The Effect Of Mass Media On Political Behaviour Of The Electorates (A Case Study Of Umuahia)

Project and Seminar Material for Mass Communication

The Effect Of Mass Media On Political Behaviour Of The Electorates (A Case Study Of Umuahia)


Abstract


The possibility that the influence of the way mass media present news could be systematic or deliberate and politically based in one direction or the other gave rise to the study. Its broad objective is to determine the effects of mass media on the political behaviour of the electorates as it concerns their knowledge of political issues, turnout in elections, and choice of political candidates. However, the population of study is every adult citizen who resides at Umuahia and are 18years and above.

The researcher adopted survey method, which involves the use of questionnaire and the sampling techniques used were cluster and simple random sampling method. Consequently, it was observed that exposure to mass media makes electorates become aware of political issues and voter’s turnout is significantly affected by media coverage of politics. Meanwhile, it was also observed that the media, to some extent, influence electorate’s choice of candidate. Therefore, the media should give equal publicity to all aspiring political candidates.


Table Of Contents


Preliminary Page(s)

  • Title page
  • Certification page
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Abstract
  • Table contents

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

  • 1.1 Background of the study
  • 1.2 Statement of the problem
  • 1.3 Objective of the study
  • 1.4 Research questions
  • 1.5 Significance of the study
  • 1.7 Delimitation of the study
  • 1.8 Limitation of the study
  • 1.9 Definition of terms

Chapter Two

Literature Review

  • 2.1 The mass media and politics
  • 2.2 Mass media impact on politics
  • 2.3 Political behaviour
  • 2.4 Review of studies
  • 2.5 Theoretical framework

Chapter Three

3.0 Research Methodology

  • 3.1 The research design
  • 3.2 Population of study
  • 3.3 Sample size
  • 3.4 Sampling method and procedure
  • 3.5 Instrument for data collection
  • 3.6 Validity and reliability of the measuring instrument
  • 3.7 Method of data analysis

Chapter Four

4.0 Data Analysis and Presentation

  • 4.1 Data presentation and interpretation
  • 4.2 Data analysis
  • 4.3 Discussion of findings

Chapter Five

5.0 Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

  • 5.1 Summary
  • 5.2 Conclusion
  • 5.3 Recommendations
  • References
  • Appendix
  • Questionnaires

Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background Of The Study

Communication is sharing of information, ideas and thoughts. It is vital part of life. The different methods that enable us to communicate are called media. A post card to a friend, telephone call and computer disk are all types of media.

When media are used to communicate to thousands of people at the same time, such as television, newspaper, radio and advertising billboard, they are known as mass media (Clifford, 1999:8).

The media have become very important communication tool in politics. Karen O’Connor (1995:215) states that the press and other forms of media play a valuable role in any democracy, adding that their political importance cannot be dismissed. The primary mass media for communicating political information remain television, radio and newspaper, Norton (1984:329).

It is with these three media that this study is concerned with. In Lagos Nigeria, the last four months of 2006 featured a steaming broadcast of political oriented programmes by local stations. While channels T.V presented, regularly, a live interview programme with prominent political figures, silver bird group in collaboration with Ray Power FM conducted the first Nigerian political media polls that featured ten most popular possible Presidential candidates for the 2007 general elections.

The candidate were Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim babangida, Sam Egwu, El-Rafai, Atiku Abubakar and Dora Akungili, others are Donald Duke, Pat Utomi, Peter Odili and Orji Uzor Kalu. It is true that none of these candidates is emerged as the president after the election, but those of them that succeeded in their party primaries made a remarkable attempt. Donald Duke, Peter Odili, Ibrahim Babanginda and Sam Egwu lost to Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who won the presidential election with 24,638,063 votes, in the PDP party primaries. At the time of this media poll, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua has not made any public declaration, even in the media of his intentions to run for the presidency.

However, Muhammadu Buhari under the ANPP platform came second with 6,605,299 votes. Atiku Abubakar took the third position with 2,637,848 votes under the Action Congress (AC) platform. And the Progress People’s Alliance (PPA) flag bearer, Orji Uzor Kalu took the fourth position with 608,803 votes. Dora Akunjili denied having shown interest to run for the election during the media pool while El-Rufia never took part in any party primary election.
Surprisingly, most of these political parties whose candidates participated in the media poll won gubernatorial seats in the 31 states of the federation (FCT excluded).

Richard Remy (1995:576) states that the Mass Media do not only inform the public about world national and local event. They are also influential in shaping opinion about these events and people involved in them. Stressing on mass media relevance in politics, Lynne et al (1995:217) states, emphatically, that a politician who shuns the T.V camera shuns a major source of exposure to his or her constituency. A theory has it that the mass media offers the audience issues to talk and think about. This theory which is referred to as Agenda Setting Theory added that the media shape our understanding of what is important and what is not important to know. This stems from the fact that the mass media is an integral part of society.

The media and the impact of individual election issues are among the short term factors that affect political and voting behavior, (Wikipedia). Political behavior is the general attitude of people towards politics, which is expressed in political participation, voting behavior and political views of the electorates.

The study is focused on the electorates, they care portion of voting age public that votes (Remy, 1995:526). In Nigeria, one must be 18years of age to become an electorate. The study is an attempt to measure the effects of mass media on the electorates political behavior as it concerns their political participation, choice of candidate and turnout in elections.


1.2 Statement Of Problem

The media have become the most important communication tool for political campaign. There are several reasons for this; first, a broadcast message can reach thousands of audience instantly in their homes. Secondly, studies have shown that people have stronger belief in what they hear or see themselves.

Some other reasons could be based on the extreme importance of the image or mental picture that voters have of a candidate. The candidate who is perceived as more credible, as presented by the media, may not only have a decided advantage on the Election Day but could also spur indifferent persons into active political participation. The media are not simple observers of the world political scene. They are also active participants in various ways both deliberately and inadvertently. The media often make the news instead of reporting it.

Every newspaper and most television stations and networks make some attempts to influence public opinion. Newspaper do this explicitly through editorials and opinion pieces and indirectly through the choice and depth of news coverage television stations achieve the same result through occasional talk shows, news broadcast and documentaries (Laser 1999:328). There is no question that the way the media present the news has tremendous impact on the public. The real questions are whether this influence is systematic and deliberate, and whether it is politically biased in one direction or the other.


1.3 Objectives Of The Study

The broad objective of the study is to determine the effect of mass media on the political behavior of Nigeria electorates who reside at Umuahia. Specially, the study will:

  1. Determine if media coverage of political campaign increases voter’s turnout.
  2. Ascertain if the electorates become aware of political issues owing to their exposure to political broadcast and publications.
  3. Find out whether electorate’s attitude to voting is influenced by media coverage of politics.
  4. And finally, if the mass media influence electorate choice of candidates.

1.4 Research Questions

Based on the objectives of the study, the following research questions were drawn to act as guide.

  1. Does media coverage of politics influence electorate’s choice of candidate and attitude of voting?
  2. Does exposure to political influence electorate’s choice?
  3. Is the increase or decrease of voter’s turnout dependent on the mass media coverage of politics and political campaign?

1.5 Significance Of The Study

The study effect of mass media on the political behaviour of the electorate could help guide government, electoral institutions, politicians and the electorate to effectively utilize the institution of mass media towards successful elections and political transition. It would also be useful to students and corporate bodies that intend carrying out a research work in the same area.


1.6 Delimitation Of The Study

The scope of this research is limited to Umuahia, the capital city of Abia State. Umuahia comprises two local government areas, namely: Umuahia North and Umuahia South. The study was concentrated on the headquarters of these local governments. They are Ubakala for Umuahia South and Ibeku for Umuahia North. This is because a greater percentage of the city’s population resides at the headquarters.


1.7 Limitations Of The Study

Limited resources and time constituted constraints to the research work. The researcher do not have adequate fund at his disposal for logistics, research materials and literature during the time of the research. However, the work was carried out successfully.


1.8 Definition Of Terms

Behaviour:

The way somebody acts in a particular situation.

Broadcast:

To send out programmes on television or radio to large and heterogeneous audience.

Electorates:

The people in a country or in an area who have the right to vote.

Election:

The process of choosing a person or group of persons for a position, especially a political position, through voting.

Mass Media:

The main ways large people receive information, education and entertainment. Example, television, radio and newspaper.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion And Recommendations

5.0 Introduction

This chapter gives a rundown of the entire project work. It summarizes every segment of the study and gives recommendation.


5.1 Summary

The tremendous impact of the way the media present the news influence public opinion, as the possibility that the influence could be systematic or deliberate and politically biased in one direction or the other spurred the researcher. Accordingly, the study is an effort to determine the effects of mass media on the political behavior of the electorate as it concerns their knowledge of political issues, choice of candidate and turn out in elections
However, relevant ideas and opinions of scholars on previous studies related to this study were borrowed. And the conceptual frameworks were hypodermic needle theory and agenda setting theory because they highlight media influence on the audience.

Meanwhile, the research design is survey method, which involves the use of questionnaire and oral interview for collection of data. The population of study is every male and female citizen who resides at Umuahia and 18years of age and above. Furthermore, a sample size of 200 respondents was selected using cluster and simple random sampling.

Subsequently, the data analyzed show that;

  1. The electorates become aware of political issues when they are exposed to the mass media and mass media are reliable source of political issues.
  2. The mass media through the information they present about political candidates, exert influence on electorate’s choice of candidate.
  3. Voter turn out is to a large extent dependent on the mass media effective coverage of politics.

The research was successfully conducted despite limited resources and time constant.


5.2 Conclusion

The main aim of this study is to determine the effect of mass media on the political behavior of the electorate. And from the data presented and analyzed, it was observed that the mass media coverage of politics affect the electorate specifically;

  1. In the electorate’s rate of turnout during elections
  2. The mass media increase their knowledge of political issues when they are exposed to media political content.
  3. The media to an extent influence their choice of candidate and attitude to voting.

Based on the conclusion, the following recommendations are made;


5.3 Recommendations

  1. The mass media should give equal publicity to all aspiring political candidates and expose them to the electorate without undermine facts in favor of a political candidate or against the other
  2. Mass media institutions should desist from partnership and show impartiality in other to promote the electorate with objectives report about elections and political aspirants.
  3. On the other hand, government should support the institution of mass media to effectively perform their social responsibilities by introducing policies that will make the country more conducive for media practice.

The Effect Of Mass Media On Political Behaviour Of The Electorates (A Case Study Of Umuahia)


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