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1.1     Background of the study

In the United States, there is what is referred to as the 'CNN Effect.' It refers to the role of the Cable News Network in the shaping and delivery of the public and foreign policy direction of the world's most powerful nation. The phenomenon goes, to a large extent, to define how a powerful media plays a key role in influencing world events, because it emanates from the world's leading democracy and only superpower.

Public policy is defined as the principled guide to action taken by the administrative executive branches of the state with regard to a class of issues in a manner consistent with law and institutional customs. The foundation of public policy is composed of national constitutional laws and regulations. Further substrates include both judicial interpretations and regulations which are generally authorized by legislation. Strong public policy should solve problems efficiently and effectively, serve justice, support governmental institutions and policies, and encourage active citizenship.  Other scholars define it as a system of "courses of action, regulatory measures, laws , and funding priorities concerning a given topic promulgated by a governmental entity or its representatives."  Public policy is commonly embodied "in constitutions, legislative acts, and judicial decisions."

The mass media can, and often do, play a critical role in policymaking. The media do not only play a role in the early stages of the process making, but throughout the policy process. According to Soroka et al (2006), the media can establish the nature, sources and consequence of policy issues in ways that fundamentally change not just the attention paid to those issues, but the different types of policy solutions sought. The role of the media, in other words, is so critical that it has an important position in the entire scheme of things in the society in which it exists and operates, but as in the concern of this study, especially in information distribution and thus, in policy formulation and dissemination. Looking at examples from cases where the mass media actively inclined the policy direction, its acceptance and sharpened its impact for greater penetration in the life of the society. The evidence is also consistent with the hypothesis that increased competition in commercial media has further increased the quality of policy debates and formulated effective decision-making. On the other hand, what had reduced the transfer of policy objectives to special interest groups. In particular, the greater role of the media in society is associated with policies which benefit the majority more, but is sometimes defeated when the media tilts these function in serving the elites, encasing public policy in a garb of rocket science that the lower strata of society does not comprehend.

Stromberg and Snyder (2008) mentioned a few empirical studies where they assessed the effect of the media on policy outcomes. Some key findings from the literature suggest that access to mass media empowers people politically and, as such, increases their benefit from government programmes. In Uganda, for example, the study found that the media helped influenced government educational spending. All of these studies measure the effect within a single country, which has the benefit of keeping many of her factors fixed but has the potential disadvantage of having limited variation in policy and media.

Stromberg (2002) has shown that competition among mass media leads to the provision of more news/information to large groups such as taxpayers and dispersed consumer interests, altering the trade-off in political competition, and thus influencing public policy. This outcome is referred to as "mass media-competition-induced political bias."

From the foregoing, the liberalization of the Nigerian broadcast media in 1992 also, can be said, to have opened up the policy market. It introduced a critical mass of diverse views, ideologies and opinions in the way public policies are crafted. Not that this has not been the case, before the advent of private broadcast media stations. Publications such as those set up by Nigeria's founding fathers like Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi Awolowo played their part and helped in setting the stage for the market space opening up for other key players and further shaping of public opinion, and by extension public policy in the 1990s. The effect of the media on the formulation and exercise of public policy when considered in parallel with the growth of the Nigerian media industry, offers a glimpse into a wider scenario; that of the role of government, citizen and the media in the overall running of the modern democratic state. Srivastava (2009) refers to as the role of the media as an input source for decision-making and as an environment which actors, mentioned above, have to take into account during the policy formulation. It is an examination of the interplay between the Fourth Estate of the Realm and the institution of state in that most important duty of ensuring that the right decisions are taken, implemented and disseminated to the satisfaction of most, if not all. For it is out of the formulation of these key, all-embracing and far reaching roles of the state that the articulation of the national interest is forged and the manifestation of which, to the international community, is referred to as foreign policy. It is derived from the truism that the cardinal objective of the state is to seek the continuation of its existence. Public policy formulation with the 'help' of such a critical player as the watchdog of the society, enables for the refinement of such policies, with public opinion, in ways that ensure that the public's interest is protected and guaranteed.

Frizis (2013) cited the media phenomenon termed the "CNN Effect" as the existence of a 24 hour media environment that leads to a constant flow of news and information, which acts as a pressing factor upon governmental decision-making. According to Cohen (1963), in each major power, one newspaper stands out as organ of elite opinion; he concluded that the media can obtain great influencing power through its role as a core provider of information/intelligence. Next, Cohen turned to the scope of the examination from "passive recipients to active decision makers, executives themselves tend to utilize media as loudspeakers. Finalising that in this way, governments send public signals, targeting foreign governments or certain groups of people." Relating it to the Nigerian situation, the perception that access to certain aspects of the media is w preserve of elitist interests, is not did counting the fact that it can be a veritable partner in the making of policies that are populist and reflect the yearnings of the majority.

Aside setting agenda that births a policy, Soroka et al (2006) reckoned that the media can change the discourse around policy debate by framing or defining an issue using dialogue or rhetoric to persuade or dissuade the public. The role of the media as far as public policy is concerned, is mainly the interaction that includes the media's role in the formation of public opinion and public policy, and the degree to which public policy follows or leads public opinion. Concretely, we might consider what they tell us about day-to-day interactions between newspapers, television, radio, citizens, politicians and bureaucrats.

1.2     Objectives of The study

The objectives of this study are clarified as follows:

1.     To investigate whether the Nigerian media (especially print media) contributed to the shaping and dissemination of public policies.

2.     To investigate the quality and impact of the policies shaped by the media.

3.     To determine the relationship between the media and policymakers.

4.     To ascertain the role played by the public, using the media as a channel, in influencing public policies.

5.     To ascertain the challenges faced by the media in helping to shape public policies.

1.3     Research Questions

Based on the aforementioned objectives, the study endeavours to answer the following questions:

1.      How do the Nigerian media contribute to shaping public policies?

2.      Is there any quality to the policies shaped by the media, and do they have impact on the public?

3.      Is there an existing relationship between the media and policymakers?

4.      Does the public use the media as a channel to influence public policies?

5.      What are the challenges faced by the media in its bid to help shape public policies?

1.4     Significance of the Study

This study seeks to establish, and by extension, awaken the Nigerian media, to its guaranteed responsibility, like their counterparts in other parts of the world, especially in advanced democratic societies, about their critical role in shaping public policy.

The study will also investigate the relationship existing between the public, the government or policymakers and the media, looking at chronological antecedents, examples, as means of charting a course for the continuous evolvement of a cordial media-policymakers synergy for public good. Public administrators could explore this synergy for enhanced efficiency in, not just the formulation of the policies, but their dissemination and understanding by the governed.

Although, just a handful of media outlets will be chosen for this study, to assess the role of the media in this must important function, it can still serve as a compass for future researchers who may wish to go further into finding out how the voice of the media can be best harnessed for better policies.

1.5     Scope of the Study

This research work has been limited in limited in scope through the objectives enumerated above. The discussion in this project will view the significant role played by Nigerian newspapers in shaping public policies that have come to determine our entire wellbeing, viz health, agriculture, foreign relations, defence, education, etc. The two newspapers to be content analysed were chosen because it will not be possible to study all newspapers in Nigeria due to the constraint of time.

1.6     Limitation of the Study

This research is limited to print media, i.e Daily Trust and Leadership newspapers, two of Nigeria's foremost newspapers. My bid to generalise the study is limited because of the huge amount of money it would have required to carry out the research by going from one place to another to access so many newspapers and other forms of mass media. Also, the duration allotted for the study, hence the constraint of time. Gauging the opinion of policymakers may seem a more credible means of getting results that could point to the influence wielded by the mass media in shaping Nigerian public policies, but these may be hampered by the reluctance of bureaucrats admitting that their policies were not originally conceived.

1.7     Brief History of Daily Trust and Leadership Newspapers

Media Trust is a privately held Nigeria newspaper publishing company based in Abuja that publishes the English language Daily Trust, Weekly Trust, Sunday Trust and the Hausa language Aminiya newspapers, as well as a new Pan-African magazine, Kilimanjaro.

The Weekly Trust was established in March 1998 and Daily Trust was launched in January 2001. The two papers are the largest circulating newspapers in northern Nigeria. The group of newspapers ranks among the top seven in Nigeria in advertising.

The newspapers have online editions accessible through and content from newspapers is published by All Africa and Gamji. The company presents the 'Daily Trust African of the Year' Award, recognising and celebrating Africans who have made positive contributions that impact the lives of other people and elicit a Pan-African attention during the award year.

The chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer is Kabiru Abdullahi Yusuf. He was a senior lecturer of the department of political science, Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto. He has worked as a columnist and commentator for companies that include the Daily Triumph, Citizen Magazine, Newswatch and BBC Africa service. While Leadership is a daily national newspaper published by Leadership Newspaper group, based in Abuja, Nigeria. On its website, the paper asserts: "we shall stand up for good governance. We shall defend the interest of the Nigerian state even against its leaders and we shall rise our pen at all times in defence of what is right. These are the values by which we intend to be assessed.

In December 2009, the Nigerian Union of Journalists named Leadership "Newspaper of the Year." The award was accepted by Abraham Nda-Isaiah, its Group Executive Director, on behalf of its Chairman, Sam Nda-Isaiah. In a restructuring effective 1 January, 2011, Azubuike Ishiekwene was appointed the first managing director of LEADERSHIP HOLDINGS. Ishiekwene had formerly been editor of The Punch and then managing director of that newspaper.

1.8     Definition of Terms

Policy:  standing decision" characterized by behavioral consistency and repetitiveness on the part of both those who make it and those who abide by it. 

Public policy: public policy is a government programme of action which stands for various degrees of goal articulation and normative regulations of government activities, that is what government intends to do or achieve and how it intends to do it (Egonmwan 2004).

Mass Media: diversified technologies that are intended to reach a large audience by mass communication.

CNN Effect: Is a theory in political science and media studies that postulates that the development of the popular 24-hour international television news channel known as Cable Network News, or CNN, had a major impact on the conduct of states' foreign policy in the late Cold War period and that CNN and its subsequent industry competitors have had a similar impact in the post-Cold War era.

Policy Formulation: involves the definition, discussion, acceptation or rejection of feasible courses of action for coping with policy problems.

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