Media Ethics and Elections Coverage in Nigeria: Understanding the Context and Imperatives from a Gender Perspective

Media Ethics and Elections Coverage in Nigeria: Understanding the Context and Imperatives from a Gender Perspective

Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika (University of Lagos, Nigeria), Ismail Adegboyega Ibraheem (University of Lagos, Nigeria) and Babatunde Adesina Faustino (University of Lagos, Nigeria)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9613-6.ch013
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This paper examined media ethics in Nigerian using elections coverage as a lens. It focuses on the gender dimension, a fundamental factor in media and election debates; and brought to the fore the socio-political and economic factors affecting the ethical performance of journalists covering elections in Nigeria. It argues that journalist covering elections in Nigeria are operating in challenging socio-political and economic context, but are beginning to rise up to the occasion having improved on the coverage of women politicians. It concludes that despite the challenges, ethical reportage can promote gender balanced coverage of elections in Nigeria. It recommends that the media should provide platforms for engagements and give equal access to parties and candidates (both females and males); and also provide space in which freedom of expression can be exercised and alternative, dissenting, and minority voices heard.
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Elections in democratic settings affect everybody either directly or indirectly and the expectation is that whenever there is fair, balanced and inclusive participation of all people in the election of leaders without discrimination on the ground of sex or any other factor, the society will progress. As such, people should be empowered with valid information to participate in elections. Anything to the contrary, apart from acting outside the ambit of the law which could result in law suits, will destroy the credibility of journalists and media outfits; and portray them as unprofessional in covering elections and the processes.

As such, journalists owe their audiences moral responsibilities, which are ethical and referred to as soft laws, and now codified. The codified laws deal with the moral principles or norms for action. Ethics could therefore be termed as a normative, Meta and applied science of conduct. The normative aspect deals “with norms, standards and principles”, the Meta deals with analysis of the ethical terms while the applied “deals with the application of the ethical standards and principles to the professional practices” (Daramola & Akinsuli, 2012, p. 2).

As a result of its concern with such concepts as virtue and vice, right and wrong, good and bad, responsible and irresponsible actions, media ethics may be viewed as a sub-sect of applied ethics specifically dealing with the ethical principles and standards of media, including broadcast media, film, theatre, the arts, print media and the Internet (Daramola & Akinsuli 2012; Adam 2009, p. 317; Elliott 2009, p. 30; Perebinossoff 2008). This perspective on ethics also encompasses other adjunct journalism professions such as public relations and advertising which play significant roles during electioneering campaigns. Tis may account for why Okunna (2003) argued that the issue of good and bad as well as fairness, balance and rights among others (especially if related to elections) are fundamental journalistic principles applicable in all regions of the world.

Therefore, Nigeria is not an exception, hence this paper examined Nigerian media ethics within context and in relation to elections coverage in Nigeria focusing on the gender dimension that is a fundamental factor in media and election debates. It drew from the Nigerian Press Council Code (2009), Nigeria Broadcasting Code (2012) and relevant sections of Electoral Act 2010 against the backdrop that journalists are the holders of public trust. It is hoped that the argument and submission of this paper would further challenge and stimulate stakeholders in the media, ethics, election and gender issues to provide and strengthen sustainable and gender sensitive elections coverage.

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