An Analytical Study Of Newspaper Paper Reportage In Combating National Security Problem
The upsurge in the rate at which insecurity do break out across Nigerian cities especially in northern part is worrisome. It has put the unity and harmonious co-existence among the various ethnic and religious groups under serious threat. Nigerian press as the watch-dog of the society has covered this endemics deficiently. The inadequacy in the coverage pattern has compounded the challenges faced by the federal government in attempting to arrest the incessant crises. The objectives of the study are: to know the level of prominence Nigerian Newspapers gave to coverage of national insecurity; the extent at which they ensure balance, if they have been responsible in their reportage of the conflicts and if ownership interests do influence coverage of conflict stories. Employing the mixed method of data gathering, the study content analysed the daily and weekend editions of Tribune, Sun and Daily Trust Newspapers on the coverage of Jos crisis and Boko Haram Insurgence (national insecurity) for a period of twenty months (April, 2010- December 31, 2012). In addition, Six conflict reporters from the three sampled Newspapers were also selected for In-depth Interview. The Framing theory of the media was employed as the theoretical framework. Findings revealed that Daily Trust was less sensational while, Sun and Tribune tended to be sensational in that, most of their stories with screaming headlines ran from front page to inside page. The study then concludes, that contrary to the widely held view that Nigerian Media indulge in unethical conduct in its reportage of national insecurity, and that ownership pattern do influence to some extent media content the Media, still do strive to ensure ethical reporting, and they also practice responsible journalism. It then recommends among others that Journalists should be properly trained on media ethics so as to ensure that they write balanced and objective stories and, strive to be responsible when presenting information on conflicts to the general public.
1.1 Background of Study
The primary roles of the print media in any society which are to inform, educate and entertain are so important that societies can hardly progress meaningfully without a vibrant print media. Recognizing this fact, the third president of the United States of America (USA), Thomas Jefferson said, “were it left for me to choose whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without government, I shall not hesitate a moment to choose the latter.” The increasing level of insecurity especially terrorism in the North and kidnapping in the South in recent years in Nigeria has largely threatened our national security (Ogbeche, 2012). Therefore, all hands must be on deck to tackle this challenge.
The role of the print media comes to play here. The print media determine dominant values, perceptions and attitudes of the society by its impact on it. The importance of the print media in addressing national security in a democratic setting cannot be overemphasized as it is the bridge between the people and its societal activities (Nwagboso, 2012). For any activity to get noticed, it must be reported by the media. The print media must therefore make national security part of its principal agenda so as to make positive impacts. Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended entrusted the media with the power to monitor governance and uphold the fundamental objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy as enshrined in Chapter 2 of the Constitution (Nwagboso, 2012). To further highlight the role of the print media in combating insecurity in any society, Pulitzer (2014) stated, “there is not a crime, there is not a dodge, there is not a trick, there is not a swindle, and there is not a vice which does not live by secrecy. Get all these things out in the open, describe them, attack them, ridicule them in the press, and sooner or later, public opinion will sweep them away.”
In line with the above assertions, the print media need to set agenda for itself in tackling insecurity. It must also provide platforms to the religious leaders to preach and admonish against criminal acts of any kind especially terrorism. This will not only make security issues attract attention but also raise citizens’ consciousness to security and crimes matters (Ogbeche, 2012). Once the word “insecurity” is mentioned while referring to Nigeria today, the first words to come to mind are Boko Haram, kidnapping, and national insecurity and until very recently, when the agitation for the sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) started rearing its ugly head again. These words are brand used in highlighting the nature of insecurity peculiar to Nigeria among other nations of the world (Salawu, 2010). Though the nature of insecurity in Nigeria is complex, through consistent meaningful and responsible coverage of acts that breed insecurity in the country, the media can sensitize the public against such acts.
Frequent discussions on issues of insecurity will not just attract attention to the need to address such challenges but also raise citizens’ consciousness and that of the security agents on the need to combat insecurity. The print media constitute one of the important institutions of socialization and in fact, the major cultural industry responsible for the distribution of ideas and opinion molding in the Nigerian society (Igbuzor, 2020). Therefore, the print media must design deliberate features or programmes to talk against all forms of crimes. The print media must rise up to the task of publicizing the current protest ongoing in the South East and some parts of South/South now by the MASSOB group before it gets out of hand. Reporting it now will help forestall a possible outbreak of war in the country just like 1967. Publishing their activities on newspapers will attract government and security operatives’ attention to it so as to nip it in the bud.
The print media also need to allot specific airtime and space to reports and discussions on terrorism, kidnapping and other forms of crimes capable of breeding insecurity. This will provide opportunity of highlighting and exposing the negative impacts of such crimes on the society. The print media should also be utilized by the citizens in exposing crimes and sensitizing people against criminal acts (Igbuzor, 2020). By getting the citizens involved in information dissemination, the print media will have created what can be called “Citizens Journalism.” The importance of Citizens Journalism in combating crimes was demonstrated in the gruesome murder of four students of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) at ALUU Community in Rivers State, where citizens recorded and took snapshots of the killing and clubbing to death of the students. These videos and snapshots were uploaded to the internet through the social media and YouTube. This sparked public outcry. Citizens’ Journalism also came to play recently during the 2015 presidential elections where almost every Nigerian who had a handset became an on the field reporter and sent stories, pictures and political parties scores/figures to the internet for a possible follow up by the citizens and this averted post-elections violence that could have resulted from electoral manipulations.
An atmosphere devoid of peace does not attract foreign investors nor encourage local investors to invests (Nwagboso, 2012). Without investment, the much needed growth cannot happen and without growth, there cannot be development. An expatriate who is afraid of being kidnapped for ransom or bombed will not be willing to invest in a crisis ridden environment (Nwagboso, 2012). Therefore, to achieve growth and development, all forms of insecurity must be defeated and subdued completely and the print media has a lot to do in our attaining a peaceful and business friendly environment that will attract investors to the country. Despite the very important role placed on the mass media by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the print media is yet to rise to be effectively mobilized as a tool for combating insecurity in the country (Kufour, 2012). This is because the print media itself is faced with a lot of challenges, ranging from poor welfare package for media practitioners, lack of continuous and constant training and retraining exercises for media workers, the tendency of journalists to be self-censored for fear of victimization by their employers to reluctance of citizens to give information for fear of being attacked (Kufour, 2012).
For the print media to effectively play its role in tackling insecurity in the nation there must be improved welfare package for journalists, adequate training for journalists, and insurance cover for them to motivate to engage in dare-devil conflict reporting in the interest of the public (Ani, 2009). Also, the security agents must work closely with the print media players for effective crime fighting. Periodic workshops, symposia and seminars on sophisticated crime reporting among others are pertinent to keep the journalists up-to-date in modern trend in print media use in tackling insurgency and other forms of criminal activities.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The outbreaks of national insecurity have become rampant across Nigerian cities. Hence, the different development plans being put in place by Federal government towards sustaining the nation have yielded little or no results. Since the early 1980s till date, Nigeria has witnessed series of such crises.
Not less than one hundred politically, ethnically and religiously motivated conflicts have occurred in Nigeria since the re-emergence of democracy in May 1999 (Abdullahi and Saka, 2007). This figure keeps soaring at every little misunderstanding among the various ethnic and religious groups across the country. In its effort to contain this, the Nigerian National Assemblyon February 17, 2020 passed the Anti-Terrorism Bill into Act. Even with this in place, long term peace has continued to elude the nation, particularly the northern part. Worth of mentioning are the Jos indigene/settler crisis, the Southern Kaduna-Fulani cattle rustlers crisis, Offa- Erinle communal dispute in Kwara State, Benue-Fulani herdsmen crisis, etc, or the Boko Haram insurgence which keeps reigning a carnival of terror, and given bitter suffering food and drink to residence of North-Eastern, North-eastern States of Borno, Yobe and, Plateau, Kano, Kogi, Niger, Kaduna, Sokoto, and Abuja (FCT). The wanton destruction of properties and killing of innocent souls, bombing of private, public, religious and government properties which have become the order of the day has increased the fear of insecurity among the residents in that part of the country. The worrisome nature of this ugly incidence has re-awakened calls by concerned Nigerians for a Sovereign National Conference implying, that the fabric of unity and harmonious relationship among the various ethnic groups has been seriously attacked.
The public has the right to know hence Nigerian consumers of media products, like their counterparts in other cultures, are insatiably interested in, and are at times shocked and fascinated by how Newspapers report national insecurity. Surely, the media have to perform it‟s surveillance function by giving the people the right information needed to live, warn them about dangers to their environment and, be the watch-dogs of the society. However, the media‟s dysfunctions with regards to national insecurity make people think that the world is unsafe for living. Truth is the cornerstone of journalism as such; most people believe that what the media present to them is absolute truth.
The pictures about events in the world presented by mass media are therefore seen as authentic. As the mirror of the society it is obvious, that certain sections of the media have taken sides in reporting of events in the recurring crises by subtly promoting certain ethnic and religious ideologies over others thereby; fanning the embers of misunderstanding between different ethnic and religious groups. This has the capacity to cause more harm than good. Best (1996) is of the opinion that the Nigerian Press was partially responsible for the Nigeria’s thirty month civil war that resulted into loss of lives and property, also, Yusuf (2002) observed that the manner in which the Nigerian press reported the Sharia crises was mostly responsible for exacerbating the tension and conflicts of the Sharia crises in the Northern part of the country. In the same vein Orhewere (2004), in his study of some selected Nigerian newspapers coverage of the Tiv-Jukun conflict in the middle belt found, that the newspapers were partly the causal agents of the conflict. In view of the aforementioned, it is pertinent, to know how the newspapers, have fared in their coverage of Nigerian national insecurity.
1.3 Research Questions
- What is the level of prominence accorded to coverage of national insecurity by Nigerian Newspapers?
- To what extent have Nigerian Newspapers reflected balance in their reportage of national insecurity?
- Have Newspapers reportage been able to combat insecurity in Nigeria?
1.4 Objectives of Study
The general objectives of this study is to assess the role of Nigerian Newspapers paper reportage in combating national insecurity.
The specific objectives are to find:
- The level of prominence accorded to coverage of national insecurity by Nigerian Newspapers;
- The extent at which they reflect balance in their reportage of national insecurity and;
1.5 Significance of the Study
The purpose of this study is to analyze the content of some selected Nigerian Newspapers such as Sun, Tribune and the Daily Trust with regards to how they have covered Nigerian national insecurity. This study becomes significant because the Nigerian media as the watch-dog of the society found itself in the midst of ethnic and religious divide. It is significant because it will show a research finding that will be used to set reporting standard in conflict journalism for Nigerian journalists. It will be a useful reference material for students, academics and communication professionals in general.
1.6 Delimitation of the Study
This study examined only private Nigerian Newspapers. This is because as at the time of the study government newspapers were not published regularly. As at the time of the study was carried out, there are about fifty (50) regularly published private newspapers in Nigeria, out of which about thirty (30) of them are classified by Newspapers in Nigeria.com (2014) as „major‟ Newspapers. For convenience sake, the researcher randomly selected Sun, Tribune and Daily Trust from the thirty (30) major Newspapers; which were used for the study. It is believed that the three papers represented the divergent views from north and south poles of the Country. As a result, the researcher felt that the study is of outmost important for a better media practice vis-a-viz its social responsibility and „watch dog‟ functions of the Media.
Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations
The study looked at Coverage of Jos Crisis and Boko Haram Insurgence by Selected Newspapers with the key objectives to find: the level of prominence the papers accorded to coverage of the crises, the extent at which they reflect balance and; if they have been objective and socially responsible in their coverage of the crises. Using content analysis, data were gathered on the topic from three Newspapers Tribune, Sun, and Daily Trust between 2010 and 2012. To achieve the study objectives, the data gathered was then analysed using SPSS 2.0. It also used IDI to collection information from six crisis reporters spread across the three Newspapers. Therefore, based on the review of related and relevant documents, content analysis and the In-depth Interview, the findings indicate that Nigerian conflicts are caused majorly by religion and ethnicity (ethno-religious) followed by Other forms of crises.
The study found out also that the three Newspapers used News form more than feature, editorial, letter, Opinion/column. On Page placement and story size/length as measures of prominence, the findings indicated that most of the stories were placed in Inside closely followed by Front and Back pages respectively. Hence, the study summarises, that though the Newspapers need to do more in terms of balance, they however, accorded high prominence to the crises understudy; they also strived to be socially responsible in their coverage of the crises between the research periods.
The Nigerian Press particularly, the newspapers appear to contribute to the shaping of the kind of society where it operates. Act, as motivator of the people to rise above their differences, and also act, even as a conciliator for the warring parties. Consequent upon this, it must ensure that escalation of crisis is prevented through its reportage as it is the only medium upon which every member of the society got their information.
This study looked at how some selected Nigerian Newspapers covered Jos crisis and Boko Haram Insurgence between 2010 and 2012. Findings revealed that crisis are caused majorly by religion and ethnicity. The way newspaper do frame its stories helped in fuelling some of the crises and, that though the media tend to be socially responsible during crisis, ownership of media to some extent do influence coverage of some of the crisis. Nigerian newspapers do give high level of prominence to coverage of national insecurity by according front page attention to stories; proximity to the location of crises from Newspapers‟ base may affect the level of coverage and balance in the reportage of the conflicts. Ethics of journalism are complied with on equal basis media practitioners hence; some Newspapers do ensure balance in their reportage on a given topic than others. As a result, Newspapers should strive always to provide readers with compressive information about events. Therefore, considering the closeness of the conflict and readers, the newspaper cannot but be more guarded in ensuring that a high level of responsibility coupled with balanced reportage is prioritised in the coverage of conflicts. The study however concludes, that Nigerian media is responsible in its presentation of information on Jos crisis and Boko Haram Insurgence to the public but, the absolute amount of coverage and the quality of reporting need substantial improvement.
Based on the research findings the study therefore, recommends as follows:
- Media practitioners should constantly bear in mind their professional ethics under the umbrella of media code of conduct. This would help check-mate unnecessary coverage of ethnicity or religious crisis.
- Media practitioners as agenda-setters through the way they frame stories should promote the basic doctrines of peace, universal brotherhood, justice, human rights, patience, tolerance and equity.
- As watch-dogs (the Fourth Estate of the realm) mass media practitioners should promote transparent democratic governance in their reporting by bringing to the public view, political and religious leaders who fan the embers of hatred and destructive ethnic and religious activities.
- Media professionals should always check the influence of religion, ethnicity and ownership sentiments in the discharge of their responsibilities;
- All regulating bodies and unions such as NBC, NPC, NPAN, NUJ, Nigerian Press Organisation and Nigerian Guild of Editors etc, should ensure that Media practitioners and Journalists comply strictly to professional ethics in order to checkmate malpractices in conflict reporting; the NPC in particular should be empowered to take full responsibility of overseeing newspaper contents in Nigeria.
- All Schools of Journalism and those offering Mass Communication should endeavour to incorporate conflict reporting in their curricula to help intending Journalists understand the concept better.
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