Damning Outcomes Underscore Media Monitoring Reports

Damning Outcomes Underscore Media Monitoring Reports

…..Rural Voices, Views of Women, Youth, PLWDs are largely Absent   The quarterly reports of the monitoring of the electoral process by the print, online and broadcast media are not too heart warming, as they indicate that the voices of under-represented persons, particularly women, youth and persons living with disabilities (PLWDs), are still largely excluded

…..Rural Voices, Views of Women, Youth, PLWDs are largely Absent  

The quarterly reports of the monitoring of the electoral process by the print, online and broadcast media are not too heart warming, as they indicate that the voices of under-represented persons, particularly women, youth and persons living with disabilities (PLWDs), are still largely excluded from daily reportage. The media is still largely urban focus, neglecting the views of the rural majority.

The reports involves the monitoring of 12 print and online publications with a total of 10,389 reports, worked on by the International Press Centre (IPC) under component b of the Support to the Media of the European Union Support for Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN)  project.

It also involves the monitoring of 14 radio stations and 16 television stations with 366 and 1,600 broadcast items respectively at four different locations, forming part of the component a, support to the media being undertaken by the Institute of Media Studies (IMS) under the component a of the Support to Media of the EU-SDGN project.

Two newspapers, The Nation with 1,318 reports and Vanguard with 1,262 reports came first and second in the IPC report, chucking 12.7 per cent and 12.6 respectively, followed closely by Daily Sun 1,226, Nigerian Tribune 1,180 and Daily Trust 1071, trailing with 11.8 per cent, 11.4 and 11.2 per cent respectively. Most of the stories, amounting to 73 per cent were tucked inside the belly of the newspapers, while only 11 per cent are on front page.

There’s also a preponderance of male views, amounting to 83 per cent, compared to a miserable 4 per cent female views. The All Progressive Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the two leading parties also dominate reportage with 56.1 per cent and 30.5 per cent, leaving 89 other parties with a paltry 13.4 per cent.

The IMS report reveals that the Kaduna State Media Corporation (KSMC) with 20 per cent of the 366 broadcast items came tops while Rhythm FM 93.7 came second. Of the items monitored, News Reports consists of 88 per cent while Discussions take 8 per cent, Phone-in 1.8 per cent, Commentaries and Analysis is 1.1 per cent with Vox Pop at the rear, with 0.3 per cent.

Political Activities and Political Conflict dominate the issues with 96 and 65 out of 366 broadcast items with Women and Youth issues coming 8th and 9th at 16 and 12 per frequency. The PLWDs which came 14th were mentioned just once.

The report says 66 per cent of stories monitored on Radio had no sound bites, underscoring the inadequacy of equipments deployed in the sector. Mrs Funke Treasure Durodola, Assistant Director of Programmes, Radio Nigeria says “this is an indictment on the managers of the Radio stations since radio is all about sound bites”. Unbalanced stories according to the report outnumber balanced stories. Most of the reportage amounting to 80 per cent are also concentrated in the urban areas, leaving the rural areas to contend with just 12 per cent.

Desmims Independent Television (DITV) came tops with 258 items while TVC coming second. Election stories constitute 71 per cent of the stories with Political Activities and Political Conflicts topping the list with 405 and 376 stories respectively. Only 52 per cent of stories have sound bites with 35 per cent without any.

The reportage on television are largely concentrated in the urban areas with 85 per cent. Both the print, online and broadcast media are culpable in concentrating their coverage to the big cities while neglecting the people in the rural areas.

Professor Ayobami Ojebode head of Department of Communication and Language Arts, University of Ibadan who reviewed the reports said the responsibility of the media is to intervene in our “loud and noisy world” to set agenda for discourse and public policy. “The media helps us to make sense of our noisy world…focusing on what matters, and discarding inconsequentials”.

“Agenda setting refers to the power of the media to use repeated reporting to increase the importance of an issue in the mind of the public. The environment is too big and too complex for the media to cover/report everything. Therefore, media people must select what they consider important.”

The issues covered by the media become the issues people talk about. Quoting Cohen, 1963:13, Ojebode says, “The mass media may not be successful in telling us what to think, but they are stunningly successful in telling us what to think about”.

Ojebode, a professor of Applied Communication however argued that the media needed to be monitored for the following reasons:

  1. Our politics splits us..wounds of history that have not become scars yet
  2. Current rumbles…evidence of misinformation
  • There are too many gates without keepers
  1. We are an FCAS nation and
  2. Media are not perfect judges…there are severally competing forces.

Positing that the media is sometimes, guilty of “misconferral”, meaning that the media may present status of persons which may not reflect the reality.  “For instance, the media has wrongly presented men as the most dominant in Agriculture but the reverse is the case as the women are more dominant. It just happens that only male views are usually sought on issues about Agriculture”, he said.

Director IPC, Mr Lanre Arogundade explains that the purpose of the media monitoring process is “to provide evidence-backed information on state of media performance in the coverage of the on-going electoral processes and the 2019 elections.” The report therefore highlights observed gaps and shortcomings in the monitored reports.

“The outcome is expected to be used as tools to engage with journalists, media managers and media gate keepers, which is a major purpose of this gathering,” he said.

The monitoring exercise, Arogundade said, also “incorporates the documentation of electoral (campaign) promises of presidential candidates as are being reported by the concerned media outlets.”

“Let me once again enjoin all journalists and other media professionals to strive to abide with the provisions of the Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage (2018), requiring us to be ethical, professional, socially responsible and conflict sensitive, especially through the avoidance of hate speech, in the coverage of the 2019 elections.”

Against the background of the exclusion of Mr Omoyele Sowore, presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC) and 67 other contestants from the debates organised for presidential candidates, Arogundade said this runs counter to the tenents of the Code.

“It is also worth reminding all journalists, media establishments and electoral institutions organising debates for candidates in the 2019 elections that the Code requires them to ensure the participation of all parties and candidates contesting elections in political debates. Now that candidates have merged, let us also be reminded that the Code expects us to give prominence to issues of women, especially female candidates, youths and persons living with disabilities,” he said.

Also speaking, Executive Director of IMS, Dr Akin Akingbulu says the component b of the support to media which “seeks to achieve fair, accurate and ethical coverage of the electoral and broader democratic process is being achieved through the following work pillars:

  1. Enhancing the professionalism of the media professionals, ii. Strenghtening the capacity of media platforms to diversify and deepen civic and voter education. Iii. Enhancing the capacity of the broadcast media regulator to perform its mandate and iv. Improving media engagement in promoting women, youth and marginalised groups in politics.

“An important part of this section of implementation is media content monitoring in which data is generated and analysed in a systematic and scientific manner and conclusions drawn regarding the performance of the media during the electoral process.”

Explaining further, Akingbulu said, “For this purpose, four centres – two in the North and two in the South – have been established. Monitoring personnel carry out monitoring of the content of radio and television stations from these locations,” while the processing is done and reports produced in our head office in Lagos.

The launch of the reports in Lagos which was attended by senior journalists and academics also featured the launching of the Resource Manual for Reporting Elections and Democratic Accountability published by the IPC.

Three other reports, Guiding Principles For Broadcast Media Coverage Of The Electoral Process in Nigeria, Broadcast Media Readiness and Engagement of Electoral Issues Towards the 2019 General Elections in Nigeria and Gender-Sensitive Media Guidelines For Coverage of the Electoral Process in Nigeria 2018, published by IMS were also launched..

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