THE ROLE OF MASS MEDIA IN CRISIS MANAGEMENT IN NIGERIA
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The role played by media in conflicts has been an issue of discussion all over the world. Although media influence has increased tremendously in the last decade, researchers are yet to agree on the degree and magnitude of its influence in conflicts. The media are always known to set agenda for the public to follow; this they do by raising salient issues, occurrences and events as they happen in the society and bringing them to the public. The media set agenda of peace, love, unity etc. in recent times, Plateau state, especially Jos has been characterized by one form of crises or the other; this in turn leads to loss of lives and properties. This research work therefore attempts to examine the relevant role played by the media in resolving the lingering crises in Plateau state. In addition, the research work examines the way and manner the media have been used to manage the crises in Plateau state. The aim of this study was to analyze the role of media in conflict management, with reference to the crises in Jos North Local Government Area as the case area. The specific objectives were to establish the media accessibility level and the various types of media coverage; to establish the extent to which media escalated and/or deescalated violence and to determine how media could influence selected human factors towards conflict in the area of study. The research utilized both primary and secondary method of data generation. Instruments were adopted in gathering information for quality work. Instruments such as News-papers, internet, radio, journals and television were used to gather information about the activities carried out by the media in conflict situations. Other methods adopted were through questionnaires and interviews. Findings show that the media have a crucial role to play in conflict resolution. Findings further show that the media have not been giving objective reports of the Jos crises and this tends to escalate the crises. Based on the findings, the research work concludes that the extent to which the media are used to resolve crises in Plateau state is minimal and recommends, among others, that the media should be constantly used to preach peace, so as to bring about lasting peace in Plateau state.
1.1 Background to the Study
Communal clashes have over the years had a common phenomenon in the developing nations of the world, which Nigeria is inclusive.Ethnicity, religious differences, tribal, and land dispute and boundary adjustment cause these. Ethnicity refers to a group of people with a common socio/cultural identity such as language, worldview, religion, and cultural traits, Boaten(2000).
Thus, ethnic groups are social formations distinguished by the communal character (such as language and culture) of their boundaries Nnoli (1980). In other words, ethnic groups represent categories of people characterized by cultural symbols including language, value systems and normative behaviour, and whose members are anchored in a particular territory Otite (1990). Actually, the word ethnic is derived from the Greek word ethnos which means a group of people who share a common and distinctive culture.
In its classical meaning, ethnic relates to a member of a particular group, Imobighe, (2003). Hence ethnicity according to Imobighe should be seen as the feeling of belonging to a distinctive cultural or linguistic group, or a manifestation of ethnic consciousness in relation to other groups. Conflicts arise from the pursuit of divergent interests, goals and aspirations by individuals or groups in defined social and physical environments Otite (1999). As observed in the literature, ethnic conflict derives their rationale and configuration from perceived socio/cultural differences.
In fact, Otite (1990) presents a picture of ethnicity as the contextual discrimination by members of one group against others on the basis of differentiated system of socio-cultural symbols. He affirms that ethnicity has the properties of common group consciousness and identity and also group exclusiveness on the basis of which social discriminations are made. In most cases, as Nigerian experience shown results to violent intractable conflicts.
1.2 Statement Problem
War and conflict all have one thing in common – violence. Violence destroys everything includingpeople, infrastructure and other material resources to institutions, including education, political will, hope, and trust. The cost of conflict is immense causing suffering and poverty,destroying economic development and depriving people of their basic needs (Chretien, Spurk, & Christopher, 1995). As it has been witnessed, most conflicts often take place in countries undergoing major political changes towards democratization. In such countries, the rights to credible information and freedom of expression are essentialin ensuring accountableand transparent governance, constructive communication,decreased perceptions of threat and creating more stable and sustainable political structures (Rugumanu, 2002).
In conflict times in Plateau state, the media has been involved along the line in ventilating information to the consuming public which has aid in escalating the conflict into taking position in different sides. Different media outfits have presented their views in biased form probably without considering the way it affects the relationship and stability of the public. In regard to the profession, efforts are made to ensure that the population knows the situation of the state but it is not enough to prove that such is true when considering the political influence and statements to douse tension from the people. Electronic and print media have played their role which is not considered to be up to standard (does not comply with the ethics of broadcasting) as expected. Staff in the media find it quite difficult to be neutral in their submissions and findings when it comes to the print media which result to individuals buying favorite papers which they believe will give them the right information. Most people believe in the electronic media, especially the television where every happening is showed evidently without reduction or addition to the situation and report. With this, the role of the media as a tool to manage conflict becomes a challenge in the society. The plural composition of the reporters and society at large go a long way to influence the writings and submissions of journalists and other media outfits.
This study examines the role ofmass media in crisis resolution with particular reference to Anambra Broadcasting Service, Awka (ABS).
Research on communal crisis and media role is usually difficult if not impossible. This study is examining the role of mass media in crisis resolution.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
1. To examine causes of communal crisis in Nigeria
2. To know how effective mass media are in the coverage of communal crisis
3. To know some of the challenges rendering mass media weak in coverage ofCommunal crisis
4. To examine the role of mass media in cubing communalcrisis?
5. How has mass media enhanced relationship between the people of theCommunities?
1.4 Research Questions
1. What is the major cause of communal crisis in Nigeria?
2. How effective are mass media in the coverage of communal crisis?
3. Is there any challenges rendered, mass media weak in the coverage of communal crisis?
4. How does mass media assist in cubing communal crisis?
5. How has mass media enhanced relationship between the people of the communities?
1.5 Scope of the Study.
The scope of this study resides in the topic of the research work; the scope of the study will be limited to communal clash. Since it is not possible to cover all clashes that have occurred in Nigeria. However, despite the limitations, the result of the research will be generalized, leaving the researcher to look into this Local Governments in Plateau state
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study will be beneficial to media practitioners as well as mass communication students to know some of the challenges and role of mass media in crisis management.
The research will be of benefit to the government by learning from public opinion of the respondents on strategies they need to employ in cubing communal clashes to see the pains that people are passing through.
Academically, the study will form an extension of knowledge to the academic study for future researchers.
This will also help other researchers to further investigate other aspect this research might not be able to cover.
1.7 Definition of Terms
Role: This is the function or responsibilities expected of mass media.
Mass Media: These are means of communicating to large, scatter, and heterogeneous audience used in waging war against terrorism in Nigeria.
Crisis: This is the state of disorderliness that engulfed the nation Nigeria after 2011 general election
Resolution: This is media step in bringing peace into the country when violence erupted because of announcement of 2011 presidential election result
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