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IMPACT OF FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT ON JOURNALISM PRACTICE: A STUDY OF JOURNALISM
1.1 Background of the Study
Freedom of information is both a concept in journalism an issue in contemporary medical practice. This controversial concept establishes that media practitioners‘ especially journalist reserve the freedom to probe, to dig, to pry for the purpose of obtaining information, news, opinion and publish same without hindrance. It proposes that the gathering and reporting of news and opinion should operate without any limitation or constraint. In other word journalist, like every other Nigeria have the right to hold opinion, receive information and impact ideas without interference. This is a fundamental human right guaranteed every individual by the constitution including journalists.
Again freedom of information is an essential right for every person; it allows individual and groups to protect their right. It is an important guard against abuses, mismanagement and corruption. It benefits government themselves in terms of openness and transparency in the decision making process and improve citizen trust in government action.
For the important of the freedom of information, survey had shown that nearly seventycountries around the world including Nigeria have not adopted comprehensive freedom of information act to facilitate access to record held by the government bodies and another fifty have pending efforts. A few countries have issued decrees or used constitutional provision. Many countries have adopted others that can provide for limited access their own records held by the government agencies and private organization, specific statutes that give right of access in certain area such as health, environment, government procurement and consumer protection.
Freedom of information could be traced to the age enlightenment and development of democracy in America.it is a product of libertarianism which derived unarguably from the libertarian theory of the libertarian approach to the ingredient of libertarian approach of media.
Freedom of Information stoutly opposes the authoritarian philosophy of the press in which absolute power and control over ownership, content and the use to which the media could be put resided with the monarch.
As pointed out in chapter five of GOKE R..mass media and the society. issues and perspectives the authoritarian system pre-supposes that; truth was conceived to be not the product of the great mass of people but a few men who were in a position to guide and direct their fellows thus, truth was thought to be centered near the center of power .The rulers of the time used the press to inform the people of what the rulers thought they should know and the policies the rulers thought they should support.
The role of the press then therefore was chiefly to support and advance the policies and thinking of the government in a society where criticism of the political machinery and officials in power through the media was forbidden.
This contradicts the beliefs of the libertarian that man is a rational being capable of choosing between truth and falsehood, deciding between bad and good, and when face with alternative choices, capable to unerringly choose the truth and the good. The press therefore, must be free to feed the people with information and allow them to judge because they are rational beings. According to Siebert pater so et ela ―the libertarian liable assume that in a democratic society, there would be multiplicity of voices available to, if not actually reaching the public.‖ Let every man who has something to say on public issues express himself regardless of whether what he has to say is true or false and the public ultimately decided.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Before the signing of freedom of information act (FOI) by president Good luck Jonathan on the 28th may 2011,the press went through a lot of criticism in the hands of people/government especially the military government which as a result many journalist/media practitioners were imprisoned, assassinated and assaulted. However, this research work aim at studying;
v The effect of government censorship on journalists.
v Non access to public information kept by government, public institution and private bodies.
v Criticism and government suppression.
1.3 Objective of the Study
It is a well-known fact that Freedom of Information Act (FOI) was to strengthen the constitutional guarantee of freedom to receive and impact information and ideas. The law encourages investigative journalism, balance reporting, and objectivity, verification of stories, openness, transparency, fairness and accuracy in media presentation. Therefore, the researchers consider the following objective relevant.
- To find out the Impacting of Freedom of Information Act (FOI) on journalist practices in Uyo Community.
- To know the extent of Freedom of Information Act Practice in Uyo Community.
- To determine how Uyo L G A (local government area) encourages Freedom of Information Act.
1.4 Research Questions
The researcher‘s attend in the research work will be focused on how to answer the following questions;
- What are the impacts of freedom of Information Act on journalists in Uyo community
- What are the extents of Freedom of Information Act among practicing Journalist in Uyo Community
- How does the government of Uyo community encourages Freedom of Information Act.
1.5 Scope of the Study
This study is mainly focuses on the residence of Uyo community which include the four clans of Uyo local government of Akwa Ibom state.
1.8 Significance of the Study
This study is aim at promoting and encouraging the new law ―Freedom of Information Act‖ in Uyo community and Nigeria at large. The study will be of great benefit to the researcher, journalist and the entire Nigeria to embrace the law in order to encourage professionalism and the ethnics of journalism.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
Freedom: This is the power or right to act, speak etc. as one wants without anyone stopping. It is the permission to use, act, and speak, etc. without restriction in Uyo community.
Information: This is a fact told, heard or discovered about something/ somebody. It is also seen as knowledge gives/ provides/ pass on/ receive/ obtain/ collect about something/ somebody in Uyo community.
Act: This is a law made by a parliament or similar body in Uyo community.
Journalism: This is the activity or product of journalists or others engage in the preparation of written, visual, or audio material intended for dissemination through public media with reference to factual, ongoing events of public concern. It is intended to inform society about itself and to make public things that would otherwise be private in Uyo community.
Uyo community: This is a city in the south eastern Nigeria and is the capital of Akwa Ibom state. The city became a capital of Akwa Ibom state on September 23, 1997 following the creation of Cross River. Uyo is bounded by;
Ibesikpo Asutan and
Etinan local government all in Akwa Ibom State. She is made up of four (4) clans which includes; Ikono, Etio, Oku, and Offort clan. She has a total population of 309,513(male 153, 11 and female 156,460) according to 2006 National census.