The Role Of The Press In The Free And Fair Election

Project and Seminar Material for Mass Communication

The Role Of The Press In The Free And Fair Election


This study is on the role of the press in the free and fair election. The total population for the study is 200 staffof INEC, Abuja. 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 electoral commissioners, presiding officers, senior staff and junior staff were used for the study. The data collected were presented in tables and analyzed using simple percentages and frequencies

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

Election is a festival of democracy. It fosters an inclusive state; democracy rooted in popular sovereignty and sustainable peace and tests the competitive strength of political parties and leaders through programme and ideologies. In this context, it is important for the press to keep the hope of citizens’ by serving key roles in democratic initiatives, democratic consolidation, democratic expansion and democratic system.

Since the press is the prime channel of transmitting electoral message, politics will be played out increasingly in communication space. Press can contribute to ease the nation’s transition process by creating election friendly environment, democratizing the public sphere and legitimizing political initiatives. These factors are essential to strengthen the integrative capacity of the political system and its external adaptability and open the citizens’ mind to universal principles of democracy human rights and rule of law. But, the public function of the press is largely contingent on its own framework of ownership, finance, control and regulation.

Politicians talk more to the press than among themselves. It is the press that shapes their over all cognitive understanding about politics. A strong identification of citizens with political parties steered by the press provides greater motivation to vote and engage in politics. But, party is only a part of society, not the whole.

The articulation of partisan contents marks the partial reporting of political truth. It mirrors only the ideological representation of society and contributes less to democratic well-formation. Citizenship begins with the membership of the state; therefore, Civic responsibility of the press requires a contribution to public opinion formation. In this process the press has to provide civic awareness to citizens, equip them with participatory Information and resources, stimulate active public engagement and foster meaningful dialogue and ownership of public in the agenda settmg of post-election process.

Familiarization of citizens with various ideas and issues such as knowledge about the transition management, objectives of the election, election system and processes, registration of voters, nomination of candidates, ransparency of election process, neutrality of electoral and security officials, monitoring of code of conduct, roles of various agencies in improving the election environment, monitoring of human rights, redesigning the state, inclusive dispensation, durable peace etc is essential to provide the citizens a greater measure of free will and self-confidence and enable them to use their own political choice.

The press has to work together with civil society and citizens to prevent electoral malpractices, such as vote buying and selling, character assassination of candidates, belittling national sensitiveness, social harmony and decent voting behavior, abuses of the state and market power, etc and enthuse in citizens a sense of reason, conscience and civic responsibility. The ability of the press in doing so places it in a esteemed position to make political with sufficient bearing for the nation and people.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The press is to serve the governed, not the governors. The government power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain free to censure the government. The press is protected so that it could bare the secrets, of government and inform the people, only a free and restrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people

The work will therefore show to large extent the relevance and the role of press to live up to its responsibility to educate and enlighten mçrnbers of the public about democratic principles and avoid adopting a sensational or divisive approach in coverage of political issues.

1.3 Research Questions

The study is intended to answer the following questions; what extent are the roles of the press in a free and fair election?

  1. To what extent has the press been socially responsible?
  2. To what extent can government and people assist the press playing its role? To ensuring free and fair election?
  3. What are the problems and the future challenges?

1.4. Purpose or Objective of the Study

This study has sought to examine how the press has fared and legally performed its role for a free and fair election. The impetus for the study is the reoccurring debate about the role of the press in a free and fair election. The study is therefore concerned with assessing the press performance in an election, the political election and the general contribution of the Nigeria press to a stable policy.


We are going to adopt qualitative method in undertaking the study. We are going to rely on secondary data. We will consult relevant literature in books, journals, internet, newspaper and magazines.

We will also seek people’s view on the subject and people’s assessment of the press and the government through structured interview.

1.6 Relevance of the Study

The role of the press has always been a controversial issue depending on whether that society is authoritarian or democratic or communist or libertarians, opinions differ and vary widely as to the specific role of the journalists in the society.

The press should be free from state control and ownership as against or a opposed to the accepted credo of the Eastern world. Many press and hardened critic are of the view that journalism could only be considered good and proper, if it keeps the government or administration on its toes with spate of criticism.

Nevertheless, some journalists writing in Eastern journals such as Pravda believe that the press is really free and democratic only when it is edited by the people themselves and represented by their various mass organizations. The point worth noting is that many developing countries can not easi1ftt well into the four theories of the press, which are authoritarian, libertarian, social responsibility and communist theories.

As the press is an essential organs of the democratic set-up; an important vehicle of communication and instrument in the creation of public opinion, the journalists should regard their profession as a trust to serve public interest. In pursuance of this objective, the council demands that the press should provide a truthful, comprehensive and reliable account of events in a context which gives meaning, project a representative picture of the constituent groups of society, regarding itself as a forum for comments and criticisms and discharge its social responsibilities by clarifying good and values of societies.


The project has been able to touch various aspects concerning the topic “The role of press in a free and fair election” but there were some factors that led to setback and constraints in getting facts arid material for the project. The first limitations of this study are financial constraint, time constraint and lack of adequate materials for the study. During the course of sourcing for materials the researcher faced a lot of financial difficulties and also lack of relevant textbooks for review.

1.7 Definition of Terms


Role according to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (6thedition) is the degree to which somebody or something involved in a situation or an activity and the effect that they have on it.

Mass Media:

Defleur and Dennis (1981) defined mass media as the devices for moving messages across distance or time to accomplish mass communication.


A nominee or aspirants for any position or honour.


Is a process of selecting one person or more for an office, public or private, from a wider field of candidates

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 the press in the free and fair election. 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 challenge of press in the free and fair election

5.2 Summary

This study was on the role of the press in the free and fair election. Four objectives were raised which included: To examine how the press has fared and legally performed its role for a free and fair election, to ascertain the relationship between press and free and fair election, to assess the press performance in an election and the general contribution of the Nigeria press to a stable policy, to ascertain the impact of press report on free and fair election to general public. In line with these objectives, two research hypotheses were formulated and two null hypotheses were posited. The total population for the study is 200 staff of INEC, Abuja. 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 electoral commissioners, presiding officers, senior staff and junior staff were used for the study. The data collected were presented in tables and analyzed using simple percentages and frequencies

5.3 Conclusion

It is the conclusion of the study, therefore, that in order to attain that improvement, the next time around, it is imperative that all hands must be on deck. Starting from the mass media that could not be alive to its responsibilities in terms of reporting news factually, shunning hate campaigns, unable to stand by its code of ethics, and posing as potential agent of destroying the country; to the Nigeria Press Council that has a law it is diffident to implement; to the Independent Electoral Commission of Nigeria (INEC) that is limited by law to prosecute airing mass media and good-for-nothing political party that failed woefully in moving the country a notch higher than when it took over power after the previous (2011) General Elections, the paper advises that let all the weaknesses be addressed with seriousness, a sense of sincerity, focus and purpose, as well as the discipline that shall ensure the shenanigans that have held us up from developing shall be extirpated. In short, the success of the 2015 General Elections should actually be the defining moment for the quantum takes off of the country to higher and nobler achievements. From the foregoing discussions, this paper therefore supports the notion that while media as an institution exerts a lot of influence due to the centrality of their function to the running of contemporary societies, the power the media wield in any society is tangentially related to the political orientation on the holders of political power in the society who only use the media to leverage on their already existing powers.

5.4 Recommendation

Based on the findings and conclusion of the study, we made the following recommendations:

  1. Government owned media should be more proactive in handling electoral reports in Nigeria, and should report on free and fair elections at all times no matter who such report favours.
  2. Government should allow public owned media to be run professionally so that they should emphasize fairness in their report of elections in the country.

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