished away. Gaullden (1967) cited in Nwogbunyama (2009:53) agrees that as long as a publisher has decent respect for law, he may do what he likes with his newspaper and his staff. Therefore, media owners appoint people who may be willing horses to dance to tune they are likely to dictate, even at the expense of expertise and public trust. 2.5 Implications of Low Credibility on Media Organization Credibility is considered a desideratum for both government and privately owned media organizations. It flows from the reputation built by a media firm over time, through effective discharge of corporate responsibilities (Udoakah 1998:17). Believes that source of communication must be credible if a positive response is what is desired. Conversely, credibility gaps exist when the confidence of the audience in the mediated message begins to dwindle. This can be as a result of the quality of reporting, careless, biased and speculative reporting or deliberate falsehood. Haruna (2008:1) argues that "speculative reporting, sometimes verging on fiction, not only destroys public confidence in the media, but can also be dangerous to the stability of the nation". Low credibility therefore implies loss of public confidence and trust on media organizations brought about by performance excesses on the part of the affected medium. In other words, people will tend to regard the message from such a media outfit with ambivalence, skepticism and outright doubt. As a corollary to the above, communication between a mediums organization which has low credibility and its audience will hardly be fruitful. It will be difficult for such a medium to mobilize the audience for development purpose. For such institution or person to succeed in mobilization, "it has to be seen as credible; otherwise people would not be willing to listen to its message" (Udoakah 1998:46). Low credibility therefore, means selection by the audience, of alternative media sources with perceived higher credibility. This will result in loss of profits and good will on the part of the affected medium, which can ultimately lead to death of the organization.
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