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The era of information pollution: new definition of news production in Nigeria / Эпоха информационного загрязнения: новое определение производства новостей в Нигерии

Mustapha Muhammed Jamiu

ORCID: 0000-0001-8239-5808

доктор философских наук

ассистент, кафедра Mass Communication, RUDN University of Russia

117198, Россия, Moscow область, г. Moscow, ул. Ulitsa miklukho-Maklaya, 6

Mustapha Muhammed Jamiu

Doctor of Philosophy

Assistant, the department of Mass Communications, Peoples' Friendship University of Russia

117198, Russia, Moscow oblast', g. Moscow, ul. Ulitsa miklukho-Maklaya, 6

istjabah@gmail.com
Другие публикации этого автора
 

 
Agyei Stephen Obiri

доктор философских наук

докторант, кафедра Social and Differential Psychology, RUDN University of Russia

117198, Россия, Moscow область, г. Moscow, ул. Ulitsa miklukho-Maklaya,, 6

Agyei Stephen Obiri

Doctor of Philosophy

PhD candidate, the department of Social and Differential Psychology, Peoples' Friendship University of Russia

117198, Russia, Moscow oblast', g. Moscow, ul. Ulitsa miklukho-Maklaya,, 6

stephenobiri99@gmail.com
Другие публикации этого автора
 

 

DOI:

10.25136/2409-8698.2021.11.36726

Дата направления статьи в редакцию:

22-10-2021


Дата публикации:

29-10-2021


Аннотация: В этой статье было рассмотрено как можно переопределить профессиональное производство новостей, чтобы отстранить от него распространителей дезинформации. Чтобы достичь этого, через существующую литературу, мы изучили три области, в которых информация может быть искажена, а именно: заголовки и редакторы онлайн-новостей. Мы отмечаем, что заголовки играют ключевую роль в информационной экосистеме, поскольку они могут ввести аудиторию в заблуждение. Это достигается за счет использования запоминающихся фраз, чтобы привлечь внимание аудитории. Кроме того, в ходе увлекательного исследования мы выяснили, что некоторые редакторы сетевых новостей не придерживаются определенных этических стандартов и поэтому публикуют статьи, не проверяя их достоверность. Мы отметили, что политики проникли в сетевое медиа-пространство, что оказало серьезное негативное влияние на то, как редактор выбирает свои статьи. В документе рекомендуется, чтобы заголовки были не только написаны для приманки, но и должны быть написаны так, чтобы не вводить аудиторию в заблуждение, а также должен быть установлен предел того, как политические деятели могут влиять на повестку дня СМИ. Наконец, людей, не имеющих опыта работы в журналистике должен обучать опытный журналист, который поможет минимизировать информационное загрязнение, с которым мы сталкиваемся сегодня в эпоху Интернета и социальных сетей.


Ключевые слова:

Производство новостей, новые медиа, информационное загрязнение, дезинформация, цифровые технологии, настройки повестки дня, кликбейт, заголовки, Нигерия, привратник

Abstract: This article explores the possibility of redefining professional news production in order to suspend the disseminators of disinformation. For achieving this goal, the author examined the areas of the likely distortion of information: headlines and editors of online news. Headlines play the key role within information ecosystem, since they can deceive the audience. This is acquired by using arresting phrases to draw attention of the audience. It is determined that some editors of online news do not observe certain ethical standards, and thus, post articles without verifying the accuracy of the material. It is noted that politicians have infiltrated the online media space, which affects that the editors choose what to post. It is recommended that headlines should not only be attractive, but also written in a way not to deceive the audience, as well as the extent of influence of the political figures upon media agenda should be established. And ultimately, the people who have no experience in journalism, should be trained by an experienced journalist in order to minimize the information pollution common to the era of Internet and social networks.



Keywords:

News production, new media, information pollution, misinformation, digital technology, agenda-settings, clickbait, headlines, Nigeria, gatekeeping

Introduction

News production in the world has been passing through a series of paradigm shifts since the beginning of the 21st century. In the west, it could be linked with the rise of media pluralism, advancement in technology [1], the emergence of digital media, media proliferation, and the escalation of information pollution. However, in Africa, particularly in Nigeria, the giant shifts in news production could be highly attributed to the return of democracy in 1999 which allowed more private media outlets to emerge (media pluralism).

Each of these shifts which have been occurring for over twenty years has been challenging for professional journalists and media producers in the country due to the nature of Nigerian society. Among these periods are: (i) A period of fighting and advocacy for Press Freedom and freedom of expression, (ii) A period fighting for the Right to Information, (iii) and a period for the need to move from analogue to digital or hybrid-media convergence. These three are all tools for democracy— as the information remains the cardinal pillar of democracy, so has the technology become the bedrock of our society.

The first two (freedom of expression/press freedom and Rights To Information (RTI); that is, rights to inform and be informed were a bit realized and guaranteed. At least, they can be found and referenced in the 1999 Nigerian constitution of sections 39 [2] which states, “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference” even though, the struggle is still ongoing as “journalists are harassed, detained, tortured and killed for doing their job” as noted by Amnesty International [3]. Earlier, advanced technologies like the internet and social media were highly praised and still appreciated today for their positive disruption in making democracy work for people, “In 2011, Facebook was hailed as a platform that would bring democracy to the world” as posited by Schiffrin, A. [4]. However, some scholars like Evgeny Moronsove in his book, “The Dark Side of the internet: Net delusion’ warned us against being carried away with the illusion of the internet and technologies as tools for democracy as they can be used against the people by the government and that giving everyone the right to abundant information would result to issues [4] like we are experiencing in the information ecosystem today.

Here we are today, ten years after the forecasts and critiques of some of these scholars, the advent of misinformation disrupts all that has been fought for, proving those cautionary voices right and sending us back to almost ground zero. Presently, we are facing a high increase in information pollution with more mistrust in mainstream media and constant attacks from politicians and citizens. The question is, are the media free from some of the allegations levied against them or not, as distributors of misinformation and instigator of crisis (religion, ethnicity, tribal, political) around the country? Or what do we have to say about the following: the gradual fading of gatekeeping in today’s media production; the compromise of the newsworthiness for the click-worthiness; agenda-setting being more subjective today instead of objective; and the little scrutiny in editorials? These are questions that require rigorous research for proper ways of redefining news production in an information pollution age.

What does it mean to redefine media production in an information pollution age?

Redefining media production simply means being aware of the obstacles of professional journalism in this era, fast and flexible in adaptability [1] and the readiness to battle them for delivering ethical journalism by all means. This is to say that professional journalists and media producers are at war and they need to be fully prepared for that. They are at war with two sets of people: visible and invisible as we observe it.

  • Visible: These sets of people are the dubious individuals and politicians using the media for their gain (power, economic, popularity etc) simply because they are not ecstatic with the narrative of a certain news story that does not conform with their interest. They will simply declare it as ‘fake’.
  • Invisible: These are innocent individuals with no knowledge of why certain news items are and for what purpose. These sets of people are the ones who read and share the headlines without following the link to read the whole story whether they align with each other before they form an opinion on such and the ones who read a rewritten headline or story from malicious sharers that are using faulty headlines for personal gain.

These sets of people are the reason professional journalists and media producers need to tailor their content accordingly for effective and ethical delivery. In realizing this, we recommend paying keen attention to the following; the usage of headlines, online news editors, and gatekeeping.

Headlines as a strong tool of media production

Headlines are powerful tools for news production in this era and remain one of the key tools for circulating misinformation. According to Kuiken et. al. [5] “more and more newspaper articles are consumed on the internet rather than from physical newspapers”. Some scholars stress that headlines are presented with ‘facts and opinions where parts of speech play a seminal role in influencing a reader’s mind’ [6] and allow her/him to discern the overall content of articles to choose the one of interest or that may catch the attention and lure him to open the article to read [7]. Today, almost all mainstream media outlets (television, radio, newspaper) are present on social media and they share their stories with the usage of headlines through links from the website or using captions for breaking news stories.

Functions of headlines

Kuiken et. al. [5] pointed out two distinct functions that are attributed to headlines: one is to summarize the article or highlight the main point of that article and the other is to attract the attention of the readers and provoke them to read the article. A typical example of this is clickbait. Clickbaitis the headline used deliberately which may contain ambiguity to attract the reader to the main article [8]. Kuiken et. al. [5] further identified the following as some of the key features of clickbait headlines;

- “Simplification, spectacularization, negativity, and provoking content” another one noted is stylistic.

- Forward referencing: referring to something that is mentioned in the article. Signal words like “this,” “why” or “what” are used for forward referencing.

- The use of questions has also been linked to clickbait headlines

We have come across a series of headlines on social media that have little or nothing to do with the original article. Media producers need to pay attention to the usage of headlines ethically and avoid ambiguity in them that may result in misinforming the audience (directly or indirectly).

Online News editor

The emergence of new media brought in social media news editors and managers, many of whom do not have a journalism background, not to talk of becoming an editor for news content. If they must be used because of their technical skills, they need to be well trained and paired with experienced editors who are not tech-savvy. This will help in ensuring effective gatekeeping and scrutiny for good journalism and image building for the media outlet, and to serve as a safe place free from information pollution.

Gatekeeping

Gatekeeping is a key aspect of journalism in ensuring and maintaining ethics in media production. This, as we noted earlier, is fading due to the advancement in technologies and media proliferation that place the media tool in the hands of everyone and turn almost everyone to content creators too. Nevertheless, professionals should be able to distinguish themselves and never compromise standards and ethics for anything. Tsfati et. al. [9] noted in their paper:

“Politicians’ opportunities to disseminate disinformation directly to the public bypassing the media’s gatekeeping and their editorial scrutiny, have increased with the rise of social media and the possibilities they afford and with a weakening of ‘factual accountability”.

We would like to reiterate some of the key duties of journalists to be maintained at all costs according to the existing literature;

- Journalists need to keep their role perceptions tightly. An essential part of journalists' professional duties is to look out for or identify stories that are intended to manipulate and disinform. By doing so, journalists need to verify (and correct) the source by all professional means.

- Traditional news values should be strictly adhered to.

- Maintenance of professionalism regardless of the era we find ourselves to redeem the image and gain the trust of our audience.

Conclusion

News production in today’s world has indeed taken another dimension and is greatly affected by the polarization of information disorder. For this, every stakeholder of news production must stay alert in arming themselves with the necessary tool to combat this menace that poses threat to the growth of the journalism profession which is one of the key pillars of democracy. One of these key threats is the decline of trust in institutions to which the media is part of a fourth estate. And one good news according to a study conducted by the authors on news trust and sources of political information in Nigeria and Ghana, we found out that mainstream news media remain the hope of the people for accurate information as many are fully aware of the misleading information on their digital platform [10]. So, they still hold mainstream media as a backup for legitimate information. For this reason, professional journalists and media producers must not fail the public hope and trust in them by reporting ethically no matter the circumstances.

Библиография
1.
Klinenberg, E. (2005). Convergence: News production in a digital age. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 597(1), 48-64.
2.
The Federal Republic of Nigerian constitution (1999). Retrieved from http://www.nigeria-law.org/ ConstitutionOfTheFederalRepublicOfNigeria.htm on 5th April 2021.
3.
Amnesty International (2019). Nigeria: Human Rights Agenda. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/eoir/page/file/1168876/download on 5th April 2021
4.
Schiffrin, A. (2017). Disinformation and democracy: The internet transformed protest but did not improve democracy. Journal of International Affairs, 71(1), 117-126.
5.
Kuiken, J., Schuth, A., Spitters, M., & Marx, M. (2017). Effective headlines of newspaper articles in a digital environment. Digital Journalism, 5(10), 1300-1314.
6.
Roy, A. B., Chen, B., Tiwari, S., & Huang, Z. (2019). A Discussion on Influence of Newspaper Headlines on Social Media. arXiv preprint arXiv:1909.02476.
7.
Ecker, U. K., Lewandowsky, S., Chang, E. P., & Pillai, R. (2014). The effects of subtle misinformation in news headlines. Journal of experimental psychology: applied, 20(4), 323.
8.
Molyneux, L., & Coddington, M. (2020). Aggregation, clickbait and their effect on perceptions of journalistic credibility and quality. Journalism Practice, 14(4), 429
9.
Tsfati, Y., Boomgaarden, H. G., Strömbäck, J., Vliegenthart, R., Damstra, A., & Lindgren, E. (2020). Causes and consequences of mainstream media dissemination of fake news: literature review and synthesis. Annals of the International Communication Association, 44(2), 157-173.
10.
Jamiu, M. M. & Agyei, S. O. (2020). Assessing The Effects of News Media and The Channels For Accessing Political News in West Africa: A Case of Ghana and Nigeria.
References
1.
Klinenberg, E. (2005). Convergence: News production in a digital age. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 597(1), 48-64.
2.
The Federal Republic of Nigerian constitution (1999). Retrieved from http://www.nigeria-law.org/ ConstitutionOfTheFederalRepublicOfNigeria.htm on 5th April 2021.
3.
Amnesty International (2019). Nigeria: Human Rights Agenda. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/eoir/page/file/1168876/download on 5th April 2021
4.
Schiffrin, A. (2017). Disinformation and democracy: The internet transformed protest but did not improve democracy. Journal of International Affairs, 71(1), 117-126.
5.
Kuiken, J., Schuth, A., Spitters, M., & Marx, M. (2017). Effective headlines of newspaper articles in a digital environment. Digital Journalism, 5(10), 1300-1314.
6.
Roy, A. B., Chen, B., Tiwari, S., & Huang, Z. (2019). A Discussion on Influence of Newspaper Headlines on Social Media. arXiv preprint arXiv:1909.02476.
7.
Ecker, U. K., Lewandowsky, S., Chang, E. P., & Pillai, R. (2014). The effects of subtle misinformation in news headlines. Journal of experimental psychology: applied, 20(4), 323.
8.
Molyneux, L., & Coddington, M. (2020). Aggregation, clickbait and their effect on perceptions of journalistic credibility and quality. Journalism Practice, 14(4), 429
9.
Tsfati, Y., Boomgaarden, H. G., Strömbäck, J., Vliegenthart, R., Damstra, A., & Lindgren, E. (2020). Causes and consequences of mainstream media dissemination of fake news: literature review and synthesis. Annals of the International Communication Association, 44(2), 157-173.
10.
Jamiu, M. M. & Agyei, S. O. (2020). Assessing The Effects of News Media and The Channels For Accessing Political News in West Africa: A Case of Ghana and Nigeria.

Результаты процедуры рецензирования статьи

В связи с политикой двойного слепого рецензирования личность рецензента не раскрывается.
Со списком рецензентов издательства можно ознакомиться здесь.

Рецензируемая статья в целом посвящена вопросам современных медиакоммуникаций с акцентом на такие явления, как кликбейт, медиаповестка, производство новостей, дезинформация и др. Автор в своем исследовании развивает такое понятие, как “information pollution” – «медийная нечистоплотность» – лакуна в понятийной картине мира российской школы медиакоммуникаций или медиаисследований. Все вышесказанное, безусловно, обуславливает новизну исследования. Автор подчеркивает, что потенциальные ключевые риски современных коммуникаций связаны со сложностями в формировании повестки посредством новых медиа с высокой степенью вероятности недостоверной информации в медиапространстве и конфликтов в обществе.
В качестве предмета исследования автором заявлена медиаиндустрия Нигерии последних 20 лет. В Африке, особенно в Нигерии, гигантские сдвиги в производстве новостей объясняются возвращением демократии в страну в 1999 году и появлением большого количества частных средств массовой информации. Для нигерийского общества последних 20 лет характерна борьба за качество информации и новостей, предлагаемой посредством медиа, поскольку именно они в совокупности обуславливают основу и опору демократии.
Трудно не согласиться c автором статьи в том, что современные информационно-коммуникационные технологии и медиа настолько тесно взаимосвязаны и стремительно развиваются, что представители медиаиндустрии, компании и корпорации осознают, что в экономические лидеры на мировом рынке выходят те, кто наряду с современными платформами, интернет-разработками использует в том числе и различные технологии воздействия на массовое сознание – кликбейт, медиаповестку с целью извлечения прибыли. По упомянутой причине профессиональные журналисты находятся «в состоянии войны» с медиа менеджерами и эта пропасть только усугубляется.
Научная новизна определяется следующими результатами:
– автором проведен исторический экскурс в изучение вопроса становления медиаиндустрии Нигерии;
– автором вычленены наиболее проблемные «зоны» современных медиа Нигерии («медийная нечистоплотность» в целом, заголовки-кликбейты, навязывание медиаповестки, дезинформация и др.), ведущие к конфликтам в нигерийском обществе и подрыву демократического строя, завоеванного в 1999 г.
Ход исследования, предложенный понятий ряд и выводы автора, безусловно, могут внести вклад в «копилку» российских медиаисследований, а также современную коммуникативистику как смежную область гуманитарного знания.
Несмотря на общее положительное впечатление от прочтения статьи, на взгляд рецензента, присутствуют некоторые замечания (возможно дискуссионного характера):
1. Фразу “this paper looked at how professional news…” целесообразно заменить на “the article examines the way .. или “the article is devoted to some… (aspects)”.
2. В Аннотации или «теле» статьи необходимо четко обозначить цель. “The aim of the research is to…” или “the goal of this article refers to….” .
3. Вызывает вопросы стилистика статьи: она по своему характеру изложения больше напоминает научно-популярную публикацию зарубежного исследователя (на английском языке), а не научную. Методология, очевидно, включила только освещение существующих трудов по заявленной теме без отсылки на отбор и исследование конкретного языкового материала нигерийских медиа. Целесообразно переструктурировать статью в соответствии c общепринятыми нормами в мировой практике научных публикаций, включив следующие подразделы: Introduction, Background, Methodology, Results (Findings), Discussion, Conclusions, References.
Чтение публикации данного исследователя, безусловно, вызовет интерес у российской или зарубежной профессиональной аудитории.
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