© Media Watch 11 (1) 97-118, 2020
ISSN 0976-0911 | E-ISSN 2249-8818
On Bended Knees: Investigative Journalism and Changing Media Culture in Nigeria
Kevin Onyenankeya & Abiodun Salawu
North-West University, South Africa
Nigeria, with one of the most robust and freest media in Africa, provides a fertile ground for unencumbered investigative journalism. In the last five years, except for episodic exclusives in one or two newspapers, investigative stories have waned. Why are Nigerian newspapers not engaging in investigative reporting, and what implication does this hold for the watchdog role of the press? This article examined the challenges facing investigative journalism using theoretical and empirically proven studies on variables that decrease journalistic autonomy. Twenty-five structured interviews involving journalists, journalism teachers, and civil society activists were conducted in Lagos and Abuja. The two cities are where media are mostly produced and consumed, where tensions and struggles for control of information, communication, political thoughts, and social discourses take place and, where there exist, but largely unreported, massive political malfeasance, rampant sleaze and pervasive pillage of the Nigerian commonwealth. Findings show that investigative journalism is bogged by a welter of socio-cultural and economic factors as well as professional deficits. The ownership of newspapers by politically exposed individuals and near-zero protection for journalists have worked to restrict investigative journalism. These tendencies tend to imperil the watchdog role of the press.
Keywords: Investigative journalism, journalistic autonomy, media culture, Nigerian press, social responsibility, transformation
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Kevin Onyenankeya (Ph.D., University of Fort Hare, South Africa, 2017) is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Communication Department at University of Fort Hare, South Africa. He specializes in the fields of health journalism, indigenous language media, media and cultural studies (representations and cultural transmission).
Abiodun Salawu (Ph.D., University of Ibadan, Nigeria, 2001) is a Professor of Journalism and Director of Indigenous Language Media in Africa Research Entity at North-West University, South Africa. His areas of research interest include indigenous language media, development communication, critical media studies, communication research, and digital media.