NEWSPAPERS COVERAGE OF ENDSARS PROTEST IN NIGERIA. A STUDY OF SELECTED NEWSPAPERS
The capacity of the mass media to create awareness on any issue in modern society has come to be recognized. Society, therefore, depends mostly on the mass media for its information and communication needs. The functions of the media in the society have been identified as surveillance of the environment, correlation of parts of society in responding to the environment, transmission of social heritage from one generation to the next and providing entertainment (Wright 1959:9).
According to Wright, “surveillance refers to the collection and distribution of information concerning events in the environment both outside and within any particular society”. This is the news function of the mass media. Correlation includes “interpretation of information about the environment and prescription for conduct in reaction to these events. This is the editorial or opinion function of the media. Transmission of social heritage according to Wright “focuses on the communicating of knowledge, values, and social norms from one generation to another or from members of a group to newcomers”. This is the education function. Entertainment includes “communicative acts primarily intended for amusement, irrespective of any instrumental effect they might have” (Wright 1959:9).
An understanding of these functions and their discrete nature is needed by advocacy practitioners and academics to understand how the media functions. Thus, a newspaper, for example, might report a conflict news story (surveillance) and follow it with an editorial or opinion on how to stem the conflict (correlation) and feature stories on educating the public on the ultimate futility of conflicts (education) and a cartoon or illustration on the need for peace (entertainment).
McQuail quoted by Watson (2003:104-105) further explains these functions under five headings- information, correlation, continuity, entertainment and mobilisation.
Information: Providing information about events and conditions in society and the world; indicating relations of power; facilitating innovation, adaptation and progress;
Correlation: Explaining, interpreting and commenting on the meaning of events and information; providing support for established authority and norms; socialising; co- ordinating separate activities; consensus building; setting orders of priority and signalling relative status;
Continuity: Expressing the dominant culture and recognising sub-cultures and new cultural developments; forging and maintaining commonality of values;
Entertainment: Providing amusement, diversion, and the means of relaxation; reducing social tension;
Mobilisation: Campaigning for social objectives in the sphere of politics, war, economic development, work, and sometimes religion.
However, the activities of the media are carried out within certain constraints which may be socio-economic, psychological or political which affect how these activities are viewed by the society. Factors like ownership, location, orientation and the economics of media production among others may colour the role of the media in society. These conflicts of role perception have been manifested in comments on the role of the media in conflict situations. All stakeholders seem to have divergent views on the role of the media. The position of people at the helm of affairs in government was poignantly brought to the fore in 1985 by then Prime Minister of Britain, Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher told a gathering of attorneys that democracy “must find a way to starve the terrorists and hijackers of the oxygen of publicity on which they depend” (Picard 1990:314). The oxygen of publicity referred to above is a summation of the role of the media in airing the views of “terrorists” and hijackers.
In Nigeria, government officials at the highest levels consistently find the media as the culprit in the many violent conflicts that have bedevilled the nation. About a month into his appointment as National Security Adviser (NSA) to the Nigerian President, Sambo Dasuki
had already accused the Nigerian media of contributing to the security challenges of the country, “My experience with the media has so far not been a good one… In most of the places I visit, the media have been one of the problems and it is all these idea of sensational journalism that everybody wants to publish a story that is not necessarily a story, to make good headlines.” (The Punch, July 6, 2012:1-2)
Background to the study
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was created in Lagos State in 1992, a time when Notorious armed robbers such as Shina Rambo were in control of the state (Midenda, 2017).
It was created as a faceless police unit that performs undercover operations against armed robbers. Within almost two decades of its creation, the unit has spread across the various states of the country. The spread of the unit across the nation without a proper structure, accounts for some of it lawless charcteristics.
The current report of police brutality using the #Endsars on Twitter has brought public attention to it. The online campaign about the police brutality is new, however, Nigerian pop stars has over the years expressed their worries, fears and incidents of police brutality.
The Nigerian movie industry, Nollywood has also portrayed cases of brutality and corruption within the Nigerian police force in their productions.Nigerians having been subjected to wanton arrests, extortion and extra judiciary killings, lunched a social media campaign using the hastag #Endsars on Twitter to put an end to police brutality.
The #Endsars campaign started with the publication of a petition by convener Segun Awosanya. It was signed by 10,195 Nigerians and submitted to the Nigerian National Assembly to scrap the police unit. The Twitter campaign started on the 2nd of December 2017, when a footage of police officers attached to the unit shot and killed a man surfaced online. The campaign became a trending topic on Twitter with over 400,000 Tweets8 within twelve hours.
In October 2020, Nigerians turned the online campaign to protest. Nigerians using 280 characters detailing their horrible and harrowing experiences with SARS, the dreaded unit of the police created to fight banditry. Before the campaign, there have been isolated cases of police brutality all over the country. However, it was during the campaign that the damage caused by such brutality was discovered.
The campaign also exposed the level of rot within the police unit according to the convener of the campaign. The campaign further revealed that the police has no recognizable structure with no organized system of operation, officers of the unit act based on self-will with little or no regards for fundamental human right for citizens especially vulnerable youth.
The sudden rise of protest movements during the recent economic crisis has brought to the fore once more the question of whether grievance theories may play a role in explaining collective action.
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background to the Study 1
1.2 Statement of the Problem 5
1.3 Objective of the Study 6
1.4 Research Questions 7
1.5 Hypotheses 7
1.6 Significance of the Study 8
1.7 Scopeof the Study 9
1.8 Operational Definition of Terms 9
CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF LITERATURE
2.0 Introduction 11
2.1 Conceptual Review 11
2.1.1 Conceptual Model 11
2.1.2 Conflict: A Conceptual Clarification 12
2.1.3 News Media and the Coverage of Conflict 16
2.1.4 Peace Journalism: An Alternative Model to War Journalism 20
18.104.22.168 Criticisms of Peace Journalism and Counterarguments 24
2.2 Theoretical Framework 33
2.2.1 Agenda-Setting Theory 33
22.214.171.124 Relevance of the Agenda-Setting Theory to the Study 37
2.2.2 Media Framing Theory 37
126.96.36.199 Relevance of the Media Framing Theory to the Study 40
2.2.3 Social Responsibility Theory 40
188.8.131.52 Relevance of the Social Responsibility Theory to the Study 43
2.3 Review of Empirical Studies 43
2.4 Summary of Literature 53