5.1 SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Summary of Findings
This research work examined the nature and extent of influence of ownership on media credibility. It was undertaken in cognizance of the seeming credibility gaps which continue to widen between today's media organizations and their audiences. Predicated on the framework of source credibility theory, the study sought to find answers to two pairs of interrelated research questions, using the Abakaliki audience of Ebonyi Broadcasting Corporation (EBBC) as its case study. Accordingly, the study emerges from extensive burrowing into relevant literature and places credibility within the concepts of expertise and trustworthiness defined in the user perspective.
While an admixture of private and government ownership structure is discovered to be prevalent in Nigeria, especially in this contemporary times, credibility remains an unknown god to which humans burn incense. Methodologically, the researcher surveyed the views and opinions of a stratifically selected sample of the audience of EBBC, using questionnaire as a major instrument for data collection. The obtained result which forms the primary source of analyzable data, are arranged in a specific table for analysis. The simple percentage approach and graphical presentation style are used to illuminate the implications of the responses and to put the indices of analysis into a proper focus. Hence, the following findings are made:
1. Significant value is attached to mass media ownership patterns and structures by audience.
2. Educated adult civil servants and businessmen/women watch, read or listen to mass media messages occasionally when such a media outfit has a low audience trust and confidence.
3. Undue ownership influence and lack of touch with media audience needs are the major reasons for low audience trust of mediated messages.
4. There is a relationship between an audience and media organizations.
5. Such relationship affects credibility of mediated message.
6. Ownership structures affect such relationship either positively or negatively.
7. At present there is predominantly a negative ownership influence on credibility of
Nigerian media organizations.
8. Undue ownership interference in media operations is the major factor responsible for widening credibility gaps between media organizations and their audiences
9. Such credibility slump can be corrected by adopting total quality management.
10. Ownership influences mass media credibility.
Just as a cordial relationship between profit-making organization and its publics engenders patronage, the results of this research have shown that healthy relationship between audience and media organization builds credibility of mediated message. And just as a firm with bad image suffers ill-will from its customers, this research project has found the same fate for media establishments that disregard expertise and public trust. The study reveals that media output suffers occasional viewership, listenership or readership from educated adults, particularly when the relationship between such a medium and audience begins to go sour. Incidentally, the above mentioned audience group constitutes a substantial segment, indeed the cream of the society, from which support and patronage are likely to flow to a media outfit. Thus, loss of the trust of such audience segment will not augur well for successful media practice. Again, undue ownership interference in editorial contents is identified by the study as the Achilles' heel that continues to sap public trust and credibility on the mediated message. As discovered in the research, this is because, while pandering to prejudices in their entrepreneurial capacity, media owners, both by omissions and commission, renege on the professional and ethical standards of responsible media practice. However, the results of this research show that adopting an audience-centered media management approach is a significant way of sustaining trust and credibility of mediated messages. More specifically, the research pin-points total quality management as a tool for bridging credibility gaps between media organizations and their audience. Thus, media credibility becomes a function of ownership structures, influences and dispositions. 5.3 Recommendations Mass media establishments should realize that limitations to their freedom are no longer confined to legal issues or physical hazards. In contemporary information societies, such as Nigeria, where the exchange of information is a basic economic activity, a more potent restriction to press freedom that transcends legislation, and which resides entirely with audience, is the credibility question. Credibility has become an important heuristic for content selection at a time of information overload. Again, media owners in Nigeria should note that the success of any enterprise depends mainly on its management. More so, the mass media which have a sacred constitutional duty to the society should best be managed by trained media managers. The current rigid bureaucracy in most media establishments owned by government may prove counterproductive as it is at variance with the Nigerian socio-political milieu. The adoption of human relation approach to management is hereby recommended in Nigeria to build credibility of media organizations. Akin to the above is the need for engagement of graduates of Mass Communication or Journalism in strategic areas of media operations. It is this group that can bring research inputs to bear on solving every-day problems in media practice. There should also be retraining programme for staff to keep pace with changing situations in the media industry. This is because training and retraining of staff are not only for the growth of broadcast stations, but also for sharpening the professional input of the media organization. This reminds us of the issue of professionalism in media practice. Professionalism has received substantial scholarly discussions such that it has tended to be a myth. But the truth remains that for the media to perform their duties responsibly in the society and earn high credibility, media practice should, of necessity, be professionalized in Nigeria. The process of professionalizing media practice should start from making a constitutional provision that distinguishes between the exercise of right of free expression (which belongs to every citizen) and responsible media practice which should be the preserve of trained media personnels. Such a provision will facilitate the maintenance of register of accredited practitioners and pave way for enforcement of a code of conduct that will be binding on the members. Furthermore, media practitioners should ensure constant touch with their audience needs and aspirations in creation of messages. This is because no media system, however well intentioned, can survive without public acceptance. Audience satisfaction should therefore form the broadest base upon which every media output should be anchored if credibility questions are to be properly addressed. 5.4 Suggestion for Further
A research on the assessment of the performance of media managers could be carried out. The knowledge of such performance will enable media managers understand how to alter their management patterns and practices in the face of undue ownership influence to achieve the optimum result. Another research could also be carried out on corporate image of some selected media organizations. This will explain what motivates audience to become positively or negatively attached to a particular media organization. A further research on influence of ownership on media credibility could also be carried out.
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