Agenda Setting Role Of Television In The Coverage Of 2015 General Elections In Plateau State: A Study Of NTA Jos
This research work seeks to find out the agenda setting role of television in the coverage of 2015 General elections in Plateau State with NTA Jos in perspective. In the review of related literature, scholars in the area under review gave different views to agenda setting and General Elections. It was observed that agenda setting is a mass media theory which holds that; the media does not tell its audience what to think but what to think about and General Elections on other hand is simply a formal way of decision making, by which a population chooses an individual to hold a public office to represent them and this is typical of a democratic setting. To strengthen this research work, the study was anchored on agenda setting theory and the social responsibility theory. Survey research method was used in conducting this research work and copies of questionnaire were administered. One hundred and fifty (150) random selected respondents were drawn from Jos metropolis to represent the total number of eligible voters which makes the population of this study. The sample size of the study therefore is one hundred and fifty (150) drawn from Kufang, Rock Haven and Lamigo accordingly. In data presentations and analysis, the findings reveled that NTA Jos in its coverage of the 2015 General Elections did well enough by stimulating necessary debate on topical issues on public discourse in Plateau State by setting the pace for public debate on issue of elections in Nigeria and encouraging the public to participate in the election process. The study also revealed that NTA Jos’ programme eliminated political apathy among electorates. The study recommends that since the responsibilities of the mass media is a sacred one saddled on them by the constitution, they should endeavor not to be partisan but be responsible and pursue a free, fair and credible elections in Plateau State and Nigeria at large the media should consider political programmes and ensure social responsibility comes to play and most importantly, the media must ensure that the feedback from the electorates receive full attention via creating a platform for public discourse.
1.1 Background of the Study
Television services were introduced in Nigeria on October 31st 1959 by the then Western Regional Government. Television is a mass communication medium used for transmitting sounds with moving images in monochrome (black and white), coloured, or in three dimensions. Television has always played an important role in the society especially in the 21st century. Television is most recommended for the dissemination of information because of its visual component. Television provides information, education and entertainment which are the major roles of any communication medium. Thus, television can be said to be the most relevant medium of communication.
The role of television therefore, cannot be under estimated in our society today, especially in deepening our democracy and shaping our social lives because of its pervasive nature. Akpabio (2011) stated that, “television has a role to play in securing the people’s mandate”. This statement basically explains that the television has a duty not only to defend our democracy but to deepen and sustain our democratic experience especially based on the dividends of democracy. This shows the power of television as a medium of communication which combines both sounds and visuals.
According to Akpabio, the power of television was seen in the killings at Dogo Nahawa in Plateau State, where people, most of whom were women and female children were killed. This incident was not perceived as grievous when it made pages in the newspaper and reported via other media of mass communication. But when the footage was flashed on television, people felt the impact and many, including I, wept uncontrollably at the sight of over five hundred women and girls who were maimed in cold blood. This clearly illustrate the power of television because when there is an information accompanied by images, people will not only ‘hear but see’ and this creates a better understanding as images enhance communication. “Television does not just move the world’s conscience but has become the conscience of the world”.
Asemah (2009) defines television a “an audio-visual device used for conveying messages from a source to a large heterogenous audience”. He further described television in a layman’s language as “I can hear and I can see”. Asemah went further to describe television as “the most efficient means of communication that brings pictures into billions of homes all over the world.
Encyclopedia America (1981) describes television as “a medium of communication which is primarily used for broadcasting visual impressions of reality through space and is the most effective medium of mass communication known to mankind. It also stated that after about eight years of development, television has made it possible for millions of people to share single experience”. An example is the 2015 General Elections in Nigeria.
Ebo (1996) stressed that “the general pattern in standard of living literacy and exposure is enhanced and affected by the media particularly, television and this effect can be positive or negative”.
McCombs (1997) et al has defined agenda setting as the process which involves the media telling us what to think about, based on their study of the media’s role in the 1968 presidential elections”. The notion of agenda setting can be traced to Walter Lippmann (1920) who pointed out that the media dominates over the creation of pictures in our minds, it is believed that the audience really do not react to actual events but to the pictures on our minds. This statement means that the media pre-determines what issues are regarded as important and at what time, in a given society.
Iyengar (1991) holds that “the mass media have a great influence on their audience because they choose what stories to consider news worthy and how much prominence and space given in respect to an event” The 2015 General Election was mostly viewed on NTA Jos station because its audience believed that the station will offer better update on the election. The mass media has a lot of avenues through which it can set agenda or give importance to an issue. The television as a medium usually gives a purposeful information to its viewers. This research work intends to concentrate on the Agenda setting role of the television with reference to NTA Jos coverage of 2015 General Elections.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Every research work is based on a problem. The researcher intends to bring to fore the agenda setting role of NTA Jos in the coverage of 2015 general elections in Plateau State, and also to expatiate on how television as a visual and audio medium can be used to handle issues of paramount interest like the 2015 general elections. Therefore, this study intends to find out reasons for voters apathy during the election, particularly in relation to broadcast media sensitization of the 2015 General Elections. The researcher also intends to explain how influential television as a medium can be in information dissemination.
1.3 Objective of the Study
The researcher aims;
- To identify the agenda setting role of NTA Jos in the 2015 General Elections in Plateau State
- To ascertain the level of coverage of the 2015 General Elections by NTA Jos, in Plateau State
- To find out the efficiency of NTA Jos’ programme to the public in the coverage of 2015 General Elections in Plateau State
1.4 Research Questions
In order to put this research work in perspective, the researcher will attempt to provide answers to the following questions;
- What is the agenda setting role of NTA Jos in the 2015 General Elections in Plateau State?
- What has NTA Jos been able to tell its viewers in its coverage of the 2015 General Elections in Plateau State?
- How efficient was NTA Jos’ programme to the public during the 2015 General Elections in Plateau State??
1.5 Significance of the Study
On completion of this study, NTA Jos and other media outfits will benefit from this research work as measures on how best the media can set agenda for its audience will be suggested. The viewers will also benefit because the will be best on track as information will be relayed in its best form and there will be greater awareness and orientation on how to deepen our nascent democracy and how to go about the electioneering process.
The research upon completion shall identify the role of television in agenda setting not forgetting its academic importance because upcoming researchers and scholars will benefits from same. The research will serve as a relevant material to those who intend to carryout similar research. The research will serve as part of the campaign to emphasize the agenda setting role of television in the coverage of 2015 General Elections.
1.6 Scope of the Study
All events, circumstances and situations happen in an environment Owuamalam (2012) stated that “any area within which an event occurs is the scope of study”. He added that it delimits the area or subject from a vast area of consideration. Scope therefore makes the area of study manageable for effective research study. The researcher’s scope of study therefore, is NTA Jos.
1.7 Definitions of Terms
This is mass media theory which was co-pounded by Dr. Max McCombs and Dr Donald Shaw in 1968. The theory is of the assumption that the mass media does not just tell its audience what to think, but what ethnic to think about. This, the mass media achieve by placing emphasis on a particular news story or event.
This is a situation where a media outfit, whether radio, television, newspaper, magazine; e.t.c follows a particular event and talks about it.
This is simply the formal way of decision making, by which a population chooses an individual to hold a public office to represent them and this is typical of a democratic setting.
These are the people who the media targets at the audience are people who view and listen to the media content.
This is an electronic medium of communication that combines both audio and visual techniques.
These are broadcast or storage media that take advantage of electronic technology and they include Radio, television, internet, fax, CD-ROMS, DVD and any other medium that requires electricity or digital encoding of information.
This is the acronym for Nigerian Television Authority. It is broadcast media outfit that has only the television arm and is located in Plateau State and neighbouring stales of Kaduna, Bauchi, Nassarawa, Taraba e.t.c.
Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations
NTA Jos’ Agenda setting role has facilitated the coverage of 2015 General Elections by playing important roles in the 2015 General Election such as stimulating necessary debate on topical issues on public discourse in Plateau State, by setting the pace for public debate on issues of elections in Nigeria and by stimulating the public to participate in election process.
Through NTA Jos reportage, the public were informed on 2015 General Elections matters, when, where and how to vote.
The agenda setting role of NTA Jos has raised issues for the public to react and think about therefore, members of the public were engaged in public discourse due to NTA Jos reportage of Elections issues in Plateau State.
NTA Jos’ programmes eliminate political apathy among electorates.
Television especially NTA Jos is a viable means of exposing electoral fraud and abnormalities during election processes.
NTA Jos has played important role in the 2015 General Elections by educating both the electorates and the elects on how to go about the electoral proceedings. This was achieved via it’s agenda setting role as a mass media which is saddled with the responsibility of informing, educating and influencing the general public on what to do or think about. It’s programmes were effective in enlightening members of the public on election issues therefore, stimulating mass participation during the 2015 General Elections in Plateau State.
NTA Jos’ programmes eliminate political apathy among electorates therefore, setting the pace for political discourse by projecting topical issues for public debate which influences successful elections in the 2015 General Elections.
In line with the findings and conclusions of this study, the following recommendations were made:
- The responsibilities of the mass media is a sacred one saddled on them by the Nigerian and the constitution, hence, they should endeavor not to be partisan in politics but be responsible, pursue a free and fair elections in Nigeria.
- Media Practitioners should intensify awareness campaigns on political matters and avoid being used by politicians as tools for campaign in order to favour a particular political party.
- The media should consider the masses first as part of her obligation in her political programmes and ensure that social responsibility comes to play.
- The media should ensure that feedback from the electorate receive full attention via creating platform for public discourse.
- Agenda-setting programmes of mass media towards elections is an effective way of mobilizing, educating and enlighten the public and the electorates on electoral process, hence, the mass media practitioners should endeavour to package more of agenda setting programmes to ensure a free and fair elections in Nigeria.
- Government should not interfere with the programmes of the media, press freedom should be the order of the day.
- The concern bodies should ensure that, political messages via the broadcast stations are given wider coverage such that the rural populace will benefit and be part of producing good governance.
- The media should expose the weakness of every government so that the electorates will learn from past mistakes and make amend. This will also help the new administration to improve from past failure.
5.4 Suggestions for Further Studies
Further studies should be carried out on the role of broadcast media in sustaining democracy, peaceful electoral proceedings and how peace can be sustained. Also, study should be carried out on how the broadcast media can function effectively without government interference.
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