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A study of the knowledge and perceptions of Students on the issue of the menace of brown envelope syndrome in Nigeria



CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION 1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY The peril of brown envelope syndrome has become a serious ethical challenge that poses threat to the image of journalism practice in Nigeria; thus deterring objectivity and balance in reporting. Nwabueze (2010:498) sees brown envelope practice as ?accepting gratifications for performing journalistic task. Aiyetan (2002:33) describes this practice as a cankerworm eating deep into the journalism profession. By implication, brown envelope practice affects fairness, truth and objectivity in reporting. Due to the economic hardship Nigerian Journalist face a big ethical dilemma, making it difficult for journalism practice to strive on truth, fairness and justice. Edeani (1990) in Ogbole (2012) reports that, ?the Nigeria press is operating in a depressed economy and is barely managing to keep its head above water? this situation according to Ogbole (2012), ?has led to poor remuneration of journalist and neglect of their welfare, a situation which exposes them to ethical dilemmas in the field. Journalists are often faced with the quest to protect their ?stomach? at the expense of journalistic ethics.? The adage ?he who pays the piper dictates the tune? becomes practical in this case, a journalist who collects money on a report will definitely influence his reportage to suit the intention of the person he has sold his integrity, fairness, justice, and objectivity to. Asemah (2011) elaborates that ?the most common type of bribe in journalism is the so-called ?brown envelope? which is monetary bribe handed out to the journalist to pressurize him or her into doing what the giver wants. Once accepted, monetary bribe and other gifts ?tie the hands? of the journalist who then becomes incapable of being objective in reporting events and issues involving people who gave the gift?. Ekeanyanwu and Obianigwe (2012, p. 517) add that ?monetary gifts could pressurize the journalist into doing what the giver wants, and this makes the journalist unable to be objective in his reporting of events and issues involving the people who give such gifts. Thus, the news stories produced are likened to commercial products that have been paid for by the customer which should serve the need to which the product is expected, in favor of the customer?. Williams (2014) postulates that: since the brown envelope syndrome found its way into Nigerian journalism, it has refused all attempts to be curbed. In fact, it is now fast assuming a conventional status, as most journalists now demand and take bribe monies and other forms of bribery as a prerequisite for performing their traditional duties of providing information, education and entertainment to the society without demanding undue favour, making it little wonder that it is referred to as ?the controversial brown envelope[sic] This implies that, Journalist now see brown envelope practice as a normal tradition, coining such practices as ?chope? which means ?collect money before you publish or broadcast anything? According to Ekerikevwe (2009), brown envelope is common in journalism practice in Nigeria. It is a situation whereby journalists demand for bribe or other forms of gratification before they cover any events or even publish stories from such events. This act has and is still eating deep into the fairness, objectivity and balance of daily news reporting. The implication of brown envelope causes huge threat to journalism practice Bello & Adejola (2010) elaborates that this implications ranges from ?loss of public trust and confidence, loss of professional integrity and sense of duty and inability to uphold the six cardinal elements or canons of journalism ? truth, fairness, objectivity, accuracy, independence and responsibility?. ?This implies that, when a journalist engages in brown envelope practice he tends to lose his value, trust, confidence, loss of professionalism. He/She ought to play the role of gathering, analyzing and disseminating news and information about people, events and issues in society which could be in form of news, commentaries, editorials, advertorials, news analysis, profiles, columns, cartoons, pictures or magazine feature via mass communication medium such as radio, television news papers, magazine, digital TV, face book, you tube, 2go and other numerous social media to a heterogeneous audience simultaneously or about the same time? (Ogunkwo, The Nigerian Journalists? Knowledge and Perceptions of Brown Envelope Apuke Destiny Oberiri Volume-III, Issue-II September 2016 321 1999) in Suntai and Vakkai (2014). Suntai and Vakkai (2014) elaborate that, this huge task ?imposes on journalists across the globe the need to be objective to ensure the survival and blossoming of the profession as well as retain the integrity of the profession and its practitioners. This calls for strict observance of professional ethics or codes of conduct by professionals. The ethics are the moral guide for practitioners to be truthful, objective and balanced (unbiased) in their practice to be able to positively affect the profession and society in which they practice. By implication, a journalist ought to reject any form of bribe in order for him/her to be just/truthful in reporting event as it occurs, not manipulating facts/figures to please the person who has paid him but be firm and just; reporting occurrences as it happens, burrowing and unearthening social vices in the society, making in-depth and interpretative reporting in order to sensitized and enlighten the public. The aim of this paper is to assess the knowledge and perception of Students in relation to the issue of brown envelope syndrome. 1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM The issue of brown envelope syndrome has become a serious ethical challenge posing threat to the image of journalism practice in Nigeria; thus deterring objectivity and balance in reportage. In journalism, the ethical problem of materialism is manifested in the form of bribery and acceptance of gifts. In the course of their duties, some journalist accepts money and other non-monetary gifts which compromise their integrity and that of their respective media organization. As Okunna (2001:74) puts it, ?the ethical journalist is the defender of democracy who must stand out in the fight to sustain democracy and who should be indestructible, incorruptible, beyond change and decay, and ethical sound. But with the perennial problem of the brown envelope threatening the credibility of the journalism profession, it becomes difficult to dispassionately objectively regard the Nigerian journalist as an unbiased ethical umpire the bastion of democracy.? A lot of factors have been outlined by various scholars as the reasons behind brown envelope practices among journalist in Nigeria and beyond. This paper seeks to unearth the Students perception on the menace brown envelope syndrome. 1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY The aim of this paper is to examine the knowledge and perceptions of Students on the issue of the menace of brown envelope syndrome. The study is guided by the following objectives. i. To examine the perception of students on brown envelope syndrome. ii. To examine the effects of brown envelope on Journalism practice iii. To ascertain the areas brown envelope syndrome are manifest in Journalism practice. iv. To examine what students perceive as reasons responsible for the acceptance of brown envelope. v. To identify ways of curbing the menace of brown envelope syndrome. 1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS i. What are the perceptions of students on brown envelope syndrome? ii. What are the effects of brown envelope on journalism practice? iii. What are the areas where brown envelope syndrome is manifested in journalism practice? iv. What are the perceptions of students about reasons responsible for the acceptance of brown envelope? v. What are the various ways of curbing the menace of brown envelope syndrome? 1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY The study of the perception of the students on the menace of brown envelope syndrome in journalism is limited to the Ibarapa Polytechnic, Eruwa. 1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY This study will be useful to upcoming journalists in getting more knowledge about the menace of taking brown envelope and the threat it pose on their objectivity. This research work will be useful by journalists in resisting the brown envelope. 1.7 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY 1. Network interconnectivity to enhance elaborate research ? 2. High level of illiteracy 3. Time and cost constraints due to cause of scarcity in gasoline to go about the research.


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