READERS PERCEPTION OF NEWSPAPER’S COVERAGE OF THE 2015 ELECTIONS

READERS PERCEPTION OF NEWSPAPER’S COVERAGE OF THE 2015 ELECTIONS

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Background to the Study

The Nigerian presidential election has long been the greatest symbol of democracy in the country, from the Nigerian independence in 1960 through the conflicts and brief reign of the militaristic regime, to a return to civilian presidency with President Seun Shagari’s term in 1999. The year 2003 saw President Olusegun Obasanjo voted into office as the president of Nigeria.Following President Obasanjo was President Umaru Yaradua, who was voted into the Presidential office in the year 2009. Due to his declining health and subsequent death, the democratic process was foregone and the presidential role was filled by then Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan, who in 2011 later became the president of Nigeria after winning the Nigerian election and a full term was served.

In the month of March 2015, the presidential electionalong with several other elections had been carried out at various levels of government throughout the country was held and General Mohammed Buhari was elected president of Nigeria.

During and after the period of campaigning for the election, several mediums of advertisements were employed, ranging from Television ads to Billboards to rallies for the general public.One of the more popular mediums employed for the campaign were the newspapers. Every day saw a different set of advertisements and articles, all aimed towards the campaign either by subtly discrediting other candidates or by touting a specific candidate as the best choice.

The print media has been since before the time Nigerian independence been a powerful tool for swaying the opinion of general populace, it has been responsible for providing political informationto the general masses, like the state of corruption, the effectiveness of leaders, their shortcomings and many other things, before, after and during the election period.

The newspapers can be judged to play a large role in the decision making process of the readers, by providing exposure to certain advertisements, articles, features and in certain cases openly supporting certain candidates. This forms the basis of judgment for the readers, as certain political parties will have more exposure than others, it is important to understand how the readers, and subsequent voters, view the coverage and information dissemination process of these newspapers.

Statement of the Problem

It can be assumed that the newspaper’s coverage of these campaigns formed some basis for decision making amongst the masses during the elections, but it is important to consider the adequacy, effectiveness and fairness of this basis.An important duty of all journalistic establishments is fairness to both the reported and to the general public. The print media is responsible for its own reportage.

The 2015 presidential election was won by now President Mohammed Buhari, it is necessary to understand the part played by the newspapers in making this possible. The flow of information and the themes of that information presented by the newspaper must be understood in order to properly hold the newspapers accountable for their reportage and understand their relevance in the Nigerian democratic process.

Objectives of the Study

1.      To find out the readers perception of the newspapers coverage of the 2015 elections

2.      To identify the effects, if any, of the newspapers on the decision for presidential candidates.

3.      To ascertain the most influential newspaper medium and why.

Research Questions

1.      How do readers perceive the newspapers coverage of the 2015 elections?

2.      Did the newspapers affect the decision of the readers, and how?

3.      Which newspaper medium was the most influential and why?

Methodology

For the purpose of this study, in order to judge the reader’s perception it will be necessary to access the opinion of the readers directly, there are many ways through which this can be achieved but for the purpose of this study data will be collected via survey. Specifically questionnaires, these will be distributed to relevant parties and the results will form a basis of the data.

Questionnaires are useful as they serve as proper and impartial means of receiving people’s opinion in a form that can be easily processed. A large part of the immediate society read newspapers, as such the demographic recipients of these questionnaires will be limited to those who read newspapers and are old enough to vote. With all these considered along with the limitations inherent, a total of 100 questionnaires will be distributed amongst the postgraduate students of Covenant University.

Upon collating data, an analysis will be performed on the results from which a conclusion on the reader’s perception of the newspaper’s coverage can be reached.

Significance of the Study

It has been noted that newspapers as a news medium play a great role in determining the opinion of their readership and the society at large, as such it is vital to understand the nature of their reportage. This is ever more important when issues as significant as the Nigerian elections are concerned. In determining the people who will hold posts throughout the body of government any medium that sways opinions as well as the newspapers must be examined closely.

An examination is sought in this study on the 2015 elections, in order to further understand the effects of the print media on the choice of party and candidate by the readers, the form of information dissemination that led to this choice, the representation of the candidates and many other factors that led to the results of the elections.

By collecting and analyzing the readers’ perception of the newspaper coverage of the 2015 elections, it will become possible to further understand how the media play a role in our decision making process, to find responsibility with the print media for any and all misinformation, and to better understand the patterns of information dissemination in the media.

Scope of the Study

The study will be focused primarily on the 2015 Nigerian elections, with a particular focus on the presidential elections for its ubiquity amongst the general populace. The study will cover only the newspaper medium but will strive to reach every newspaper in the questionnaire and a focus on the more popular newspapers in the gathering of secondary data.

Limitation

This study is limited in scope to the print media, due to its popularity and influence in the political sector. The geographical location of the researcher also limits the collection of data to the west of Nigeria. A deadline of three months also limits the depth of the study.

Definition of Terms

·         Newspaper: a paper that is printed and distributed usually daily or weekly and that contains news, articles of opinions, features and advertising.

·         Election: the act or process of choosing someone for a public office by voting.

·         Bias: an unfair feeling of like or dislike for a person or group because of race, religion, gender, etc.

·         Advertisements: advertisements are the end result of an advertising process; for example, an advert copy.

·         Demographics: these are groups of people, sometimes large, that have a particular set of similar qualities. For example, age, sex, religion, marital status, ethnicity e.t.c.





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