Role Of Mass Media On The Fight Against Kidnapping In Nigeria
The issue of kidnapping has attracted global attention as a result of its enormous harm to the socio-economic fabric of nations. Its effects go beyond the physical damage to include psychological effects on the people. In Nigeria, many people have suffered acts of kidnapping, including the media. The Boko Haram group had earlier complained that the media are under reporting their activities and therefore have sworn to launch mass attack on the media (Daily Sun, 2012, p. 3). This study, therefore, sought to examine newspaper coverage of kidnapping in Nigeria with the aim of finding out the frame of presentation used by some selected newspapers in the country. This study adopted content analysis as its research design. The population of the study comprises of four selected national dailies namely: The Guardian, Tribune, New Nigerian and Champion newspapers, which were studied for a period of one year (April 2011 to April, 2012). Using multistage and composite week sampling techniques, the study arrived at 384 editions of the newspapers to be studied. The Pearson r correlational statistical technique was used to calculate for intercoder reliability. The study found that 57.0% of the news stories reported on the pages of the selected newspapers condemned the act of kidnapping as perpetuated by the terrorists in the country. It was also found that 45.8% of the news stories were reported on the front pages of the selected newspapers; indicating high prominence given to the issue of kidnapping in the country. The study concluded that newspaper coverage of kidnapping in the country have been impressive. It was, however, recommended that the media should improve on its investigative journalistic role to see if it would be possible to monitor the activities of these terrorists, in order to help government curb their actions.
1.2 Background of the Study
Studies, in recent times, have shown that many nations both developed and developing that had never considered kidnapping as a serious social and political issues have begun to do so. This is due to the fact that the issue of kidnapping has attracted global attention as a result of its enormous harm to the socio-economic fabric of a nation. Kidnapping, as an issue, is not really a new phenomenon but has recently begun to constitute major threat to different states and the entire global order.
Lacquer (2003, p. 7) captures the attention that has been given to kidnapping in recent times when he noted that:
From time to time, following some spectacular attack, kidnapping would figure prominently in the media for a few days. There would be deliberations on the highest level of government, committees would be appointed and resolutions passed… In any case, kidnapping never threatens all countries in an equal measure, but this has changed now as kidnapping is bound to remain high on the list ofcountry‟s priorities.
Some people have tried to query the attention government of nations pay to this issue of kidnapping. It was even said that kidnapping is a child of economic difficulty and illiteracy. However, Alan and Malecková (2003, p. 119) were quick to resolve this issues when they noted that “the most glaring misconception about kidnapping is the assumption that terrorists are underprivileged, uneducated individuals on the fringe of society.
Increasingly, empirical studies of kidnapping have demonstrated that such a notion is flawed. Not only is there no empirical basis for this perception, but kidnapping also appears to be more of a desirable undertaking than a last resort for many individuals”.
There is no doubt that the act of kidnapping spells doom to a nation. The effects go beyond the physical damage to include diverse collateral consequences, part of which is the psychological effects on the people. The psychological effects is increased when the people feel they are not been carried along. Interestingly, major re-allocations of resources occur to support the repair of physical and psychological damage, restore order and alleviate fear, attempt to recreate a sense of normality, and to initiate protective actions for the future, although many instituted after the terrorist act have emerged. The general economic impact of kidnapping is that it diverts resources and undermines economic stability (Saul, 2002, p.18).
Nigeria is not left out in the target for terrorists‟ actions. As a country, she has suffered series of conflicts. Bunmi (2011, p.5)observed that“the ethno-religious fracas in parts of Jos, in Sept. 2001, July 2002, Nov. 2008 till date; acts of militancy in the Niger Delta and most recently the attacks on innocent Nigerians that started in Maiduguri (Borno State) and sporadically spread to other States in the North where the Boko Haram adherents had pitched their tents, and the recent bombing of Abuja, are recent crises and acts of terror this country faces”.
The Boko Haram sect which has pushed the country to a tight conner still communicate treating messages to the government. During the 2009 uprising, their leader, Muhammad Yusuf, died in police custody. Since then, several arrests have been made by the Nigerian security forces, yet the attacks are getting messy as the group are demanding for the release of their members in Nigerian prisons. Recently, the media house have had their own share of the attacks as ThisDay newspaper headquarters in Abuja and the Daily Sun newspaper house in Kaduna were attacked by the sects. The group had earlier complained that the media are under reporting their activities and therefore have sworn to launch mass attack on the media (Daily Sun, 2012, p. 3).
The complain of the sect seems to have been a fallout from their knowledge of the importance of the media in reporting events in the society. Stating the importance of the media in kidnapping report, Laqueur (1976, p.9) noted that “terrorists have learned that the media are of paramount importance in their campaigns that the terrorist act by itself is next to nothing, whereas publicity is all. But the media, constantly in need of diversity and new angles, make fickle friends and so terrorists always have to be innovative. They are, in some respects, the super-entertainers of our time”. Writing further, Miller (1982, p.1) noted that kidnapping “is the media‟s stepchild, a stepchild, which the media, unfortunately, can neither completely ignore nor deny”.
In line with the relationship between the media and kidnapping, this study sought to examine newspaper coverage of kidnapping in Nigeria with the aim of finding out the frame of analysis and presentation used by selected newspapers in the country.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The act of terror might not really have any effect without the coverage of the media. Invariably, the mass media dramatically change, to some extent, the way and manner most terrorist exhibit their act of terror. In other to attract media attention, in most cases, terrorist identifies core areas of the fabric of the nation to perpetuate their evil act. This might be to make sure their actions do not escape the pages of the newspaper‟s account of the day‟s event(s). This is the only way their actions can be made known to a vast majority of the public.
However, the way these events of terror are reported by the media might have lots of implications attached to it. It can create more fear in the minds of the people, encourage the terrorists to commit more acts of terror, hinder economic development, create negative image for the government, and prevent foreign investment. The list of implications might be more than what has been mentioned.
This study, therefore, sought to examine newspaper coverage of kidnapping in Nigeria with the aim of finding out the frame of analysis and presentation used by selected newspapers in the country.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main crux of this study is to examine newspaper coverage of kidnapping in Nigeria with the aim of finding out the frame of analysis and presentation used by some selected newspapers in the country.
Other specific objectives includes to:
- Identify the direction of newspaper coverage of kidnapping in Nigeria.
- Examine the level of prominence given to the news stories on kidnapping in the country.
- Find out the depth of newspaper coverage of the issues of kidnapping in Nigeria.
- Find out the economic implication of newspaper coverage of kidnapping.
- Identify how government responded to the news of kidnapping in the country.
1.5 Research Questions
This study was guided by the following research questions:
- What is the direction of newspaper coverage of kidnapping in Nigeria?
- What is the level of prominence given to the news stories on kidnapping in the country?
- What is the depth of newspaper coverage of the issues of kidnapping in Nigeria?
- What is the economic implication of newspaper coverage of kidnapping in the country?
- How did government respond to the news of kidnapping in the country?
1.5. Significance of the Study
Professionally, this work will help to know how the media has effectively covered the activities of terrorists in Nigeria, the economic implications, and how government responds to news of kidnapping in the country.
Academically, this study will also serve as an empirical data for future researchers who may wish to carry out a further investigation on the activities of terrorists in Nigeria.
Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations
5.2 Summary of Findings
The result of the analysis indicates that 57.0% of the news stories reported on the pages of the selected newspapers were negatively reported; meaning that the Nigerian newspapers that were studied condemned the act of kidnapping as perpetuated by the terrorists in the country. It was also revealed that 45.8% of the news stories were reported on the front pages of the selected newspapers; indicating high prominence given to the issue of kidnapping in the country. Further analysis also indicated that 28.7 % of the news stories published were reported within the space of 6-10 inches of the selected newspapers, which is a moderate reportage of kidnapping in “volume-estimate”.
The study also revealed that 54.6% news stories on kidnapping reported that the act of terror affect infrastructural facilities within the vicinity it took place. Finally, analysis showed that 58.9% of the news stories published by the selected newspapers reported that government response to acts of kidnapping was swift; meaning that as soon as government got wind of the terrorist acts, they immediate activated the necessary agencies to report to the scene of event to help rescue the victims.
Considering the fact that results presented in this study indicated that newspapers‟ reportage condemned the acts of kidnapping in the country, gave high prominence to news on kidnapping and moderate in-depth report of news stories on kidnapping, it would be pertinent to conclude that newspaper coverage of kidnapping in the country have been impressive, generally. This is because on its part, newspapers have tried to provide the people with information that bother on their day-day interest by bringing to them news on kidnapping and condemning in public what would usually instil fear in them.
It would be good for government to adopt a pre-emptive approach to the issue of kidnapping. That is the major way government can be on top of the situation in the country. a situation where the government rely on responding quickly to terrorists attack is not enough. Government should strengthen its agencies and armed forces, through further training and financial benefits, to keep them a step ahead of every terrorists attack in the country.
The media should improve on its investigative journalistic role to see if it would be possible to monitor the activities of these terrorists, in order to help government curb their actions.
The media should have a well planned style for reporting news stories on kidnapping in order not to glorify the situation. This well taught out plan would help the reporter fashion out better ways to tackle kidnapping stories. This style might be an in-house style for the medium.
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