TO DETERMINE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF MASS MEDIA IN CONTROLLING CRISIS

TO DETERMINE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF MASS MEDIA IN CONTROLLING CRISIS

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

The mass media are important component that play the roles of expressing the wishes, aspirations, opinions and generally, serve as the mirror for the modern society.(MacQuail, 2000:24).

Lasswell and wright said, the mass media is expected to among other things undertake responsibilities that includes; surveillance of the environment, correlation of part of the society, cultural transmission, entertainment.

The rapid growth of information technology has given the media more powerful ways to control the flow of information and influence the thoughts and emotions of the society. This power makes the mass media the most important instruments of crisis management in the society, able to help reduce crisis damage encouraging high levels of preparedness and alerts(Ferrier &Haque,2003)

Consequently people have come to depend, to a very large extent on the information obtained from the media to create images, from opinions and quite often for guidance in their daily endeavours. (MacQuail, 2000:24).

One of the persistent issues discussed about the media is its interest in conflict and crisis, for among other reasons, these events are news worth. In times of crisis, information is regarded as a critical factor in escalating or reducing tension. In fact, it is often argued that abuse by the instruments of mass media in times of crisis, especially in complex and fragile societies like Nigeria could have serious consequences. This is where the moral and professional obligation of the journalists is usually tested when it comes to crisis reporting. Most of these journalists neglect their social responsibilities when it comes to crisis reporting because they see crisis as one of the major ingredients of news value. (Sankore 2001:15).

The role the media play in calming or diffusing crisis in society cannot be over emphasized. This is because the media, as agenda-setters in the society, have a vital role to perform in preventing crisis from occurring or controlling it when already started. It is because the media, especially the broadcast media, hold the key to control of people’s mind and heart. Normally what people hear over the radio or television, they take into consideration as serious as possible (Pate 2000:32)

As defined in the long man dictionary of contemporary English (1995), crisis is a state of disagreement or argument between people, groups, countries, etc.Burnet introduces crisis as a continuum that is initiated by incident, continues with conflict and ends up in a crisis, characterized by a several state of disorder(Burnet,1998).Media on the other hand, is an extremely influential phenomenon, which can moderate social behaviour. In the context of social crisis, media has choices to make in service or disservice to society. Even before crisis breaks out into violence and bloodshed, media can either raise an alarm to prompt or diffuse after it has broken out, mass media can escalate crisis or arbitrate its resolution.

The anatomy of crisis in the decades of 1980 economic and political conditions become extremely unbearable for most developing countries especially those of Africa and Latin America for whom external conditions occasioned and at the same time worsened internal crisis. Merrill Grindle (1996:23) wrote that for most of the countries “separating domestic and international cause of the crisis is difficult. Domestic policies often had their origin in approaches to development espoused by international agencies, advisors, or intellectual trends”.

In Nigeria, at least 15 fatal conflicts have been recorded since January 2000. Each came, unexpectedly, and unleashed needless destruction of life and property, leaving behind it woe/anguish and suffering. Some were designed in religious garbs others were dubbed political, but ethnicity was the real common denominator that would give the correct answer to the calculation.

In any crisis situation, the role of the media is so crucial. Information is regarded as a critical factor in escalating or reducing the tension. Information is not disseminated carefully about the crisis to the populace; it may portend negative consequences for the nation in question. This is because, the media based on their reports in times of crises, can set the whole nation on fire. This is where the social responsibility of the journalist needs to be tested. Thus, Sankore (2001:15) notes that:

Nothing defines the character of a media establishment more sharply than any crisis that pitches nation against nation or one section of the society against another. In times of crisis, the responsibility of the media is manifest tenfold by the society’s demand for more news, information and analysis and therefore, its increase capacity to influence debate and shape public opinion

Sankore further asserted that every word written or spoken by the media is a potential matchet, bullet or bomb in the hands and minds of the perpetrators and victims of the crisis. This raises serious questions on what should be the role of the media in time of war and crisis. The ethical, moral and professional obligation is to provide the public with accurate and balance reporting that does not distort or suppress information.

Sankore’s ascertain simply implies that the journalist should be socially responsible when reporting crisis. The journalist should not escalate the crisis based on his report. The journalist should be an intermediary; you think of a way to reducing or quelling the crisis with your reports.

Therefore, the ethical moral and professional obligations are to provide the public with accurate and balanced reporting of crisis that does not distort or suppress information because as Egbon (1995:55) warns “the mass media can be very useful servants, but could also be a dangerous master”. This is because the mass media have the power to encourage crisis and violence or to assist in conciliation.

1.2       STATEMENT OF PROBLEM

Sequel to many crisis situations that Nigeria as a Nation has witnessed in the last few years and the incessant allegations levelled against the Nigerian media and Journalist in particular, especially going by the media coverage of crisis situations like the 2000 Kaduna riots, the 2001 Jos riots, the 2011 post elections violence among other violence that claimed hundreds of lives.

Coverage by the media is however, selective and tends to emphasis different priorities depending on preference and the type of crisis (Birkland,1997). Even though the media may function appropriately in crisis management unequal attention may result in overstating a minor crisis and ignoring a dangerous one (kitzinger and Reilly, 1999; Glassner 1999)

The media on its own part has consistently rejected all such claims of bias reporting of crisis levelled against it, claiming that those who make such claims are either deliberate mischief makers or disgruntled elements who want to take out their frustrations on the Nigerian media and Journalists.

This study therefore sets out to find out the nature of coverage of crisis situations by the Nigerian media and how such coverage either helps in dousing or fuelling tensions between and among the different ethnic, regional and religious groups in the country. The study hope to highlight the role media practitioner’s play in managing cultural and ethnic differences in Nigeria and what hopes still remains for Nigerians in the media.

1.3       AIM AND OBJECTIVES

The aim of this study is to determine how the media has fared in controlling crisis before and after it started.

The objectives are:

1. To know how effective the mass media enlighten the public on the havoc of crisis.

2. To understand the hazards crisis has caused to our National development

3. To investigate whether professional training of journalist or lack of it affects the media objectively

4. To know if the media serve as an intermediary in crisis reports

5. To know if the mass media takes side in crisis reporting

1.4       RESEARCH QUESTIONS

1. Does the mass media effectively enlighten the public on the havoc of crisis?

2. Does crisis cause hazard to our National development?

3 .Does training of journalistaffect mediaobjectivity

4. How do the media serveas an intermediary in reporting crisis?

5. Do the media take side in crisis reporting?

1.5       SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

The importance of this study is for the mass media organizations to know the kind of messages to be reported to the public during crisis.

The research will be of benefit to the government to learning from public opinion of the respondent on strategies they need to employ in controlling or preventing crisis.

Academically, the study will form an extension of knowledge to the academic for future researchers.This will also help other researchers to further investigate to other aspect this research might not be able to cover.

1.6       PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

In an interactive forum on crisis management organization in Jos, organized by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). It was observed that mass media takes side in some cases of reporting. “From their reports, one could be tempted to conclude that some of them do not want the country to remain together”. Therefore, the purpose of the study is to find out those factors that come into play when reporting.

1.7       SCOPE OF THE STUDY

Scope of study is the general outline of what the study will cover.“Scope” defines the parameter of… this can be an object, or a theory process, activity. Describing either future, current or past knowledge or statement of descriptive activity, experience etc.

Importance of Scope

The importance of scope of the study is:

1.        It covers political issues

2.        Religious issues

3.        Developmental issues

4.        Financial/Government issues. Which we all know can constitute to conflict when it comes to implementation.

The scope of this study resides in the topic of the research work; the scope of the study will be limited to Kaduna state media corporation (KSMC) which shall cover the vital role the mass media play in prevention of crisis or controlling it when it has already erupted.

1.8       LIMITATION OF STUDY

The research involves the roles of the mass media in crisis reporting in Nigeria.However, due to the depth of the research work it will not be able to survey the entire media in Nigeria and Kaduna State.

This research is limited by resources such as:

·       Financial constraints: lot of money is been spent on typing.

·       Time limitation: The time given for this work is very short which would affect the outcome of my research, because my target would be to beat time given not to do what I intended achieving at the end of my research.

·       Access to materials: Difficulty getting access to materials, related to the research topic.

 1.9      DEFINITION OF KEY TERMS

KSMC- Kaduna State Media Corporation

Crisis - A time of great danger, difficulty or confusion when problems must be solved or important decisions must be made

Conflict - A situation in which people, groups or countries are involved in a serious disagreement or argument

Professional ethics – encompass the personal, organizational and corporate standards of behaviour expected of professionals.

Journalist - a person whose job is to collect and write news stories for newspapers, magazines, radio or television

The Mass Media - sources of information and news such as newspapers, magazines, radio and television, that reach and influence large number of people.

1.10     SUMMARY

The mass media are important component that play the roles of expressing the wishes, aspirations, opinions and generally, serve as the mirror for the modern society.

The mass media is expected to among other things undertake responsibilities that includes; surveillance of the environment, correlation of part of the society, cultural transmission, entertainment.One of the persistent issues discussed about the media is its interest in conflict and crisis, for among other reasons, these events are news worth. In times of crisis, information is regarded as a critical factor in escalating or reducing tensio


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