THE FRAMING OF BENUE POLITICS BY RADIO BENUE

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CHAPTER ONE

1.1   BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

This research is on the framing of Benue politics by radio Benue. The mass media performs a lot of key functions in this society and have been credited based on their positive role, as well as their centrality to development. Masses in any organized society depend on media for information, education and socialization. This is brought by the functions of media, which include among other things, surveillance of the environment and transmission of cultural heritage from one generation to the other.

The radio provides an excellent means of keeping people well – informed on current events. It also plays a vital role in shaping public opinion. The Radio enhances development as it supplies information on basic developmental needs, which seek to enrich the life style of its citizenry. That is by influencing positively the society, political, as well as economic and cultural well being of the people. Constant exposures to news stories lay new values, which change people’s attitude and perception, and make them, adjust to suit the new values being laid down. It helps to co-ordinate national economic development.

The origin of broadcast media goes back to the 19th century. Radio was invented in 1890’s or to be precise in 1885 by an Italian called Glena Marconi in Italy. An American made the first broadcast of music and speech in 1906,, R.A Fessenden. Etymologically, radio has its root in the Latin word “Radius” which means Ray. The radio communication is known as wireless communication and popularly known in other words as “over the air broadcasting”. South African was the first to establish Radio broadcasting in the black African continent By 1920 Johannesburg has already started Radio Broadcasting. In Nigeria, Radio broadcasting was the first to be established as far back as 1933 when the empire broadcasting service was introduced. On the 19th December 1932, the British broadcasting corporation (BBC) launched the world first regular short wave programmer. It was meant to develop political, economical and cultural like between United Kingdom and the English speaking countries of the world. One of these wireless as they were called at that time located in Lagos, Nigeria.

Broadcasting, according to Robert White (1999:485) was introduced as a form of military communication in the 1920’s, the apogee of nationalism and government propaganda. Dominick (1990:175) one of the striking facts about broadcasting is that it was invented by young people for example, Marconi who developed wireless transmitter was only twenty-three when he did that and Reginald Fessenden made his first radiophone broadcast when he was thirty-four. But, can the adult misuse or abuse broadcasting media because it was the brainchild of the young people? So it could be misused by the powers that be. Quoting Aiyetan (2002) Galadima (2003:260) “public office holders believe they can do anything and get away with it as long as they can control media, or get a good journalist to do the dirty job of lying with facts”.

Odumegwu Ojukwu, also observed thus:

When a public office holder does something outlandish,the media sing his praises instead of  condemning him than concentrating on more important national or state issues. (cited by Gdadima, 2003: 261)

In a vehement support of Ojukwu’s Observation, Ternakur (2003:236) Citing Nwankwo (1987), describes the Nigerian mass media as “government said” media is not out of place. Government reflects the will and interests of the class that controls the existing mode of production, power bloc and political machinery in their media outfits.

Neither the government nor their media workers ever agree that they misuse the media. Every journalist disassociates himself or herself from the term “propaganda”. But Casey (1960:232) “the problem every media of communication faces is separating news from propaganda”. Under a free system, one can distinguish between journalist and a propagandist. Both are interested informers. But, journalists seek news and serve the producers of news and not the consumers of news. In the Nigerian government – owned media, journalists are propagandists. They use all known propaganda devices to achieve the aim of their pay-masters.

According to Junhao Hong, (1997:223), “Chinese government uses broadcast media to conduct propaganda campaigns”. The question is, is propaganda bad? In answer to this question, Ebeze (2003: 219) “Propaganda is not composed of lies and tell stories. It operates with many different kinds of truth, half-truths, limited-truths and truth out of context.”

The author quoted Braque (1999) “modern propaganda introduces new dimensions which tend towards education and enlightenment.

Broadcasting media started in Nigeria in the 1930s. Ebo (1994:43) by 1936, radio made its debut when the first Radio Distribution Service through rediffusion sets became operational in Lagos, Nigeria. But, what is today known as Enugu State Broadcasting Service (ESBS) was first opened on October 1, 1960 when it was called Eastern Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation (ENBC). Having operated for forty-eight years now, it will be proper for a study of this nature in order to ascertain from an independent source whether government has used it as propaganda machinery or other wise.

1.2   STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM

All over the world, especially third world countries with less degree of free press, government has manipulated the masses using broadcasting media. Broadcasting is volatile and its potentials are unending satisfaction, as in print media. It has great potentials in information dissemination, education enlightenment, political socialization, and socio-cultural orientation. Most people form their opinions based on what they learned from the mass media. Regrettably, observed schramm (1971), quoted by Ebeze (200:221)

Forming an opinion becomes more difficult when a person does not have access to adequate information ……… this information will help individual to form an opinion.

When the masses are disinformed, or uninformed due to excessive censorship or punitive control measures of state owned media by the government, the public might react and take law into their hands. For instance, between 2000 and 2002, there were instances when aggrieved media audiences in Anambra, Imo and Abia states resorted to jungle justice by invading and attacking Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS) Awka, Imo Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) Oweri, and Broadcasting Corporation of Abia (BCA) Umuahia. The attacks on the broadcasting media stations were as a result of unprofessional reportage of election news. The three mentioned broadcast stations are not alone in unprofessional broadcasting.

Since Radio Benue is one of the state governments – owned broadcasting media stations, it could be involved in state government political propaganda machinery, like others. Therefore, the problem of this study is what the  use of state broadcast media as propaganda by state government  can cause to opinion formation, information need, education and political socialization of those who expose themselves to state broadcast media. The tendency of disinformation and propaganda, the type defined by Lasswell (1937) “Propaganda are techniques of influencing human actions by the manipulation of representation” are prone to exist in a society where government misuses the media.

Moguluwa (2004:159). Government must avoid any form of deceit and misleading information. But, government often prefers negative propaganda while seeking support from the masses to good public relations practice.

Propaganda machinery in information dissemination has a  lot of negative consequences on the media audience especially if it comes from state government  via its media, so a study of this type can not be ignored at this time

1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

Sycophancy flattery and praise singing have been promoted to higher disturbing levels, more especially in political broadcasting ……. State owned broadcast media stations have perfected the crude and irritating art of praise singing for governors and their officials (Umechukwu, 2000:13).

Infact, a sycophant journalist is a source of irritation to media audiences who often see them through the falseness of the media content packaged by the unethical singer. Sycophancy, in every ramification, kills the spirit of investigative journalism, especially among young reporters, who meet praise-singing and see it as the mainstream in journalism practice.

Based on this seemingly observation, the objectives of this study includes.

  1. To determine whether Radio Benue is involved in sycophantic formalism of political issues.
  2. To find out whether its audiences have ever risen to attack its premises and stations for unethical reporting.
  3. To determine the level of government censorship of the broadcast media outputs.
  4. To find out how friendly is the station to state ruling political party’s opposition groups.
  5. To determine the pattern of recruitment of journalists into the organization.

1.4   SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

The benefits of this study are numerous. The Use of state Broadcast media as Propaganda Machinery by State Governments, demands serious empirical investigation because of it’s significance. For example.

  1. The study result will confirm whether state governments use state broadcast media as propaganda machinery
  2. The study will expose the level of state government involvement in the management, and staff recruitment in the stations.
  3. The study will expose the level of sycophantic practise in the state broadcast media.
  4. The result of the study will serve as reference materials for further studies in management, government and mass communication
  5. Both state government and management of Radio Benue will find the study useful in many aspects

1.5   RESEARCH QUESTIONS

A number of questions have been raised and answers to such questions definitely shall provide solution to the problem of state government misuse of state broadcast media organizations. The belief of this researcher is that the following research questions will provide focus and direct his attention to major issues in the identified problem, and the questions are.

  1. Do the respondents observe Radio Benue as practicing sycophantic broadcasting?
  2. Whether the respondents can remember any time Radio Benue audience rose against its unprofessional reportage of state matters?
  3. Are the respondents aware that state government do censor their broadcast media news items?
  4. Can the respondents recall any time state broadcast media ever showed equal and balanced coverage and reportage of opposition political groups activities with state government own activities?
  5. Do the respondents know the method and pattern of staff recruitment in Radio Benue organization?

1.6 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES

Ho:  Respondents do not observe that Radio Benue practice sycophantic broadcasting.

H1:  Respondents do observe that Radio Benue practice sycophantic broadcasting.

Ho:  Respondents cannot remember when the aggrieved Radio Benue audience rose against it’s unethical political broadcasting.

H2:  Respondents can remember when the aggrieved Radio Benue audience rose against it’s unethical political broadcasting.

Ho:  Respondents are not aware that state government do censor their broadcast media news items.

H3:  Respondents are aware that state government do censor their broadcast media news items.

Ho:  Respondents cannot recall when Radio Benue was balancing event coverage between the state government and its political opposition groups.

H4:  The respondent can recall when Radio Benue was balancing event coverage between the state government and its political opposition groups

Ho:  Respondents do not know very well how media workers are recruited in Radio Benue organization.

H5:  Respondents know very well how media workers are recruited in Radio Benue organizations.

1.7   DEFINITIONS OF TERMS

In order to avoid the readers misinterpretation of certain words or terms contained in the title of this work, the researcher defined the terms conceptionally and operationally. Such words and terms are:

  1. State broadcast media
  2. Propaganda
  3. State government

A. CONCEPTUAL DEFINITIONS

  1. State Broadcast Media: They are very potent mass media which combine audio, vision and motion in transmission of news and programmes.
  2. Propaganda: This is an expression of opinion or action by individuals or groups deliberately designed to influence opinions or actions of other individuals or groups with references to predetermined ends

iii.    State Government: A type of government, according to the Nigerian constitution, described as the second. tier of government.

B      OPERATIONAL DEFINITIONS.

  1. Propaganda: It is any process in which the government of Enugu state, military or civilian, uses to manipulate information and news via its broadcast media to the audiences.
  2. State Government: This is the government of Enugu state of Nigeria, with its capital in Enugu.

1.8   ASSUMPTIONS OF THE STUDY

The researcher’s interest in carrying out this study at this time is informed of the fact of mounting criticisms against state governments misuse of state government broadcast media. Infact between 2000 and 2005 across North Central Geo- Political Zone the state broadcast media audiences had cried foul of unprofessional broadcasting. In Makurdi, aggrieved media audiences rose against unethical political broadcasting and attacked both the media workers and stations’ property in several occasions. Also at Makurdi, it was observed that state broadcast media was on extension of the state governor’s wife kitchen. It was alleged that the governor’s wife could sit down in her kitchen and give order for any presenter to be punished for saying what she did not like.

Therefore, this researcher assumes that:

  1. That Radio Benue, being a state broadcast media outfit cannot be exempted from state government manipulation.
  2. That the station must be involved in sycophantic broadcasting in order to please state government.
  • Staff recruitment in the station may have strong political undertone or biases.

1.9 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY

Uzoagulu (1998:167) limitations of the study refers to shortcomings, difficulties and problems found in the design and the execution of the research project which in the views of researcher could affect the fidelity and generality of the findings. In this study, there are some obvious limitations which include:

  1. Limited time frame for in-depth investigation
  2. Lack of fund to sample many respondents in the three geo-political zones of Benue zone A, B and C.
  3. Problem of accessing information as some of the Radio Benue staff refused to open-up and give responses to some probing questions.
  4. Lack of co-operation by the members of public as some prospective respondents refused to accept the researcher’s questionnaire copies for undisclosed reasons.
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