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The media can be used as an instrument to build as well as to destroy the human society. This study has tried to establish the inherent nature of conflict and crises in human society as well as the significant role of media and communication in forming and shaping individual or group perception of events or issues, enhancing human interaction and also looked at the nature of violence to the well being of humanity. Vital roles of the media and the various conflict management apparatus like arbitration, collaboration, mediation, negotiation and reconciliation among other measures put in place to avert or control violent conflict in Kaduna state have been highlighted. The study is limited to only four local government areas of Kaduna state and examines the perception of the audience, elicits essential information that enhance better understanding of role of media in conflict management and reconciliation. The survey method was used and the instruments for data collection were the questionnaire and in-depth interview. The sampling methods considered for this study are purposive (non probability) sample in the selection of study population and accidental or convenience sampling in the selection of respondents because of the sensitivity of the problem under study. The study focuses on objectives that centred on investigating the perception of the audience on the roles of media in conflicts as well as in managing and resolving the post election conflict in Kaduna State. The study provides necessary information on the causes and effects of conflicts to the society and how the media can assist in the proper management of conflict before, during or after elections. Some causes of conflicts are looked into and solutions as well as suggestion on the possible ways of controlling and mitigating the effects of such conflicts were proffered.The study concludes, that there is need to enhance the performance of media in the process of conflict management and reconciliation so as to enable a peaceful common future for all citizens.
1.1 Background to the Study
Development in all its ramifications is a product of peace. Society without unity, peace
and understanding between and among its inhabitants cannot boast of development. Peace is
integral and very central to the development of any nation. Development is simply an increase,
improvement, and growth for the better. Development is a self-generating and self-sustaining
phenomenon. Therefore, development is conceived in human term as the maximum satisfaction
of basic human needs of adequate and decent food, water, electricity, shelter, education, modern
social infrastructural facilities (Development administration, 1998, Yunusa & Okene, 2008).
The word ‗media‘ comes from the plural of the Latin word medium and it is used as a
collective noun to refer to television, radio, newspapers, magazines, films, the international
networks (internet) etc. The media, in both specific and general terms (the Newspapers,
Television, Magazine, radio, social media and the internet as a whole) has always played and is
still playing very prominent role in national growth and development. Media helps to develop
societies by gradually changing and making them to become more advance, greater, stronger,
larger, successful and impressive entities.
Apparently, media exert a powerful influence on its audience, their actions and inactions;
also exert same on the perceptions of the world around them. The role of the media is to report
and disseminate authenticated and objective information. This information must be factual,
accurate and balanced and fair representation of divergent views, to allow the audience or larger
public to make well-informed choices (Coffman et. al, 2006) and judgment. The media plays a
wide range of roles in our lives. Some of these roles are constructive and some are destructive.
Media is often described as a double-edged sword. When employed positively, media can
become an instrument of conflict resolution and a catalyst for peaceful change. However, when
employed as a means to propagate intolerance and hatred, and to incite violence, media becomes
a negative force among efforts to foster peace (Coffman et. al, 2006). It has remained an
indisputable fact that the mass media or media of mass communication are among, if not the
most effective and powerful means of disseminating information all over the world. Countries
that are seen to be powerful or developed are perceived as such, largely owing, among other
things, to the powerful media they possess and control (Bello, 2005:177).
Media owners and professionals decide what they think the public or some target
audience want to see and hear. A common journalistic principle is: ―If it bleeds, it leads.‖ That
means violent conflict will be headline news, not news of cross-cultural dialogue and
understanding. The media mostly covers conflict, not peace building. This tendency to cover
conflict and violence distorts reality and leads many people to think that conflict is pervasive and
peace is abnormal. History has shown that the media can incite people toward violence. Hitler
used the media to create an entire worldview of hatred for Jews, homosexuals, and other
minority groups. Rwanda‘s radio RTLM urged listeners to pick up machetes and take to the
streets to kill what they called ‗the cockroaches.‘ Broadcasters in the Balkans polarized local
communities to the point where violence became an acceptable tool for addressing grievances.
The media‘s impact on the escalation of conflict is more widely recognized than the media‘s
impact on peace building (Bratic and Schirch, 2007).
Journalism does not need justification for its existence. Its service to society is
justification in itself. Journalism can not only help to distribute information but also counter
hate-speech and create an environment of balanced opinions, and information equilibrium. For
the media it can be problematic to find a balance between preventing harm caused by speech and
protecting individual expression. Being able to find this balance however is important especially
in conflict situations. Responsible journalism does not just re-publish press releases but is truly
concerned with a truthful, balanced and fair account of events (Kuusik, 2010). In order to
achieve this journalists have to stay clear of judgemental representations and describe reality
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