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The Nigerian Press: Moving Beyond Political Horse-trading

The democratization of media content development, publication, distribution, and consumption is among the news media’s key promises. Local audiences have been celebrated throughout Nigerian broadcasting history. As it is the nature of media around the world to focus more on local audiences, those hailed as heroes within one geographic limit have been within local institutions. The media and the political system have a complicated connection in almost all democracies. Numerous media scholars, like Herman and Chomsky and Francis Nyamnjoh, have proven that the media may influence society in either a positive or negative way.

It is commonly asserted that the media serves as the fourth arm of government, a watchdog, a protector of the public interest, and a link between the rulers and the ruled. It is thought that knowledgeable citizens are good for democracy. Politics-savvy citizens frequently make choices that are reflective of their actual interests. Citizens can easily access a wealth of information that can assist to advance and enhance government performance and accountability while also lowering corruption by simply watching the news, listening to the radio, reading the newspaper, or browsing the internet or social media.

The freedom of the press has a long history in Nigeria. This freedom has shown up in two significant ways. First off, the print media in the nation is diverse and largely owned by private individuals. Second, journalists for Nigerian newspapers and periodicals have had a good amount of freedom to comment on governmental issues, even to the point of critical criticism. In fact, a long-term African observer claimed that before 1983, Nigeria’s journalism was likely the most liberal in the continent.

The gathering, assembling, and dissemination of news are tasks that fall under the purview of the journalist as a professional. They directly affect public opinion and set the agenda for public action as a result of their function. In fact, they inspire society to work toward a set of common objectives. In Nigeria, even at the danger of their lives, the media was crucial in inspiring the populace to support the country’s goal of constructing a democratic society.

The political class controls a sizable portion of the media in Nigeria. Government agencies at the federal or state level typically own broadcast media in particular. In a poll conducted by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) of 100 active journalists, over half (45%) indicated that the owners of the media had a significant impact on the journalism they produced.

In fact, a study of the media’s coverage of previous elections in Nigeria was devastating. In its report on the 2007 elections, the Commonwealth Observer Group stated that “significant state ownership of the broadcast media negatively impacted on and influenced the coverage in favour of incumbents’ parties.” It was highlighted that there also numerous official complaints from candidates who claimed to have been denied airtime or coverage because of political bias of media owners.

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As a result, journalists who work for independent publications practice some self-censorship: because their pay is so low, many of them accept kickbacks from politicians they write about to make ends meet. The pay for many journalists in Nigeria is extremely low. They frequently rely solely on “thank yous” for the stories they write as their only source of income. However, when those compliments come from politicians, journalism’s value to democracy is lessened.

Uncensored news reporting, online journalism, and unrestricted popular participation in information gathering and dissemination via social media are just a few examples of how the growth of new media in the 2000s delivered an unprecedented but dubious level of liberty. Due to their busy schedules and demanding jobs, the majority of journalists don’t read. To sell airtime, they make a living by inciting fear. In Africa, social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp are increasingly being used as a stage for the conflict between government authority and online resistance. A timely reminder of that is the Nigerian government’s recent decision to ban Twitter.

Online disagreements can prompt replies in the physical world in real time. As a result, the legitimacy of the government’s control over free speech may be called into doubt. Utilizing platforms with sizable audiences comes with certain difficulties. If governments understand that it allows them more access to their citizens, the advantages may still exceed the hazards.

In short, political communication in Nigeria has been met with hostility from electorates motivated by popular mistrust of the mass media. Nigeria’s political realm is rife with violence, electoral frauds, unfulfilled promises, and neglect on the side of the governing elite.

Nigerian journalists ought to cease filling gaps in our unstable country. They should be objective and report on issues rather than political squabbles. Since political communication research goes beyond stable democracies where financial incentives and violent acts are unlikely to be the main determinants of news production, Nigerian journalists should serve as a reliable source of information for the public during this politically sensitive time.

In the lead-up to the following year’s election and now, during the pre-election period, media outlets should offer a much-needed venue for stories of public interest since they should be politically impartial. Politicians will eventually lose the confidence to make lofty promises and then deliver little. When they are aware that professional reporters are observing every move they make, they will step up their game, improving their own fortunes as well as those of everyday Nigerians.


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