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What is news commercialization?

Journalism practice wields such enormous powers and calls for the highest standards of ethics and commitment to truth.

Ethics and truth in journalism have assumed global concern as scholars recognize that their basic constituents of objectivity, accuracy, fairness and balance have merely assumed mythical qualities as journalists battle to assign credibility to their news stories. Tuchman (1978: 2) describes objectivity as `facticity' (a mechanism which allows the journalists to hide even from themselves the `constructed' and `partial' nature of their stories).

This view seems to have garnered force as increasingly scholars suggest that news even when professionally `selected' is guided more by organizational needs than by professionalism. The journalist thus becomes `a walking paradox' (Nordenstreng 1995) as one cannot fail to see that journalism is so full of contradictions that "we have to question even the most fundamental dogma of the profession - truth-seeking - because the way it has been conceived and practiced in journalism serves as a deceptive filtering device preventing as much as helping the truth being discovered" (Nordenstreng 1995:117).

News commercialization practice in Nigeria media industries adds to this contradiction and deception, creating a continuous dilemma for ethics and objectivity in journalism practice in Nigeria.

What is news commercialization?

The news has become commercial product... important developments in the countryside are pushed aside by unimportant, even trivial news items, concerning urban events and the activities of personalities.

Though nearly three decades old, UNESCO's assertion certainly has currency in the Nigerian media scene as news items have to be paid for by those who want to be heard.

News is no longer about reporting timely occurrences or events, it is now about packaged broadcast or reports sponsored or paid for by interested parties. By this practice individuals, communities, private and public organizations, local governments, state governments, and ministries, gain access to the mass media during news time for a prescribed fee.

The message they wish to put across is then couched in the formal features of news and passed on to the unsuspecting public as such. Willie Nnorom (1994 cited in Ekwo 1996:63) defined news commercialization as "a phenomenon whereby the electronic media report as news or news analysis a commercial message by an unidentified or unidentifiable sponsor, giving the audience the impression that news is fair, objective and socially responsible". We must say that though this definition seems not to include the newspaper industries, news commercialization do occur there too

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