Journalism Code of Ethics and Journalism Practice in Delta State
The main objective of the study is to examine the Journalism code of ethics and journalism practice in Delta state, and the specific objectives are:
- To assess journalists’ awareness and understanding of the journalism code of ethics in Delta State.
- To examine the extent to which journalists adhere to the journalism code of ethics in their daily practice in Delta State.
- To evaluate the perceived effectiveness and relevance of the journalism code of ethics in promoting ethical journalism practice in Delta State.
Media and Journalistic Ethics
Media ethics is about the disciplines of media. It includes the definition and historical overviews of media ethics, factors and challenges of exploit journalistic ethics in newsroom. As Betrand (2000) stated media is blamed as having done here and there. Media is beneath control of human eye. Media outlets may have unintended consequences or intended by viewers. As scholars stated, there are descriptive and prescriptive kinds of media ethics. As Day (2003) explained, “moral values are convictions that are worth motivated; such as justice, happiness, compassion, etc. The other normative ethical theory is moral norms; are rules that prescribe what actions are required, permitted or forbidden” (Day, 2003: 44).
The development of media and communication undergo fundamental changes on principles and its future. As Carlson (2007) said, “the journalism industry is gradual development in nature, and as with all aspects of the media, is flat to shift and change as culture shifts and changes around it” (Carlson, 2007: 1027). There have been significant shifts in its practice and content. Movement toward formal journalism ethics began as early as the 1860s, stressing accuracy and fairness during the Civil War. This has brought journalistic practice under far greater inquiry. But neutrality and freedom from bias is a key part of the ideology of professional journalism (Allan, 2010: 87).
Media ethics encompass a broader perspective, focusing on ethical considerations applicable to all forms of media, including print, broadcast, online, and social media platforms. It involves ethical issues related to content creation, distribution, and consumption across various media channels. Media ethics address concerns such as truthfulness, accuracy, fairness, privacy, sensationalism, conflicts of interest, and the public’s right to know. (Clark, 2020)
Journalistic ethics, on the other hand, specifically pertains to the ethical standards and practices followed by journalists in their pursuit of gathering, reporting, and disseminating news and information to the public. It establishes the ethical obligations of journalists to provide accurate, objective, and balanced reporting while upholding the principles of independence, transparency, accountability, and minimizing harm. (Davis, 2021)
One of the fundamental principles of media and journalistic ethics is truthfulness. Journalists are expected to present information accurately and truthfully, striving to verify facts and sources to the best of their abilities. They should avoid disseminating false or misleading information that can erode public trust and contribute to misinformation. (Evans, 2018)
Another key principle is fairness. Journalists should aim to present a balanced and impartial representation of events and perspectives, providing an accurate reflection of reality. They should seek diverse viewpoints, avoid bias, and present information in a manner that does not unfairly favor any particular individual or group. (Garcia, 2022)
Independence is a crucial aspect of journalistic ethics, ensuring that journalists are free from undue influence or control that may compromise their ability to report truthfully and objectively. Journalists should maintain independence from political, commercial, or personal interests, allowing them to act as watchdogs and hold those in power accountable. (Harris, 2019). Transparency and accountability are essential components of media and journalistic ethics. Journalists should disclose any conflicts of interest that may arise and be transparent about their sources, methodologies, and potential biases. They should also be open to receiving feedback and criticism, taking responsibility for any errors and correcting them promptly. (Lewis, 2020).
Journalists’ Code of Ethics
Scholars and researchers agreed on journalism ethics and standards comprise principles of ethics and of great practice as pertinent to the particular challenges confronted by writers. The most basic codes and canons elements including the principles of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness, and the public responsibility of obtaining important information and disseminating it to the public. Journalism ethics is like other professions the principle of limitation of harm.
As Kruger (2004) explained that, many journalists in various parts of the world adopt codes of ethics to guide themselves in a responsible manner. As journalists do their duties not for themselves but on behalf of the public, they need to have codes of morals, which propose that news must be exact and mistake-free (Kruger, 2004: 3). Means media following codes of ethics is of paramount importance for journalists that shoulder the big responsibility of serving a public. Therefore, ethics is a guideline of day-to-day journalism activities, which are very important to keep and improve the ethical environment of media institutions. Code of morals too plays critical parts in ensuring the opportunity, astuteness, and distinguishes of news coverage (Campbell, 2004: 148). Other many media scholars say that lacking codes, among others, is one of the causes for journalism not to be considered as a profession.
According to Orodho, (2003) descriptive design is effective because it allowed the researchers to collect the necessary information. The study adopted a descriptive survey research design in determining Journalism code of ethics and journalism practice in Delta state. This design is adopted for the study because it aims to accurately and systematically describe a population, situation or phenomenon. It can answer what, where, when and how questions. Also, can use a wide variety of research methods to investigate one or more variables.
Population constitutes elements possessing similar traits that are being investigated (Ngechu, 2004). The research population for this study consists of journalists working in Delta State, Nigeria. Journalists play a crucial role in gathering, reporting, and disseminating news and information to the public. They represent an essential group whose practices and adherence to ethical standards have a direct impact on the quality and credibility of journalism in the region. Inclusion criteria for the research population include individuals who identify themselves as journalists and actively engage in news reporting, writing, editing, or other journalistic practices within Delta State. Both experienced and early-career journalists will be considered for inclusion, as their perspectives and experiences may vary.
DATA ANALYSIS AND PRESENTATIONS
Demographics details of respondents
SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
This study aimed to investigate the journalism code of ethics and its practice among journalists in Delta State. The research objectives focused on assessing journalists’ awareness and understanding of the code, evaluating its effectiveness in promoting ethical journalism practice, examining adherence to the code in daily journalism activities, and exploring perceptions of the code’s relevance and need for updates. Through a questionnaire-based survey, data was collected from a sample of journalists in Delta State. The findings revealed that a significant number of respondents had received adequate training or education regarding the journalism code of ethics, indicating efforts to provide journalists with the necessary knowledge. The majority of respondents reported being familiar with the code and demonstrated a solid understanding of its key principles and guidelines.
While journalists expressed a commitment to ethical practices such as objectivity, impartiality, truthfulness, source protection, and avoiding conflicts of interest, there were areas for improvement. Regular consultation of the code in daily journalism practice was reported to be relatively low, suggesting a need for greater integration of the code in journalists’ decision-making processes. The study also highlighted the perceived effectiveness and relevance of the journalism code of ethics. Respondents acknowledged that the code provides clear guidelines for ethical journalism practice. However, concerns were raised regarding its enforcement and monitoring, calling for stronger mechanisms to ensure compliance and accountability. Furthermore, the findings emphasized the importance of updating and revising the code to address emerging ethical challenges in the digital age. This recognition reflects the evolving nature of journalism and the need for the code to remain adaptable and relevant in a rapidly changing media landscape.
This study focused on examining the journalism code of ethics and its practice among journalists in Delta State. The research objectives were successfully addressed through the survey-based approach, which provided valuable insights into journalists’ awareness, adherence, and perceptions of the code. The findings of the study indicate that journalists in Delta State generally possess a good level of awareness and understanding of the journalism code of ethics. They recognize the importance of ethical principles such as objectivity, impartiality, truthfulness, source protection, and avoiding conflicts of interest. However, there is room for improvement in terms of regularly consulting the code in daily journalism practice, suggesting the need for increased integration and utilization of the code as a reference tool.
The study also revealed that journalists perceive the code as providing clear guidelines for ethical journalism practice. However, there were concerns regarding its enforcement and monitoring, indicating the necessity for stronger mechanisms to ensure compliance and accountability. Efforts should be made to enhance the monitoring and enforcement of the code, promoting a culture of ethical journalism in Delta State.
Furthermore, the study highlighted the importance of updating and revising the code to address emerging ethical challenges in the digital age. This recognizes the dynamic nature of journalism and the need to adapt the code to new technological and societal developments. Regular reviews and revisions should be undertaken to ensure the code remains relevant and effective in guiding journalists’ ethical decision-making processes. The study’s findings emphasize the significance of the journalism code of ethics in promoting ethical journalism practices among journalists in Delta State. The results provide valuable insights for policymakers, journalism organizations, and stakeholders to strengthen the implementation and effectiveness of the code. By enhancing awareness, adherence, enforcement, and updating the code, Delta State can foster a culture of responsible and ethical journalism, ultimately benefiting the society at large.
Based on the findings and conclusions of the study on the journalism code of ethics and journalism practice in Delta State, the following recommendations are proposed:
Strengthen Training and Education: Efforts should be made to enhance training and educational programs for journalists regarding the journalism code of ethics. Workshops, seminars, and training sessions should be organized to ensure that all journalists receive comprehensive and up-to-date knowledge of ethical principles and guidelines.
Promote Regular Consultation: Journalists should be encouraged to regularly consult the journalism code of ethics in their daily journalism practice. Media organizations and journalism associations can play a crucial role in promoting the code as a valuable reference tool and integrating it into newsroom practices.
Enhance Enforcement and Monitoring: Measures should be implemented to improve the enforcement and monitoring of the journalism code of ethics in Delta State. Media regulatory bodies and journalism associations should collaborate to establish robust mechanisms for ensuring compliance and addressing instances of ethical violations. Regular audits and assessments can help evaluate the effectiveness of these measures.
Review and Update the Code: The journalism code of ethics should be periodically reviewed and updated to address emerging ethical challenges in the digital age. Stakeholders, including journalists, media organizations, regulatory bodies, and academia, should collaborate in the revision process to ensure the code remains relevant and responsive to the evolving media landscape.
Foster Ethical Decision-Making: Efforts should be made to promote ethical decision-making among journalists. Training programs and workshops can focus on ethical dilemmas and provide practical guidance on making ethical choices in different journalistic scenarios. Encouraging open discussions and case studies can also enhance journalists’ ability to navigate complex ethical issues.
Enhance Awareness of Source Protection: Journalists should receive comprehensive training on the importance of source protection and confidentiality. Media organizations should establish protocols and guidelines to ensure the safety and anonymity of sources, promoting a culture of trust and reliability in journalism.
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