PRINT MEDIA COVERAGE OF EBOLA VIRUS DISEASE IN NIGERIA: A STUDY OF THE NATIONS, DAILY SUN, AND THE DAILY TRUST NEWSPAPERS

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ABSTRACT

This paper focuses on the print media coverage of the 2014 Ebola Virus Disease which has ravaged parts of West Africa: Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and particularly Nigeria; to this end, content analysis was conducted using three Nigerian’s newspapers; The Nation, Daily Sun and the Daily Trust newspapers. Although the disease found its way into Nigeria through the Late Patrick Sawyer, Nigerian authorities quickly arrested the situation, for which they are getting well deserved commendations across the globe. The study derives its theoretical relevance from the agenda setting and development media theory which says that even though the media may not succeed in telling people what to think, they are stunningly successful in telling people what to think about. On the other hand the development theory assumes that the media must accept and carry out positive development tasks in line with national established policy and as reliable tools that can be used to champion social, economic, political, educational and cultural development. Information and perspectives were obtained from books, newspapers and journals. Interestingly, the research found a high success rate of communication efforts as it concerns the Ebola scourge. The paper recommends among others that the print media should give more coverage of other health issues since there are other silent killers which have attracted global attention like HIV-AIDS, Cancer, influenzas etc, The government should provide an enabling environment for media to perform and the immortalization of Late Dr. Stella Adadevoh for her sacrifice while ensuring that the war against Ebola is sustained through a further enhancement of public enlightenment.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title Page
Table of Contents
List of Tables
Abstract

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1       Background of the Study
1.2       Statement of the Problem
1.3       Objectives of the Study
1.4       Research Questions
1.5       Significance of the Study
1.6       Scope of the Study
1.7       Definition of Terms
            References

CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW
2.0 Focus of Review
2.1.1 The Ebola virus disease: Conceptual Clarifications
2.1.2 Recent 2014 outbreak in West Africa
2.1.3 Nigeria’s Experience with Ebola virus
2.1.4 Ebola virus disease: Effects and Implications
2.1.5 Government Response to Ebola virus disease in Nigeria
2.1.6 Media coverage of Ebola virus disease in Nigeria
2.1.7 Empirical review of Health issues
2.2 Theoretical framework
2.2.1 Agenda-Setting Theory
2.2.2 Development Media Theory
References

CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH METHODLOGY
3.1 Research Design
3.2 Population of the Study
3.3 Sample Size
3.4 Sampling Techniques
3.5 Measuring Instrument for Data Collection
3.6 Techniques for Data Analysis
3.7 Coding Method
3.8 Inter Coder Reliability
3.9 Reliability/Validity
3.10 Data Collection Procedure
References

CHAPTER FOUR: DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS
4.1 Description of the Sample
4.2 Discussion and Interpretation of Result
4.2.1 Research Question One

CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
5.1 Summary
5.2 Conclusions
5.3 Recommendations
      References
      APPENDIX

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
1.1  Background of the Study
In March 2014, the World Health Organization was notified of an outbreak of a communicable disease that had occurred before in 1979 and has reoccurred in 2014. Following the notification, WHO declared the epidemic to be an international public health emergency WHO (2014). Of all the human afflictions ever experienced, the greatest toll has been exacted by the deadly Ebola outbreak, BBC news (2014). The entire West African sub-region had been on alert following the outbreak of what has come to be known as the largest Ebola epidemic in history.
 The sojourn of ebola virus disease in Nigeria was accompanied by misinformation and fear of death that led to bizarre practices by the people in a hope of preventing the disease. The Nigerian news media reported the first case of Ebola virus disease in Nigeria on Thursday 25 July 2014. It was brought into the country by a Liberian American who flew from Liberia to Lagos on July 20, 2014. The man Patrick Sawyer became violently ill upon arriving at the airport and died five days later. People stopped shaking hands as a means of greeting in public gatherings involving large crowds such as Church conventions, revivals etc. The format for taking the Holy Communion in churches equally changed. People stopped sharing personal items such as towels, toothbrushes, cups, cutlery and hankies. Healthcare providers became reluctant or altogether stopped attending to patients with symptoms of fever and other suspected Ebola-like signs and symptoms. Some persons were going about permanently wearing hand gloves and face masks and they have stopped permanently anything that could possibly serve as a mode of transmission for the deadly virus. Hand washing with soap and water and the use of hand sanitizer became the rule and everyone went about carrying one. Some intimate activities seems to have reduced, the tendency to indulge in intimate conduct like hugging, kissing or sexual intercourse reduced significantly on the argument that the Ebola virus could be spread through bodily fluids including semen and sweats, saliva and other secretions.
 In addition to the above effect of the crises, the killing and consumption of suya, bush meat and other suspect delicacies reduced drastically and virtually stopped in some countries. Transportation of corpses across international borders required clearance by the FMOH, while carrying of corpses across state borders was restricted. Also, burial of corpses anywhere in the country required a mandatory death certificate. The date of resumption of schools from the long holidays was shifted twice, while a Nigerian football team was barred from participating in an international competition that took place in China WHO (2014). It was reported by Sun newspaper, in its September 13, 2014 edition that an ugly message was sent across instructing people to bath and drink salt water as preventive measures of EVD. It was reported that a lot of people died as a result of too much salt intake in their body system and the same goes to the report of the use of bitter kola as an antidote. There were several Ebola cure claims ranging from consumption of bitter kola to ewedu and salt water. Nigeria’s request for the experimental Ebola drug ZMapp was turned down by the United States, also Nano Silver that was sent to the country from the United States was refused and dropped by the Lagos state government who declared its resolve not to use any drug other than the American ZMAPP, for fears that Nano silver maybe a curse not a cure. Daily trust (2014).
The media have the power to direct our attention towards certain issues; they can do this by setting agenda through repetition of health crisis reports. According to Cohen (1963), the media may not be successful in telling their readers what to think, but are stunningly successful in telling their readers what to think about. Considering the power of the media to give prominence on an issue, the awareness of the people about things around them can be reactivated by the media.
The media’s role in the Ebola virus crisis has not been exactly unique at the first notice of Ebola virus in 1979. Most of the media long ignored the growth of the epidemic, seeing it as a problem involving only other African countries. However, the 2014 ebola virus' attack on West Africa this year has been the worst ever recorded.  News about the disease lately gained prominence globally when the media recorded alarming death rates. The news spread very quickly and was accompanied by rumors and disinformation, much of which created panic and struck fear in people (Sophia, 2014).......

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