Mass communication is defined as messages directed towards a large group of people using a mass medium. It involves disseminating information to a large, diverse, homogenous/heterogeneous audience. Mass communication is made possible through the help of mass media. That is to say mass media makes mass communication a reality. Mass media includes television, radio, newspaper, magazine etc.
For every human society the successful conduct of her internal/external affairs depends largely on the extent of the reliability of government apparatus and the government successfully communicating, understanding and accepting themselves in a mutual and symbiotic relationship”- Obaze .A et al (2004:1)
The need for information is such that man can hardly function or determine his course of life with out communication. On account of this, the influential role of the media is cited in her caprice to direct, redirect, and shoulder the course of altitude change and instilling/building public perception towards societal affair.
There is no modern society that can dispense with the press especially newspapers. The newspapers especially to places where there are no radio stations rapidly spread important news. The newspapers give us reliable information about towns and countries. Many social tools are exposed in one newspaper to attract the attention of the government, police and the citizens as a whole so that such evils may be immediately combated. Many articles written by intelligent people and carried by newspapers contain good ideas with which we can experiment in our bid to reform the society. These articles have suggested ways and means by which we can combat tribalism, fraud, serious crimes, avarice, greed, and extravagance, which are disintegrating forces in the society.
By impacting meaningfully through the involvement of Nigeria press vis-à-vis as a social system in society positioning, it is her duty, responsibility and obligation to enhance the survival of the vital ingredient of society demand. Which are unity; structure; inter-dependence; compliance, commitment and conformity; and transmission of social norms, culture and value. The media is by this gear towards enhancing the continuity and survival of the total social “gadget.”
The print media, particularly the medium of newspaper has become the major source of information dissemination over the years, and also the major means of political mobilization in Nigeria. Newspaper has the ability to inform, educate, entertain, enlighten and mobilize the public. That is why the government and other private bodies give much attention to it. The ability of newspaper to also mobilize the people and make them behave in a given manner and to perform certain actions has made it a tool in the hands of the government. The medium serves as an intermediary between the government and the people, because it assists the government in getting it plans and policies across to the people, and the people in return gets their response, feeling and plight back to the government.
Footnoting this trend on the national scale, the challenges that confront us as young democracy nation in a country of diverse ethnic divide, is to establish an ideological and structural homogeneity with a common political destiny and purpose among our diverse ethnic groups, forthwith, the media being an institution of the larger society is virtually needed to shoulder this course.
After many years of military rule in Nigeria, democracy became a much needed endeavour and newspaper serves as a major tool through which the people were fully informed, educated, enlightened and mobilized to actively participate in the decision making in the country during transition period.
Newspaper to a large extent helped in making the people of Nigeria to get all the political awareness, and it mobilized the people to both contest election and be voted for, or to vote for a candidate of their choice as an electorate. The importance of newspaper in ensuring a successful transition in Nigeria cannot be underestimated.
Pinpointing the decisive measure the Nigeria press has attained, it is for her to maintain her effort to accumulate and accommodate the structural pattern of the social unit into the mainstream of our society entity, hence creating a platform for an all rounds stability of societal struggle. During this attempt by the press in this fortified struggle; and her nature of place in societal positioning it came to interest that, politic or the political sphere falls as one of the social system. The society today which is acknowledge as a contingent of each social sphere/system(s), need the collaboration and support of each system in order to get herself “alive”.
In our modern society, the remarkable role of newspapers in political affairs of a free and democratic society or nation is that they educate and influence public opinion relative to political issues. They carry manifestos of political parties before the elections, publish what certain political leaders think of other parties and give adequate publicity to political activities.
The value of newspapers in a political society cannot be over emphasized. John Bittner (1980) wrote,
“On whether there should be a society without a newspapers or a newspapers without a society I will chose the later because its newspapers that made the society”.
Bittner simply mean that newspapers play the remarkable role of making or marring a society. This supposition Jeremy Turnstel agreed with when he wrote the books titled.
“The media is America” and a decade later he wrote another book “The media is still America”
Politically, it is the above supposition that prompted the study of this work into analyzing, using audience research, to determine the impact of the Nigeria press, in this case the newspaper, on the choice of political candidate. This is because, among other things discussed earlier the newspaper influences its readers by shaping their thinking towards believing what ordinary they wouldn’t have believe. Onagoruwa (1973) most have seen through this, agree with the supposition when he wrote that: “The power of the press is the power of the written word – its first quality is performance”. Unlike the spear arrow or the fired bullet a written word can be in ages.
In other word, newspaper readership has a lasting memory of whatever interesting that appears on pages of newspaper. And it is for this reason that some politicians and political elections candidates have device means of manipulating the mind of their supporters and non-supporters alike into believing their ability to performed better when elected into any political office position. The means they use through the newspaper includes, writing of article directly or, using other latent to write a favourable article that will increase their personality and credibility; they also write opinion and advertisement using their picture; some even newspaper. Columnists who exploit these advantages promote themselves in the name of gaining cheap popularity before the masses that are able to vote. No wonder Mark Levin (2000) said,
“Just as the Government becomes necessary to society for even development, the press becomes inevitable to the political development of that society”.
By this foremost discussion, I will through this piece of study bring the relevance needs and impact the Nigeria press (print restrictive) plays on politics. Citing the players of this system (i.e. politic, as political candidate) I will do well, centered the work on how widely the media promulgate the interest/yearning and goals of these candidate and how on a better ground have the Nigeria press being able to influence and implant a sustainable touch on the political system, through her “conscientizing” of the political public on choosing a political candidate as their choice.
It is in light of the above that this project research work intends to study the impact of the Nigeria press on the choice of political candidates using as case study residence of Kaduna metropolis.
PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
As pose by contemporary scholars of the Instinctive Stimulus (S.I) theory and those of the Agenda Setting theory on the powerful influence of the media as a mind-controlling agent, it is on account of their posits the research will drive home a point.
Citing possible ways the media could play or improve in her “bi–literal” relationship with the political system, the researcher will as a matter of fact, present the media on a cross-road to verify (as being claimed by the “magic-bullet” theorist}, if at all, the media have gain such a great influence in the affairs of the political system.
The main objective of the study is to stress the roles of newspaper (a branch of the Nigeria press) as a tool for political sensitization and mobilization in Nigeria. With this, it is among the aims of this study to find out the effects of Newspaper report on political affairs in Nigeria.
Furthermore, the study will be carried out to know the effect of newspaper content on its reader in relation to other medium of Mass Communication. Our study of the Nigeria press effect on choice of political candidate will be lowered to cover only the print discourse, in that it exist as the encompassing knowledge of what we appreciation as press.
Through this study, a design will be made to make various politicians contesting for electoral position as well as the electorate to see the importance of newspaper in political mobilization, information, awareness, enlightenment and education. With a provision of two-edge paramedic against arguments to ascertain which from which better spread the goodwill of politicians to the public – be it the party, which the candidate belong or the print medium.
In the mean time, the objective will enable us see the relative importance of newspaper to the society and why the government rely more on newspaper content to mobilize Nigerians to fully participate in the general elections in Nigeria which will be pattern to reflect how the choice made by residence of Kaduna state metropolis is influenced by the newspaper coverage.
SIGNIFICANT OF THE STUDY
Amidst the gross look of our study, it is perceive that the outcome herewith will provide a colossal approach towards discovery a whole new directive on the basis of mending the role of the media in her consolidating effort of unifying the diver “Sparta” system that make up the phoenix of the larger society.
As highlighted in the introduction page, there is no modern society that can dispense with the press. As such the study of their message becomes imperative.
Through knowledge on the relationship between the Nigerian press on the choice of political candidate, will not only enhance our understanding of the nature of the print media, let it will also give us clearer knowledge of how these newspaper are been used by political candidate to gain popularity among the electorate.
The relevance in it own, will pattern the thinking of these political candidate toward establishing perfect answer to the hostile debate over whom do the greater tasks of public influence, be it the candidate manifestoes, or the print media.
More so, the importance of this research work will guide regulators of the Nigeria press on how to regulate their practice in order not to mislead their conscious reader. And from the recommendation/conclusion that will be giving in this study it will assist to improve the act of newspapering.
In general, the study is expected to emerge a clearer picture on how the electorates get influence by newspaper coverage on the choice made of political candidate. Vies, examine the effectiveness of her content in the choice of political candidate, the study will determine how the electorate (respondent) perceive newspaper in term of their coverage of political activities and political candidate.
The relevance which will serve as a reference materials to interested person who would want to carry out future research in this direction, will analyze how often newspapers cover political stories, and how the ownership pattern of newspaper affect its coverage of political issues in term of favoring one candidate to the other.
On a final note it is believe that today’s work will not only become a syndrome of impetus on the triple parties, i.e. the newspaper, the political candidates and the public: but that by this noble piece, the press will have a touch at heart to always see their noble calling as one which will assist in the sensitization; education; awareness and enlightenment of the larger Nigeria populace towards accepting and understanding their role in the development, growth and survival of our nascent democracy, being our stepping-stone into the 4th republic of our Nations political history for a sustain democratic state.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Saddling the press as all instinctive and influencing from the judgment of the “hypodermic needle” theory it is of interest to accept related works of critics who have through their argument become a torn in the flesh of media acceptance.
From this point of view, it is notice that there exist diviations in acceptance of the newspaper message by the public. Which have in long way affected the “transmission belt” of the medium message?
The remarkable role of the newspaper in society juxtapose with the ownership pattern inference being that most Nigeria dailies are privately own have been kindled the general assumption that newspaper have been bias in influencing the masses on the choice of some candidate into political office.
Likewise, it has being a problem in the society to know the extent to which newspaper act as mobilization agents on the electorate towards the choice of a political candidate.
It should be stated categorically here that the ownership pattern of the Nigeria press affects the coverage of the activities of political parties, which in term affects their candidates into holding political position. This of cause is a problem.
The problem of newspaper characteristic also poses a torn in the flesh over her calculation, strength, target readers, and the cost of purchase. This poses a problem as to how frequent the readers access these newspapers to see through their content.
To support this research work with close reference to the field of mass communication, I will like to use the social responsibility theory; the agenda setting and that of stimulate instinctive response theory of the press. The Hut Plus commission in 1947 emphasized that the mass media should be much more responsible to the society. The theory attempts to reconcile media independence with its obligation to the society. It stated that it is the duty of the print media (newspaper) to instruct and inform the public to make her capable of self – government as well as protecting the rights of individuals against the government through its watchdog functions.
If the press should be taken as an “hypodermic needle” in the influence it exert in altering and sharpening the altitude, perception and thinking of those expose to it message, we will stand at a vantage point to judge the claim by Wilbur Schramm who developed the “stimulus response” or the “magic bullet theory”.
The theory simply state that, if people listen to a message they comply, all that the communicator needed to do is to get audience to listen, and the deal would be considered done. The basic idea of the following is that every member of the audience and that receives newspaper message in a uniform way immediate and direct responses are triggered by such stimuli. The theory further assumed that communication is something someone does to the consumer elsewhere, the communication not the consumer or receiver is the causative person”- Ifedayo. D (2001, p45).
In line with the above-mentioned theories, newspaper serves as an important tool in mobilizing the people through its various contents. Certain messages carried by the newspaper make the people to become politically aware and to actively participate in the decision making of the country (Nigeria) during transition period. Through newspaper the people are also enlightened on their right to vote and to be voted for as well as making sure the people exercise these rights by reporting any cases of infringement by either the government or private individuals.
It is necessary to drive home the level of influence the media has on us. This influence becomes even more prevalent if a given medium (newspaper) has proven over a span of time that it has credibility and a sense of responsibility. Couple with influence and the sense of responsibility displayed by newspaper house in Nigeria manifested during the 1999 transition from military to civilian government. The newspaper didn’t cover the transition programmes in a way that would have been capable of bringing about disastrous consequences.
SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The scope of coverage for this research is limited only to the residences of Kaduna metropolis who are literate. The reason for this is that it is almost impossible, if not impossible to interview all newspaper readers in Kaduna state.
Likewise, this study is not without limitations as there are bound to be some at the cause of gathering materials in this project work.
The time allowed for this project work is limited and thereby work against obtaining the so much information that are require to make this project a ‘gospel truth’.
The level of the respondent’s sincerity towards answering the questionnaire will also affect this study. It is however hoped that the error margin will not be wide as to void the study. The researcher will do everything at its disposal to ensure high level of sincerity on the part of the respondents.
To some extent the research work is to measure the quantitative and qualitative role of the Nigeria press in the choice of political candidate particularly among the residence of Kaduna metropolis. The following research hypotheses have been draft out to measure the public (resident) responses toward the newspaper message.
- Is the newspaper successfully playing her role of correlation in term of political issue?
- Is it the press that places priority on political candidate in the general public?
- Is there any lapse, in terms of bias, in the newspaper coverage of activities of political candidate?
- What is the ownership status of the Nigeria press coverage of political parties’ activities and that of their candidate?
- Does the media content determine who emerges successful in political elections?
- How effective have newspaper being able to influence the general public?
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Mass Media – The people and organization that provide information and news for the public, including newspaper etc.
Press – Agency that carry out the function of mass communication.
“Conscientize – To instill enlightenment and awareness through persuasive communication.
Newspapering – A conscious effort by the press toward promoting the act of good newspaper reporting.
IFEDAYO DARAMOLA (2001): Introduction to mass communication. Ibadan: Yemtep publication
Obaze .A, Ogebeti Clara (2004): Mass media and society,
Babatunde Folarin (1998): Theories of mass communication, an introductory Text Ibadan: Stirling Horden publishers (Nig) Ltd.
Dennis M.C Quail (1979): The effect and influence of
mass media. Published by John Whey and Sons Inc.
Rives W.L. Etal (1982): “The mass media and modern
Society”. Published by Witton: Holt Rine Rart incorporation
Adaba T. Comment on mass media and
Political mobilization. At Bayero University, Kano (B.U.K) communication conference, 1984.
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