Discourse Analysis Of Corruption Reportage In Nigerian Dailies

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

Chapter One


1.0 Background to the Study

Corruption is a natural phenomenon; hence it has become a household name in modern society. In fact, the existence of ‘corruption’ dates back to the fourth century BC (Bardhan, npn). Noonan (235) says …corruption, it seems, is everywhere a “world of evil and disease”. In his own opinion, Klitgaar (21) posits that corruption not only distorts social, political and economic systems,but also illuminates crucial problems around organizations and their managements. It is a concept that has dominated discussions in social science disciplines especially political science and sociology, (e.g. Heidenheimer and Johnston, 2001; Nye, 1967; Warren, 2004; Kaufmann, 1997; Tanzi, 1998; Jain, 2001; Khondker, 2006; Bassey et al, 2013; Rose-Ackerman, 1999; Nuijten and Anders, 2007). There is widespread agreement that corruption represents one of the most pressing issues facing business and society today (Riyan, in Breit1).

Broadly speaking, some scholars view ‘corruption’ as a dysfunctional trait of individuals, organizations and societies. By illuminating key struggles, conflicts and contradictions embedded in different understandings of corruption, they advocate a view of corruption as a socially constructed phenomenon. (e.g. Chibnall and Sounders 89; Grannovetter, npn). More specifically, the discussions accentuate an acute aspect largely ignored by corruption scholars; namely: the role of language and discourse in efforts to make sense of and give sense to corruption. They enable explorations into the discursive processes through which specific notions of corruption are articulated, reproduced and transformed (Breit 1-2).

This dissertation however, is hinged on the analysis of the media reportage of corruption proceedings between 2015 and 2016 in Nigeria. The issue of corruption is not a myth to a

country like Nigeria, especially now that it has been rated among the most corrupt countries in the World. Nigeria is the number 136th least corrupt nation out of 175 countries, according to the 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index (Transparency International, 2016). The fight against corruption and media reportage span through successive administrations in Nigeria. It started with the first military coup in 1966 and since then, it has been part of the successive administrations including the present Muhammadu Buhari’s government. Based on this, the role the media play in their reportage of court proceedings especially between the period of 2015-2016 cannot be undermined; hence, the need for assessment. This, therefore, motivates this study. In addition, the role of the media is to serve as ‘watchdogs’ of the society and thus is expected to uncover and report problematic events especially in the recent time where Nigerians hear more of high profiled cases like the corrupt cases involving the Senate president, the former National Security Adviser, former Governors etcetera. The study will achieve this using Critical Discourse Analysis approach.

Critical Discourse Analysis (henceforth CDA) is a discourse methodology that studies language in relation to social issues and practices. Discourses are prevailing ways of knowing, valuing and experiencing the world. Discourses are extensively used in everyday contexts for building power and knowledge, for regulation and normalization, for the progression of new knowledge and power relations and for hegemony.

One may suppose that “discourse” is a more extensive term than “text.” According to Fairclough, “I shall use the term discourse to refer to the whole process of social interaction of which a text is just a part.” (24) Given the power of written and spoken texts (from either print or electronic media), Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is instrumental for describing, interpreting and critiquing social life reflected in texts .Van Dijk (19) adds that CDA is related to studying and analyzing written texts and spoken words to disclose the discursive sources of power, dominance, inequality and bias and how these sources are initiated, maintained, reproduced, and transformed within specific social, economic, political and historical contexts . This, therefore, serves as the framework upon which this study is built for ease of understanding the papers Ideological Discursive Formation (IDF).

1.1 Statement of the Problem

Various researches on media reportage have been conducted by linguists especially in the field of stylistics or literary linguistics, only a few have investigated Critical Discourse Analysis as a tool at the time of this research.This study will, therefore, examine the Nigerian media reportage on corruption related proceedings using ‘Ideology,’ ‘power,’ and ‘context’ which are integral parts of CDA to unravel the underline ‘Ideological Discursive Formation’ in their texts.

1.2 Aim and Objectives of the Study

This study aims at establishing the underlined ideology (IDF) and power play in the reportage of corruption related proceedings by the Nigerian Media. This aim will be further established in the following objectives:

  1. That each Nigerian media has its own IDF which drives its thought and shapes its reportage.
  2. Whether or not corruption related proceedings have been appropriately reported in spite of different political affiliations of the news editors or even the proprietor of the news establishment.
  3. That the reporters have some linguistic devices or vocabularies that dominate their text for peculiar reason or reasons.
  4. That every news on corruption reportage carries along with it issues of power play between social actors in the discourse.

1.3 Significance of the Study

The significance of this study cannot be over emphasized. It is an advancement of the existing studies on corruption reports in Nigeria especially from a discourse analysis point of view. The study will unearth the underlined ideological formations that guide media reportage on corruption. It will also expose the power exhibited through the use of language, as well as reportage of the media on corruption cases. At the end of the study, therefore, students of language and researchers would find it resourceful in their future endeavours.

1.4 Research Questions

At the end of the study, the following questions would have been answered:

  1. What is Critical Discourse Analysis?
  2. What IDF controls the thought and shapes the text of Nigerian media reportage?
  3. Has reportage of corruption related proceedings been affected as a result of the political affiliation of either the editors or proprietors of the media establishment?
  4. What power has been exhibited through the media reportage?
  5. What identity is being exposed in the media report on corruption?
  6. What linguistic devices or vocabularies dominate the text and for what reason(s)?

1.5 Methodology

This research work is content analysis based on secondary data. The data for analysis are collected newspapers and television reportages, while a review of literature was done from source materials which include text books, hand books, articles from journals etcetera that are relevant to this research. The methodology adopted for this study will be further elaborated in chapter three under the research design.

1.6 Scope and Limitation

This study is a Critical Discourse Analysis of media reportage on corruption related issues. It covers five media outfits; that is two (2) print media (newspaper) and three (3) broadcast media (television). The reports are randomly selected between 2015 and 2018. In this work, the researcher has adopted ‘Ideology’ and ‘Power’ which are integral parts of Critical Discourse Analysis to establish the Ideological Discursive Formation (IDF) of each of the selected media outfits and how such has been projected in their reportage. The selected print media are: ‘The Nation’ newspaper and ‘The Sun’ newspaper. The Broadcast media include: Channels Television, Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Africa Independent Television (AIT). The choice of these media establishments is purposive for their wide coverage in Nigeria and beyond especially the Broadcast media so selected.

The limitation to this study is solely the researcher’s inability to explore all the available print and broadcast media in their respective languages of information dissemination and even the social media, which today has more coverage, for want of time and need for specificity. Also, the work is limited to Critical Discourse Analysis with emphasis on Ideological Discursive Formation (IDF). The limitation is because this study cannot handle all the areas of study in Discourse Analysis.

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