Today, information and communication technology has contributed immensely in facilitating communication and journalistic engagement in the present-day society. This transformation is further aided by the interactive nature of the media form of communication that used the internet, social network, virtual world, among others. The advent of the new media also facilitated the creation, modifying, and sharing of information among citizens. It is as a result of these that a participatory brand of journalism called ‘citizen journalism’ came into existence to further accentuate these changes.
In our contemporary world today, journalism is central and critical to credibility in the gathering, processing, and delivery of information for believability. Today, journalism is rapidly-changing, especially in the era of fake news and hate speech dominated 21st century. Thus, Professor Umaru Pate aligned to this description that for an individual to internalise, accept, believe and actualise the content of information; such an individual must adjudge its source and content credible on the basis of truthfulness, competence, dynamism, and relevance. He argued that when an individual is sufficiently and ethically informed, he or she becomes knowledgeable on a particular subject and their mind is freed from uncertainty, liberated from ignorance, and empowered to effectively participate in the process of nation-building.
Media organizations are social institutions whose functions include making a moral contribution to society. This belief sees media as ‘agents of power’ and every society ascribes certain duties, rights and responsibilities to the media. In addition, the media are also expected to operate within the context of a high sense of responsibility and morality. This assertion forms the basis for the call to the practice of ethical journalism in this era. Unfortunately, it is difficult or hard to appreciate the practice journalism today, as no media house can ever be sure that none of its staff engages in the distortion or omission of the truth. As such, journalistic engagement on the basis of truthfulness and objectivity is defeated.
In this era of new media, positive values and correct attitudinal disposition in journalistic practice must be sweep broad and situates quite clear and in an original manner the contemporary role of the media within the credibility of information for believability. As the ‘Fourth Estate of the Realm’ or ‘the Watchdog of the Society’, journalism malpractice in a globally-endorsed paradigm must be addressed. Today, journalism practice is often criticized and hardly enjoys public confidence as a result of what journalists do or fail to do, and this call for a sound moral decision in daily journalistic performance. Therefore, this article calls for ethical journalism thinking. Another call is global practice of investigative and data-driven journalism, because, since the notable Watergate scandal, which came to be the journalistic nomenclature for major political scandals across the globe, in ‘Dasukigate’ or ‘Thabogate’ and other instances in the US and elsewhere in the world pave way for this call.
Aondover Eric Msughter wrote in from the Department of Mass Communication, Bayero University, Kano. Email: Aondover7@gmail.com