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This study ―Conflict-sensitive Reporting in Northern Nigeria: A study of Select Newspaper Reportage‖ was carried out to discover how some newspapers report conflict in Northern Nigeria. The study examined how the nature of reporting conflict can either enhance or diminish the conflict. The media is a powerful tool for shaping public opinion. Because of the sensitive nature of conflicts, the media has to take certain considerations when reporting on conflicts. Media reports can have an impact on a brewing conflict positively or negatively. The major objectives of the study are to: examine the extent of newspaper coverage of the conflict in Northern Nigeria determine how the coverage of the protracted conflict has been framed by the print media, and investigate the level of compliance of Nigerian newspapers with conflict sensitive journalism practice. The study looked at reports on conflict and compared the different reports paper by paper to reveal bias, ideological leanings and emphasis given to reports on conflict in Northern Nigeria. With the content analysis and discourse analysis, the study discovered that the attempt at conflict-sensitive reporting by these newspapers is very poor. The interview revealed that all the newspapers under study see themselves as objective and balanced this was however disputed by the content analysis and discourse analysis. Another finding of this study is that the amount of coverage given to conflict in Northern Nigeria is determined by the location and ownership of these newspapers. The paper also discussed how the media should cover conflict in order to encourage newspapers to be conflict-sensitive in their reports and encourage peace journalism in Nigeria.
1.1 Background to the Study
Human beings as superior animals, claim to be the sole possessors of logic, rationale and
conscience. Humans are expected to resolve their differences and establish justice for sustaining
peace, harmony and tranquillity since they have brains that are superior to that of other animals.
The potential for conflict occurs whenever two or more people have contact with each other.
Conflicts occur within a family, a group a community within and between different groups and
within and between nations.
Often people assume that conflict is abnormal and bad. However, conflict is a normal and
unavoidable part of all relationships and societies. It is even essential for the healthy functioning
of a relationship or social group, because conflict allows people to adapt to new situations and
invent new approaches to problems. What makes a conflict destructive is the negative ways
people commonly deal with conflicts
Conflict does not have to be destructive if handled effectively; conflict can actually contribute to
stronger, deeper relationships and can help to address on-going problems and concerns. Human
history is packed with conflict. Some conflicts crop up on a small level involving only a few
people sometimes it occurs within a single person's mind. But other conflicts span regions and
can stretch on for decades. Frequently conflicts stretch on, because of a problem in
communication, inadequate communication, often lead to protracted conflicts and more often
than not make a conflict violent and destructive.
Communication is very important for coexistence of humanity and a defect in communication
can lead to conflict even among two people or small groups. It is worthy to note that in
situations of conflict, the communication channel does not work as efficiently as it should.
Communication has a big role to play in conflict management and resolutions. It has been
observed that poor communication always results in misunderstandings and eventually conflicts.
The importance of communication in avoiding conflicts or resolving them cannot be over-
emphasized as inadequate communication can lead to conflicts or frustrate conflict management
and resolution efforts.
Prior to civilization, when all humans were tribal and at least somewhat nomadic it is likely that
those tribes fought one another or that internal struggle within a tribe ended with a physical
confrontation. Archaeologists have made discoveries that imply early civilizations had to fight
off bands of raiders to protect their land. As these communities became better at repelling
raiders, they began to develop the tools and techniques that would later serve the basis for
warfare and as man developed in sophistication, so also he developed better weaponry for
fighting and for information dissemination.
The mass media has been in existence reporting on conflicts all the while even before they were
known as the media in modern form. Long before the invention of the printing press, or the
electronic media there have been newspapers in existence in ancient Rome 57bc they were
previously known as ‗acta duirna‘ that is recording of the daily happenings. To do this, there
were record keepers who went about writing down daily happenings which they later pasted on
designated places where they can be read by people. In Africa and some parts of Europe town
criers were and still are responsible for keeping the populace up to date with the latest news and
events, and for disseminating news from to the wider populace.
Therefore it goes that from the earliest records of man, there have been one form of media or the
other informing and enlightening the people of happenings as well as keeping accounts of and
reporting on conflicts like the Trojan war, the battles between Vikings, Celtics, welsh for
supremacy, the battles for the ottoman empire, the hundred years conflict between France and
England, the constant conflicts in the middle east, world war one, world war two, the cold war
and millions of other conflicts that have happened over time. It seems history is written around
one conflict or the other.
It is a fact that each and every one of these conflicts has had immense impact on the cultural and
socio-economic development of the societies involved. World War 1 and World War II for
instance had impacted on the entire world, as the economic consequences were felt as most of
the countries involved particularly in Europe were broke with crippling economies. ―In recent
times, the conflict in Africa has had thousands of people killed and displaced over nine million
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