The Role Of Mass Media In A Democratic Governance

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

The Role Of Mass Media In A Democratic Governance


This study examines the role of mass media in democratic governance. Specifically mass Media are generally assumed to play an important role in democracies, but how effective are they in performing this function within specific states hence this study. The study adopts four specific objectives to the study which are (i) To ascertain the level of equal media coverage given to political parties to candidates. (ii) To ascertain the significant relationship between mass media & electioneering campaign. (iii) To ascertain the significant level of mobilization of mass media towards elections and (iv)To determine the significant role mass media plays towards the democratic governance in Nigeria. The Methodology of the study includes: design of the study, area of the study, the population of the study, the sample of the study, the institution of data collection, validation of the instrument, distribution and retrieval of the instrument and the method of data analysis in the cause of data distribution.

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

The mass media generally regarded as a channel of communication that are capable of reaching heterogeneous audience simultaneously with uniform message. They regularly cover all sorts of issues such as health, music, fine art, crime, sport, entertainment, political events among others (Meyer, 2002, Soela 2004). The mass media transmits ideas and new information to target audience in the society. Tosani Sunmi (2004) has observed that the mass media educate, inform and entertain beyond these functions as they also persuade and catalyze for social mobilization. In other words, the mass media can be regarded as powerful service of information because they have the capability to penetrate every segment of society. They have the ability to disseminate information about issue, ideas and product. Furthermore, the mass media has that capability to create awareness and knowledge about issues of national interest. The traditional mass media usually consist of radio, television, newspaper and magazine while the news media involves the internet technologies. Contextually, these media have the responsibility to mobilize for national development. In other words, social mobilization for development largely depends on the media for success. Crusade for change and dissemination of useful information against corruption, bad governance and terrorism depend on the mass media. Ogwezzy (2010) states that it is a common knowledge that the media is the engine of mass communication and the avenue through which the public could be reached. In the other hand, election is an important element of democracy; elections enable the individual to express a sense of belonging to a political system. Elections provide forum for the discussion of public opinion on important issue. Elections allow an exchange of influence between leaders and the electorate (Nwaozuzu 1999). This statement captures the relevant functions of the broadcast media in elections which serves as a mobilizing of all the different people in society and at the same time to coordinate the activities as they are made to express their views about candidates who are contesting for political position. The broadcast media through their programmes create avenue through which the people express their views about candidates. There may be phone calls in programmes like radio link, state of the Nation, or debate programmer responsible or otherwise and has made people pass on topical political issues. Also the broadcast media (Radio and Television) provide platforms through which individuals or member of society contribute on issues of public interest. They may be based on stewardship of political offices holders wishing to recontest for elections or it may have to do with electoral law that is perceived to be capable of fermenting violence. Ebo (1997) maintain that: the broadcast media play decisive roles in the lives of the citizens no matter where they are located and whatever their stage of development. The broadcast media are the most potent and sensitive sector of the communication industry considering the reach and influence they have on their viewers and listeners. Therefore, it is against the above background that this study seeks to examine the role of mass media in democratic governance, with reference to Nigeria.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The role of media in every society is often to educate, inform and enlighten. It is assumed that, where those roles are adequately carried out, elections are bound to be free and fair. However, in Nigeria, several elections have been marred, the question is how the mass media had mobilized the Nigerian populace. How come electoral processes have not been successful? Is the broadcast media system not commensurate to other media systems elsewhere? These and many others are questions that this study hopes to identify.

1.3 Objective of the Study

The general objective of this study is to examine the role of mass media in democratic governance.

The specific objectives of this study are:

  1. To ascertain the level of equal media coverage given to political parties to candidates.
  2. To ascertain the significant relationship between mass media & electioneering campaign.
  3. To ascertain the significant level of mobilization of mass media towards elections.
  4. To determine the significant role mass media plays towards the democratic governance in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Hypotheses

For the successful completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher;

  1. H0: mass media do not plays significant role towards democratic sustenance in Nigeria.
    H1: mass media plays significant role towards democratic sustenance in Nigeria.
  2. H02: there is no significant level of mobilization of mass media towards elections.
    H2: there is significant level of mobilization of mass media towards elections

1.5 Significance of the Study

On the completion of this project the end result will benefit academics, students of political sciences and other researchers that intend to carry out further research on the study of this nature. Also, the practical significance is that the policies /recommendation that will emanate from this study will serve as a guide to policy makers in dealing with issues of this nature.

1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study

The scope of this research work will only cover the people within Anambra metropolis. This focus will be on the people living around Abagana, Awka and Onitsha axis of the city. The researcher encounters some constrain which limited the scope of the study;

a) Availability of Research Material:

The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study

b) Time:

The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

c) Organizational Privacy:

Limited Access to the selected auditing firm makes it difficult to get all the necessary and required information concerning the activities

1.7 Definition of the Study

A Political Campaign:

This is an organized effort which seeks to influence the decision making process within a specific group source Wikipedia

Mass Media:

This is a medium of communication (as newspapers, radio, or television) that is designed to reach the mass of the people.


A government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections (Oxford English Dictionary)

1.8 Organization of the Study

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows

  • Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study.
  • Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature.
  • Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study.
  • Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
  • Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to ascertain the role of mass media in democratic governance. 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 the role of mass media in democratic governance

5.2 Summary

This study was on the role of mass media in democratic governance. Four objectives were raised which included:To ascertain the level of equal media coverage given to political parties to candidates, to ascertain the significant relationship between mass media & electioneering campaign, to ascertain the significant level of mobilization of mass media towards elections, to determine the significant role mass media plays towards the democratic governance in Nigeria. In line with these objectives, two research hypotheses were formulated and two null hypotheses were posited. The total population for the study is 200 residents of Abagana, Awka and Onitsha in Anambra state. The researcher used questionnaires as the instrument for the data collection. Descriptive Survey research design was adopted for this study. A total of 133 respondents made public servants, business men, elderly menand youths were used for the study. The data collected were presented in tables and analyzed using simple percentages and frequencies

5.3 Conclusion

Achieving Good Governance requires the understanding and participation of every member of the society. However, it has been observed that for governance to be just and democratic, leaders more than any other sector of the society need to use their power responsibly and for the greater good. Systems and procedures need to be in place that impose restraints on power and encourage government officials to act in the public’s best interests. The media, their roles, channels and contents, are considered powerful enough to make this achievement a reality. The Nigerian media have been in the vanguard for the promotion and sustenance of the democracy we now have in the country, even the struggle for independence was pioneered and fought for by the Nigerian media. But a great number of existing media channels in the country need to take up the responsibility of adequately engendering better governance in our democratic polity. As the institution mandated to hold those in governance accountable, the Nigerian media can effectively achieve this if they apply the basic principles of patriotism, accountability, transparency and objectivity in the discharge of their duties as well as uphold the sanctity of truth and fairness at all times. In effect, for the media to contribute to Good Governance, the media must embrace the principles of Good Governance themselves as a critical precondition for effectiveness in the discharging their functions to the Nigerian society. The watchdogs must watch themselves.

5.4 Recommendation

  1. Political leaders in Nigeria should immediately “prune” their salaries and allowances which are considered as the highest in the world. At the moment the high financial position of members of the political class makes them emphasize the gains rather than the services to the people.
  2. Nigeria should return to the path of meritocracy which will give every citizen the confidence to transparently compete for any opportunity. The current practice where „federal character‟ (read ethnicity or tribalism) is a major mode of distributing resources through appointments, promotions, etc. is not efficient and fair, rather it promotes mediocrity which does not put the country in a competitive position. It is like going for a football tournament with a „fifth eleven‟ because of ethnic consideration. The outcome is obvious.
  3. Corruption remains a major problem in Nigeria because the system encourages it but as president Mohammadu Buhari is quoted to have said during his electioneering campaign, “If Nigeria does not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria.” However, he does not seem to be going about it the right way. He might wish to embrace a more transparent and creditable fight against the monster of corruption.
  4. The mass media institution in the country should be strengthened and encouraged to carry out its constitutional responsibility to the society. This is because of the importance of information in a democracy. No doubt, a well informed citizenry is a big advantage in a democratic setting.
  5. There is need to address the high level of social inequality in Nigeria because of its many problems such as increase in crime rate and criminal behavior by persons seeking to redistribute wealth by all means possible.

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