PRESS COVERAGE OF POLITICAL PARTIES IN THE 2015 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF DAILYTRUST AND VANGUARD NEWSPAPERS.

PRESS COVERAGE OF POLITICAL PARTIES IN THE 2015 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF DAILYTRUST AND VANGUARD NEWSPAPERS.

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ABSTRACT

This study was conducted to assess how newspapers covered political parties in the 2015 presidential election in Nigeria, by comparing the quantity of report between Daily Trust and Vanguard newspapers, to find out the political party with the highest attention and most prominence and then the most common theme of coverage. The study adopted Agenda setting and political economy theory as the theoretical framework and content analysis as the research design.A census of all the 264 editions of the newspapers published within the five months period of election campaign—November, 2014 to March, 2015 was done.Data were collected with the aid of code sheet as the instrument of data collection. Afterward,the data from these newspapers were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics. Findings revealed that Vanguard newspaper gave more attention to the political parties during the 2015 presidential general election than the Daily Trust newspaper. Similarly, out of the 14 political parties that participated at the 2015 presidential election, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) had the highest attention on the selected papers with Vanguard newspaper according more frequency than Daily Trust newspaper. In addition, more prominence was given to All Progressives Congress party throughout the period of the election by selected newspaper with Daily Trust newspaper conferringthan the Vanguard newspaper. Likewise, it was also found that, policy had the most common theme of coverage during the period of the presidential election on Daily Trust than the Vanguard newspaper. Based on the findings, it is recommended that Nigerian newspapers should endeavor to give equal preference to all political parties during and after election as enshrined in the constitution.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background to the Study

The mass media have been a very strong pillarin the Nigerian democratic system. They have

played critical roles in the electoral process by acting as major sources of information,

providing essentially costless and reliable details leading to a more balanced education and

opinion formation among the voting publics (Pate, 2015a). Specifically, during the election

period, the media is shouldered withtwo major responsibilities of informing the public about

what the politicians are promising and then in turn, they also tell the politicians what ordinary

people want or do not want. These two major responsibilities performed by the media are to

ensure that the polls are „free and fair‟.

The 2015 general election in Nigeria was the 5th election to be held since the end of military rule

in 1999 by the General Abubakar Abdulsalam led military regime. This period also marked the

beginning of the fourth republic of Nigeria. Above all, electioneering in Nigeria can, no doubt,

be traced as far back to the Clifford‟s constitution of 1922. The constitution first introduced the

elective principle into the Nigerian politics. Voting was introduced as a means of taking

decisions in the legislative council. The aftermaths of these principles of electiongave birth to

political parties in the country. Buttressing this,Akinboye (1999) explains that the coming of

political parties consequently stimulated political discussions amongst Nigerians and thereby led

to the struggle against colonialism. Abagen (2009) clarifies that the last fifty years have seen an

evolution of various political parties in Nigeria. Therefore, it is evident that these political parties

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have played and are still playing a vital role in the realization of democratic objectives (Utor,

2000).

These rapid changes have paved ways for worldwide dynamic setting for a greater participation

in Nigeria‟s politics and in public decision making.This has also become a reference criterion

reflecting the democratic level attained by a society. According to Adeyanju (2014), participation

in modern politics is the most central ingredient of democracy as it makes it easy for the

populace to be abreast of the process of decision making, the decisions made and why they are

made.

Similarly, Chilton and Schaffner (2004) opine that the only way to understand how politicians

manage to influence the society and how they are able to put their opinions through to a large

audience on a local, national, or even global level is to analyze their text and talk. Text and talk

can only be effectively analyzed with the aid of media content analysis. This is probably why

Made (2008), suggests that the media‟s key roles in a democratic society are to inform, educate,

and perform the „watchdog‟ function of keeping the public and private accountable to the

interests of the general populace, as well as beingan agent of change through informed,

contextualized and accurate reporting of issues and events in a society.

Furthermore, Media coverage is considered important if one is to succeed in politics. This could

be the reason why Thomas Jefferson, the third American President, as cited in Nwabueze and

Ebeze (2013), state that „where it is left for me to choose whether we should have a government

without the press or a press without government, I shall not hesitate a moment to choose the

latter‟. This simply means that the power and prestige of what we call the mass media are as

important as the branches of government. This is because they have a direct impact on each of

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the arms of government: the executive, legislature and the judiciary (Okpoko, 2014). McQuail

(2010) also confirms that there had always been an intimate connection between Mass Media and

the conduct of politics in whatever kind of regime. Hence, this symbi


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