The Roles Broadcast Media In The Recent Boko Haram Crises In Nigeria

Project and Seminar Material for Mass Communication

The Roles Broadcast Media In The Recent Boko Haram Crises In Nigeria


The research work investigates the roles of Broadcast Media in the recent Boko Haram Crises in Nigeria. The broad objective of the study is to investigate to examine whether broadcast media have objectively been reporting the Boko Haram crisis and to ascertain whether Nigerians perceive mass media reportage of the Boko Haram crisis as glorifying the act of terrorism. The primary source of data collection was used where stratified questionnaires were distributed to respondents. The simple random sampling technique was used to select a sample size of 133 personnel. The chi-square statistical tool was used to test the stated hypotheses and the findings revealed that the broadcast media in Nigeria are lagging behind in their responsibilities in reportage timely and accurately crises event in Nigeria. Appropriate recommendations were made after careful analysis of the data collected.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

In today’s world, there is hardly a day you will open any major newspaper or watch television without seeing a report on terrorism; those news is usually back with visual images, depicting the gory pictures of dead persons, maimed victims, collapse buildings as a result of the impact of bombs, and carcasses of vehicles at the scene of the incidents. Because of the limited knowledge of what constitutes an act of terrorism; some journalists are always quick to brand all types of violent incidents as an act of terrorism, including crimes of opportunities like armed robbery, kidnapping, and murder. In all these, terrorists benefit immensely from free media coverage, which help in propagating their messages. Terrorism according to the defunct League of Nations (1937, quoted in Afowowe, 2011) described terrorism as “all criminal acts directed against a state and intended or calculated to create a state of terror in the minds of particular persons or a group of persons or the general public.” Several countries of the world have witnessed and are still witnessing one form of crisis or the other. The Liberian war, Somalian crisis, Rwanda’s genocide, Sierra Leonean war, Libyan crisis, Bahrain unrest, clampdown on Yemen, the Syrian conflict and the Nigeria book haram crisis are obvious instances of the above assertion. The outcomes of these conflicts, amongst others, have been devastating and painful.

However, the role of the media in counterterrorism strategy cannot be overemphasized because one of the major objectives of terrorist groups is to get maximum publicity for their terrorist act. The mass media especially the broadcast media through television has been an effective tool for terrorists because of the images and pictures they broadcast to the public. The images have so much influence on the public, the policy makers, and thereby influence both local and foreign policies. It is obvious that the violence and act of violence portrayed on the television consciously or unconsciously are set of opinionated view of the editor or television station, which may have serious control of how the public react. The media is very powerful base on the image and pictures of violence been displayed all the time about terrorist activities. The big question is…..should the mass media give less publicity to terrorist activities? Of course, the denial of maximum coverage to terrorist violent activities will cut short the expectation of the perpetrators and make them not to achieve their main objective of using violence to create fear in the heart of the public. There is no doubt in the fact that the major instrument of terrorism is media propaganda; any terrorist action without the media is of no effect on the targeted audience. In the word of former prime minister of Britain, Margaret Thatcher has widely been cited by scholars (Muller et al. 2003) as saying that, “publicity is the oxygen of terrorism.” The above assertion is understandable given that the main objective of terrorists is to spread message of fear to as many people as possible including those not directly involved in the attack; and the mass media play a very vital role in achieving this objective. According to Hoffman (1998), a counterterrorism expert, he said in his book that “terrorism and the media are bound together in an inherently symbiotic relationship, each feeding off and exploiting the other for its own purposes.” The terrorist always wants to communicate their revolutionary or divine messages to a wide audience and they have recognized the potential of new mass communication technology. At the same time, the media will want to compete in breaking such news without weighing the repercussion that such news may have on government policy. There is therefore a symbiotic relationship between the media and the terrorism.

Furthermore, the modern terrorist organizations today have access to the internet, affordable video production and duplication process and the private, terrorist owned television stations. Osama Bin Ladin, before his death, maximized the opportunity of the new Media. He always sends his messages via the Internet and YouTube. Mallam Ibrahim Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram in Nigeria has been consistently using YouTube to send messages to the government and his followers. However, in attacking modern terrorism, the media is very important. While media censorship is not the best on the side of the government; on the other hand, the traditional media operators must know the type of news and story that promote the objectives of the terrorists and the news that enhances the counterterrorism effort. Unfortunately, The Internet has expanded the terrorists’ theatre of operation, allowing them to by-pass the traditional media gatekeepers through the use of the cyberspace infrastructure.

In the face of the current security crisis orchestrated by Boko Haram sect in Nigeria, the mass media can play an effective role in resolving the crisis through adequate coverage. The surveillance function of the media (beware surveillance) must be effectively played, to warn people of an impending danger. Through effective reportage, those perpetuating the crisis can have their perception changed, and peace loving Nigerians can equally step up their security consciousness.

It is against this background that the research of this nature becomes imperative with a view to examine the roles of broadcast media in recent Boko Haram crises in Nigeria.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The mass media, as the fourth estate of the realm in Nigeria is not only a powerful tool of national coexistence but an effective tool in counterterrorism strategy and promoting security of lives and property through its media contents that either come in form of news reporting, features or editorial. That is why one of the major goals of the media is to spread the message to more people than just those hit in a terrorist attack. Unfortunately it is worrisome and devastating to note that the Nigerian broadcast media have been a catalyst that lubricates the activities of Boko Haram through their sensational report. This is manifested in the report of ethnic based media in Nigeria. For instance, Agbaje (1998) observed that geographical/ethnic affiliation of newspapers in Nigeria does affect their pattern of editorial coverage. Euwema and Verbeke (1993) had equally noted that dysfunction occurred when journalists working and reporting from each other’s regions of operation could not free themselves from their ethnic biases. Lawal (2008) using content analysis for analyzing three newspapers – Daily Times, New Nigeria, and Daily Sketch, showed that ethnic loyalty rather than national interest determines the stand taken by any section of the Nigerian press in times of crisis.

It is against this backdrop that this research tends to examine the roles of broadcast media in their reports of recent Boko haram crises in Nigeria.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The overall aim of this study is to examine the roles broadcast media in the recent boko haram crises in Nigeria.

Objectively, this research covers the followings:

  1. To determine the frequency and timely of reportage by the Nigeria broadcast media in the recent Boko haram crisis.
  2. To determine the effect of broadcast media report in the fight against Boko Haram crisis.
  3. To examine whether broadcast media have objectives in their reportage of the Boko Haram crisis.
  4. To ascertain whether Nigerians perceive mass media reportage of the Boko Haram crisis as glorifying the act of terrorism?
  5. To examine the challenges facing broadcast media in their reportage of Boko Haram crisis?

1.4 Research Questions

  1. Do Nigeria broadcast media has been frequent and timely in their reportage of recent Boko haram crisis?
  2. Do broadcast media reports have any significant effect in the fight against Boko Haram crisis in Nigeria?
  3. Do broadcast stations have been objective in their reportage of the Boko Haram crisis?
  4. Do Nigerians perceive mass media reportage of the Boko Haram crisis as glorifying the act of terrorism?
  5. What are the challenges facing broadcast media in their reportage of Boko Haram crisis?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The significance of this study are enormous in the sense that it does not only aim at examining the roles of broadcast media in the recent Boko haram crisis, but also imposing concrete and attainable practical steps, through which the media practitioners can be strengthened in the discharge of their social responsibilities. It is hoped that this research would be of help to media practitioners and security experts to be more conscious of the heinous activities of Boko Haram by using synergistic approach to combat them.

Furthermore, conclusion reached in this research work will serve as a crystal guide to Government, policy makers, Nigeria union of journalist and all media practitioners in Nigeria to identify which strategy should be adopted in the use of media as an agent of anti-terrorism in Nigeria. This research study is also justified on the ground that it will serve as a frontier of knowledge to upcoming researchers who are willing to carry out similar research work.

1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study

This research work is not expected to span beyond examining the roles of broadcast media in the recent Boko Haram crisis. However, there are some hiccups that the researcher may encounter in the process of carrying out this investigation which may constitute limitation to the research credibility. Some of the limitations therefore may result from the reluctance of respondents, in cooperating with researcher to provide needed information for the purpose of this research, the cost involves in distributing research instrument and in printing the project work, to mention a few.

1.7 Definition of Terms

In other to ensure clarity, and simplicity of the work as well as avoiding ambiguity, this section will be devoted to defining some major operational terms used in this research work.

Mass Media:

This is a media that is intended for a large audience. It may take the form of broadcast media, as in the case of television and radio, or print media, like newspapers and magazines. In this research study, the word media is used to refer to both the print and broadcast media as indicated above.


This is the deliberate creation and exploitation of fear through violence or threat of violence in the pursuit of political change or any other reasons.

Boko Haram:

Boko Haram is an anarchist Islamist sect that focused its campaign against western education and democracy, and that the sect has become a vehicle of disunity and religious conflict in Nigeria.

1.8 Organisation of the Study

For the purpose of easy referencing and consultation, the study span through five chapters. Chapter one covers the background of the study, research objectives, problem statement and research questions. Chapter two contains the review of related literatures and the theoretical framework underpinning broadcast media and Boko Haram. Chapter three basically contains the methodology of the study. It includes population, sample size, method of data collection and procedures for data analysis. While the penulmate chapter covers the presentation and analysis of relevant data collected for the research, as well as interpretation of findings or result, Chapter five therefore comprises of summary, conclusion and recommendations.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to ascertain a critical analysis of the roles of broadcast media in the recent Boko Haram crisis in Nigeria.

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 poor reportage of crises in Nigeria.

5.2 Summary

This study aimed at having a critical analysis of the topic, the roles of broadcast media in the recent Boko Haram crisis in Nigeria. Five objectives were raised which included: To determine the frequency and timely of reportage by the Nigeria broadcast media in the recent Boko haram crisis, to determine the effect of broadcast media report in the fight against Boko Haram crisis, to examine whether broadcast media have objectives in their reportage of the Boko Haram crisis, to ascertain whether Nigerians perceive mass media reportage of the Boko Haram crisis as glorifying the act of terrorism, to examine the challenges facing broadcast media in their reportage of Boko Haram crisis?

5.3 Conclusion

Based on the above findings pertaining to the objectives of the study the following conclusions are drawn.
It is argued that because of their scope and reach, the mass media could have undoubtedly provided a platform that elaborate debate about these conflicts to regional, national and international levels. Scholars in the field of communication and even the practitioners have agreed that the media in many cases helped to escalate conflicts rather than deescalating them. One of the causes of this was attributed to poor understanding of the issue by the journalists and the carelessness in cross checking facts and figures about the conflict situation (Ya’u, 2008). Thus, some of the factors that can be identified as influencing the reportage of conflict and insurgence by the Nigerian media include: additional leaning, ownership influence, low technical skills, lack of access to information, identification with regional bias, political influence, economic patronage, religious and ethnic biases, lack of investigative journalism, inadequate equipment and other operational tools. Sensitivity to cultural differences and values become an important issue for consideration. There is a feeling that the press in particular is not showing respect for plural nature of the Nigerian cultural environment. However, in time of peace, people depend on the media as their source of information, but they depend on the media more in times of conflict. Also, the rumor mills are more active in times of conflict than in peace time. These two scenarios underscore the role of the media in conflict and peace management. Conflict is an indication of disagreement and the media handling it will go a long way in explaining the situation to resolve the conflict or aggravate the situation. It is the duty of the media to ensure the authenticity of the information being disseminated and convince the audience of the reality of the messages. The media has been seen or suspected of being involved in propaganda which in turn erodes its credibility.

5.4 Recommendation

In view of the discussions above, the following recommendations have been made, which are vital to not only the media practice, but also to resolution of crises in the North-Eastern region in particular and the Nigerian nation in general:

The media should ensure that the feelings of the people are properly reported irrespective of the feelings of the government and economic interest of the owners. While it is important to put into consideration the interest of the owners of the various media houses, such interests should not override the ethics of the profession and the general national interest.

Similarly, the media should dedicate attention to reporting conflict and insurgencies especially as it relates to using such reports to create peace rather than aggravate the situation. The media must work in collaboration with stakeholders in the North to ensure that government policies directed at curving the conflicts are properly implemented. The media should refrain from giving any particular segment preference above the other. Media should give emphasis on information that neutralize friction and clear the ignorance and misconceptions which breed the Boko Haram insurgence.

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