Influence Of Newspaper Political Reports On Voting Behaviour (A Case Study Of 2011 And 2015 Presidential Election)

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

Influence Of Newspaper Political Reports On Voting Behaviour (A Case Study Of 2011 And 2015 Presidential Election)


This study is aimed at finding out the influence of Newspaper political Reports on the voting Behaviour of Electorates. It aimed at determining through opinion survey, the degree at which the voting behaviour of electorates is effected by their exposure to newspaper political report, using Enugu state local Government Areas (North and South) as a case study.

An empirical survey of five (5) of the twenty (20) wards in Enugu local Government was conducted. Two newspapers Daily Star and the Newsman were used while collecting the data in determining the influence, their political reports have on the voting behaviour of their audience readers.

The sample was randomly selected across five of the twenty wards to find out those who voted during the Governorship Election of March 2003, using stratified sampling technique in terms of the location.

For the theoretical framework and guide for the study, related literature especially in mass communication, psychology and political science, were extensively reviewed. Moreover, three-research hypothesis were tested and analyzed, using statistical table and simple percentages.

As regards the results, it has been discovered through this study, that newspaper political reports have some effects on the voting behaviour of Enugu electorates.

Similarly the exposure of the electorates to newspaper political reports creates certain awareness on them.
Meanwhile, the study showed that a combination of factors like interpersonal communication, party affiliation, information from other media, in addition to newspaper political reports, were the principal determinants of the voting behaviour of Enugu electorates. Finally, the finding of this study will be of help to politicians, political reporters and media executives in determining how to channel their political messages to achieve desired effects.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of Study

It is a commonly held view that mass media play unquantifiable roles in matters of public interest, public opinion and formation of attitude. According to James Curran et al (1977), “pioneer investigators accepted popular impressions of the media as omnipotent and capable of being employed for manipulative purposes”, Thus, Edwin Emery et al (1974), said, “newspapers everywhere are available channels through which political leaders express their views and seek to rally public backing for their policies”.

Many researchers have been conducted on the effects of mass media on the audience. The unfortunate thing, however, is that none of these studies has bothered on the effect of newspaper political messages on the audience. This is pertinent, especially as newspaper predates all the other media of mass communication as well as exerts tremendous impact on the society.

The newspaper performs the primary functions of informing, entertaining, educating, and serving the propaganda needs of the society, with regard to the propaganda needs of the society, the newspaper generally plays a critical role in National development, especially during political elections.

The powerful role of the press in political institution has also been highlighted by the great American leader, George Washing ton. He once remarked that if he were asked to choose between a government without the press, or press without government, he would opt for the latter. According to Sunday Olagunju, a columnist with the Times International (September 23, 1985), “great leaders such as Lenin of Russia, Bismarck of Germany, Attorturk of Turkey, Napoleon Bonar parti of France and even Chamberlain of Britain, succeeded because of their unalloyed recognition of the powerful role of the press”.

The tremendous political knowledge generated by political reports in newspapers have probably had a lot of impact on the growth, quality and development of political activities in the society. This is given credence by frank Ugboaja, who asserted in his “communication policies in Nigeria” (1980), that “Nigeria therefore had its newspapers to fight the cold wars that eventually led to the lifting of the shackles of colonialisne on 1st October, 1960, after having been under British colonial tutelage for nearly half a country.

Consequently, Nigeria gained her political independence on the powerful “wings” of the press.

Since Nigeria secured her independence in 1960, the press in this country has been accused of deviating from its militant journalism to a mere tune-dancer of the drums beaten by its owners.

It was in the light of the fore-going that we deemed it necessary to study the influence of newspaper reports on voting behaviour of electorates, taking cognizance of the fact that even though studies have been conducted on press coverage of political campaigns, not adequate report has been given on the voting behaviour of the electorates. Thus, this study is set out to inquire the extent to which newspaper political reports influenced the voting behaviour of the Enugu electorates during March, 2003, Governorship election in Nigeria.

1.2 Statement of the Research Problem

Undoubtedly, communication is essential for the conduct of polities. Some scholars have called it the nervous system of the body politic, transmitting messages among the various parts. An event that is not communicated is like the hypothetical tree that fell in the market place and nobody heard about it. Just as the fallen tree fails to be heard, so the excommunicated event fails to have effect.

However, there have been doubts on how much the newspaper as a print medium of mass communication, has been able to contribute to one of its primary objectives of inducing behaviour.

Election is a socio-political affair which is initiated for then change of government. It is a civic responsibility of all and sundry to participate in the election of political leaders. To do this therefore, the electorates need some kind of orientation in the political affairs and electorate procedures. Newspaper constitutes major medium through which this political orientation could be disseminated.

Again, the content of such messages invariably affects their assessment by the electorates as either favourable, unfavourable, credible or incredible.

Those who use newspapers as a medium for dissemination of political reports must have reasoned that it confers some usefulness and thus, have some impact.

In the light of these, therefore, our intention is to find out the extent to which newspaper political reports affects the voting behaviour of the Enugu electorates, at least within the period of February to March, 2003.

That very period was characterized by intense political struggles, reports of election malpractices and party campaigns, with unquantifiable promises, all in attempt to win voters consciences in the Governorship election.
The study is prompted by the fact that newspapers are believed to be able to damage the prestige of any party or candidate, add its own interpretation to a political newstory, give stance to favour a candidate or political party, and above all, influence public opinion.

It is hoped that answers to our findings will help to ascertain the influence of newspaper political reports on the voting behaviour of Enugu electorates.

This study drew some of its parameters from studies of Bernard R. Berelson, Paul F. Lazarsfield, H. Gandet amidst other scholars.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

This study aimed at finding out through opinion survey, the voting during the 2011 and 2015 General Election, as influenced by the newspaper political reports.

  1. Investigate the influence of media reporting on voting behaviour in Nigeria during the presidential elections of 2011 and 2015
  2. Examine the composite influence of media reporting and voting behaviour on leadership ascendancy during 2011 and 2015 presidential electons
  3. Examine the manner, trend and language of the frequency of newspaper and television reporting of Presidential elections of the period under study 2011 and 2015

1.4 Research Questions

In giving direction to this work, the following research questions were asked

  1. How did media reporting influence voting behaviour in Nigeria during the presidential elections conducted in 2011 and 2015?
  2. What is the nature of the influence exerted by the media on leadership ascendancy in Nigeria during the 2011 and 2015 presidential elections?

1.5 Hypotheses

The following hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance:

  • H01: Media reporting has no influence on voting behaviour.
  • H02: Media reporting has no influence on leadership ascendancy.

1.6 Significance of the Study

A lot of researches have been conducted on the influence of mass communication on the behaviour and attitude patterns of audiences. Unfortunately, there has been none done on the influence of newspaper political reports on the voting attitude of electorates. The necessity for this study, therefore, stems from the fact that the use of newspapers as avenue for political policy dissemination, has not been fully developed and utilized.

Factors like inter-personal communication and party affiliation still seem to have a predominant influence on the voting behaviour of the electorates. Thus, we intend to discover the extent to which newspaper political reports influence the voting behaviour of electorates. That is whether newspaper political reports create awareness, induce or change opinions, or whether these reports are not just enough to induce a change in the behaviour of electorates, or still, whether such political reports facilitate or reinforce political decisions on the electorates.

We hope that the result of this study will help the government and it’s agencies in making decisions on the best way to channel political education and help the media organizations understand the appropriate way of structuring political information for their audiences.

1.7 Scope of the Study

There is no doubt that media reporting and its influence on voting behavior to leadership ascendancy cuts across every level of election in different times ranging from 2011 and 2015 presidential elections. The study examined the impact of media reporting limited to radio, television and newspaper reporting and its influence on voting behavior to leadership ascendancy. This study is set to determine the type of influence, the factors determining the behaviour and attitude that voters adopt based on information available to them from the media and how it is reported in six states purposively selected from each geopolitical zone in Nigeria with a focus on presidential elections of 2011 and 2015. The focus is chosen because of its currency and the peculiarities of both presidential candidates, Muhammadu Buhari and Goodluck Jonathan contesting in 2011 and 2015 concurrently. This work shall be limited to the reporting of the following television channels: Channels television, African Independent Television, Nigerian Television Authority. This is on the basis that they are widely watched television stations, and covers all the states in Nigeria. And the following newspapers: The Guardian, Vanguard, The Nation, Daily Sun, Leadership and The Punch. This is also selected on their rating as the most widely read newspapers in Nigeria.

1.8 Operational Definition of Terms

The following are terms which occur in the research study which need to be defined to enable the reader understand the appropriate context in which they have been used.

Media Reporting:

Is the recounting of news worthy events by television, print media, and radio, to inform or educate as comprehensively and accurately as possible, to the public who are expected to be guided by facts, accuracy and objectivity.

Voting Behaviour:

Is a form of political behaviour exhibited by electorate. The systematic study of the voting patterns of the electorate of a given constituency in an election which provides insight into the sociology of the voters, factors that influence their voting patterns and the direction of their votes.


Involves the choice of persons who are to exercise authority on behalf of the people. It is a democratic means by which people choose their representatives or rulers. It allows the people to choose between two or more alternatives. Elections are held in every sphere of life where all the people cannot be directly involved such as clubs, churches, schools, professional associations etc.

Leadership Ascendancy:

Is the action of leading or directing a group of people or an organization, or the ability to occupy a position of dominant power or influence or the state of being in the leading; governing or controlling influence; domination. Leadership is developed through social influences. On one end of the range a leader is defined by a set of recommended behaviors which separates them from followers. On the other end, leadership is a temporary role that can be filled by anyone who has displayed intelligence, dominance, self-confidence, level of energy and activity, and task-relevant knowledge.

Media Ownership:

Refers to proprietary, financing and control of mass communication for the purpose of making profit and enhancing the profession of journalism. It is the owning of a medium or media of communications such as newspaper, magazine, television or radio for the dissemination of information, views, opinions and ideas within the confined laws of a country.

Agenda Setting:

Is an action undertaken by the media whereby the frequency of a particular news item and importance attached to it by the media raises the consciousness and discussion of government and the public thus determining what people will think and talk about in order to make a change.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Summary

This chapter presents a summary of the entire study from chapter one to chapter six with a view to understanding its rationality and reliability.

Chapter one gives an overall background to the study beginning with the definition of media reporting, voting behaviour and leadership ascendancy within the period under study 2011 and 2015. It goes further to affirm the media as an institution that plays a pivotal role in creating awareness and shaping attitudes in societies including Nigeria. The awareness created by the media include political education, political parties and their activities, their candidates, campaigns, election which include presidential elections and leadership ascendancy. It discussed largely the influence of media reporting in influencing the outcome of voters during presidential elections and specifically 2011 and 2015 respectively. It ends with statement of problems, objectives of the study, research questions and hypothesis among others.

Chapter two investigated the literature by diverse scholars that were considered suitable, pertinent and relevant to the study. Scholars view on the following were reviewed: Media and Election, Political Advertising in the media, Media coverage of Elections in Nigeria, Media Coverage of party Presidential Primaries, Media coverage of general Presidential elections, Media Reporting and Voting Behaviour, Media Ownership and Reporting, Leadership Ascendancy and Media Reporting, Media and Woman in Leadership, Voting Behaviour and Leadership Ascendancy.

It also examined empirical studies carried out by scholars and researchers in this line. The study adopted the Agenda setting and public Choice theory in giving the fact on what media reported using slant, and the manner of reporting makes it an agenda for discussion thereby influencing what people think. This, as a result cumulates into the decision of the public into choosing who to vote for, and fans the power of choice based on promises and their manifestos as reported by the media. The lacuna that exist in the reviewed literature was established, which indicated little or nodiscussion on the type of influence exerted by the media during elections including presidential elections of 2011 and 2015.

Chapter three presented the methodology adopted for the study, Research Design, Population of the Study, Sampling Size and Sampling Technique, Methods of data Collection, Sources of data, Research Instruments, Validity and reliability of the research Instrument, Administration of Research Instrument, Method of Analysis, and the ethical clearance issued by Babcock University

Chapter four presented content analysis that was used for this study 2011 and 2015 and confined itself to the presidential elections of the years under study. The sampling frame was restricted to the three months before the election was conducted and three months after the elections. The population of study were six (6) Nigerian newspapers, Personal interviews were also conducted: six (6) senators representing the six geopolitical zones which were randomly selected. Newspaper reporters of Daily Sun, Leadership, Guardian, The nation, Punch, and Vanguard. Television reporters of Channel Television, African Independent Television and Nigeria Television Authority. Questionnaires were also administered using selected six states in the six (6) geopolitical zones randomly selected. The researcher did a detailed analysis and interpretation of data as set out in chapter three. The analysis was based on the researcher’s questions and hypothesis with discussions and statistical presentation of data gathered for the study.

Summarily investigations in this work show that media reporting influences voting behavior in Nigeria moderately during the presidential elections conducted in 2011 and 2015. The research also shows that media reporting has moderate influence too on leadership ascendancy. It was discovered that the nature of influence which media reporting exerted on leadership ascendancy in Nigeria during the 2011 and 2015 Presidential elections was that of both Viral Thought Influence and Public thought influence.

The Composite effect of media reporting to voting behavior on leadership Ascendancy in the 2011 and 2015 presidential election reveals statistically that there was a strong positive relationship between the variables and that media reporting and voting behavior significantly influenced leadership ascendancy.

The manner, trend and language of the frequency of newspaper and television reporting of presidential elections of the period under study was more of hate speeches and insults, promises, threats and propaganda, campaigns, APC and PDP reportings of Buhari and Jonathans prominence. Finally emphasis was laid on religious and ethnic interest, revealing places and people with problems in fighting and explosions. Media placed constant report of issues also arising from INEC. The manner, trend and language were based on first ownership of the media, where the owners of media had influence on what is reported to the public, and whoever pays the piper more dictated the frequency of report on a particular news item.

5.2. Conclusion

Media reporting influenced voting behaviour which led to leadership ascendancy in 2011 and 2015 presidential elections. It was also discovered that the influence were mixed. Both viral thought and public thought influence played significant roles in both elections. The research showed that both thoughts featured prominently in persuading voters to make decision or choice of candidates to vote for as where the electronic, print or social media did 3 n ot play much role, the opinion leaders, caucus heads and community leaders were available to disseminate the information and sway the heart of the voters toward their already accepted candidates.

The mass media played a significant role in creating political awareness before and during the 2011 and 2015 Presidential Elections. Portrayed the 2011 and 2015 presidential election process in a positive light, which had effect on voters’ behaviour, influenced the voting pattern of electorate during the 2011 and 2015 presidential elections.
In each of the two elections examined, the Media portrayed a specific presidential candidate as the preferred option ahead of the elections. The results of the 2011 and 2015 presidential election indicated the influence of media agenda setting and consequently its effect on leadership position, as the emergence of Leadership at the presidential level in Nigeria in 2011 and 2015 was influenced by media reporting.

The research also reveals that individual interpersonal relationship influenced voting behavior in 2011 and 2015 respectively, the emergence of Leadership at the presidential level in Nigeria in 2011 and 2015 was influenced to a greater extent by media reporting. It is worthy to note that the impact of media reporting was less significant in 2011 as compared to 2015 where the media dominance was at a very high impact especially with the emergence of social media.

Subsequently, the research opined that irrespective of the influence media reporting played in the 2011 and 2015 Nigeria elections respectively, interpersonal relationship and monetary inducement to a greater extent impacted on leadership ascendancy in Nigeria during the 2011 and 2015 presidential elections. Other factors includes opinion/community leaders, ethnicity, Religion, Media sympathy and personal interest.

The study has brought to the fore the fact that media ownership influenced reporting of particular news items and campaigns in 2011 and 2015 presidential elections. This caused biased and most of the times misleading of the voters to accept information that are not true and reliable which amounted to voting candidates that might have not been the sincere choice of the voters.

The voting behaviour in Nigeria in 2011 and 2015 presidential elections was influenced by media, opinion leaders and community leaders, money, Interpersonal relationship, ethnic affiliations, religious affiliations, political party affiliations, sympathy, infrastructural benefits and personal interests. The above led voters not to sincerely exercise their franchise but made their decisions based on the influence or choice of their leaders, friends, where they come from which was actually swayed by the amount of money they were given and the selfish ambitions and goals.

5.3. Recommendations

The National Broadcasting Commission should strictly implement the Electoral Act 2010 No. 6 Section 99-102; on media houses both private and public owned that engage in reporting hate speeches and propaganda.

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and National Orientation Agency (NOA) should carry out massive improved political education programme to educate the electorate on how to decipher between true facts spread by the media by critically analyzing the reports by media organizations.

National Broadcasting commission (NBC), Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) should ensure that there are presidential debates ahead of the elections to enable the citizenry evaluate the candidates and determine who is competent to rule the country, this would make the electorate more objective instead of relying only on media reports.

The electorate themselves should learn to be objective and not just flow with the wind and caprices of whatever individuals or the media gives out as information, but should critically analyze, make inquiries, before voting in a candidate that will not bring about growth and development in the country.

The Nigerian Press Council, and Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria (BON) should monitor hate speeches and attack on personalities that could lead to violence, and sanction media houses who go against the regulations and code of conduct of the Broadcasting and press institution.

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Department of State Security should collaborate to monitor the electioneering campaigns of candidates of various political parties to ensure that they do not engage in hate speeches. Offenders should face stiff sanctions up to disqualification from contesting election for repeated abuse.

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