PRESS COVERAGE OF INSECURITY IN NIGERIA: A STUDY OF VANGUARD AND SUN NEWS PAPERS

ABSTRACT
This study analyses the coverage of insecurity by Sun news and Vanguard newspapers and examines its implications for conflict sensitive journalism in Nigeria. The objectives are to determine the consistency of the newspapers’ coverage of insecurity with conflict-sensitive journalism and the framing of identity and motive of Boko Haram. The study also examines the treatment recommendations offered by the newspapers and the areas of salient emphasis. The study combines content analysis and in-depth interview methods to obtain relevant data. Framing theory was adopted. Findings reveal that Nigerian journalists are not fully adopting conflict-sensitive journalism in their reportage. It also shows that the identity of Boko Haram is Islamist sect with the motive of establishing an Islamic state. It indicates that the major solution is fighting the insurgents and the perceived risk is the collapse of the economy. The study concludes that the coverage of Boko Haram by the Nigerian newspapers is sensational, war-inclined and falls short of the solution-driven approaches encouraged in conflict-sensitive journalism. The study recommends that Nigerian journalists should increase their knowledge of the conflict-sensitive journalism so that they can make important contributions in finding solutions to the problem of Boko Haram insurgency.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
1.1Background to the Study
Ever since the inception of democracy in Nigeria, people have been expressing divergent views on its benefits. To some, it is a threat to the security of their lives and property, while those that are key participants in the polity recognize it as suitable for the country. Knowing the importance of peace for the citizens, studies on insurgency have attracted experts’ attention whose literature has been of help to policy makers both governmental and nongovernmental to strategize plans against Boko Haram. Notwithstanding the universality of terrorists’ activities in many parts of the world, to Nigerians, Boko Haram’s bomb attacks are the first of its kind, therefore becoming difficult to tackle.

In the words of Ojo (2011) commenting on the Nigeria’s security challenges in this democratic setting, the greatest security challenge facing President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration is the imposing impunity of terrorist activities of the Boko Haram, an Islamic fundamentalists based in Northern Nigeria. It is on record that between January 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011 alone Nigeria witnessed over fifty cases of bomb blasts across the country with a casualty figure of over 800 people dead and many injured. In addition, millions of Naira and properties were destroyed. It was also revealed that there are foreign militias from Somalia, Chad, Sudan and other Islamic countries in Borno state. From 2010 to 2015, the casualties of Boko Haram’s attacks are too many to be counted but can be estimated in thousands.

According to President Goodluck Jonathan, while commenting on the Boko Haram challenges, “the emerging dimension of threat to national security that is rearing its horrible head in our nation must be confronted headfirst and defeated. The spate of violent crimes in parts of the country including kidnapping, armed robbery, assassinations etc. are contemporary security challenges facing our nation” (Soriwei and Fidelis, 2010:11).

The study’s main focus is on the coverage of insecurity by selected Nigerian newspapers through content analysis. In an attempt to get more information, qualitative approach through in-depth interview was employed with four journalists from each sampled newspaper.

Violence continued to increase, and by 2013 some Nigerians as reported by the press began to see greater influence of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Boko Haram operations. Insurgents acts against civilians, like the murder of sixty-five students while they slept at the agricultural college in Yobe state in September 2013, chainsaw beheadings of truck drivers and the killing of hundreds on the roads of northern Nigeria were reported by Nigerian press. After sometimes, bloodshed returned to Abuja in April 2014 in the bombing of a bus station that killed virtually one hundred people, followed by the kidnap of more than two hundred Chibok schoolgirls in northern Nigeria.

However, Nigeria assembled a Joint Task Force (JTF) of military and police units to combat Boko Haram and declared a state of emergency in three northeast states Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa in May 2013. The move pushed the militants out of cities, but attacks in rural areas continued. The JTF, augmented by vigilantes who were folded into publicly endorsed Civilian JTF units, have factored in massive killings of militants and civilians, which may have rendered support for the insurgents (Shehu, 2014).

Boko Haram identity is vague because its members are not necessarily the followers of Salafi doctrine. To some, they are non-muslims under the pay role of Jews to indict Islam as their operations go against the Islamic teachings (Shehu, 2014). To others, it is an extension of Muhammed Marwa’s people (Maitatsine). Many foot soldiers are drawn from impoverished, religiously uneducated youth. According to Jacob Zenn cited in Alysergie and Johnson (2014) an analyst on African affairs at the Jamestown Foundation, some fighters claim to have been trained in Iran and are part of a Shiite Muslim group. The intricacies surrounding the Boko Haram necessitate this research on how the media frame their identity, motives, perceived risks and recommended solutions in Nigeria.

1.2 Statement of the Research Problem
History has shown that the media can incite people towards violence. It is on record that Adolf Hitler used the media to create hatred for Jewsduring the Second World War (Jimoh and Danladi, 2012). However, with the information dissemination role of the media, Boko Haram became a known sect in Nigeria after the killing of their leader during the tenure of the then president of Nigeria, late Umaru Musa Yaradua in 2009. This has made it significant to some writers in Nigeria and abroad to come up with literature explaining the events in their judgments and proffering solutions to the problem. Notwithstanding the literature on insurgency, attempt has not been made to investigate newspapers’ framing of the identity, motive, perceived risks and recommended solutions of Boko Haram from the view point of conflict-sensitive journalism which the reseacher is set out to examine.

Ozohu-Suleiman (2013) has noted that the concerns follow media’s antisocial record of inciting and encouraging conflicts i.e. the discontent of war journalism did not end with only suppositional prescription of a shift to peace journalism. Researchers and experienced journalists have spent time suggesting how the media might shift from war to peace in covering conflicts. Key contributors in this regard include Galtung (1998), McGoldrick and Lynch (2000), Howard (2003), Kempt (2003) and El-Nawawy and Powers (2008).

Similarly, a one time president of America (Thomas Jefferson) briefly shows the power of the newspapers on people’s perception about issues “Were it left for me to decide whether we should have a government without newspaper or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate for a moment to prefer the latter.” The above classical statement by Jefferson situates the print media in the society as a leading vehicle to give light in perceiving issues. Being the oldest in the mass media category, newspapers exert some influence in the society that people look on to them not only for the news of the day, but informed opinions on topical issues (Aneato, 2009).

Also, Ibrahim (2012) has noted that Nigeria as a country has suffered a lot from numerous ethnoreligious crisis since independence. Most times the coverage of such crises by the Nigerian press has been described as partisan and further promotes the polarization of the country along regional lines as well as unethical reporting. However, the framing of Boko Haram is not free from this allegation that the southern newspapers may give weight to war journalism while the northern papers may prioritize peace journalism depending on their clients’ vulnerability to the current Boko Haram insurgency.

A study conducted in 2014 suggests further studies on newspaper reportage of terrorism and its influence on people perception about the whole issue of terrorism in Nigeria, such studies should focus on greater numbers of newspapers in the country with a nationalistic outlook (Idowu, 2014). This study draws you the suggestion above to analyze the coverage of Boko Haram by the newspapers and examine its implications on conflict-sensitive journalism. Ozohu-Suleiman (2013) has noted that the influence of mass media in national and international security policies is growing thus necessitating studies on how the media respond to conflict situations.

Many researches suggest that media is capable of inflaming or mitigating conflicts depending on the way they report it (Ozohu, 2013; Nacos, 2007; Hoffman, 2006; McQuail 1987; Wilkinson, 2000). For this reason, there is a shifting interest towards conflict-sensitive journalism, whereby the media are expected to give voice to all parties, focus on invisible effects of conflicts and be truth oriented, people oriented as well as solution oriented.

1.3 Aim and Objectives
The aim of the study is to establish how conflict-sensitive Sun news and Vanguard newspapers have been in framing the identity, motive, perceived risks and recommended solutions of insecurity.The specific objectives are:

1. To examine the consistency of newspapers’ coverage of insecurity with conflictsensitive journalism.

2. To determine the newspapers’ framing of the identity and motive of Boko Haram.

3. To find out the areas of salient emphasis on perceived risks of Boko Haram insurgency in the newspapers’ reportage.

4. To identify the predominant solutions offered in the newspapers’ reportage of Boko Haram.

1.4 Research Questions
For the purpose of achieving the set objectives, four research questions were raised for the study as:

1. How consistent is the reportage of insecurity by the Nigerian newspapers with conflict-sensitive journalism?

2. How is the identity and motive of the Boko Haram insurgents portrayed in the newspapers’ reportage?

3. What are the areas of risk emphasis in the newspapers’ reportage of Boko Haram insurgency? 4. What are the predominant solutions offered in the newspapers’ reportage of the Boko Haram insurgency?

1.5 Significance of the Study
The study can be justified by the growing challenges and threats posed by the insurgents in the national and international scene and the interest of the vulnerable and the insurgents to read newspapers for their information. In the words of Yusha’u (2010:1) commenting on the importance of the newspapers in resolving issues of public concern, “it is imperative to note that some of the key players in the first republic like Dr Nnamdi Azikwe and Chief Obefemi Awolowo were newspaper publishers”. This according to Agbaje (1993:459) “meant that the press had become inextricably linked with the emerging pattern of political rivalries often couched in geo-ethnic terms.” Cognizant of the above fact, studying newspapers in the context of rivalries which Boko Haram movement is one of, will help in proffering solutions to the problem.

The mass media constitute a unique social institution. This is in the sense of its dual character. It is both a business, increasingly being subjected to the fundamental logic of commerce and the market, and an ideological institution providing the dominant symbolic and discourse environment through which we make sense of the world we live in, the mass media are at the heart of social and political power (Blumler, 1990 cited in Oso, 2011). In this sense those who are interested and involved in the struggle for power; hidden persuaders; other advocates and interest-claimants see the mass media as a strategic resource. The framing and agenda-setting power of the media is of concern to them because “control over the definition of a problem is a major stake in the policy process” (Cobb and Elder, 1981: 400 cited in Oso, 2011).

Government and the media organizations can use the data generated from the study to plan for the containment of the spread of the insurgency. In addition, the study will serve as a guide to future researchers in the area of insurgency and its results can supply vital information to the policy makers in Nigeria and Diaspora to strategize their mission of peace-making in African countries and the globe.

On investigating the perception of adults in relations to the integrative contribution of mass media in Nigeria on security challenges, Amienyi (1990) asks the adults to indicate how helpful they thought radio, television; newspapers and magazines were to the creation and sustenance of national integration in Nigeria. He finds a high percentage of respondents (80%) perceiving radio and television as being very helpful to national unity and integration. However, newspapers being the pioneer of information dissemination from the inception of Nigeria before the electronic media, its help to the sustenance of Nigeria cannot be underestimated. National integration can be achieved when the media contribute to the attainment of peace through the framing of peace-driven reports on the Boko Haram insurgency and other national challenges.

1.6 Scope of the Study
As the study is about press coverage of insecurity and its implications on conflict sensitive journalism in Nigeria, the quantitative content analysis is restricted to articles published in Vanguard, Sun newsnewspapers from 2013 to 2014. The in-depth interview aspect is restricted to four journalists each from the sampled newspapers. The rationale behind the sampled period i.e (2013-2014) is the expansion of the activities of the Boko Haram, as they started their attacks on security personnel, down to churches and from 2013 to 2014, they expanded their attacks on all Nigerians.

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Item Type: Project Material  |  Attribute: 59 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: N3,000  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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