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The enhanced awareness of the role of the media has been demonstrated by the current steep rise in the use of information technology in varied social processes worldwide. Even poor developing countries have embraced the new technology of information dissemination. Media development is consistent with the established position that the media helps to cause attitude change and, by so doing, ensures socio-economic transformation (Schramm, 1964; Lerner & Schramm, 1967; Agbaje, 1992; Ayee, 1997; Makoa, et al, 2000). Other scholars are, however, not so sure about the direct effects of the media on behaviour (Gauntlett, 1998).
Given the above, it is perhaps not far-fetched to expect the media to assist Nigeria to reposition itself as a democratic polity with a strong commitment to transparency and accountability. This is especially because on 29 May 1999, the new administration of President OlusegunObasanjopublicized its resolve to fight corruption and enthrone a new, improved manner of conducting public business in Nigeria. In this new dispensation, corruption is to be exposed, punished and eliminated. A new anti-graft law has been enacted and a commission to investigate and prosecute offenders has also been inaugurated.
Furthermore, in Section 22 of the 1999 Nigerian constitution, the media has been given a role to ensure that the government, at all levels, is accountable to the citizenry. Moreover, wherever corruption is checked in the conduct of public business, the media usually plays a critical role. In the United States, its role in bringing down President Richard Nixon in 1974 has been widely acknowledged. It is generally appreciated that the American democracy is well-served by its media which informs and educates the public, and ensures that the government is accountable to the American people. In short, the nature and character of the media greatly impacts on the performance of the democratic/governance process and vice versa. The role of the Nigerian media during the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan will now be analysed and evaluated.
In many situations, it is the ideology or the politics of the proprietor that decides media-bias, or slant. In Nigeria, this has been the dominant consideration since the pioneer media proprietors were motivated largely by their political ambition to establish a printing press (Omu, 1978; Jibo, 2000). DrNnamdiAzikiwe and Chief ObafemiAwolowo, for examples, established media outfits during the era of decolonisation to enhance their political prospects as certain inheritors of state power after British disengagement from Nigeria. In the second republic, Chief MoshoodAbiola was similarly motivated to establish the Concord media group to checkmate Chief ObafemiAwolowo and the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), and to thus enhance his prospects of getting nominated to run as President on the platform of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), the UPN’s arch rival (Agbaje, 1992).
Apart from media-bias, the optimum performance of the media in promoting democracy and in achieving the basic roles of mass communication has come into consideration and this ultimately is the problem which this research identifies. During the democratic administration of President Goodluck Jonathan between 2011 -2014, how well has the media performed?
The overall purpose of this research is to assess the role of the media and analyzing the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan during that period. This purpose has a focus and a channel which is the analysis of media coverage of three national newspapers in Nigeria during the presidential tenure of Goodluck Jonathan’s between 2011 – 2015.
The mass media have been categories into the traditional/print mass media which is made up of the newspaper, magazine and books; the electronic/broadcast media which includes radio, television, cinema etc and now the internet. Nonetheless, this research work is limited to a scope. The focus of this research work is on the print mass media. This scope precisely covers three Nigerian newspapers.
Nigeria is a developing country with a fairly well-established media industry (Uche, 1989; Agbaje, 1992; Jibo, 1996). It had a virile press before the colonial advent and has, subsequently, established an electronic media that has a reasonable reach. Thanks to Decree No. 38 of 1992, the broadcast industry has been liberalised and private-owned television stations such as African Independent Television (AIT) and Minaj Broadcast International (MBI) have been established with an international reach. A fairly large number of private radio stations have also been licensed and are on air. Thus, going by the numbers alone, one gets the impression that Nigeria has a strong media establishment. Beyond the numbers, some factors combine to enhance or whittle down the Nigerian media effect (Uche, 1989; Agbaje, 1992; Best, 1996).
One factor which came into play in the Gowon era, and which has consistently been relevant, is the personal interest of either the proprietor or the journalists themselves. This factor is of course, relevant in the behaviour of the media worldwide. The world media, to varying degrees, is sensitive to proprietor- interests. “The piper dictates the tune” is the well-known adage. In the advanced political systems, such as the USA or France, the hankering after advertisement revenues is a pressure on the proprietor that dictates the line that the media should toe. “Big business” is unlikely to place advertisements in the media that is anti-capitalist. Thus, this is constantly a factor for the independent media to consider.
Considering all these factors, it is vital to identify the role of the media during the past in Nigeria hence the appraisal of three Nigerian newspaper on their coverage of Goodluck’s administration as a president of Nigeria.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
The following terms will be defined to achieve proper comprehension and understanding of the components of this research work.
Role: This explains the function or position of something in a situation.
Media: The media explains all the means or channels or institutions and personnel of mass communication either through the print or electronic medium.
Goodluck Jonathan: He was a democratically elected President of Nigeria between 2011 – 2015.
Appraisal: an assessment of the value or content of something. In relation to this study, appraisal is the assessment of the content of newspapers.
Newspaper: An unbounded paper containing news that is published frequently at a regular interval which maybe daily, weekly or bi-weekly.