PORTRAYAL OF JONATHAN’S ADMINISTRATION IN SELECTED NIGERIAN NATIONAL NEWSPAPERS

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PORTRAYAL OF JONATHAN’S ADMINISTRATION IN SELECTED NIGERIAN NATIONAL NEWSPAPERS

ABSTRACT

This study examined the portrayal of Jonathan’s administration in four national Nigerian press (the Guardian, the Nation, the Sun and Trust) for a period of one year from 2012 to 2013 when the administration celebrated its second year in office. The study purposely; evaluated how the Nigerian national press portray President Jonathan’s administration through key aspects of transformation agenda; examined whether there is/are difference(s) among the Nigerian national press in their representation of the administration; and determined the possible reasons why such differences or otherwise existed among the Nigerian national press. The study was situated within the assumptions, arguments and discussions of framing and reflectiveprojection theories which were message (text) theories and to some extent gatekeeping concept as factor in the process of portraying the Jonathan’s administration.

The study adopted the methodological underpinnings of quantitative and qualitative research and used content analysis, discourse analysis as well as in-depth interview methods to generate primary data. Multistage sampling approach, which involved stratified, purposive, systematic random, and composite week sampling techniques, was used to select four national press, duration of the study, 6 months in a year, content analysed 168 editions (42 from each title) and interview four news editors from each paper. The study found, among other things, that the Nigerian national press portrayed Jonathan’s administration positively than negatively from 2012 to 2013.

With regard to the major issues of the transformation agenda, the studied press emphasised on governance and growth issues than jobs creation and provision of infrastructure. It was also discovered that regional and religious sentiments of the media owners did not play significant role in the portrayal of Jonathan’s administration unlike the political affiliation of the media ownership which relatively has an impact on how the Nigerian national press represented the Jonathan’s administration. Thus regional, religious and ethnicity factors of portrayal have little role compared to political affiliation. The study finally recommended among other things at that when it comes to the portrayal of any political administration, the Nigerian national press should be very determined to be nationalistic in their treatment of government policies by viewing such programmes from holistic approach; the press industry should ensure that their columnists handle issues regarding any administration from nationalistic perspective; editorial policies and philosophies of the press should be written explicitly and made available for researchers so that they should clearly understand the document that guides the professionals in determining the way they portray any administration; the need for audience reception analysis that will examine whether the readers perception and thinking about Jonathan’s administration; and similar study should also be conducted on the portrayal of the administration in the mainstream broadcast media and of course in the social or alternative media.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title Page………………………………………………………………………………        i

Declaration Page……………………………………………………………………….        ii

Certification Page………………………………………………………………………       iii

Dedication ………………………………………………………………………………      iv

Acknowledgements ……………………………………………………………………        v

Abstract ……………………………………………………………………………….         viii

Table of contents………………………………………………………………………        ix

List of Tables ………….………………………………………………………………        xiii

List of Figures …………………………………………………………………………        xiv

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION 

Background to the Study……………………………………………………………….        1

Statement of the Problem…………..……………………………………………………       5

Purpose of the Study …….………….……….…………………………………………       8

Objectives of the Study ……………………………………………………………….        8

Research Questions …….. ………………………………………………………………………………..       8

Scope of the Study…………………..…………………………………………………        9 Limitations of the Study……………………………………………………………….

Significance of the Study …………………………………………….………………..        10 Operationalisation of Key Terms …………………….………………………………..       11

References ………..…………………………………………………………………….       13 CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW

Conceptual Review ……………………………………………………………………..      16

Nigeria’s Political Growth and Politics of Marginalisation ……………………      16

Jonathan and Politics of Marginalisation ……………………………………….     18

Jonathan and Transformation Agenda…………………………………………..      20

Nigerian and Politics ………………………….………………………………..      24

Nigerian Press in the 21th Century………………….…………………………..      29

Empirical Review ………………………………………………………………………..    32

Press and Portrayal Discourse: Contemporary synopsis…………………….…..     32

Theoretical Review………………………………………………………………. …….      37

Framing Theory ……………..………………………………………………….      37

Criticism of Framing Theory ……………………………………………………     40

Reflective-Projection Theory ……………………………………………………    41

References………………………………………………………………………………..     43

CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY

Research Questions………………………………………………………………………. 51

Conceptual Methodology………………………………………………………………… 51

Research Methods ……………………………………………………………………….     53

Content Analysis ………………………………………………………………… 53

Discourse Analysis ………………………………………………………………    55

In-depth Interview ………………………………………………………………. 56 Study Population…………………………………………………………………………. 58 Sampling Methods …..………………………………………………………………       59

Sampling Size ………………………………………………………………………

An Overview of the Sampled Press……………………………………………………… 64

The Nation newspaper…………………………………………………………….    64

The Guardian newspaper ………………………………………………………… 64

The Sun newspaper ……………………………………………………………… 67

The Trust newspaper …………………………………………………………….. 67

Unit of Analysis and Content Categories………………………………………………… 69

Coding and Measurement………………………………………………………………… 70

Method of Data Analysis………………………………………………………………… 72

Limitations of the Study …………………………………………………………………    72

References ……………………………………………………………………………….     75

CHAPTER FOUR: DATA PRESENTATION ANDANALYSIS

Presentation and Analysis of Results …..………………………………….……………      77

Analysis of Findings ………………………..……………………….………………           87

Press Portrayal Disposition of Jonathan’s Administration ……..………………..    88

Press Portrayal of the Administration’s Transformation Agenda ………………..    89

Portrayal Disparity among the National Press …………………………………      90

Rationales for the Portrayal Disparity among National Press …………………       93

Discussion of Findings……………………………………………………………………. 96

Framing of an Administration ……………………………………………………. 96

Projection of an Administration…………………………………………………… 101 References………………………………………………………………………………… 102

CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY OF FINDINGS, CONCLUSION & RECOMMENDATIONS

Summery…..……………………………………………………………………………… 104

Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………… 106

Recommendations and Suggestions for Further Studies…………………………………. 107

BIBLIOGRAPHY………………………………………………………………………..     109

Appendix I:       Demographics of Nigerian National Newspapers….…………………          122

Appendix II: Content Coding Guide ……………….…………………………………..        123

Appendix III Interview Schedule Guide…………..……………………………………       124

Appendix IV: Newspaper Clips………………………………………………………….     126

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION 

BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

Nigeria as an independent political entity has so far experienced and tested democratic and military systems of administration since the demise of colonialism in the 20th Century. The country alternated from the former to the latter until the current democracy dispensation, which returned in 1999, after 16 years of military governance (Akingbulu and Bussiek, 2010:1; Iwu, 2009:8; Bitrus, 2007:113). At each stage of Nigeria’s political development, media particularly conventional outlets such as newspapers, magazines, televisions and radios played significant role in representing and portraying administrative policies and programmes to the masses on whose ‘behalf’ governments

ideally exist.

This demonstrates the inevitability of media in society at large and especially in a democratic system where people willingly, after intense persuasive communication, elect representatives who they feel are capable to adequately represent them and take decisions on their behalf at executive and legislative levels.

Accordingly, media is necessary institution in the processes of democratisation which professionally operated by news producers who are part of the three major stakeholders in the political communication. The news producers source information from political actors (and society at large), scrutinize it and eventually disseminate the processed information ‘mainly’ those messages that are related to political administration to the electorate and masses at large. This time-consuming journalistic exercise begins right from the infant stage of politicization, to maturity and eventual constitution of a government.

Scholars (Blumer, 2011: X; Brants and Voltmer, 2011: 3) termed such political engagement as “horizontal dimension” of institutional interaction that occurs between media institution and political administration (i.e journalists and politicians respectively) where they “face each other and interact, collaborate and struggle, read each other and adapt – in what is ultimately a joint production of political messages”. They also stressed their submission along the line of what Mazzoleni and Schulz (1999) called ‘mediatization’ via which politicians buy into and live up to the press selection and production requirements in order to get journalistic attention for the portrayal of their activities. It should, therefore, be noted that ‘mediatization’ is not the same with mediation. Mediation refers to a simple transmission of messages through media technologies or media organizations. While mediatization goes beyond the dissemination of messages and further describes a situation “where political institutions [are] increasingly… dependent and shaped by mass media”. This is also related to the concept ‘mediacracy’ coined by Meyer (2002) which shows that political activities are being hijacked largely in the media which some time do not give the clear picture of reality.

In other words, the mediation concept within media and communication studies deals with sourcing, processing and dissemination of all kind of massage that has to do with social, cultural, religious, economic and other soft matters. Hence, mediation is a holistic term in constructing social realities that “is more directly aligned itself with commercial practices of branding and advertising”. On the other hand, mediatization which became popular in the academic literature since the mid-eighties, according to Schweitzer (2012: 283), “seeks to describe the conditions, manifestations, and consequences that are associated with the diffusion and rising importance of the mass media in society”. In essence, within broader political communication sector, electorate form political opinion about any administration based on what they read, listen or watch in the mass media which serve as the prime source of their information.

Another issue that is equally important to understand is changes, interaction and interplay between media institution, political actors and citizen which is referred to “vertical dimension” of political communication. This deals with media and overall political administration on the one hand, and the public on the other side. According to Brants and Voltmer (2011: 8), it is a form of communicative interaction that “links political and media elites with audience members and citizens.” The public who are the end receivers of the messages produced by the media, usually assumed, based their judgments on how a particular administration and its members being portrayed by the media, though in this postmodern democracy, public are gradually challenging the pattern of ‘institutionalized politics’ and traditional media institutions’ way of portraying governments because of the perceived connivance between the two leading participants.

Hence, electorates are now turning to other alternative sphere and reduce their dependence on what they read, view or listen in conventional media. This, however, demonstrates that media still supply information that is perceived to be either negative or positive about an administration.

The foregoing clearly indicates that there is seemingly symbiotic relationship between media from one end, politicians and government on the other. However, such “idealistic” bond has never been cordial all the time whether in a dictatorial regime where government is repressive to press or a civilian administration where government is tolerant, that is why Akinfeleye (2008) argued that they could be ‘loyal opponents’.

Graber, McQuail and Norris (2008: 4) further state that in any political system whether matured or nascent such as Nigeria, conflict usually occurs between three major stakeholders in the political enterprising. This disagreement and conflict is more pronounced between power that be and the press. In Nigeria, for instance, since the time the country got her independence in the 1st October 1960, now about 54 years “both the government and the press have shown dislikes to each other to the extent that both have suffered some loses of credibility” (Akinfeleye 1990: 14).

In such relationship, administrations try to influence and secure favourable coverage through the control of the flow of information that will only please the intent of government even if such messages are contrary to what they promised during electioneering. Hence, political administrations face greatest challenge whenever an open political communication jeopardizes their plans, tactics and ability to maintain status.

Therefore, press and politicians eventually, as pointed out by Blumler and Gurevitch (1995) cited (Brants and Voltmer, 2011: 8), negotiate “over the political agenda that is publicly communicated, the frames in which contested issues and political realities are defined, and the visibility and image of its players.” Events, in course of negotiating, twist to be portrayed in such a way that might favour or damage the image of an administration and its credibility in public opinion court.

For instance, studies (such as Abayomi, 2003: 112; Olukotun 2003; 121) on pressgovernment relations in Nigeria during military and civilian administrations have unambiguously demonstrated the extent at which relationship between press, journalists and politicians as well as governments was. Media houses were closed, journalists were incarcerated and some were killed because of the perceived ‘unfavourable’, stereotyped media portrayals (the case of Dele Giwa is still fresh in the minds of media academics and professionals). The press were alleged to have misrepresented and portrayed images of governments badly which in turn affects their credibility and threatens government’s legitimate power and authority in the eye of the public. According to International Labour Organisation (2010), in its media guide, this is done through “the choice of words, images and messages” which “can determine perceptions, attitudes and bahaviours. It can also define what does or does not matter to individuals and the world around them.”

It is perhaps along this argument that President Jonathan’s administration also blamed the press for negative, unsubstantiated coverage of its activities as well as its position on many issues. However, such claims and accusations of whatever form of frame and portrayal have not yet been empirically and scientifically evaluated. In fact, in the previous studies on press portrayal of governments, administrations were found guilty of accusing press for attributing unfavourable frames.

STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Vliegenthart, Boomgaarden and Boumans (2011: 93) argue that there is concern among the political communication scholars on issues that undermine the contributions of media for more healthy democracy. They state that press and political journalists look at:

The personalization of political news, and negativity and conflict in the coverage of political actors. Political journalists are accused of being (too) obsessed with leaders and candidates, with their personality and character, and at the same time beginning to ignore… substantial issue coverage. Additionally, an increased focus on ‘who criticizes who?’ and negative evaluations of politicians and the political process.

However, even if the press and political journalists in particular will concentrate on substantial issues, there is strong tendency that the politicians and administrations will see the coverage as negatively misrepresented even if the coverage is objective and balanced as long as it exposes their weaknesses. In fact, the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, which assumed office in 2011 has, in some occasions, alleged that media both broadcast, ‘narrowcast’, printed, social media, ‘old’ and ‘new’ that operate at the national and international levels have either sensationally or negatively portray his administration, which has created bad impression among the public, electorate and wider international community.

Though the government seems to have enjoyed favorable coverage in some occasions but there was no praises especially after the passage and endorsement of Freedom of Information Bill in 2011. On the contrary, issues of corruption and its related cases such as persecution of alleged corrupt officials; and ill-conceived policies and stance taken by the government on some issues on governance, growth and submission to the advice of world monetary institution. These might have made government to accuse press for negative portrayal and unnecessary criticism.

The government emerged in 2011 after strong internal party politicking that took regional dimension which nearly balkanised the Peoples Democratic Party under whose platform Jonathan eventually contested election and won; and external political ‘battle’ with other political parties that sponsored presidential candidates like defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and All Nigeria Peoples Party

(ANPP) who now merged and formed All Progressive Congress (APC). However, after

Jonathan was sworn-in as substantive president on May 29, 2011 amidst what Emmanuel (2013) described as “thunderous expectations of a new dawn, given the mountain of problems” characterized the nation, Nigerian media, oppositions and Nigerians keep eagle eyes on the activities of the administration and media is the platform to disseminate information which latter the government started seeing as negative.

For example, President Jonathan in December, 2012 said that the poor rating of Nigeria by Transparency (TI) was as a result of media distortion of information about his administration. And, the administration’s Minister of Information, Labaran Maku also corroborated that it was “synopses of negative media reports.”  He also reaffirmed that

President Jonathan’s government throughout the history of Nigeria even the Shagari’s and Obasanjo’s administration, not even talk of military juntas, is the most criticized and negatively portrayed in the media. Despite the fact that Jonathan and his government are very tolerant to press and dealing with issues of national importance (BBC, 2013).

Abati (2013) also argued that the press unfairly project the administration despite the fact that the “government is committed to the promotion of the right to freedom of expression and of the press”. He warned that: “Nigerians must beware of reports… which promotes sensationalism, rather than the truth… [since] there is no [media repression] in Nigeria(http://nigeriapoliticsonline.com/my-government-not-muzzling-the-media-jonathan/).

Though, this may be seen as part of political actors ‘sophisticated’ media game but journalists and media might “feel increasingly instrumentalized and threatened in their independence… resulted in a ‘spiral of mistrust’ between these two groups, characterized by an evolving culture of disrespect and mutual contempt” (Brants and Voltmer, 2011: 6).

This ‘political statement’ lacks scientific evidence and it will distort the discussed function of media toward democratisation process that requires objective, fair, and evidence-based arguments through news coverage and production.

Also, this study acknowledges the existence of studies that looked at the media’s representation of political candidates such as Jonathan, their capabilities and prowess to administer the country as well as participation in the general politicking during last elections ((e.g. studies Galadima and Soola, 2012; Oyesomi and Oyero, 2012; Akinwehinmi and Ojibode, 2012; Abubakar, 2012; Daramola and Hamilton, 2011; Kamalu and Aganga, 2011). However, there are no much studies about how the same media that venerated Jonathan now portray him and his administration after election. Therefore, examining the press and the administration at this point would help to fill in the gap and set tone for future researches.

PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

The primary and overall purpose of this study was to examine the portrayal of Jonathan’s administration in the Nigerian newspapers (press) from 2012 when the administration was believed to have fully taken off to 2013 when it celebrated its second year in office.

OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

Base on the above aim, the study has the following specific and identified objectives:

  1. To examine how the Nigerian national newspapers portray President Jonathan’s administration from 2012 to 2013.
  2. To evaluate how the Nigerian national newspapers represent the

transformation agenda of Jonathan’s administration.

  1. To determine whether there are differences among the Nigerian national newspapers in representation of Jonathan’s administration.
  2. To determine the possible reasons why such differences of portrayal or otherwise exist among the Nigerian national newspapers.

RESEARCHQUESTIONS

This study eventually answered the subsequent research questions which were directly derived from the aforementioned objectives. Hence, the following questions guided this study, at the end, to succeed in realizing its purposes. The questions are:

  1. How do the Nigerian national newspapers portray President Jonathan’s administration from 2012 to 2013?
  2. How do the Nigerian national newspapers portray the transformation agenda of Jonathan’s administration?
  3. What are differences among the Nigerian national newspapers in representation of Jonathan’s administration?
  4. What are the possible reasons for the differences in the portrayal of Jonathan’s administration in the Nigerian national newspapers?

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

This study has theoretical, methodological and practical values to various and broadly interrelated academic disciplines in social sciences such communication studies, political science and to some extent, development studies.  It will also help us in our determined efforts of democratisation process by identifying how the media has performed its functions in portraying Jonathan’s administration as a democratic government.

Theoretically, this study will expand the understanding of the role media in the Nigeria’s political discourse within the ambit of communication and media studies. Thus, it will add to the literature bank of political communication which is emerging within the Nigerian media and political environments especially at this trial time of the nation’s democratisation process.

Nigeria seems to have unequally been politically and economically fragmented along the regional, tribal and religious ends, which to some degree, makes the media in general and press in particular to reflect such socio-cultural and political landscapes. Muhammed (2013) argued that there is “dominance of the Nigerian media by the private sector in spite of the heavy presence of government in the broadcast media – a private sector dominance which, for historical reasons, does not reflect the ethnic, regional and religious plurality of the country.” Thus, this may affect the genuine integration process to take place. Therefore, assessing the media’s role in portraying administration is important in the integration process in order to restore that lost political glory of the country.  In  other words, one of the ways to achieve that is when the press is scrutinized by objective inquiry to give it kudos and if found wanting, suggest better way of handling issues for peaceful, cordial coexistence between and among the political actors, media, citizens and indeed the society in general. Thus practically, the study would aid the Nigerian media industry, professionals, politicians and electorates to achieve the tenet of democracy.

SCOPE OF THE STUDY

The scope of this study covered a period of one year from 2012 to 2013 of the President Jonathan’s administration and it covered only the fundamental issues of the transformation agenda of the administration. From the media related perspective, the scope the study covered the Nigerian national print media landscape which is chosen because of its vibrancy and impact on the national issues of Nigeria since independence especially during democratic dispensation.

LIMITATIONSOFTHESTUDY

This work, as its topic suggested, was limited only to the way and manner the President Jonathan’s administration was represented in the Nigerian national press in its second year, which is from June 1, 2012 to May 29, 2013. It was also limited to the compressed fundamental issues that were captured and published in the hardcopies of the four selected newspapers whose selection was believed to have reflected the geographical, political, social and religious complexities of Nigeria. Thus, the study did not consider magazines and other print media that have only web presence.

It can also be obvious that there could be other issues that can be discovered and pinpointed inside the transformation agenda but this study had not included them in its categories. Therefore, this work was only limited and concerned with the three major aspects of the agenda which were extracted from the submission made by the ministry of national planning. It was from that document, this work extracted the three items thus anything outside the defined three issues was not part of the focus of this study.

The study was also limited to only national newspapers that ordinarily give more attention to the federal government activities. Thus, state government-owned publications, ‘mushrooms’ press and ‘tribal’ pamphlets were not part and parcel of this study and not considered.

Theoretically, this study was also limited to the media frame. The individual frame as second aspect of framing theory that deals with the effect of the constructed frames and schemes of reference on the readers of the national press has not been treated in this study. As Wimmer and Dominick (2011) said studies like this serve as a starting point for media effect studies, therefore this study would set a tone to examine how national press frames affect the voters and generally Nigerians’ perception about the Jonathan administration. This is part of the limitations of content analysis methods, whether quantitative or qualitative and would not serve as a basis to determine the national press effect on the electorates.

From the methodological perspective, this study was limited only to the communicated contents that were related to the key issues of the transformation agenda. However the major challenge and limitation was with regard to the discourse analysis because of its time-consuming nature of which made it difficult to undertake the detailed analysis of the entire reports and articles. However, the selection process helped to arrive at a representative selection that can cover such limitation.

 

 

OPERATIONALISATION OF KEY TERMS

Since concepts in social sciences can take different meanings, depending on the context and circumstance at which they are used, this study adopted the following definitions of some terms as they will consistently or otherwise, be appearing in the subsequent pages.

Political developments: this phrase referred to major political actions in the struggle to sustain the administration. These activities involved issues of the transformation agenda which was seen a holistic policy that can positively alter the Nigeria’s socio-political and economic system.

Transformation Agenda: this was the President Jonathan’s administration policy which guided the activities of the administration throughout its four-year constitutional mandate.    

Portrayal: this denoted representation and projection of the administration of President Jonathan especially with regard to its transformation agenda policy, which was initiated for societal reengineering, as covered on the pages Nigerian national press. Portrayal in this study also encompassed positive, negative and neutral representations of the administration and its policy.

 Administration: According Shafritz, Russell and Borick (2011), administration was the management and direction of government affairs and institutions as well as implementation of public policies. But, in this study, administration referred to the government of President Jonathan in relation to its transformation agenda policy at the federal level as captured by the Nigerian national press.

Press: Conventionally, press means all printed media which include books (fiction and non-fiction), magazines and newspapers. However, in this work, press referred to newspapers that are privately or state owned which are published in Nigeria for a national coverage. The word press was also used interchangeably with newspaper or media.

National Press: this referred to the major newspapers published in hard copies and circulated within the country and across the six-geopolitical zones (North-West, North-

East, North-Central, South-West, South-East and South-South). It also meant ‘mainstream’ newspapers that either through their editorial content, circulation or via mission and vision intended to serve the information needs and aspirations of the nationwide publics. Thus, national press simply meant four selected newspapers which represented the regional and ownership diversity.

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