Nigeria media framing of coronavirus pandemic and audience response
Part of the role of the media is to report any issue affecting the society to the masses. Coronavirus has become an issue of transnational concern. The importance of the media in the coverage of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Nigeria and its implications among Nigerian populace cannot be overestimated. This study evaluates how Nigerian media depict the coronavirus pandemic and how the depictions shape people’s perception and response to the pandemic.
The study employed a quantitative design (newspaper content analysis and questionnaire). The content analysis examines the nature of media coverage of coronavirus in Nigeria and China using four major national newspapers (The Sun, The Vanguard, The Guardian and The Punch). The period of study ranged from January 2020 to March 2020. A total of 1070 newspaper items on coronavirus outbreak were identified across the four newspapers and content-analysed.
The finding shows that the coverage of the pandemic was dominated by straight news reports accounting for 763 or (71.3%) of all analysed items. This was followed by opinions 169 (15.8%), features 120 (11.2%) and editorials 18 (1.7%) respectively. The Punch 309 (28.9%) reported the outbreak more frequently than The Sun 266 (24.9%), The Guardian 258 (24.1%) and Vanguard 237 (22.1%). Finding further suggests that the framing pattern adopted by the newspapers helped Nigerians to take precautionary measures.
Continuous reportage of COVID-19 has proved effective in creating awareness about safety and preventive measures thereby helping to ‘flatten the curve’ and contain the spread of the virus. However, the newspapers should avoid creating fear/panic in reporting the pandemic