Advertisement

Brown Envelope Journalism: The Contradiction Between Ethical Mindset and Unethical Practice

  • Terje Skjerdal
Chapter

Abstract

Using the case of brown envelope journalism (informal gratitude offered to journalists), this chapter discusses the discrepancy between theory and practice in African journalism ethics. The chapter offers a synthesis of research conducted on journalistic bribery in sub-Saharan Africa since around 2005. Two major interpretations are identified: the professionalist approach, which focuses on causes and remedies of brown envelope journalism; and the culturalist approach, which focuses on brown envelope journalism as cultural practice. The chapter criticizes both approaches for tending to downplay the distinction between journalistic practice, which often can be unethical, and the journalistic mindset, which typically testifies to positive ethical awareness. The chapter also presents recent research results from Ethiopia, where young reporters with short professional experience are found to be most likely to say that they will accept money from sources, with an overrepresentation of male journalists and reporters in the private media in this respect.

Notes

Acknowledgement

The part dealing with quantitative research among Ethiopian journalists received funding through the central office of the Worlds of Journalism Study and LMU Munich.

References

  1. Adeyemi, Aderogba. 2013. Nigerian Media and Corrupt Practices: The Need for Paradigm Shift. European Scientific Journal 9 (1): 119–136.Google Scholar
  2. Adio, Wazziri. 2001. Survival Gratification, Sensationalism and Nigerian Journalism. In Handbook on Journalism Ethics: African Case Studies, ed. Chudi Ukpabi, 139–146. Windhoek: The Media Institute for Southern Africa.Google Scholar
  3. African Communication Research. 2010. Theme Issue: Bribery and Corruption in African Journalism. African Communication Research 3(3). http://ccms.ukzn.ac.za/files/articles/ACR/Bribery%20and%20corruption%20in%20African%20journalism.pdf
  4. AMB. 2010. AMB (African Media Barometer), Ethiopia. Media Institute of Southern Africa. http://www.fesmedia-africa.org/uploads/media/AMB_Ethiopia_2010_web.pdf
  5. ———. 2011. AMB (African Media Barometer), Zambia. Media Institute of Southern Africa. http://www.fesmedia-africa.org/uploads/media/AMB_Zambia_2011_01.pdf
  6. ———. 2013. AMB (African Media Barometer), South Africa. Media Institute of Southern Africa. http://www.misa.org/programme/mediamonitoring/AMB%20SA%202010.pdf
  7. Atenga, Thomas. 2014. Communication et journalisme au Cameroun: ‘affaires’ de lucidités croisées. Les Cahiers du journalisme 26: 36–55.Google Scholar
  8. Bamiro, Edmund O. 1997. Lexical Innovation in Ghanaian English: Some Examples from Recent Fiction. American Speech 72 (1): 105–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bekele, Daniel. 2008. The Essence of Accountability and Examination of Ethiopian Television Newsroom. MA thesis, Addis Ababa University.Google Scholar
  10. Berger, Guy. 2002. Theorizing the Media–Democracy Relationship in Southern Africa. International Communication Gazette 64 (1): 21–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Corruption and Journalism in Ethiopia. 2016, March 29. News article, Diretube. http://www.diretube.com/articles/corruption-and-journalism-in-ethiopia_12058.html
  12. Duncan, Jane. 2011. The ANC’s Poverty of Strategy on Media Accountability. Ecquid Novi: African Journalism Studies 32 (1): 90–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ekeanyanwu, Nnamdi T., and Nkechi O. Obianigwe. 2009. Perception of Lagosbased Journalists on Brown Envelope Syndrome (BES) in the Coverage of News Events in Nigeria. International Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities Review 1 (1): 204–220.Google Scholar
  14. ———. 2012. The Nigerian Press, Brown Envelope Syndrome (BES) and Media Professionalism: The Missing Link. Journalism and Mass Communication 2 (4): 514–529.Google Scholar
  15. Eshetu, Wolelaw. 2012. Journalistic Ethics in the Newsroom: The Case of the Amhara Mass Media Agency. MA thesis, Addis Ababa University.Google Scholar
  16. Frère, Marie-Soleil. 2007. The Media and Conflicts in Central Africa. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers.Google Scholar
  17. ———. 2015. Media as Watchdogs and Election Monitors in Fragile States. In Communication and Peace: Mapping an Emerging Field, ed. Julia Hoffmann and Virgil Hawkins, 247–261. Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Gokah, Theophilus K., Percival K. Dzokoto, and Esinath E. Ndiweni. 2009. Brown Envelope Journalism, Policing the Policeman, Conflict of Interest and (Media) Corporate Governance: The Case of Ghana. International Journal of Disclosure and Governance 6 (2): 167–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gondwe, Gregory. 2014. Reclaiming Media Credibility: Examining the Efficacy of Virtue Ethics in the Zambian Media. MA thesis, University of Oregon.Google Scholar
  20. Hasty, Jennifer. 2005. Sympathetic Magic/Contagious Corruption: Sociality, Democracy, and the Press in Ghana. Public Culture 17 (3): 339–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Helander, Elisabet. 2010. A Critical View of the Kenyan Media System Through the Perspective of the Journalists. African Communication Research 3 (3): 521–541.Google Scholar
  22. Hydén, Göran. 1980. Beyond Ujamaa in Tanzania: Underdevelopment and an Uncaptured Peasantry. London: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  23. Joseph, Natasha. 2012. What’s Rotten in the State of South African Journalism. Rhodes Journalism Review 32: 11.Google Scholar
  24. Kasoma, Francis. 2000. The Press and Multiparty Democracy in Africa. PhD dissertation, University of Tampere.Google Scholar
  25. Kasoma, Twange. 2007. Brown Envelope Journalism and Professionalism in Development Reporting: A Comparison of Zambia and Ghana. PhD dissertation, University of Oregon.Google Scholar
  26. ———. 2009. Development Reporting as a Crumbling Tower? Impact of Brown Envelope Journalism on Journalistic Practice in Zambia and Ghana. Global Media Journal—African Edition 3(1). http://reference.sabinet.co.za/webx/access/electronic_journals/glomed_africa/glomed_africa_v3_n1_a2.pdf
  27. Kothari, Ammina. 2015. The Ethics of Keeping HIV/AIDS Newsworthy in Tanzania. Journalism Practice 9 (2): 200–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kundum, Peter W. 2013. Rising Cases of Corruption in Nigeria’s Journalism Practice. Report. Center for International Media Ethics.Google Scholar
  29. Lando, Agnes Lucy. 2013. Ethics in the Kenyan Media? Understanding the Disconnect Between the Classroom and Practice. African Journal of Communication 1 (1): 15–42.Google Scholar
  30. Lodamo, Berhanu, and Terje Skjerdal. 2009. Freebies and Brown Envelopes in Ethiopian Journalism. Ecquid Novi—African Journalism Studies 30 (2): 134–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mabweazara, Hayes M. 2010. When Your ‘Take-Home’ Can Hardly Take You Home: Moonlighting and the Quest for Economic Survival in the Zimbabwean Press. African Communication Research 3 (3): 431–450.Google Scholar
  32. ———. 2011. Newsmaking Practices and Professionalism in the Zimbabwean Press. Journalism Practice 5 (1): 100–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Manda, Levi Z., and Noel D. Kufaine. 2013. Starving the Messenger: A Study of Journalists’ Conditions of Service in Malawi. Journal of Development and Communication Studies 2 (2–3): 301–311.Google Scholar
  34. Mang’anda, Grey. 2012. Newspaper Editors’ Perception of the Solicitation and Acceptance of Cash and Gifts in Exchange for News Coverage by Journalists in Malawi. Report, Center for International Media Ethics.Google Scholar
  35. Mayiga, John Bosco. 2011. The Scourge of the Brown Envelope in Ugandan Journalism: Some Theoretical Reflections. Uganda Media Review 11: 9–12.Google Scholar
  36. Mfumbusa, Bernadin F. 2008. Newsroom Ethics in Africa: Quest for a Normative Framework. African Communication Research 1 (2): 139–158.Google Scholar
  37. Mpagaze, Denis. 2011. My Family Forces Me to Take Bribe: A Reflection of ‘Economy of Affection’ Among Tanzanian Journalists. Paper presented at the East African Communication Association’s Annual Conference, Nairobi, Kenya, 7–9 September.Google Scholar
  38. Munene, Macharia. 2008. The Media, Ethics and National Interest. Journal of Language, Technology & Entrepreneurship in Africa 1 (1): 151–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mwesige, Peter G. 2004. Disseminators, Advocates and Watchdogs: A Profile of Ugandan Journalists in the New Millennium. Journalism 5 (1): 69–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Ndangam, Lilian N. 2006. Gombo: Bribery and the Corruption of Journalism Ethics in Cameroon. Ecquid Novi 27 (2): 179–199.Google Scholar
  41. Ndangam, Lilian. 2009. All of Us Have Taken Gombo: Media Pluralism and Patronage in Cameroonian Journalism. Journalism 10 (6): 819–842.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Nwabueze, Chinenye. 2010. Brown Envelopes and the Need for Ethical Reorientation: Perceptions of Nigerian Journalists. African Communication Research 3 (3): 497–521.Google Scholar
  43. Okoro, Nnanyelugo, and Blessing Chinweobo-Onuoha. 2013. Journalists’ Perception of Brown Envelope Syndrome and Its Implications for Journalism Practice in Nigeria. Covenant Journal of Communication 1 (2): 130–144.Google Scholar
  44. Olana, Birhanu. 2010. Bribery Journalism in Ethiopia: Manifestations and Factors. African Communication Research 3 (3): 475–496.Google Scholar
  45. Omanga, Dan Mainye. 2015. Brown Envelope Journalism and African Ethics. Daily Nation, May 28. http://www.nation.co.ke/oped/Opinion/Brown-envelope-journalism-and-African-ethics/-/440808/2732874/-/nb3409z/-/index.html
  46. Omenugha, Kate Azuka, and Majority Oji. 2008. News Commercialization, Ethics and Objectivity in Journalism in Nigeria: Strange Bedfellows? Estudos em Comunicação 3: 13–28.Google Scholar
  47. Pype, Katrien. 2013. Reciprocity and Risk in the Work and Lives of Kinshasa’s TV Journalists. Journal of African Cultural Studies 25 (1): 57–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Ristow, Bill. 2010. Cash for Coverage: Bribery of Journalists Around the World. Report, Center for International Media Assistance.Google Scholar
  49. Ross, Keith. 2010. Stamp Out Chequebook Journalism. Daily News (South Africa), July 8.Google Scholar
  50. Skjerdal, Terje. 2010. Research on Brown Envelope Journalism in the African Media. African Communication Research 3 (3): 367–406.Google Scholar
  51. ———. 2011a. Brown Envelopes and Professional Paradoxes in African Journalism. In Media in Africa: Twenty Years After the Windhoek Declaration on Press Freedom, ed. Guy Berger, 137–138. Windhoek: Media Institute of Southern Africa.Google Scholar
  52. ———. 2011b. Teaching Journalism or Teaching African Journalism? Experiences from Foreign Involvement in a Journalism Programme in Ethiopia. Global Media Journal: African Edition 5 (1): 24–51.Google Scholar
  53. Uko, Ndaeyo. 2004. Romancing the Gun. The Press as a Promoter of Military Rule. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.Google Scholar
  54. Waisbord, Silvio. 2015. Remaking ‘Area Studies’ in Journalism Studies. African Journalism Studies 36 (1): 30–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wasserman, Herman. 2008. Media Ethics and Human Dignity in the Postcolony. In Media Ethics Beyond Borders, ed. Stephen J.A. Ward and Herman Wasserman, 74–89. Johannesburg: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  56. Wasserman, Edward. 2009. Conflict of Interest Enters a New Age. In The Handbook of Mass Media Ethics, ed. Wilkins Lee and Clifford G. Christians, 229–241. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Terje Skjerdal
    • 1
  1. 1.NLA University CollegeKristiansandNorway

Personalised recommendations