Role Of Mass Media In Electoral Process And Coverage Of Political Parties Activities In 2015 Election
The study is geared towards finding out the role of mass media in electoral process and coverage of political parties activities in 2015 elections with reference to four media houses and four political parties i.e Osun State Broadcasting Corporation, Gold 95.5 F.M, Ilesa, Osun Defender Newspaper and Nigerian Tribune Newspaper. Political parties include: All Progressive Congress (APC), People’ Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP) and Accord Party (AP). It is revealed that the role and contribution of media in political awareness, mobilization, education and in the entire political development especially during election cannot be overemphasized. Quantitative research design was used in which cross-sectional survey method was adopted while the data collection instrument was questionnaire. 200 copies of questionnaires were administered and 180 were returned. Respondents were drawn using probability and non-probability technique. Also, the data were analysed and interpreted using table, frequency and percentage method. However, the sustainability of the democracy through public mobilization rest on the shoulder of the forth estate of the realm (media) which is achieved through media social responsibility and constitutional role.
1.1 Background of the Study
The mass media are elemental in effective functioning of almost all spheres of the society especially the political sphere. Studies have confirmed that the media play significant role in the political process of any society (Curan 1991, McCombs & Shaw 1993, Akinfeleye (2004),McQuail, 2005, Okunna, 2009, Pate 2011, etc). Mass media are institutions that democracy cannot do without. Obot (2013, p. 176) concurs that, “a political system that lays claim to democracy without a virile mass media would certainly be a ‘malnourished’ and ‘still-birth’ political contraption”. That is why former United State president Thomas Jefferson states that “if I had to choose between “a government without newspapers [mass media] or newspapers [mass media] without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter”. This profound statement shows how important media are to the society especially to governance. The strategic position of the mass media in any political process cannot be over emphasis. McNair (2002) cited in Obot (2013) aptly captures this reality why he opines that, in democratic political systems, the mass media inform citizens of what is happening around them, educate the audience about political happenings, provide a platform for public political discourse, facilitating the formation of ‘public opinion’, and feeding that opinion back to the public from whence it came. He further states that the mass media give publicity to governmental and political institutions as well serve as channels for the advocacy of political viewpoints. This implies that in a democratic set up, the media’s major role is to inform enlightened, mobilized people and create platforms for public discourse. Obot (2013) succinctly explains that, the mass media provide a link between the political party/candidate and the electorates. Through coverage of electioneering campaigns and airing of political advertisements, the media help in influencing voters’ decision either in favor or against a given political party or candidate. Olukotun (2014) echoed a similar point that during elections, the media are the principal vehicles where voters receive information concerning political parties, the voting process, the electoral commission and the other issues germane to the exercise of their rights. Ende (2011) goes on to explain that, the strategic importance of the place of mass media during elections in particular manifest through their coverage and presentation of news, information, facts, figures, editorials and other analytical pieces about issues in order to raise political consciousness among the populace. This shows that, in an electioneering period, the mass media are strategic and expected to regulate the political atmosphere by bringing to fore all that the audience need to know and do in order to ensure peaceful and successful elections. Aghamelu (2008) adds that, the media’s role in an election extends to monitoring of the electoral process. To this extent, media’s emphasis should no longer be limited on when and how the leaders will be voted, rather go out to cover how the entire process fared. The Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage, section two states the responsibility of media organizations thus: A media organization shall ensure accurate and impartial voter education on parties, candidates, registration, verification, voting centres, voting procedures, complaint procedures, etc as provided by relevant agencies…A media organization shall uphold the right of the people to free expression by providing opportunity for ordinary citizens to express their views during electoral processes The Nigeria Media Code of Election further pin-points that “As the chief purveyor of information on the electoral processes, the media shall at all times embrace best professional practices by acting in accordance with the principles of social responsibility”. Similarly, the Nigeria Electoral Act (Section 52(1) (b)) buttresses the role of electronic media in improving the transparency of the electoral process and useful tool in facilitating participation of various segments of the society in the political process (PLAC, 2012). In Nigeria, and in particular during the 2015 general elections, online media sites such as Sahara reporters, Scannews, Premium times, Naij.com among others together with conventional media have been actively involved in coverage of political discourse, providing perspectives and direction on political debates and framing issues for political decisions and mobilization (IPC& NPC, 2015).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Online news sites like Sahara Reporters, Scannews and Premium Times among others have become vibrant platforms of political communication in Nigeria (Ifukor 2010). The media’s ease of use, speed and wider reach have made them trendy and preferable channel of political news stories among citizens especially young adults since 2007 electioneering (Nkwachukwu, 2014). In spite of the vibrancy of online news media especially in election period, questions have emerged about the reliability of news and information through online news sites or sources bearing in mind that, publishers (citizen journalists) of news and information online are mostly amateurs and might be people with partisan, religious and ethnic interests. Thus, news report and information via online sites may be full of biases, may lack accuracy and reliability. Nwachukwu (2014) further states that during 2011 general elections in Nigeria, messages online were subjected to little or no verification thus, Ekine (2010) concludes that, online platforms were largely misused as vehicles for spreading false information, rumors and inflammatory messages that contributed to violence that marred the 2011 elections. In 2015 election, online news media were also at the vanguard of political coverage in the country. Hence, it becomes imperative to examine their actions during the election. Against this backdrop, this work looked at online news media coverage of 2015 general elections with a view to established the extent online news media report stories about the election, how they portrayed major political parties and direction of their reports.
1.3 Objective of the Study
The objectives of the study are;
- To examine the attention given to different parties by the online media during 2015 election by the selected online media
- To examine how the selected online media portrayed major political parties during the 2015 election
- To find out the direction of reports about 2015 election as reported by the selected online media during the election.
- To ascertain the role of mass media on election process
1.4 Research Hypotheses
The hypotheses stated below are raised in order to actualize the objectives of this study.
- HO: there is no direction of reports about 2015 election as reported by the selected online media during the election
- HI: there is direction of reports about 2015 election as reported by the selected online media during the election
- HO: there is no role of mass media on election process
- HI: there is role of mass media on election process
1.5 Significance of the Study
The study will be significant to student, INEC and the general public. The study will give a clear insight on the role of mass media in electoral process and coverage of political parties activities in 2015. It will also serve as a reference to other researchers that will embark on this topic
1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study
The scope of the study covers role of mass media in electoral process and coverage of political parties activities in 2015.
Limitation of Study
Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.7 Definition of Terms
Social media interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks
An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Electoral reform describes the process of introducing fair electoral systems where they are not in place, or improving the fairness or effectiveness of existing systems.
The extent to which something deals with something else, the area that can be covered by a specified volume or weight of a substance.
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
Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation
It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to ascertain role of mass media in electoral process and coverage of political parties activities in 2015
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 mass media in electoral process and coverage of political parties activities in 2015
This study was on role of mass media in electoral process and coverage of political parties activities in 2015. Four objectives were raised which included: To examine the attention given to different parties by the online media during 2015 election by the selected online media, to examine how the selected online media portrayed major political parties during the 2015 election, to find out the direction of reports about 2015 election as reported by the selected online media during the election, to ascertain the role of mass media on election process. In line with these objectives, two research hypotheses were formulated and two null hypotheses were posited. The total population for the study is 100 staff of Osun State Broadcasting Corporation, Gold 95.5 F.M and 100 members of political parties in Osun 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 up broadcasters, editors, ward chairmen and ward secretaries were used for the study. The data collected were presented in tables and analyzed using simple percentages and frequencies
The findings of this study have shown significant commitment by online media in ensuring success of the 2015 presidential election. They have activity collaborated with mainstream media in given out news, articles, features, editorials, pictures and other contents which immensely contributed to informing and motivating the citizens to participate in the election. However, in their selection and treatment of reports during the election, online media have come short of the tenets of social responsibility theory, which is a necessity in election coverage.
In line with above, the following recommendations are necessary if online media must be more viable and valid stakeholder in the democratic process in Nigeria:
- Online media journalists and bloggers should be taught or reminded that the freedom of speech or to publish has responsibility, which they are also expected to adhered to. Therefore, groups like NUJ, Nigerian Broadcasting Commission should take the lead in sensitizing online journalists on this matter; this can be actualized through special seminars, workshops and symposium.
- The media should adhere to journalism code of conducts in all their activities. Hence, being objective to all parties in their reportage as well as granting access to all parties, knowing fully that they are responsible to the generality of the citizens not portion of it and true democracy rest on competition from different groups not just selected two.
- Relevant communication regulating agencies should extent their checks to online media using technology to ensure that such media operate with decorum
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