HERITAGE POLYTECHNIC LECTURERS’ PERCEPTION OF NEWSPAPER COVERAGE OF THE 2019 GUBERNATORIAL ELECTIONS IN AKWA IBOM STATE
HERITAGE POLYTECHNIC LECTURERS’ PERCEPTION OF NEWSPAPER COVERAGE OF THE 2019 GUBERNATORIAL ELECTIONS IN AKWA IBOM STATE
1.1 Background to the Study
At present, issues pertaining to electioneering in Nigeria have contributed to drawing global attention with the view that the problems that impede their progresses are currently being addressed concretely. Consequently, the quest for improving the situation has heightened the political consciousness of individuals, governments NGO’s media etc.
However, the role of the media towards this development has for a long time been taken for granted and relegated to the background. For a long time, politics in Nigeria has been played with the usual patronizing attitude which usually does not go far in enlightening the voters. Some of the factors employed are social and cultural practices which hitherto have been misinterpreted to create biases against opponents. (Plambeck 2010, p.22).
Therefore, there is need for voters to be properly oriented so that their numerical strength and voting power can be profitably galvanized and oriented towards the empowerment of other people who will in turn look after the welfare of all participants by formulating gender sensitive laws to promote both men and women’s cause.
Therefore, various scholars have made attempts at defining the word politics, resulting in different views about politics. It has been defined as the art of possible, a game of wits, all that begins and ends with government. Politics is essentially the art and science of governance. That is, the study of the control, distribution and use of power over human activities in society.
The word politics is derived from the Greek word Polis, which means “city state”. Winter and bellows (1968) pointed out that Aristotle (384-322 Bc) in his “Treatise on Human Associations” states that the most sovereign inclusive association is the “Polis” which presupposes the establishment of government, law- making, enforcement and eliciting obedience from members of the society. Aristotle observed that man is by nature a political animal. This means that politics permeates all human activities. It manifests in social, economic and cultural intersections among individuals and groups and transcends international frontiers.
The obvious conniver associated with the concept and practice of politics influenced the emergence of the Laswellian theory of politics, which states that politics is who gets what and how (Laswellian, 1958).
However, newspapers are indispensable in modern democracies, like Nigeria, where there is a need to link a citizenry of more than 190 million. A newspaper is a periodical publication containing written information about current events and is often typed in black ink with a white or gray background. Newspapers cover a wide variety of fields such as politics, business, sports and art, and often include materials such as opinion columns, weather forecasts, and reviews of local services, obituaries, birth notices, crosswords, editorial cartoons, comic strips, and advice columns. (Plambeck, 2010).
Newspapers have traditionally been published in print (usually on cheap, low-grade paper called newsprint). However, today most newspapers are also published on websites as online newspapers, and some have even abandoned their print versions entirely .Meanwhile, it is apparent that 98% of the newspapers firms in Nigeria create room for their newspaper editions on the internet. This is basically done to fit into the competiting trend of globalization in contemporary society. (Yunusa & Okene, 2008).
According to Okoro and Diri (2012), there is speculation that the contents of online edition of newspapers satisfy readers needs for information and solve down the drive for the print version thus, in spite of the seeming successes of the internet as a news medium questions have been raised about the credibility of online news (Lasicased 1998; Online News Association, 2002). These concerns are significant in that journalism is built on the principles of credibility. The public is likely not to pay attention to a medium that they do not trust because trust is a factor in news reporting. Johnson and Kaye (1998) cautioned that lack of trust in information obtained from the Internet could keep it from becoming an even more important and influential news source because the issue which many online newspaper readers had to grapple with is that of the credibility of the news sources and the identification of the reporter or authors of the internet stories.
According to Baran (2004, P.1210):
Television forced the newspaper to change the way they did business and served their readers, now online computer networks pose the greatest challenge to this medium. Online job hunting and auto sales services are already cutting into the classified advertising profit newspapers.
The changing face of the newspaper industry could not have been what we have today if not for the convergence between the newspaper and the modern technologies adopted in the industry. On the issue of convergence, Baran (2004) notes that technology has led to newspapers all over the world reinventing themselves and becoming more user friendly, more casual, more lifestyle-oriented, and more in touch with youths.
As in politics and elections across the world, newspapers played a major roles before, during and after the 2019 governorship in Akwa Ibom State. In the 2019 elections, hate speeches and misinformation spread far and wide. After the elections, incredible rumors and lies continued to abound, to the extent that there were even allegations that the election results was rigged. Leading newspapers in the country like Thisday, Vanguard, Guardian, Punch, Leadership, The Nation, Daily Trust and BusinessDay Media set up their daily live blogs on social media to give timely updates on the elections .Rumours emerged on social media that soldiers had invaded schools in different states, and were forcefully injecting pupils with poisonous substances that cause monkey pox. This led to the closing down of schools in Imo, Enugu, Abia, Anambra and Ebonyi state and even some schools in Rivers, Balyesa and Akwa Ibom states. The false story was said to have been posted on the news page of the IPOB, which had vowed to disrupt any elections in the region.
Newspapers in Nigeria are generally highly susceptible to manipulations by influential individuals with vested interests and little sense of electoral ethics. They are ready to confuse or divide people along ethnic, religious or other lines to serve their own ends. In 2019, those with sufficient resources again solicit the services of international PR firms with records of employing questionable methods. Aside this, newspaper proprietors and their friends (mostly politicians), advertisers etc influenced the coverage of the 2019 gubernatorial elections in Akwa Ibom State. With all these actions, it is assumed that the coverage of the 2019 gubernatorial election in Akwa Ibom State was based on interests. However, what is not certain is how Heritage Polytechnic Lecturers perceived the coverage of the 2019 gubernatorial election. This and many more issues/questions forms the crux of this study.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The nature of political disorders/competition in Nigeria has reached the stage of mass participation among the bulk of Nigerians who are not literate in the acquisition of education, but that does not mean they are by any means of no political weight.
The media has often been accused of being bias or taking sides in reporting sensitive issue like election rigging and conflict (Bello, 2005). Some even alleged that the media is being recruited in political situations to blow trumpets, ignite or precipitate violence among peace loving people or communities and most times these types of accusations come from the opposing parties who think and expect the media to be their mouthpiece or instrument of propaganda. The accusations are always borne out of misperception as well as misconception of the role of the media in the society. There is also the lack of sufficient and accurate, independent and balanced coverage by the media in the society. The lack of professionalism in the media has seemingly fuelled rumours and misperceptions during election times with often disastrous consequences. This research seeks to identify the crucial role newspaper coverage plays in the 2019 gubernatorial election in Akwa Ibom State. There is a serious need for re-awakening in Nigeria on the issue of election and the roles media plays during and after election, and on the issue of elections violence due to carelessness, inconsiderate and insensitive role of media in our society.
Thus, if this issue is not looked into, many individuals will be illiterates and there will be backwardness in the economy of the country and growth of politics will depreciate.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The specific objectives for this study are therefore:-
- To find out the extent of audience (Heritage Polytechnic Lecturers) exposure to newspaper coverage of the 2019 gubernatorial election in Akwa Ibom state.
- To determine the perception of heritage polytechnic lecturers on newspaper coverage of the 2019 gubernatorial election in Akwa Ibom State.
- To examine the extent of heritage polytechnic lecturers on newspaper coverage of the 2019 gubernatorial election in Akwa Ibom State.
- To find out if newspaper actually mobilize Heritage lectures’ towards political participation during the 2019 gubernatorial election in Akwa Ibom State.
- To find out the extent to which newspaper mobilize Heritage lectures’ towards political participation during the 2019 gubernatorial election in Akwa Ibom State.
1.4 Research Questions
The aim and objectives will be achieved through the use of the following research questions.
- What is the extent of audience (Heritage Polytechnic Lecturers) exposure to newspaper coverage of the 2019 gubernatorial election in Akwa Ibom state?
- What have been the heritage polytechnic lecturers’ perception on newspaper coverage of the 2019 gubernatorial election in Akwa Ibom State?
- What is the extent of heritage polytechnic lecturers’ perception on newspaper coverage of the 2019 gubernatorial election in Akwa Ibom State?
- Does newspaper actually mobilize Heritage lecturers’ enough towards political participation during the 2019 gubernatorial election in Akwa Ibom State?
- What is the extent to which newspaper mobilize Heritage lecturers’ towards political participation during the 2019 gubernatorial election in Akwa Ibom State?
1.5 Research Hypothesis
The hypothesis which guided this work is stated in alternate as follow:
Hi: Heritage Polytechnic lecturers holds a positive perception of newspaper coverage of the 2019 gubernatorial election in Akwa Ibom State.
1.6 Justification of the Study
The information one has is integral to the decisions that person makes and the actions he or she takes. Being misinformed is detrimental as it could lead to making wrong decisions and taking wrong actions. Therefore, a discourse on the Heritage Polytechnic lecturers’ perception of newspaper coverage on the 2019 gubernatorial election is important because it avails the reader the opportunity to determine if the overt reliance on newspaper generated information could lead to misinformation or not; in that it could either be detrimental based on the lack of credibility or, beneficial based on credibility.
Also, the research study is significant to the researcher as it helps her to develop research skills and facts on newspaper coverage in the society as it concerns Akwa Ibom State 2019 governorship election especially.
The conduct of this research will enable the government to know what role the media can play in the development of a country and therefore, harness the mass media especially newspaper in the democratic process and development process in general. It will also confirm whether the media is for the government alone or are actually carrying out their functions to the society.
Finally, the result of the study will serve as a reference material for furthers studies in management, government and mass communication.
1.7 Delimitations of the Study
The scope of this study was restricted to only newspaper coverage of the 2019 gubernatorial election in Akwa Ibom State. It excluded other past elections which the researcher believes their inclusion would expand the scope of this study unduly.
Also, it limits itself to only the lecturers of Heritage Polytechnic, Eket. The study did not make any attempt to study other lecturers in tertiary institution in Nigeria.
1.8 Limitations of the Study
There are many limitations ranging from not knowing where to start, not knowing who to consult or approach for materials not knowing what next to write in various segment of this study and not actually knowing who to put me through in achieving my work.
Secondly, as we know, our nation’s economy is very bad that finance become a serious problem to my research study due to lack of fund to get to some places, people and to get one thing done or the other done. Due to that it creates a barrier to the study.
Finally, back pains, dizziness as well as the researcher’s respondent’s inability to return questionnaires that was given to them adequately.
1.9 Definition of Terms
In this study, certain key words will be explained into operational definitions.
Perceived Influence: this is a situation where the awareness of a thing has the power to change or affect someone or something negatively or positively.
Violence: It is the action of Heritage lecturers as a reason of exposure to newspaper coverage of 2019 gubernatorial election, which causes damage to their life.
Influence: This is the character a person portrays as a result of what he or she read from newspaper.
Politics: A competition between political parties to wards who or which party assumes political leadership.
Audience: Audience includes all Heritage Polytechnic lecturers who are actually reached by newspaper content of the 2019 governorship election. Media: The media is operationalized as Newspaper. Broadcast used to generate or circulate information to the public during 2019 governorship election.
Attitude: The reactions, habit and practice of the Heritage Polytechnic lecturers to newspaper coverage of the 2019 election in Akwa Ibom State.
News Credibility: the state of believability or quality of accepting a news report as real, true or honest.