The Impact Of Print Media (Newspaper) In Shaping The Nigerian Political Structure

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

The Impact Of Print Media (Newspaper) In Shaping The Nigerian Political Structure


It is no longer news that the importance of the print media in shaping the Nigerian political structure cannot be over emphasize; this is because of the years the media has act as 4th arm of government, the media in several occasion has been in the forefront of exposing financial mismanage among public office holders and politicians in the country. It is in view of the above that the researcher intend to investigate the efficacy of the print media in shaping the Nigeria political culture.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

In all aspects of social life, the genesis of a new decade triggers to an effort to summarize and characterize what happened from the past years and to look forward to challenges – the genesis of a new era. The press (newspaper) stands as link between old and new. A regime that newly arrives into power can blame its predecessor for some economic problem and it uses the press (newspaper) to compare its records in funding popular services with past regime and reminds public the oppression they felt from the oppositions when they were in power, and to also praise government for the good work done when they were in power, all these tactics work effectively when they use the press. And this research work is focusing on newspaper as a print medium.

The Nigerian press has been a vital source of government policy, news for opinion leaders and decision makers within a political structure as well as for the whole public. Those in decision making position who are not able to come in contact with the international communities for foreign policy rely on the press for such information or issues.

Nigeria came into existence as one entity in 1914 as a result of amalgamation of North and South protectorates under the governorship of Lord Fredrick Lugard. The political units that came together to form this nation were the old kingdoms whose system of interactions were complex before they started to interact with the Europeans. The periods also covered the annexation of Lagos as a crown colony, the quality and quantity of press coverage in the country during the agitation to self rule.

Ogunsiji (1989:6) classifies the development of Nigerian press into four segments. These are the era of missionary journalism, the era of the alien-dominated press, the emergency of the indigenous press and the dawn of modern Nigerian newspapers.

Before delving into the historical facts that have helped immensely to shape each era, it is essential to define what is known as newspaper as a print medium, and then point out that the birth and growth of the Nigerian press is a historical process in which many individuals participated without foreseeing what the ultimate product of their labour was to be.

Newspaper is an unbounded publication usually issued on a daily, weekly, monthly, quart yearly, yearly basis, which has the main function of reporting. They also provide commentary on politics, economics, and arts and culture. In nearly all cases and in varying degrees, Newspapers depend on commercial advertising for their income.

Print journalism started in Nigeria in 1846 with the installation of a printing press at Calabar by the Presbyterian mission. The primary purpose of installing the printing press was to increase the level of literacy among local people so that they would be able to acquire more knowledge through reading of short stories and essays on various subjects, particularly religious matters.

Although the Calabar experiment did not last long, it set the ball of newspaper work rolling in Nigeria. All other missionaries, who later went into newspaper production, took their one from it.

One of such missionaries turned journalists was Henry Townsend who is 1954, established his own printing press and inaugurated a printing school in the mission compound in Abeokuta. Five years later, he founded Iwe Irohin for the reading pleasure of Egba people. The newspaper was published in Yoruba fortnightly but later became bilingual in 1860 when an English language edition was added.

The Iwe Irohin thrived well and was a force to be reckoned with by the time, it folded in 1967 as a result of a cultural and political crisis between the European settlers and the indigenes of Egbaland. The crisis led to the expulsion of all Europeans in Egbaland including the missionaries. The expulsion put an end to the mission printing press in Abeokuta.

The paper’s news contents, however, broadened after some time to include subjects other than church matters such as stories about towns and their environs commercial news about producer prices etc.

Before its demise, the Iwe Irohin had a circulation of about 3,000 and it has started to publish advertisements inserted by local firms and government agencies. It also indulged in criticizing the slave trade and other vices of the society. News of political development in Yoruba land as well as of the positive expeditions and inter-tribal wars going on in the area was carried prominently by the newspaper.

The newspaper helped immensely to increase the level of education and the social awareness of the generality of the people they were serving.

Omu, in press and politics in Nigeria (1978:8), “The missionary newspaper may not have exerted a very wide influence on West Africa society but there can be no doubt that they introduced the first generation of educated Africans to what had become an intrinsic part of enlightened society in Europe and other lands. Their example gave inspiration to African people who inherited the idea of the newspaper and came to employ it as the chief weapon by which they were to exercise their power of participation in the government of their land”.

The alien-dominated press simply refers to newspapers founded by non-Nigerians. They were founded by aliens from neighboring countries. Such as Anglo-African which was founded by Robert Campbell on June 6, 1863. It was a weekly paper. The 6¾” x 8½” journal, published stories called from a variety of sources such as books novels, magazine and overseas newspapers.

The newspaper have the primary aim of exploiting the growing interest in Western education and enlightenment in Lagos in the 1860s by providing cheap and accessible materials which would educate, inform and entertain its readers.

Richard Beale Blaize established the Lagos Times and Gold Coast Colony Advertiser on November 10, 1880. He was a wealthy businessman of Sierra Leonean origin and history shows that his mother is a Yoruba woman.

The paper was published fortnightly and the name was a reflection of the joint administrative of the Gold Coast and Lagos operated by the British. The paper achieved one major feat within its life span of three years, that is, it set the ball of militant journalism and nationalism rolling in Nigeria. It was a thorn in the flesh of the colonial administration unfortunately; the paper did not live long. It did not enjoy government patronage by way of advertisement.

Other alien-founded newspapers included the Iwe Iroyin Eko, founded by Andrew Thomas on November 3, 1888, weekly Times by John Payne Jackson, on May 3, 1890, Lagos weekly record by J. P. Jackson. The standard by George Alfred Williams on September 16, 1894, the Lagos Echo by J. S. Leigh on September 1st1894, and Lagos reporter by Victor Manson on September 12, 1898.

Shortly before the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates in 1914, proprietors of newspaper started to use the word Nigerian in name their papers. Two alien-founded newspapers which include the word Nigerian in their name plates were the Nigerian chronicle established on November 20, 1908 by two brothers Christopher Josephus Johnson and Emmanuel T. Johnson – and the Nigerian Times which was founded by James Bright Davis on April 5, 1910.

One of the early newspapers founded by a Nigerian was the Nigerian Pioneer which was established by Kitoyi Ajasa in Lagos in 1914. The paper was pro-government and many people hated it for that, it however survived until 1936 before it ceased existing.

Aside from these papers afore mentioned and many. Furthermore, other newspaper that was founded was Dr. Azikiwe’s West African pilot in 1937, and so many others.

Although this period, newspaper had characteristics among which are poor circulation, due to bad road network and illiteracy, it has political mood. From these facts, one can deduce that the early news paper in Nigeria lacked capital, machinery, trained and skilled personnel.

The Nigerian press had a drastic change and orientation when, after independence, government in the country drove into newspaper industry. The period between 1960 and 1966 saw so many government newspapers springing up. Among them was morning post established by Tafawa Balewa government in 1961, to provide adequate and publicity for its activities. It folded after Balewa’s government was toppled in a military coup in 1966. And so many other ones that arise by state, some jointly owned, privately owned and so on.

The performance of press in the post-independence era leaves much to be desired. On the other hand, there were many instance of antagonism from the government. And also, there was abundant evidence to prove that some journalists did throw away the ethics of their profession to the wind and become ardent sycophants for their political master-publishers.

Consequently the history of press is not learner on print newspaper alone, we must touch Broadcast media which comprises of Television, Radio, Telephone, Internet, etc.

Concisely put, broadcasting is a society wide trip of message dissemination, which involves the transmission of ideas, words, sound, pictures and value form of signals through the airwaves to the target audience. It is also known as electronic media. The image of Nigerian politics is reinforced by contemporary bourgeois definition of politics’ which view it as the authoritative allocation of values, although “values” as used is not limited to resources but refers widely and generally to choices or decision, in practice, it has been interpreted to mean resources.

In 1978, Babangida inaugurated a 17 member political bureau to coordinate a national dialogue on how to move from military to a civilian form of government, the Bureau composed of prominent civil and academic leaders, who was given a year to solicit proposals from the public and offer its own recommendations. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida said the military government would be handing over power to a democratically elected civilian government by October 1990. The debate over the proper structure and ideology for a democratic system dominated the news media for much of the year, and that was how the Nigerian politics or political system was born.

Therefore, no Nigerian political system or government can survive or achieve its political objective without the press in one way or the other, including publicity and political advertising, press serves as link between the government and the masses and also from the masses to the government as mouthpiece of the masses.

In today’s highly interconnected global village, politics is no more a village or community based, state, national or regional affair; because of the high level of communication process, it is now a global affair in many respects.

The government had no control on the ownership of the press until about 1930’s which saw the emergence of political awareness in political matters, private ownership began to emerge with Zik’s Press Limited. Other political parties that emerged also used one newspaper or the other as a political tool by which they create awareness or advertise their political parties or ambition.

However as time goes, the government started to interfere in the activities of the press through licensing, pre-and post-censorship because of their watchdog role in the society. This affected the quality of coverage the press carries on political matters, no journalist would like to risk his life and job in the name of airing or publishing factual news about the operating government, therefore journalists began to dance to the tone of the government, because “He who plays the piper, dictates the tone”

The oppression from the government notwithstanding, the print media helps in creating political awareness and orientation in rural and urban areas, educates the citizens on the importance of national political participation and interprets it to those who are ignorant of political activities in the society.

1.2 Statement of the Research Problem

Information available indicates that Nigerian print media was born into freedom, in 1895; Reverend Townsend established “Iwe Irohin” newspaper with the objective of getting people to read and cultivate the habit of reading and seeking for information through the newspaper. The appearance of this newspaper was established in Nigeria and paved way for others.

The statement of the problem thus includes

  1. The awareness created by the print media (newspaper) in political matters.
  2. The impact of print media in political mobilization.
  3. The quality of coverage the print media carries out on political matters.
  4. The political awareness created by the print media to rural dwellers.

1.3 Objective of the Study

The objective of this study includes:

  1. To ascertain the impact of print media in creating mass awareness among people towards political matters in Ankpa Local Government Area of Kogi State.
  2. To find out the impact of the media exercises in political mobilization.
  3. To find out the quality of coverage the medium carries out on political matters.
  4. To find out the extent the print media plays impact in highlighting issues of political importance of rural dwellers.

1.4 Significance of the Study

This study will be a good reference work to political administrators in carrying out their political activities. It will help them to know the roles print media (newspaper) can play for them in creating awareness in their political party ideologies and also educate them on the power the press has over them during the period of election.

It will also help policy makers and opinion leaders as it shows them that the (newspaper) is their link with the international community for foreign policy and news which help them in their policy making.

Students of Mass Communication and Political Science will also find this work useful as it touches their line of education. It will help them know that print media (newspaper) is an inevitable tool in political activities and coverage of political activities in Nigeria, it will help them see how the government actors used the press as a great weapon in fighting for the independence. It will help Mass Communicator to know that their field of study requires objectivity and fair play not minding the circumstance surrounding the individual at any particular moment. It will also help the political scientists on how to build up good rappour with the press and masses especially during the electoral process or period.

Furthermore, this study will be a useful guide for federal and state government in planning future programmes which relates to the print media and press as a whole. It will educates them on the right the print media (newspaper) has in political matter so that when the print media reports some of the governmental activities which is part of the study, they will not fight and oppress the newspaper house by those drastic measures they inflict on the media and their media person.

Again, it will enlighten the government on how best to use the newspaper to disseminate their political activities to the people and also look forward on the press for the reaction and feedback of the people they are governing.

Finally, this work will also be of good significance to media houses that are lagging behind in reporting political matter to the society. It will help them to know that it is their sole responsibility to cover and report any event in the political activities of the government in power in order to keep the public aware.

1.5 Research Questions

The research problems involved in this study are;

  1. To what extent does the newspaper play impact in creating Mass awareness among people towards political matter in Ankpa L. G. A. of Kogi State?
  2. To what extent does the newspaper play impact in political mobilization?
  3. How good is the quality of coverage the newspaper carries out on political issues in Ankpa L. G.A. of Kogi State?
  4. To what extent does the newspaper play impact in highlighting issues of political importance to rural dweller?

1.6 Research Hypothesis

  1. H1: The print media (newspaper) plays great impact in creating mass awareness among people towards political matter in Ankpa L. G. A. of Kogi State.
    H0: The print media (newspaper) does not play any impact in creating mass awareness among people towards political matters in Ankpa L. G. A. of Kogi State.
  2. H1: The print media plays great impact in political mobilization.
    H0: The print media do not play any impact in political mobilization.
  3. H1: The print media carries a good quality of coverage on political issues in Ankpa L.G.A. of Kogi State.
    H0: The print media does not carry a good quality of coverage on political issues in Ankpa L.G.A. of Kogi State.
  4. H1: The print media plays a great deal impact in highlighting issues of political importance to rural dwellers.
    H0: The print media do not play any impact in highlighting issues of political importance to rural dwellers.

1.7 Conceptual and Operational Definition Of Terms

Print Media:
Conceptual Definition

These are written form of disseminating information to the masses such as newspaper, magazine, journals, books, etc. Containing readable materials.

Operational Definition

These are readable materials used in disseminating information to the people of Ankpa L.G.A. of Kogi State, such as newspapers and magazines.

Conceptual Definition

The powerful effect that the press has on the Nigerian political structure.

Conceptual Definition

The activities involved in getting and using power in public life and being able to influence decision that affect a society or country.

1.8 Assumption of the Study

It is assumed that the print media (newspaper) plays vital roles in Nigerian political system. It is also assumed that the print media is the mouth piece of the publics in political matters and so criticize or praise political party as the case may be.

1.9 Limitation of the Study

This study is limited to the impact of the print media (newspaper) in shaping Nigerian political structure, using Ankpa L.G.A. of Kogi State as a case study. This area was chosen because it’s a link between the southern and northern region of the country and the researcher wish to know its political stand, and how the print media (newspaper) of the region handles or tackles political matters.

Chapter Five

Summary Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is pertinent to note that this research was aimed at examining the impact of print media in shaping the Nigeria political structure.

In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the challenges of political news reportage by print media.

5.2 Summary

The history of Nigerian political communications, particularly during the electioneering campaigns, has shown that the pattern of media ownership and behavior has remained the same since the country’s independence years ago. As Nigeria approaches a fourth attempt at democratic rule in socioeconomic conditions which are less propitious than on past occasions, it will be important for the Nigerian press to operate in a way which contributes to political stability and national integration rather than undermines attempts at national unity and federal survival. We suggest that if the Nigerian press behaves more responsibly and tries to understand and appreciate the history, politics, economy, cultures and contradictions of Nigerian society, and strives hard to harmonize these diversities in a positive manner, unity and stability may be achieved. Whatever the pattern of media ownership, the Nigerian media practitioners should strive to maintain the continued existence of Nigeria as a federation in the way they cover events, issues and activities of politicians in Nigerian political communications and beyond. There is a need to regulate media practice in Nigerian political communications by establishing a Communication Media Advisory Council as an arm of the National Electoral Commission or a National Communication Commission whose responsibility will be to monitor press performance in political communications and set the media agenda for the coverage of national issues. There is also a need to reorganize the structure of mass media ownership and control in Nigeria with a view to ensuring private ownership of electronic media and diffusion and to regulate against monopoly in order to prevent the misuse of the media by a few rich, powerful, individual owners or groups of Nigerians or governments

5.3 Conclusion

This study was undertaken to assess the approach to political reporting in two selected national dailies—Vanguard and The Guardian that arguably typify the press in Nigeria. It was discovered that political issues were not robustly reported, or given prominence by way of catchy placement or location in the newspaper, and stories were mostly presented in favour of the government. These, the researchers observed, did little to promote a sound political culture among readers. It also jeopardized the prestige of the press, portraying it as a partner to the government rather than a voice for the people. The press by not giving adequate coverage to political issues has not stimulated political consciousness in Nigeria as it is obtainable in the developed nations of the world. Under this condition, democracy has not taken firm posture in the country as is the case in developing societies where frequent military interventions in politics have become the order of the day, except of recent, due to mostly the Western governments’ outcry against military regimes in the governance of developing states

5.4 Recommendations

The researchers also posited ways through which the situation can be improved, chief among which is an improvement in the ratio of political contents to other subject matters in the newspapers, and also a promotion of objective and balanced reportage. Even though developmental journalism is advocated, there is no excuse to be frivolous with the trust conferred on the media by the citizens. Based on the findings from this study, the researchers found it expedient that the following improvements be made to the current situation in the newspaper sector in Nigeria:

  1. Newspaper publishers and operators should ensure that the views and activities of political organisations be fairly represented in their publications even when such associations may hold ideologies that are dissimilar to theirs.
  2. Newspaper houses should endeavour to assign journalists to cover and report unbiased political events such as, conventions, campaigns, and elections of every political party in the country.
  3. Because the newspaper is a permanent medium, it is very necessary that reporters and editors render vivid and accurate accounts on all events and issues that they put forth for publication.
  4. The Nigerian reportorial newspapers, as part of their contributions to promoting and consolidating a sound political culture, should scale-up political proximity in their reportage to encourage effective local content and socio-political participation.

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