JOURNALISTS’ PERCEPTION OF CONFLICT REPORTING IN NIGERIA
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1.1 Background to the Study
Perception occurs when we compare our experiences of the world in which we live with what our sense organs receive in the form of physical stimulation. It is almost as if they are two different worlds entirely. Psychologists call these sensation and perception respectively. While sensation is the experience that physical stimuli elicit in the sense organ, perception deals with organization of the external world. According to Burgoon and Ruffner, (1978, p. 104) “perception is the process of making sense out of experience”. “It is how that individual makes sense of his/her world”. (Corner and Hawthorn 1980, p.21). Perception depends on a complex of variables such as physiological disposition, past and present experiences, cultural expectations and social relationship.Conflict Reporting
Lahlry, (1991, p. 101) defines perception “as the process by which we interpret sensory data”. Sensory data, he stated, comes to us through our five senses which include the visual, tactile, olfactory, gustatory and auditory. Perception varies from person to person. Different people perceive different things about the environments they live in.
In human information processing, perception involves the transformation of messages, data, cues, or signals, into a form that is usable. This process is a dynamic one which involves the selective stages of exposure, attention, perception and retention as well as interpretation of these activities which are directly related to the natural human endowment and ability to make choices.Conflict Reporting
At every moment in our lives, we are surrounded in our environment by natural or artificial stimuli which vary from persons, objects, events, dreams, and circumstances. It is only natural that people seek information that agrees with their own interest, confirms their beliefs and boosts their own ego, while avoiding those that are contrary to their own pre-dispositions and attack their self-images. Since the eye processes information much faster than the brain can interpret, the human brain has to select which information to pay attention to at a given time, in order to avoid confusion.Conflict Reporting
Psychological impairment or needs, such as bad eyesight, hunger, physical hardship such as heat in a crowded lecture room, boredom from fatigue, hostile orientation towards information sources, assumed familiarity with message content can affect the span of attention during lectures, media programs, reading of newspaper, etc.
The study of perception actually led to the discovery of the selectivity process. Each person tends to perceive and then decode communication messages in the light of our past experiences and recent ones, based on our needs, moods and memories.Conflict Reporting
The language we speak and words we use also tend to circumscribe our perception. De- Fleur and Rockeach in Folalarin (1998,p.64) recalls how scientists for a long time considered the atom indivisible because the Greek word “atom” means “indivisible”. They also recall how malaria remains uncontrollable for a long time because doctors believed it was caused by the “bad air” from Italian “mala aria”. Folarin (1998,p.64) states that “perception is the complex process by which people select, organize and interpret sensory stimulations into meaningful and coherent pictures of the world”. Bennet, Hoffman and Prakash (1987,p.3) state that “perception is notably active. It involves learning, updating perspective and interacting with the observed”. Scott (1994,p.270) states that “seeing is a learned behaviour that involves making influences”Conflict Reporting
Conflict: This is a situation in which two or more individuals, groups or parties have different goal, but must work together in order to achieve the goals. For Modo, and Ekpa, (2006,p.3) “conflict arises out of incompatibility of interest, while peace may be taken as a condition of harmony of interest”. There are many types of conflicts, occupational conflict etc. Akpan and Galadima (2003, p.63).Conflict Reporting
Besides, conflict is almost always analyzed from the perspective of religion, economic, history sociology, psychology, law and political science etc. conflict is analyzed from different ideological persuasions. Galtung (1982, p.112) sees “conflict as a condition in the society”. Accounting to him, an action is said to be in conflict if the system has two or more incompatible goals. Coser (1967,p.61) views “conflict as a process and therefore regarded it as a strange over values and claims to scare status, power and resources in which the aim of the opponent are to neutralized, injure or eliminate their values”Conflict Reporting
Lockwood (1956,p.134) emphasize that there are mechanism in the societies that makes conflict inevitable and inexorable. For instance, power differential means that some groups would exploit, oppress and marginalize other and in the process constitute a built in source of tension and conflict in the social system. The existence of scarce resources in the societies would generate fights and conflicts over the distribution of these resources which makes news for journalists to cover. Since different interest groups in societies pursue different goals and compete with each other, it is enough for conflicts to occur.Conflict Reporting
1.2 Statement of the Problem
In a world as dynamic as ours, conflict is certainly inevitable. The media over the years have devoted much attention to reporting conflict in various parts of the world. In fact, some people assume that the media thrive on conflict reporting.Conflict Reporting
However, the perception of the men and women who risk their lives to bring us the account of various conflict situations are hardly known. For example, do they perceive their reporting of the various conflict situations as fair and balance? Since it unclear how journalists who report and write about conflicts in the society regards conflicts, the question this study seeks to address is: what is Nigerian journalist’s perception of reported conflicts like.