THE ROLE OF THE MASS MEDIA IN PROMOTING ANTI-CORRUPTION CAMPAIGNS

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INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background of the Study

Mass media provide information for people at large so that there is acceptance of an idea to create interest. Mass media have come to occupy the position of eminence in the world today as it constitutes the nexus that controls the over-all socio-economic and political Development of every society. Without the media which, according to Okunna (2000), maintain constant flow of vital information for economic growth, national development is bound to be stagnated or at best be retarded.Owolabi (2008) also corroborated this position, adding that progressive policies and decisions are made on the basis of the quality of available information at ones disposal. To policy makers, information and knowledge about the desires of the people are the basic ingredient they need to respond to the opportunities and challenges in their economic and political domain.

Media reporting on corruption can play an important role in pressurizing the government to act in the public interest. By drawing the attention to behavior that is generally perceived as acceptable and exposing such behavior as corrupt, media can raise public awareness; activate anticorruption values; and generate outside pressure from the public against corruption, (Rose-Ackerman, (1999)).The impact of media reporting on corruption can be “tangible” and “intangible”, (Stapenhurst (2000)). It is tangible when some sort of visible outcome can be attributed to a particular news story or series of stories—for instance, the launching of investigation by authorities, the scrapping of a law or policy promoting opportunities for corruption, the impeachment or forced resignation of a crooked politician, the firing of an official, the launching of judicial proceedings, the issuing of public recommendations by a watchdog body, and so on.   It is intangible when checks on corruption arise from the broader social climate of enhanced political pluralism, enlivened public debate and a heightened sense of accountability among politicians, public bodies and institutions that are inevitably the by-product of a hard-hitting, independent news media. How well media can perform the role of a watchdog on corruption, however, depends on a number of factors defined by the political, economic and legal environment in which media operate: media freedom of expression, access to information, ownership, competition, credibility and outreach are some of the key factors that have been identified as affecting the quality and effectiveness of media performance on corruption (Suphachalasai, 2005),

Media can play an important public accountability role by monitoring and investigating the actions of those who are granted public trust and who may be tempted to abuse their office for private gain, (Eigen, 1999). (Stapenhurst, 2000) provides a useful list of tangible and intangible effects that aggressive and independent journalism can have on corruption. This list provides a useful tool to assess the role and effectiveness of media as an instrument of public accountability, which will be used throughout this paper. Tangible effects are those that can be readily attributed to a particular news story or series of news stories. For example, the launching of investigations by the parliament or other authorities into allegations of corruption, the censure, impeachment, or forced resignation of corrupt officers, the firing of public officers, the launching of judicial proceedings, the issuing of public recommendations by a watchdog body, the scrapping of a law or policy that creates an environment conducive or even contributing to corruption.

THE ROLE OF THE MASS MEDIA IN PROMOTING ANTI-CORRUPTION CAMPAIGNS