The Role Of Mass Media In Crisis Management In Nigeria

Project and Seminar Material for Mass Communication

The Role Of Mass Media In Crisis Management In Nigeria


Abstract


The role played by media in conflicts has been an issue of discussion all over the world. Although media influence has increased tremendously in the last decade, researchers are yet to agree on the degree and magnitude of its influence in conflicts. The media are always known to set agenda for the public to follow; this they do by raising salient issues, occurrences and events as they happen in the society and bringing them to the public. The media set agenda of peace, love, unity etc. in recent times, Plateau state, especially Jos has been characterized by one form of crises or the other; this in turn leads to loss of lives and properties. This research work therefore attempts to examine the relevant role played by the media in resolving the lingering crises in Plateau state. In addition, the research work examines the way and manner the media have been used to manage the crises in Plateau state. The aim of this study was to analyze the role of media in conflict management, with reference to the crises in Jos North Local Government Area as the case area. The specific objectives were to establish the media accessibility level and the various types of media coverage; to establish the extent to which media escalated and/or deescalated violence and to determine how media could influence selected human factors towards conflict in the area of study. The research utilized both primary and secondary method of data generation. Instruments were adopted in gathering information for quality work. Instruments such as News-papers, internet, radio, journals and television were used to gather information about the activities carried out by the media in conflict situations. Other methods adopted were through questionnaires and interviews. Findings show that the media have a crucial role to play in conflict resolution. Findings further show that the media have not been giving objective reports of the Jos crises and this tends to escalate the crises. Based on the findings, the research work concludes that the extent to which the media are used to resolve crises in Plateau state is minimal and recommends, among others, that the media should be constantly used to preach peace, so as to bring about lasting peace in Plateau state.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background to the Study

Communal clashes have over the years had a common phenomenon in the developing nations of the world, which Nigeria is inclusive. Ethnicity, religious differences, tribal, and land dispute and boundary adjustment cause these. Ethnicity refers to a group of people with a common socio/cultural identity such as language, worldview, religion, and cultural traits, Boaten(2000).

Thus, ethnic groups are social formations distinguished by the communal character (such as language and culture) of their boundaries Nnoli (1980). In other words, ethnic groups represent categories of people characterized by cultural symbols including language, value systems and normative behaviour, and whose members are anchored in a particular territory Otite (1990). Actually, the word ethnic is derived from the Greek word ethnos which means a group of people who share a common and distinctive culture.

In its classical meaning, ethnic relates to a member of a particular group, Imobighe, (2003). Hence ethnicity according to Imobighe should be seen as the feeling of belonging to a distinctive cultural or linguistic group, or a manifestation of ethnic consciousness in relation to other groups. Conflicts arise from the pursuit of divergent interests, goals and aspirations by individuals or groups in defined social and physical environments Otite (1999). As observed in the literature, ethnic conflict derives their rationale and configuration from perceived socio/cultural differences.

In fact, Otite (1990) presents a picture of ethnicity as the contextual discrimination by members of one group against others on the basis of differentiated system of socio-cultural symbols. He affirms that ethnicity has the properties of common group consciousness and identity and also group exclusiveness on the basis of which social discriminations are made. In most cases, as Nigerian experience shown results to violent intractable conflicts.


1.2 Statement Problem

This study examines the role ofmass media in crisis resolution with particular reference to Anambra Broadcasting Service, Awka (ABS).

Research on communal crisis and media role is usually difficult if not impossible. This study is examining the role of mass media in crisis resolution.


1.3 Objectives of the Study

  1. To examine causes of communal crisis in Nigeria
  2. To know how effective mass media are in the coverage of communal crisis by ABS Awka.
  3. To know some of the challenges rendering mass media weak in coverage of Communal crisis
  4. To examine the role of mass media in cubing communal crisis?
  5. How has mass media enhanced relationship between the people of the Communities?

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What is the major cause of communal crisis in Nigeria?
  2. How effective are mass media in the coverage of communal crisis?
  3. Is there any challenges rendered, mass media weak in the coverage of communal crisis?
  4. How does mass media assist in cubing communal crisis?
  5. How has mass media enhanced relationship between the people of the communities?

1.5 Scope of the Study.

The scope of this study resides in the topic of the research work; the scope of the study will be limited to communal clash. Since it is not possible to cover all clashes that have occurred in Nigeria. However, despite the limitations, the result of the research will be generalized, leaving the researcher to look into this Local Governments in Anambra Ltate (Nnewi South).


1.6 Significance of the Study

This study will be beneficial to media practitioners as well as mass communication students to know some of the challenges and role of mass media in crisis management.

The research will be of benefit to the government by learning from public opinion of the respondents on strategies they need to employ in cubing communal clashes to see the pains that people are passing through.

Academically, the study will form an extension of knowledge to the academic study for future researchers.

This will also help other researchers to further investigate other aspect this research might not be able to cover.


1.7 Definition of Terms

Role:

This is the function or responsibilities expected of mass media.

Mass Media:

These are means of communicating to large, scatter, and heterogeneous audience used in waging war against terrorism in Nigeria.

Crisis:

This is the state of disorderliness that engulfed the nation Nigeria after 2011 general election

Resolution:

This is media step in bringing peace into the country when violence erupted because of announcement of 2011 presidential election result.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Summary

The research covered the introductory and the background to the study. The methods used in carrying out the research concerning the ‘Role of Media in Conflict Management’ processes. It was understood that the media either play a positive role or negative roles in conflict which will either lead to reconciliation and development or destruction by the parties in the conflict. The target of operation was focused at Jos North LGA in Plateau state and an assessment of the roles played by the media during the conflicts experienced.

A literature review on the role of the media in conflict situations was done to have an understanding of the views of scholars, professionals, and other media outfits. The theories that were formed from previous study on the media were discussed and how it affects conflict management/transformation positively or negatively. A discussion on the historical perspective of Plateau conflict and the methods used in gathering data were made clear in the study. These helped the researcher make more clarifications on the processes of discussion and assessment of results or data. An analysis and presentation of the critical role of the media on the Plateau conflict was discussed, how it affects development, and the ways the government and public see it as an instrument of manipulation or instrument to achieve set goals was discussed in the study.


5.2 Conclusion

The media is well known to be an influential fourth realm in any given sovereign state especially a democratic state like Nigeria. It has serious stake in conflict situations of which its role is important. Just like the Plateau conflicts all over the state, the media has played different roles in one way or the other in the peace and conflict processes.

There are factors that are brought into the process as reportage is made and ventilated to the public. Reports of conflicts and their occurrence either arouse the violent tendency of parties in conflict or bringing them together to calm for peace and justice. Conflicts occurrences have received fast tracking speed in escalating conflicts while have has theirs in speedily resolving the conflicts. It all depends on the individual or group involved in the reportage. If there is tendency of being biased, then reports will not be properly sent to the public.

Media and journalism can be a great assistance in conflict management and peace building. However, the power they have is also limited, as they will never be able to eliminate armed conflicts altogether. The media can be a good tool in a healthy and functioning environment but more is needed than ethical and responsible reporting to ensure lasting peace and safety. The role of the media is twofold: on the one hand, the media report and reflect on pressing issues and can help to question established concepts and ideas. On the other hand, they can be used for propaganda purposes and instead of revealing truths, try to cover things up and by this curtail people’s freedom and right to information. Regardless, the potential of the media in conflict and post-conflict situations remains a net positive, and has been sadly underutilized to this point in time.

When properly related to the public with the intention of calming tension and bringing windows of opportunities up for change then a positive contributive role is put into display. Sometimes as an influential instrument in the society, the members of the media exploit the opportunity to cause more harm while others are sometimes caught impersonating. Conflicts are challenges societies faced in certain times. They are either used to develop a society, or used to destroy a society. The available tools used in managing and transforming conflicts such as the media need a serious attention by the government and people of Plateau state. Conflict in itself is neither positive nor negative but the choice of action we made either makes it productive or destructive.


5.3 Recommendations

Recommendations preferred from the research for a better role of the media in conflicts are:

  1. The media can serve an informing and educating function by securing a free flow of accurate and constructive information, counteracting misperceptions, identifying the interests underlying the issues, and helping to build a consensus. This may include providing information about human rights as much as about the principles of good governance and parliamentary democracy and democratic election.
  2. The media can further build confidence and mediate between conflicting parties by fostering communication, generating alternative options to violent conflict, reflecting the ordinary person’s desire and need for peace, communicating the process of negotiations to the constituencies involved and providing a forum for on-going dialogue.
  3. Third, they may act as a watchdog on leaders to help ensure long-term accountability, monitor human rights violations and, in a broader sense, provide some early warning on potential escalations of the conflict.
  4. The appropriateness and effectiveness of these activities will vary not only according to the type and phase of the conflict, but also according to the role that the media have played within the conflict dynamics. These factors must be analyzed and determined in a pre- project assessment.
  5. Since the essence of conflict management is the transformation of mentalities, both within the society and the individual, societies have to be involved from the top-down and the bottom-up. The media have the potential to be a gateway through which to reach the largest possible number of people.

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