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Nigerian press coverage of the 78 days presidential power vacuum crisis under President Umaru Yar'Adua

Doctoral Thesis / Dissertation 2014 167 Pages

Communications - Media and Politics, Politic Communications

Excerpt

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Approval Page

Dedication

Acknowledgements

Abstract

Table of Contents

List of tables

List of Figures

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background of the Study
1.2 Statement of Research Problem
1.3 Objectives of the Study
1.4 Research Questions
1.5 Research Hypotheses
1.6 Significance of the Study
1.7 Definition of Terms
1.8 Assumptions
1.9 Scope and Limitations of the Study
References

CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 Sources of Literature
2.2 The Nature of Nigeria State and Politics
2.3 History, Development and Characteristics of the Nigerian Press
2.4 Profile and Circulation of Thisday, The Guardian, Daily Trust and New Nigerian Newspapers
2.5 Media Roles in Political / Constitutional Crisis
2.6 Media Framing of Yar’Adua Absence: The Battle for Public Opinion
2.7 Ownership and Ethnicity/Geographical Considerations in Media Coverage of Political Crisis
2.8 The Sick President Yar’Adua in the Eyes of Western Media: The Propaganda that Threw Him Out
2.9 Nigerian Newspapers’ Reportage of President Yar’Adua’s 78 days Absence Crisis
2.10 Theoretical Framework
2.11 Summary of Literature
References

CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
3.1 Research Method
3.2 Research Design
3.3 Population of the Study
3.4 Determination of Sample Size
3.5 Sampling Techniques
3.6 Units of Analysis
3.7 Content Categories
3.8 Measuring Instrument
3.9 Reliability and Validity of Measuring Instrument
3.10 Intercoder Reliability
3.11 Method of Data Collection and Analysis
References

CHAPTER FOUR: DATA PRSENTATION, ANALYSIS AND RESULTS
4.1 Data Presentation
4.2 Presentation of Content Data
4.3 Test of Hypotheses
4.4 Discussion of Findings
References

CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY OF FINDINGS, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.1 Summary of Findings
5.2 Conclusion
5.3 Recommendations

Bibliography

Appendix 1

Appendix 2

LIST OF TABLES

Table 3.1: Content Categories and Units of Analysis

Table 4.1.1: Missing Editions of Newspaper

Table 4.1.2: Units of Analysis

Table 4.1.3: Placement of News Stories

Table 4.1.4: News Direction

Table 4.1.5: Volume of News

Table 4.1.6: Frequency of News Stories

Table 4.1.7: Direction of Editorials

Table 4.1.8: Volume of Editorials

Table 4.1.9: Frequency of Editorials

Table 4.1.10: Placement of News Features

Table 4.1.11: Direction of News Features

Table 4.1.12: Volume of News Features

Table 4.1.13: Frequency of News features

Table 4.1.14: Placement of Cartoons

Table 4.1.15: Direction of Cartoons

Table 4.1.16: Volume of Cartoons

Table 4.1.17: Frequency of Cartoons

Table 4.1.18: Opinion Articles (Direction)

Table 4.1.19: Opinion Articles (Volume)

Table 4.1.20: Frequency of Oponion Articles

Table 4.1.21: Prominence (Placement)

Table 4.1.22: Direction of Coverage

Table 4.1.23: Volume of Coverage (Adequacy)

Table 4.1.24: Frequency of Coverage

Contingency Table 1: Prominence (Placement)

Chi-Square Table 1: Testing for Prominence of Coverage

Contingency Table 2: Direction of Coverage

Chi-Square Table 2:Testing for Direction of Coverage

Contingency Table 3: Volume of Coverage (Adequacy)

Chi-Square Table 3: Testing for Adequacy of Coverage

Contingency Table 4: Frequency of Coverage

Chi-Square Table 4: Testing for Frequency of Coverage

LIST OF FIGURES

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APPROVAL PAGE

This is to certify that this thesis has been duly read and graded in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) Degree in Mass Communication.

.. ..…

Prof. David O. Edeani Prof. Sunny Udeze

Supervisor Head of Department

Date: Date:..

…..

External Examiner

Date:

DEDICATION

For my loving wife, Nnenna, and very wonderful children, Chidiogo, Adaeze, Jessica and Angelica, and my younger brother Onyema. You all know why.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I am highly indebted to my very understanding, able and father-figure supervisor, Prof. David Omazo Edeani, without whose incisive criticism, assistance and fatherly pieces of advice, this work would not have come to fruition. I am also grateful to my able HOD, Dr. (Mrs) Clementina O. Okafor, without whose efforts this work would not have come to its conclusive end at this time. To you, I say “thanks a lot.” In addition, I owe a lot of “heartfelt” thanks to Dr. Ezenweze Onyishi (GOC), Prof. Sunny Udeze, Prof. Linus Ogbuoshi and my wonderful Dean, Prof. Fred Eze, who content-read and discussed my work very fair-mindedly. Sirs, without your good-intentioned criticisms and suggestions, I am sure this work would have amounted to nothing academically. Again, Prof. Ike Ndolo, I owe you a lot of gratitude; but for your open hearted suggestions, I would have made a very costly, but avoidable mistake of the false assumption that the Kaduna axis of the Nigerian press was fully supportive of the Yar’ Adua’s kitchen cabinet’s intrigue plot – those suggestions were a very serious eye-opener to me. Thanks immensely. And to you, my one and only brother, Dr. Chidi Ugwu, I say, thanks a lot for everything. To you my mother, Madam Comfort, and to you my surviving siblings, Tony, Nebechi and Emeka, I say thanks immensely for your understanding and encouragement.

My loving wife, Nnenna, and my wonderful children, Chidiogo, Adaeze, Jessica and Angelica, I thank you all for your sacrifices throughout this seemingly unending academic journey. I assure you that I will always remain indebted to all of you, for at least, we are done with this.

Again, mention must be made of you, Elijah, Alex, Grace, Christian, Bona, Chioma, Felix, Chibuike, Gabriel, Rhyce and Ben. For all your well-articulated contributions, criticisms, wonderful efforts and scholarly pieces of advice and suggestions, I say remain blessed. You have been very wonderful companions, indeed.

And lastly, but not the least in any way, Philip Amune, Okwudiri Ekwe and Okey Chukwuma, my ever reliable academic brothers, words alone can never express my ever continuous heartfelt gratitude to you. And am sure you know why. Time and time alone will tell.

To all of you and others not mentioned here, for want of space, this humble piece of work is all I have got to show for all the worries, sleepless nights and heartaches I gave you throughout this third degree journey of mine. Thanks and may the Blessings be.

Ngwu, Christian Chimdubem Sunday

Enugu State University of Science & Technology Enugu.

July, 2013.

Abstract

The Nigerian press has always been accused of manipulating political crisis to the gains of their owners or the opposition. This accusation was repeated during the long 78 days (November 23 2009 – February 9 2010) that Nigerian late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was incapacitated due to ill-health. In fact, observers believed that the kind of media war, power play and intrigue that hailed the period almost cost Nigeria her hard-earned unity and democracy. Eventually, Yar’Adua and his handlers irrefragably lost to ill-health and public opinion. However, the late President’s ‘kitchen cabinet’ believed that he lost ultimately to public opinion manipulated by the press. How true was this? How far can we agree with the kitchen cabinet bearing in mind that this type of accusation came up during the scandals of President Nixon of the United States and the ill health of late President John Attah-Mills of Ghana. Based on these complexities, the researcher embarked on this study to investigate the kind of coverage newspapers in Nigeria gave the power vacuum crisis during Yar’ Adua’s tenure in order to establish whether they (newspapers), indeed, manipulated events during those long 78 days. In carrying out this study, four national dailies (The Guardian, The Sun, New Nigerian and Daily Trust Newspapers), were used. Using five units of analysis (news, features, editorials, cartoons and opinion articles) and seven content categories, findings revealed that Nigerian newspapers gave the presidential power vacuum crisis prominence. The results also showed that the issue was adequately covered and took a positive direction. However, it was, also, discovered that Nigerian newspapers frequently covered the power lacuna in their reports which were influenced by regional and ownership factors. Based on these, it was recommended that ownership and regional affiliations should not impact on media reports. And that the media should provide leadership in times of national conflict by setting and consolidating agenda.

CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study

In the annals of Nigeria’s political history, the presidential seat had never been made vacant for any reason whatsoever. The sickness of Late President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua generated much rumbles in the press and political circles in Nigeria to the extent that the unity of the country was threatened. The hospitalization of a sitting president should, no doubt, be headline news material anywhere in the world, but it became worrisome and strange with the level of undue sensational exaggeration, politicizing and controversy making round over Yar’ Adua’s 23rd November, 2009 journey to Saudi Arabia (Alabi, 2010, p19).

Late President Yar’ Adua left Nigeria on November 23, 2009, and was reported to be receiving treatment for pericarditis at a clinic in Saudi Arabia. He was not seen in public again, and his absence created a dangerous power vacuum in Nigeria (McConnell, 2010, p.14).

Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua was the president of Nigeria and the 13th Head of State. He served as governor of Katsina State in North Western Region of Nigeria from 29th May, 1999 to 28th May, 2007. Consequent upon the election of 21st April, 2007, he was declared winner and sworn in on May 29, 2007 as President and Commander in Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces. He emerged the president under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). At the time of his nomination, he was an obscure figure on the national stage, and was described as a ‘puppet’ of former president Obasanjo who could not have won the nomination under fair circumstances (Steve, 2006, p.19). According to Ocherreome (2010, p.8), Obasanjo knew a lot about Yar’Adua’s poor health condition but went ahead to foist him on Nigerians. Ocherreome (p.8), said “I am convinced that he (Obasanjo) deliberately gave the presidency to the weakest Northerner to spite the North after the failure of his third term.”

Shortly after winning the nomination, Yar’ Adua chose Goodluck Jonathan, then governor of Bayelsa State, as his vice presidential candidate.

In 2007, Yar’ Adua, who suffered from a kidney condition, challenged his critics to a game of squash in an endeavour to end speculations about his health condition. His reign as the president of Nigeria witnessed a series of health conditions. On 6th March, 2007, he was flown to Germany for medical reasons, further fomenting rumours about his health. His spokesperson, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, said that that was due to stress, and quoted Yar’ Adua as saying he was fine and would soon be back to campaign then (Emewu, 2009,p.14).

Another report, which was rejected by Yar’ Adua’s spokesperson, claimed that Yar’ Adua collapsed after suffering a possible heart attack (Tom, 2007, p.28). Six months after his ascension to power, precisely on April 14, 2008, he utilized the opportunity of gracing the G-8 Summit in Germany to receive medical attention.

The third sojourn of Yar’ Adua’s in the search for treatment occurred on August 28, 2008 when he aborted a scheduled trip to Brazil and jetted to a hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. During his trip to Saudi Arabia, Yar’ Adua spent more than two weeks in the Holy Land. This trip challenged his media handlers who couldn’t explain his actual whereabouts, coupled with their apparent inability to provide his photographs to lend credence to the then Lesser Hajj story.

The late president’s fourth trip, again to Saudi Arabia, was on August 14, 2009. Unlike the previous one, that was announced in advance that he was honouring the Kingdom’s Monarch’s special invitation to attend the commissioning of a new university in Saudi Arabia Yar’ Adua was away for seven days. That trip, like the previous one, was in place of attending the United Nations General Assembly Session in New York, a development that generated serious criticisms against his administration (Adeyemo, 2010,p.21).

His fifth medical trip abroad was on November 23, 2009. The President received medical treatment in King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre (KFSHRC), in the Kingdom’s port city of Jeddah (Adeyemo, 2010,p.21).

Late Yar’ Adua’s fluctuating health was believed not to be without some consequences on governance in Nigeria then. This was apart from the belief in some quarters that the Late President was always slowed down by ill-health, because he had no energy to handle the complexities of the office of the President. Apart from this, the country missed ample bilateral opportunities, which most people averred, are requisite for the country’s tortuous journey to prosperity as captured in his administration’s Seven-Point Agenda and Vision 20:2020 (Abdallah, Lazarus, Machika and Salkida, 2009, para. 15). Abdallah et al. (2009, para. 16) giving a graphic picture of Late Yar Adua’s many medical trips abroad wrote that:

During Yar’ Adua’s third medical trip abroad, the country, according to analysts, lost the opportunity of learning from the Brazilian example, which is one of the world’s emerging economies. The fourth medical trip also cost the country the golden opportunity of hobnobbing with the world leaders during the United Nations General Assembly Session held in New York. Yar’ Adua, also, lost an opportunity of meeting President Barack Obama. While this development ignited criticisms from observers, the late President, also, concurrently missed a UN Climate Change Summit that took place at the same time.

His obvious absence at important national assignments, including the FIFA U-17 World Cup tournament where he was unable to attend the final match on November 15, 2009 at the National Stadium, Abuja, and the launching of Sardauna Foundation in Kaduna for the immortalization of the late premier of Northern region and Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello, was, also, attributed to his failing health then (Abdallah, Lazarus, Machika and Salkida, 2009, para. 17).

The ill-health of president Yar’ Adua did not even spare an important duty like the formal presentation of the national budget proposal to the joint session of the National Assembly. The late president, in an unprecedented manner, decided to send the copies of the 2010 budget to the two chambers of the federal legislature through his aids, rather than make a formal presentation. This went down as the first in the nation’s history (Abdallah, Lazarus, Machika and Salkida, 2009, para. 17). In all these, the late president’s ill-health took a toll on the country’s corporate existence and heated up its polity. The absence of the president affected the inner workings of the administration, because many policy decisions which were to get the attention of the President were left out.

Before 1982, when he was flown to Germany for a graft surgery in his left hand, an injury he sustained as a result of his involvement in a car accident, not much was known about his medical history. “His intermittent coughing whenever he spoke and the eczema-like skin diseases that dotted his body rarely raised any suspicion that he had an internal health problem, despite his smoking habit, but this was to change when he was elected governor of Katsina State in 1999” (Abdallah, Lazarus, Machika and Salkida, 2009, para. 18). Even though he had a smooth free campaign unlike what later happened during his 2007 presidential campaign, he was said not to be in good shape (Adeyemi, 2009,p.5).

In the year 2001, he had to abandon his duty post as a governor for about a month, where he was said to have died when he travelled to Germany to treat a kidney related ailment. This was a development that later led to the sacking of his deputy, Alhaji Tukur Jikamshi. As an evidence that he had problem with his kidney and needed constant attention, the German construction giant, Julius Berger Nigeria Ltd. built and donated a dialysis centre to Katsina State which is located at the Katsina General Hospital (Adeyemi, 2009,p.5 and Abdallah et al. 2009, para. 16 ).

The construction of the dialysis centre brought to the open the fact that Yar’ Adua, then as a governor, had kidney problems. Before then, he used to go to Kano to receive medical attention pertaining to his kidney. It was because of his kidney problem that he picked Dr. Salisu Banye as his personal physician, who was then a permanent secretary in the state, to be attending to his health needs. However, when he was picked as the PDP’s presidential candidate in 2007, his health condition became a national issue (Adeyemi, 2009,p.5 and Abdallah et al. 2009, para. 16 ).

While the Late President was far away in Saudi Arabia receiving treatment, some Nigerians started making troubles out of the entire event. Most of them had actually told Yar’ Adua on his sick bed that he should put his house in order in preparation for the inevitable embrace of the cold hands of death. In this group of ‘prophets’ are notable politicians in the opposition, some die-hard public critics of his administration as well as some notable press goons.

The first to report the absence in a sensational manner in press was Reuben Abati of The Guardian Newspaper who barely two days after Yar’ Adua’s departure came out in a alarmist and sentimental article entitled “who is in charge of Nigeria?” to lament the creation of a vacuum by the late president’s absence as if the whole presidency was hospitalized. That was an article that opened the flood gate to the various angles of reports by the Nigerian newspapers on the 78-day power vacuum in Nigeria then (Nigerian Muse, 2009, para. 4).

When Yar’ Adua was flown out of the shores of Nigeria on November 23, 2009, and was reported to be receiving treatment for pericarditis at a clinic in Saudi Arabia, he was not seen in public again, and his absence somehow created a dangerous power vacuum in Nigeria (McConnell, p.5).

In December 2009, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, ex-president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), stated that Yar’ Adua should have handed over power to the then vice-president, Goodluck Jonathan in an acting capacity during his illness. That statement was backed up by the NBA national executive committee. On 22nd January, 2010, a federal high court in Nigeria ruled that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had 14 days to decide on a resolution about whether Yar’ Adua “is incapable of discharging the functions of his office. That ruling, also, stated that the Federal Executive Council should hear testimonies of five doctors, one of whom should be Yar’ Adua’s personal physician” (Onyedika & Ughebe, 2009,p.16).

On 9th February, 2010, the Nigerian senate declared that presidential power should be transferred to the then Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan, and that he would serve as Acting President, with all the accompanying powers, until Yar’Adua returned to full health. The Senate said its pronouncement was based on the Doctrine of Necessity, but that power transfer had been called a “coup without the word” by opposition lawyers and lawmakers. However, there were people that felt that the power vacuum would have led to instability and a possible military takeover (Daniel, 2010,p.8).

On 24 February 2010, Yar’ Adua returned to Abuja in a very dramatic manner that left many wondering if he came back alive. His state of health was unclear, but there was speculation that he was still on a life support machine. Various political and religious figures in Nigeria had visited him during his illness, with assurances that he was gradually recovering and would soon be fit to continue with his presidential duties (Nnamdi & Sam, 2011,p.381).

However, the whole drama came to an end with his death on May 5, 2010 at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa. An Islamic burial took place on 6th of May, 2010 in his hometown, Katsina (The Nation, 2010, p.10).

All these were the key areas that the Nigerian Newspapers focused on in their reportage of the Yar’ Adua’s 78-days medical sojourn in Saudi Arabia with all other adjoining issues. In reporting the issue, a lot of frames were used which may have influenced must of the decisions made by the national Assembly at that time. This is because media framing of issues can determine to a large extent the direction people might likely go (Golcˇevski, Engelhardt and Boomgaarden, 2013, p.121).

1.2 Statement of Research Problem

The mass media have been adjudged in various societies as the backbone of a democracy such that the importance of the media is recognized by every democratic nation as reflected in the fact that it is referred to as the ‘Fourth Estate” – the fourth organ of the government (Zhongdang, Lijiang, Shen, and Ye, 2006).

That the Nigerian newspapers gave coverage to the 78-days presidential power vacuum in Nigeria resulting from the ill-health of late President Yar’ Adua is never in doubt. The crises that grew from the lacuna were equally not debatable. After all, political crises are prominent features of the environment, and every nation has the potential to experience one. The manner in which the news media frame and cover such national challenges can alter a nation’s reputation, and ultimately affect the way the world perceives that nation (Zhongdang, Lijiang, Shen, and Ye, 2006).

There is no denying the fact that the media often thrive in a crisis situation. It means that in a crisis, the media get more attention than they get in normal times. Crisis increases people’s (readers) hunger for information, they feel unsafe to remain ignorant about the state of the nation. The press (newspapers) can play a crucial role in defusing tension during the crisis by creating awareness among the people about the nature of the problems, its origin and ways of resolving it or it may decide to mismanage and manipulate the situation (Bird and Dardenne 2009). It is, however, expected to play a role which might help resolve the crisis without causing much damage to the nation’s socio-political fabrics (Niederdeppe, Farrelly, Thomas, Wenter, and Weitzenkamp, 2007).

In performing these roles, the Nigerian press either due to administrative control or policy decision, at times, manipulate the news and at other times they tend to manage it. This could be evidenced by the previous cases of Hon. Salisu Buhari’s Torontogate certificate saga and Hon. Patricia Etteh’s financial scandal in which the press was accused of blowing the cases’ stories out of proportion, thereby leading to their political downfall (Umeh, 2010,p.7).

In view of the above scenario, what is of concern here is how the coverage took shape and the extent of the coverage of the 78 days presidential power vacuum vis-à-vis the ability of the press to discharge its social responsibility roles in the nexus that exists between the Nigerian media, the Nigerian government and the Nigerian society. In other words, we took a critical look at how the Nigerian newspapers covered the 78 days presidential power vacuum and the extent of the coverage vis a- vis the allegation made by Yar’Aduas’s ‘Kitchen Cabinet’ in which the press was accused of magnifying and manipulating the crisis. That, indeed, was the problem of this study.

The motivation for this study was informed by the fact that the researcher believe that most studies on news coverage of governance and democracy in Nigeria are a localized version of the ever continuously discussed issue of news flow controversy in which we hear of charges and counter charges of over reportage, under reportage and negative reportage coming from all corners of the world’s divide.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main aim of this study was to find out how the Nigerian newspapers covered the 78 days presidential power vacuum under Yar’Adua and the extent of the said coverage by the newspapers.

Therefore, in order not to miss our steps in the pursuit of these aims, the following objectives guided the study:

(1) To ascertain whether the selected newspapers gave the controversial 78 days presidential power vacuum under late president Yar’Adua prominence in their overall coverage.
(2) To find out the direction of coverage the selected newspapers took in their reportage of the 78 days presidential power vacuum under late President Yar’Adua.
(3) To determine the volume of coverage the selected newspapers gave to the 78 days presidential power vacuum under late Yar’Adua.
(4) To ascertain the frequency of coverage with which the sampled newspapers covered the presidential power vacuum under late Yar’Adua.

1.4 Research Questions

In every scientific research or inquiry, research questions give order and direction to a study as a whole. The research questions, though, must be an expansion of the research problem. Therefore, research questions serve as a compass directing the research. In fact, content analysis, according to Wimmer and Dominick (2011, p.160), “should be guided by well-formulated research questions or hypotheses.” The following research questions were, therefore, asked:

(1) How was the 78 days presidential power vacuum covered by the selected newspaper in terms of prominence?
(2) What direction of coverage did the selected newspapers take in their coverage of the 78 days presidential power vacuum?
(3) What volume of coverage did the 78 days presidential power vacuum receive from the selected newspapers?
(4) What frequency of coverage did the sampled newspapers give to the power vacuum under late Yar’Adua?

1.5 Research Hypotheses

Based on the research questions raised above and the climate of opinion in the material reviewed, the following hypotheses were raised and tested for relevant results.

Hypothesis One

Ho: The 78 days presidential power vacuum under late President Yar’Adua did not receive prominence in the selected newspapers.

Hi: The 78 days presidential power vacuum under late President Yar’Adua received prominence in the selected newspapers.

Hypothesis Two

Ho: The selected newspapers’ coverage of the 78 days presidential power vacuum did not take a positive direction.

Hi: The selected newspapers’ coverage of the 78 days presidential power vacuum under Yar’Adua took a positive direction.

Hypothesis Three

Ho: The 78 days presidential power vacuum under Yar’Adua did not receive much volume of coverage from the selected newspapers.

Hi: The 78 days presidential power vacuum under Yar’Adua received much volume of coverage from the selected newspapers.

Hypothesis Four

Ho: The 78 days presidential power vacuum was not frequently covered in the sampled newspapers.

Hi: The 78 days presidential power vacuum was frequently covered in the sampled newspapers.

1.6 Significance of the Study

This study is most likely to add to the available small pool of literature on how the press covers political crisis in Nigeria. More importantly, since press coverage of presidential vacuum controversy has not received attention in academic research in Nigeria as the Yar’ Adua’s case is the first ever case of presidential vacuum of this magnitude, the outcome of this study will add to the available literature. However, media coverage of presidential vacuums has remained a major research area in countries like the United States, Britain, Costa Rica, among others, because of the public expectations of the role the press plays in democracy and public administration. Take for instance, the cases of President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica, President Woodrow Wilson of the United States, and Prime Minister Henry Pelham of Great Britain, which were all given publicity by the media (http:llen.wikipedia.org/diedheadofstates).

As one the few pioneering works on presidential power crisis in Nigeria, it has added to the few available literatures in this area.

The study will, also, serve as a platform for researchers to build on in the event of another political crisis.

The study has also that contrary to the opinion being held down here in the Southern Nigeria that all the Northern papers supported the absence of Yar’Adua from the presidential seat during those long days, it was discovered that not all of them really supported Yar’Adua’s long absence, as shown by the Daily Trust (see page 78 under direction) which was even more positive than the Southern papers of The Guardian and ThisDay.

The findings of this inquiry will equally give Nigerian print media journalists an idea of how they covered the power vacuum crisis in order to either consolidate or take corrections on how they frame and report such issues.

1.7 Definition of Terms

For the purpose of clarity, the researcher has decided to define some key words in the topic.

The following words were defined operationally:

(1) Newspapers: These are the four selected newspapers used in this study. They are The Guardian, New Nigerian, Daily Trust and Thisday newspapers.
(2) Coverage: This has to do with the editorial content report on presidential power vacuum controversy under Late President Yar’ Adua in the four selected newspapers.
(3) Presidential Vacuum: Presidential power vacuum means the period within which the late president travelled to Saudi Arabia for treatment without putting any person in charge and, as such, the Nigerian seat of power was vacant-- there was no president.
(4) Power Vacuum: This means the period (24th November, 2009- 9th February, 2010) within which late president Umaru Musa YarAdua travelled to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment without putting his deputy in charge of the country. This development created a vacuum in the Presidency as the vice president lacked full constitutional power to act as the president.
(5) Prominence: This term is used to identify the degree of importance, in terms of page placement, attached to the stories on the presidential vacuum crisis by the dailies – that is whether the story is placed in the front page, back page or inside page. To measure prominence, front page banner lead stories were scored 5 points, other front page stories were scored 4 points. Back page banner lead stories were scored 3 points, other back page stories were scored 2 points. All other stories in the inside page were scored 1 point.
(6) News Direction: This concept is identified as representing positive, negative and neutral news stories on the presidential vacuum crisis. Positive stories are those attacking stories to the power vacuum, negative stories are those that are supportive of the presidential vacuum while neutral stories are those stories whose tone cannot be seen to be either supportive or against the vacuum crisis. Positive stories are identified by key phrases like; vacancy in Aso Rock, resign now, transmit letter to NAS, power manipulation, empower the vice president, protest, kitchen cabinet etc. Negative stories are identified by key phrases like: prayers for the president, president recovering, president back in the country soon, economy on track, it’s our turn to rule, North behind Yar’Adua, president can rule from anywhere, etc. Neutral stories are those editorial contents whose tone can neither be said to be supportive nor against the power vacuum crisis. This can be identified by this headline: “Yar’Adua speaks on BBC today” -Daily Trust, January 12, 2012.
(7) Volume of Coverage: This variable takes cognizance of the depth of coverage in terms of space and number of columns dedicated to the presidential power vacuum in the selected newspapers in relation to the total newspaper content.
(8) Frequency of Coverage: T his refers to the number of times the absence of late president Yar’Adua was reported in the selected papers within the eleven weeks that the presidential power vacuum lasted. This is measured by checking how many times the issue was reported in each week.

1.8 Assumptions

In every empirical research, it is only scientific for the researcher to make some intelligent assumptions based on some happenings or past events or related results. Therefore, in this study, the researcher assumed the followings:

(1) That the selected newspapers were true representation of all the national dallies published in Nigeria during the power lacuna under late president Yar’ Adua.
(2) The researcher equally assumed that the measuring instrument (code sheet) would appropriately measure all the variables in the study.
(3) The researcher, also, assumed that the units of analysis and content categories were effectively constructed to analyze the issues in the study.
(4) It was equally assumed that the research method (content analysis) was appropriate for the study.

1.9 Scope and Limitations of the Study

This study was restricted to four selected Nigerian national dailies of The Guardian, New Nigerian, Daily Trust and Thisday newspapers. The study period covered a time lag of 78 days, starting from November 23, 2009 to February 9, 2010.

However, the most outstanding handicap in conducting this research was the difficulty of easy access to copies of the newspapers chosen for the study, which was earlier noticed during the researcher’s preliminary checks.

References

Abdallah, N., Lazarus, S., Machika, A., Salkida, A. (28 November 2009).Yar’adua: full disclosure on a president’s ill-health. Sunday Trust

Adeyemi, M. (2009, December 5). It’s our right to know the president’s true state of health. The Guardian.

Adeyemo, A. (2010, January 18). Jonathan: the burden of a deputy. Thisday Newspaper.

Alibi, W. (2010, January 24). They all failed the people. The Guardian.

Anim, E. (2004). Newspapers’ coverage of president Obasanjo’s decision to contest the 2003 presidential election. (Unpublished Doctoral dissertation). University of Uyo.

Bird,E.S. & Dardenne, R.W. (2009). Rethinking news and myth as storytelling. In K. Wahl-Jorgensen and T. Hanitzsch (Eds.) The handbook of journalism studies. New York: Routledge, 206-217.

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CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1 Sources of Literature

The researcher, for the purpose of this study, went through newspapers, magazines, journals, internet, mass communication texts, and other related works and used them as the basic sources of his secondary materials.

These materials were sourced from;

- Personal library
- Internet
- Lagos State Library, Lagos
- Nasarawa State Library, Lafia
- Friends’ Library

2.2 The Nature of Nigerian State and Politics

Geographically, Nigeria is situated on the western coast of Africa, on the shores of the Gulf of Guinea, Bights of Benin and Biafra, and along the Atlantic Coast. Geographers say it lies between the parallels of 400 and 140 North of the Equator, and it is thus entirely within the tropics. Enebe (2004,p.298) writes that most of the country is largely low lying with some highlands. This, according to him, include the Udi and Nsukka hills in the East; the Kukuruku and Ondo Hills in the West and Jos, Bauchi and Mambilla Plateaux in the North (Enebe, 2004,p.298). The country is divided along two main rivers- Rivers Niger and Benue. Officially speaking, it is equally blessed with three main religions-Christianity, Islam and Traditional worship. However, recently, there are other emerging religions, like ECKANKER, The Grail Movement, etc.

Nigeria, as presently constituted, is shaped by four basic developments- the independent cultures before colonialism, Trans-Saharan trade, Trans-Atlantic Slave trade and colonialism. They have, no doubt, continued to play significant roles in how the country pursues any political, economic or cultural goal.

It is a known fact, even to the European colonizers, that Africa had its own governments, religions and culture before they partitioned it for the purposes of evangelism and colonialisation. These rich and independent cultures have continued to determine how the over 256 ethnic nationalities relate with one another. For instance, the egalitarian society of the Ibos and their republican nature has remained with them till the present day. This explains why they do not have a central leadership. This is not the case with their counterpart in Northern Nigeria who believe in communal living and respect for central leadership. Again, the pre-colonial activities of conquering territories and establishing dominance over others is still much with them. Duruji (2010,p.2) lends credence to this when he observed that “competition for ethnic domination has over the years, assumed varying forms in the politics of Nigeria”.

The Trans-Saharan Trade also played a major role in shaping the political and economic history of Nigeria and other African countries. The trade afforded many countries in Africa the opportunity to sell their products and at the same time influence one another in a variety of ways. For instance, Enebe (2004,p.300) writes that, “Before long, large parts of the Sudan came under their sway influencing substantial parts of Northern Nigeria. This Arabic/Islamic cultural influence culminated eventually in the establishment of the Sokoto Caliphate”. The establishment of the Caliphate marked the beginning of the strong Northern hegemony. This hegemony has remained central in the polity of the entire Northern Nigeria and by extension, the whole country (International Crisis Group, 2010,p.11).

Another factor that has shaped the political landscape of the Nigerian State is the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade. The slave trade saw the mass movement of indigent people of Nigeria to Europe and some parts of North and South America. When the heinous circle of the trade ended, some of the slaves found their way back to their homelands. Fortunately, their long stay outside the shores of Nigeria afforded them the opportunity to acquire some forms of education which greatly played a role during independence struggle and early press in Nigeria (Okoye, 2009).

Colonialism also played unprecedented role in shaping the political entity called Nigeria. To start with, the country got its name, nigerarea, courtesy of the colonizers. It was the colonial system that finally gave Nigeria its peripheral look. According to Hamza Alavi (1979) cited in Fadkinte (2013):

The peripheral state is the product of “the historical specificity which arises from structural changes brought about by the colonial experience and alignments of classes and by the super structures and alignments of classes and the super structures of political and administrative institutions which were established in that context and secondly from radical realignments of class forces which have been brought about in the post-colonial situation.” Thus, the peripheral state possesses an outstanding feature i.e. of being characterized by relatively and highly over developed state apparatus/institution. And this is because the origin of the state is rooted in the metropolitan countries, which, having dominated the classes in the colonies became overdeveloped and autonomous with a strong bureaucratic military oligarchy.

Umeh (2008), also, remarks that the various constitutional conferences during the colonial rule shaped the peripheral state structure of Nigeria. According her, this also informed the political ideology adopted in the first republic. The various crises that came after independence in 1960 had their roots in most of the factors discussed above. So whenever one thinks of the political situation in Nigeria, let’s all remember that it is product of where we are coming from.

2.3 History, Development and Characteristics of the Nigerian Press

Communication is as old as the beginning of the world. A well established knowledge has it that everything God created had its root in communication. This explains why communication remains the only link between and among different spheres of life. In the academic community, communication is unarguably the pivot on which every discipline revolves. This shows the centrality of communication to the development of anything. It is even more central in this contemporary day considering the fact that technologies have revolutionized the entire communication process.

Before the advent of modern technologies, communication was merely intra and interpersonal. The interpersonal channel was effectively used to communicate messages, culture, feeling and ideas among people. These functions have continued to be identified with the interpersonal channel till the present day even though it has got a lot more complex with the aid of technology. Explaining this transformation, Tworzecki and Semetko (2012,p. 410) explains that “along the way, this transformation was accompanied by rapid technological change and the emergence of new types of media and media delivery methods, starting with cable and satellite television in the 1990s and extending, most recently, to the rise of blogs and social networking web sites that are increasingly important as carriers of information”. These technologies have led to the concept of machine- assisted interpersonal communication which involves the use of technologies such as internet, phones, etc. in interpersonal communication.

From interpersonal communication, we moved to mass communication where a large diversified audience receive well organized message through the help of technologies. Okoye (2009,p.68) writes that true mass communication activities took effect with the industrial revolution of the 19th century. However, it will be noted that Johnann Gutenberg’s invention of the moveable type printing machine in the 15th century kick started the era of mass communication. With growing sophistication of technology, other printing technologies such as Lithography and web off set came up. With time, this technology found its way to many parts of the world including Africa. Nigeria got her share of it in the 19th century.

The Nigerian press, according to Okoye (2009, p.76), began in the early 19th century and owes its development to economic, political and religious activities of the British who were then the colonial master of Nigeria and other West African countries. Ndolo (2005) lends credence to this when he argued that the Nigerian press developed on the tripod of religion, ethnicity and politics. Religion played the first role with the establishment of missionary printing outfits in Nigeria in mid 19th century. National Open University of Nigeria, (2012, p.32) noted that the “first printing press was installed by the Presbyterian Mission when they arrived in Calabar in 1946. Eight years later, Rev. Henry Townsend fitted up a printing press and inaugurated a printing school in the mission compound at Abeokuta”. Townsend’s printing school eventually gave birth to the first ever newspaper, Iwe Irohin Fun Awon Ara Egba Ati Yoruba, in the country. This paper opened the flood gate for other papers before, during and after nationalist movement. Newspapers like The Anglo African (1863); Lagos Times and Gold Coast Colony Advertiser (1880); The Lagos Weekly Record (1891); Lagos Observer (1882); The Nigerian Pioneer (1914); The African Messenger (1921); The West African Pilot (1937); Gaskiya Tafi Kwobo, etc.

These printing activities not only resulted in the emergence of modern newspapers in Nigeria, but also gave birth to a vibrant and veteran journalists who made effective use of this created institution (press) to fight colonial government under nationalist struggle which gradually led to Nigeria’s Independence in 1960 (Ismail, 2011,p.2). The sophistication acquired by these nationalist’s newspapers has grown. Ismail, (2011) lends credence to this when he maintained that:

Journalism was the major vehicle through which the anti-colonial struggle in Nigeria was carried out. Many of the Major figures in this struggle are Herbert Macaulay, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ernest Ikoli, Obafemi Awolowo, Anthony Enahoro, Dutse Mohammed Ali, Mokwugo Okoye, to name but a few who were newspaper publishers, journalists, commentators and or editors. Their newspapers served as platform for mobilising the people, spreading nationalist awareness and for opposing the worst manifestation of colonial subjugation and the racialism which is customary to them. Also Fred Omu {1978} the pre-eminent historian of the Nigerian Press said the early Nigerian Press provided the most distinguished intellectual forum in Nigerian history. One in which the high standard of debate, discussion, the quality of thought and expression cannot fail to fascinate the modern reader (p.2).

Undoubtedly, the activities of this early press shaped the press and political climate of the emerging republic (Nigeria).

In 1932, these chains of newspapers were joined by electronic media with the introduction of pseudo radio broadcasting known as radioffusion. This system merely relayed the programmes of British Empire Service. Ismail, (2011) avers that:

With the establishment of a Relay Station in Victoria Island {parts of today’s Lagos State} through which broadcasting were made to major Cities in Nigeria via wired-wireless called Radiofusion {‘Goke Raufu, 2003}. This was succeeded by Radio Nigeria which was established through Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation {NBC} incorporated and operates under Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation Ordinance of 1956 was subsequently divided along with 3 Regions we have in Nigeria then under the control of the concern Region and headquarter remain in Lagos.

The division of broadcasting along regional lines strengthened the concept of regional broadcasting. This supports the earlier assumptions by Ndolo (2005) that the Nigerian press developed on the tripod of religion, politics and regionalism. Ismail, (2011) further explained that:

The regionalization introduced then coupled with political bias of Radio Nigeria as well as inadequacy as regards coverage and availability of market to be exploited by commercial broadcasting inter alia instigated the then Western Region spearheaded by the Late Legend; Chief Obafemi Awolowo to inaugurate Western Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation {WNBC} around May 1959 and successfully went on air in the same year. The Western Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation {WNBC} was followed on 31st October 1959 by Western Nigeria Television {WNTV} which as a matter of fact served as the first television station in Nigeria and Africa at large and later emulate by other Region around 1962 (p.10).

At the dawn of Independence in 1960, the Nigerian Press continued with her business of selling meaning but this time, along heavy political line. The Zik’s chain of newspapers was used to oil the political wheel of his political machine just the way the Action Group chain of newspapers was to used push for the political interest of western Nigeria. Oso (2012,p. 25) supports the above assertion when he explained that: “The West African Pilot consolidated the instrumentalisation of the press as an organ of political competition. The Zik’s Press chain became a model for the Action Group when it was formed. It, too, established newspapers in many parts of the country to disseminate its messages and propaganda”. With time, other politicians in the four regions (North, West, East and Mid-West regions) delved into newspaper production to protect their political interest and advance their reach. However, the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) relied on the government- owned media, Radio/ Television Kaduna and the quite influential Hausa language paper, Gaskiya Tafi Kwabo to advance and coordinate its political campaigns and interest. Oso (2012,p. 25) captures this in the following sentences:

Though the NPC did not start any newspaper, it relied on the government owned media particularly the Nigerian Citizen and the quite influential Hausa language paper, Gaskiya Tafi Kwabo. The Gaskiya Corporation published other indigenous language papers, namely Nwanger v Tiv, Albishir, Nna Nyintsu, Oka K'Idoma, and Jakadiya. However, in 1961, the NPC launched a newspaper, Daily Mail. One thing that is noticeable about the NPC is that, unlike the NCNC and AG, it did not make any effort to establish any newspaper outside the North. This was in line with NPC's policy of consolidating its political hold on the North unlike the other two which wanted to have a pan-Nigerian following in order to capture power of the Federal level. With the electoral arrangement and population distribution of the period, the NPC was sure of controlling power at the centre, once it could have effective control of its Northern base.

From the above description, it is obvious that Northern Nigerian politicians believed in the strength of a communal press which would serve the interest of the entire North and not that of individuals. With this, their politics was almost devoid of rancor and cracks as witnessed in Western and Eastern regions. This might explain why during the 78 days presidential vacuum crisis under late President Umaru Yar’Adua, the northern division of the Nigerian press came up with a single voice in support of the absence.

The political history of the media in elections shows that the Nigeria media (especially broadcast) of the first republic were highly partisan and towed politico-regional lines. Western Nigeria Television (WNTV) supported the dominant political party (Action Group) in the West, Eastern Nigeria Television (ENTV) supported NCNC, RadioTelevision, Kaduna (RTV) supported the Northern People’s Congress, while Nigerian Television Service (NTS) and RadioNigeria were pro-federal government. The media were very divisive in their coverage and left no one in doubt of their leaning. Political broadcasts were characterized by very abusive language and praise-singing depending on whom the broadcast was targeted at. Put differently, political broadcasts centered on the good qualities of the liked candidate and the misdeeds of the opposition. This politicization of the media space continued in the second republic through to the third republic when the media decided to adopt a more pragmatic approach and unanimously fought against the annulment of the June 12 election of 1993. That period marked a defining moment for the political role of the mass media to the society (Agba, 1983; Azikikwe, 1970; Onyike et al, 2007; Nwosu, 1990; Aliede, 1991; Aliede 2003 cited in Umeh 2008).

Since independence, to the present day, the Nigerian press has continued to serve the vast majority of Nigerians in its reports of issues in line with the principle(s) in which it was founded. Umeh (2008,p. 11) maintained that “ the tripod on which Nigerian press developed has remained parts of its growing sophistication.” Umeh’s position suggest that the press in Nigeria must continue to serve as a vehicle for political, religious and ethnic advancement. Umaru and Sharafa (2013,p.12) insist that on top of these considerations, the press should set agenda for the entire society. According to them, “the media should set agenda for the people and leaders through advocacy, continuous engagement and effective dissemination of messages. They should ignite critical thinking and discuss issues to enhance participation in the development process”.

2.4 Profile and Circulation of ThisDay, The Guardian, Daily Trust and New Nigerian Newspapers

ThisDay, The Guardian, Daily Trust and New Nigerian newspapers are selected for analysis in this study and it becomes imperative for us to understand the history, editorial policy and circulation rate of each of the papers. This understanding will unarguably enable everyone to appreciate why the papers report the way they do. Specifically, this analysis will bring to the fore why these selected papers covered the presidential vacuum crisis under President Umaru Yar’ Adua the way they did.

ThisDay is a Nigerian national daily newspaper. It is the flagship newspaper of ThisDay Newspapers Limited and was first published on 22 January 1995. It has its headquarters in Apapa, Lagos, Lagos. As of 2012, it has a circulation of about 347,000 copies and an annual turnover of some $105 million (US). It has two printing plants, in Lagos and Abuja. The publisher, Nduka Obaigbena was noted for his early investment in color printing, giving the paper a distinctive edge among the few durable national newspapers that exist in Nigeria (Onyebuchi, 2012, p. 23). The paper is tabloid in size but broadsheet in content.

Within its first years of publication, ThisDay won the Newspaper of the Year Award for three consecutive years. In 1997 ThisDay also became the first Nigerian newspaper to introduce full colour printing. Today ThisDay remains one of the preferred newspapers among the business, political and diplomatic elites. ThisDay is said to break the news first: from the story of the first arrests over the 1995 coup which led to the imprisonment of Olusegun Obasanjo and the late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua; the death of Nigeria’s first president, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, which all other media missed; to the newspaper’s exclusive on the recovery of the Abacha billions and several more, day after day. In line with its avowed commitment to democracy, ThisDay was at the forefront of the battle against dictatorial military rule for which its reporters were invariably detained and harassed. The Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, Nduka Obaigbena, was detained in 1997 at the Department of Military Intelligence (DMI) for seven days under Abacha. The Chairman later went into self-exile (http://www.THISDAYLIVE.com).

Most recently, ThisDay launched ARISE, the global style and culture magazine. The debut issue was given away at ThisDay 's Africa Rising concert at London's Royal Albert Hall in October 2008 and was so well received that the second issue was officially launched on the newsstands in February 2009. It is now sold in several countries around the world (http://www.THISDAYLIVE.com).

The company’s major events centre, the ThisDay DOME in Abuja’s Central Business District, is where the annual ThisDay Awards for Excellence are held and also plays host to several events for the Nigerian society and intelligencia (http://www.THISDAYLIVE.com).

The ThisDay Annual Awards for Excellence has attracted several world leaders and statesmen including former US Presidents, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, former Mexican President, Vicente Fox and former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan. It has also hosted the former United Kingdom Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown along with former Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard. Former US Secretaries of State, Condoleezza Rice, Henry Kissinger and General Colin Powell have also participated along with other international dignitaries including the former German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, the former Prime Minister of France, Dominique de Villepin, former Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern and Harvard Professor Larry Summers, a former Economic Adviser to President Obama, former World Bank President James Wolfhensoln and Steve Forbes, the publisher of Forbes Magazine. ThisDay newspaper believes that the truth should be told in the simplest form ever, no matter who is involved. It has the vision of becoming a global media player, pursuing, with vigour its vision of the world as seen from an African perspective.

During the 78 days presidential vacuum crisis under late president Umaru Yar’Adua, the paper along others played unprecedented role in bringing the crisis to an end.

The Guardian Newspaper

The Guardian is a private limited liability company of Chief Alex Ibru and associates. It is an independent as well as liberal newspaper committed to the ideals of republican democracy. It was established in March 1983 with the aim of presenting a balanced coverage of issues and events in addition to projecting and promoting the best interest of Nigeria. It owes no allegiance to any political party, ethnic group, religious or other interest groups. It is primarily committed to the integrity and sovereignty of the federal republic of Nigeria. As expressed in its editorial policy, The Guardian believes that “it is the responsibility of the state not only to protect and defend the citizens, but, also, to create the conditions of political, social, economical and cultural environment, in which all citizens may achieve their highest potentials as human beings.” The Guardian is the policy-makers’ paper (Doghudji, 2008). The Guardian went online in 1999 and the site was redesigned in 2002 in order to allow more people access.

During the 78 days presidential vacuum crisis under late president Umaru Yar’Adua, the paper along others played unprecedented role in bringing the crisis to an end. The editorial policy of the paper (Telling the truth always) came to play during this period.

Daily Trust Newspapers

Media Trust is a privately owned Nigerian newspaper publishing company based in Abuja that publishes the English-language Daily Trust, Weekly Trust, Sunday Trust and the Hausa-language Aminiya newspapers, as well as a new pan-African magazine, Kilimanjaro.

Trust Newspaper is a well-focused, market-driven and general interest newspaper. The publications, which made their debut in March 1998 and January 2001 respectively, crystallized the revolutionary vision of an independent Board of Directors. The two newspapers are owned and funded by 19 shareholders of Media Trust Nigeria Limited who are mostly young and talented Nigerian Professionals from the Northern extraction. First, it started as a weekly publication before it went daily (www.mtrustonline.com/dailytrust).

As general interest publications, the editorial contents of Daily Trust and Weekly Trust uphold the libertarian principle. Yet the publications display profound regard for social responsibility in their news coverage and editorial comments. Though the paper claims not to owe any allegiance to any political party, ethnic group, religious or other interest groups, Umeh (2012) observed that the paper is pro-Northern Nigeria and pro-Islam.

At inception and up to its first anniversary, the Weekly Trust was published in black and white (with masthead in red colour) on off-white newsprint. However, since March 1999 the Weekly Trust has carried a unique identity that was shaped by its full colour prints on excellent white newsprint. Having achieved considerable strides in the design and publication of Weekly Trust, the sister publication, Daily Trust, made its debut in full colour from day one in January 2001 (www.mtrustonline.com/dailytrust).

The Weekly Trust and Daily Trust are now the largest circulating newspapers in Northern Nigeria. The only newspaper whose print runs in five digits. The weekly sales (Saturday through the weekend) for Weekly Trust equals to the combined weekly sale of some daily newspapers. They are in addition the pioneers in colours production in the North. Readership level between the Northern and Southern parts of Nigeria is in the ratio of 70:30. The Daily Trust, building on the goodwill of the weekly publication started producing on five digits from inception. The sales copies are distributed in all towns and cities in the North; Lagos, Akure, Abeokuta and Ibadan in the South-West; Port Harcourt, Yenagoa, Benin, Calabar in the South-South; Onitsha, Owerri and Enugu in the South-East; and in several outlets in London and England. Their website addresses: www.mtrustonline.com and www.mtrustonline.com/dailytrust is a regular spot of visits to numerous readers all over the world. However, investigation showed that the paper’s circulation in the Southern part of Nigeria is poor. In most cases, the paper arrives Eastern Nigeria a day after publication (www.mtrustonline.com/dailytrust).

Daily Trust/Weekly Trust have their audiences as the modern elite of Nigeria multi religious and multi ethnic society. Their readers are said to be successful, active, free thinking, independent, self advancing and of critical minds. They constitute the main frame of the Nigerians political and economic class. They are politicians, businessmen, policy makers, academics, religious leaders, diplomats, students etc. This might be attributed to the fact that four of the powerful writers in the country have been brought into the Editorial Board as columnists. They include: Mohammed Haruna, Professor Attahiru Jega, Sam Ida Isaiah and Ujudud Sheriff (www.mtrustonline.com/dailytrust).

New Nigerian Newspapers

The New Nigerian Newspaper Limited, which has its head office along Ahmadu Bello Way, Kaduna, was established by the then government of the Northern Region on 23rd October, 1964. The first copies of the paper hit the newsstand on January 1st 1966. Its initial name was Northern Nigerian Newspapers Limited. But when states were created out of the regions in 1964 it was changed to New Nigerian Newspapers Limited. This name has remained with it till the present day.

Before the establishment of the New Nigerian Newspapers, the Northern Nigerian Government had established a Hausa language newspaper in Zaria called Gaskiya Ta Fi Kwabo in 1936. This paper was in response to Zik and Awolowo’s chains of newspapers which were used to advance the political interests of the Western and Eastern regions in those days. And within the stable of Gaskiya Corporation, printer of the paper, an English language version, Nigerian Citizen emerged in 1965. Then a few months later (in 1966) its name was changed to New Nigerian and the headquarters relocated to Kaduna where it is now based.

In March, 1973, the company set up the Southern plant (printing machine) alongside the one in Kaduna. The simultaneous printing of the newspaper in both Kaduna and Lagos enhanced a wide circulation of the paper. When the Northern Region was divided into six states through the creation of 12 states by the Federal Government in July 1967, the ownership and management of the company was transferred to the Northern states, managed by the Interim Common Services Agency (ICSA). Then later the company was fully taken over by the Federal Government in August 1975 and placed under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Information.

It was handed back to the Northern states in 2006. Hence, it is currently owned and controlled by the 19 Northern States.

At present, the company has four titles in its stable: New Nigerian, (daily) Gaskiya Tafi Kwabo (Hausa publication, published every Monday and Thursday) New Nigerian On Sunday and New Nigerian Weekly (published on Saturdays). New Nigerian was first published on 1st January 1966, Gaskiya Tafi Kwabo came on board on 1st January 1936, Ne w Nigerian On Sunday was set up on 24th May, 1981 and New Nigerian weekly was established on February 21st, 1998.

The company operates a commercial/stationery printing department which undertakes printing jobs of various types and produces high quality exercise books and other stationery.

In order to consolidate its economic base, the company went into property development projects in 1977 with the construction of Imam House (named after the first indigenous Editor of Gaskiya Ta Fi Kwabo, Abubakar Imam) and the multi-storey building known as Nagwamatse House, presently housing Unity Bank, AIT station, Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, etc. This is in addition to the senior staff quarters at Isa Kaita and Malali Village, respectively

2.5 Media Roles in Political/Constitutional Crisis

The mass media and politics are interwoven. Their relationship is so intimate that separating one from the other is likely unattainable. This is based on the unprecedented role the media play in the arena of politics. The Nigerian mass media since inception have witnessed tremendous evolutionary changes. These phenomenal metamorphoses have prepared the media for such vantage and dynamic position from where they have had drastic and dramatic influences on Nigeria’s politics. Their growth and proliferation has been so remarkable since 1959, making them so virile and vibrant, paving way for their irresistible and impactful effects on the development of all facets of the nation, particularly its political culture, to date (Aliede, 2003, p.16).

Meanwhile, the growth and advancement of the country’s mass media has been so parallel and simultaneous with the evolution of Nigeria’s political culture, that it is just difficult to separate their history. This is partly because though the mass media had overwhelming private ownership and management dominance, more so at the initial stages, still they were directly and indirectly utilized and manipulated to serve the cause of the political class. Interestingly, it was and is still so at a time media owners, operators and practitioners partly function to influence cause of events in the political arena (Aliede, 2003, p.16).

The development of the Nigerian democracy and politics is closely linked with that of the press (Umechukwu, 2001, Egbon, 1994). In the Nigerian first republic for instance, the late multi-billionaire, Chief MKO Abiola established the National Concord to advance his political interest in the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) from 1979 to 1983. The newspaper was then used to demystify the person of Chief Obafemi Awolowo who was politically anointed to win the Nigerian presidency when and if it was zoned to the South-West of the country. This objective was to pave the way for the emergence of chief MKO Abiola as leading candidate in the elections. The Zik’s group of newspapers was, also, established to advance the political interest of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe who openly used the newspapers for his political ends. There are many other instances that suggest a link between the development of Nigerian democracy and the press. The Nigerian Tribune of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and the New Nigerian newspapers were some of the media organizations established to advance certain parochial political interests. However, they all contributed in one way or the other to the development of the Nigerian democracy (Ekeanyanwu, 2010, p.65).

Furthermore, the nationalists used the press as an instrument for struggle during the pre-independence and military era. Since then, the Nigerian press has continued to participate in the political setting of the country. The opening up of the political space with the introduction of MacPherson Constitution of 1951 also opened up ethnic and sectional politics which was sparked off by a feud between the Daily Service of Ernest Ikoli and S.L. Akintola and West African Pilot of Nnamdi Azikiwe between 1939 and 1944 (Galadima and Ehighe, 2001, p.64). Groham Mytton (1983) cited in Galadima and Ehighe (2001) also notes that when the British colonial government assured Nigeria of political independence, further party newspapers appeared as it became clear that publishing a newspaper was part of a successful political campaign. This made Nnamdi Azikiwe of NCNC to control 10 newspapers while his closest rival, Obafemi Awolowo of Action Group Controlled 14 newspapers (Ekeanyanwu, p.66).

The strength the print media, especially newspapers, had with which to assist our national advancement (including political development) got a boost with the advent of electronic media (video and television) into the media sub-sector. Their added uniqueness and attributes, like instantaneous effect, linguistic barrier breakage, audio-visual qualities, for television and demonstration, dramatically uplifted media influence on politics in moments of significant political events like elections (Aliede, p.17).

Furthermore, the press all over the world is regarded as a political instrument, and in advanced societies, the media are actually an integral part of the political life, serving for most people as their major and only link with the government and providing for them the information which they require to make political judgement on the basis of their political attitudes. In every society, the mass media can confer status and legitimacy on the political leaders and issues (Ferré, 2012). This is known as status conferral function of the mass media. The mass media can also set the political agenda for the society by deciding what political topics the people talk about. In fact, agenda setting function of the mass media is an important aspect of the institutional linkage between the mass media and politics (Umechukwu, 2001 cited in (Ekeanyanwu, p.66).

Unarguably too, Nigeria since inception has witnessed so many political and constitutional crisis. Ucheanya, (2003, p.69) writes that:

The problems arising from Nigerian political landscape such as the impeachments, threat and counter threat of impeachment squabbles within and between political parties has greatly increased the political tension in the country. The political landscape has been characterized by neck breaking upheavals that has made nonsense of political pundits such that electioneering periods are times when the future and stability of this nation are put to the test.

In Nigeria, the democratic process has been chequered and arduous. It has been characterized by all manner of vicissitudes and pains. Democracy in Nigeria has witnessed truncations and distortions, the magnitude and nature of which have been shaped and located largely within the ambit of military adventurism, regimentation are arbitrariness, culminating in the acute depoliticisaton of the citizenry (Okonkwo, 2003, p.85). Also in line with the above assertions by Ucheanya and Konkwo, Umechukwu (2003, p.242) asserts that:

Over the years, Nigeria has not witnessed a steady political growth and many reasons have been adduced for this scenario. Among such reasons are corruption and over ambitious quest for power. On the other hand, the mass media have been accused of playing the ostrich and not being alive to their responsibilities in the search for a virile, united and politically stable country.,

A disturbing scenario or noticeable feature of all the previous elections in Nigeria since independence, namely: 1964/65, 1979, 1983, 1993 and 1999 is that they were all rocked by crisis occasioned at times with serious political violence. Worst still, the aftermath of such crisis or violence is that the military always take over the reign of government (Poopola, 2003, p.59). According to Oyediran (1976, p.17), cited in Poopola, (p.59) “the 1964-1965 election has often been referred to as a classic case of the politics of brinkmanship. It was during the election that the first plot for a military coup d’ etat was planned”. In the end, the election was badly rigged while serious rioting occurred in the various parts of the region on election day. At the end of polling, both parties-AG and NNDP claimed victory and consequently formed parallel government (Poopola, p.60). Poopola, (p.60) further notes that:

Following the collapse of the first republic on January 15, 1966, the military held on to power till October 1, 1979 when Nigerians had another opportunity at democratic governance. But that one too was also hit by crisis. The elections were contested by five political parties: NPN, UPN, NPP, GNPP and PRP. At the end of the day, NPN candidate, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, was declared winner after serious controversy had trailed the results of the election as a result of what constituted two third of 19 states.

While the (political) crisis lasted, Awolowo mobilized his supports through the Daily Sketch and Tribune to the extent that his supporters held the notion that Shagari stole the presidency. Throughout the second republic, Chief Awolowo kept the Shagari government on its toes with his periodic incisive and constructive criticisms. The game plan was to be able to dislodge the NPN government at the polls in 1983 (Popola, p.61).

The 1983 general elections in Nigeria equally got a share of the devastating political crisis that ravaged the country. As witnessed in previous elections, electoral fraud, also known as rigging was pinpointed as the major trigger of the crisis. Media role in this political crisis was very disturbing. According to Poopola, (p.61),

Particular mention must be made of the role played by the defunct FRCN, Akure and the state owned radio, Ondo State Broadcasting Corporation (OSBC). While the FRCN was overtly drumming up support for Chief Akin Omoboriowo, the NPN gubernatorial candidate who was initially declared by FEDECO as winner of the governorship election with its intermittent and regularly playing of the record of Christy Essien’s elpee entitled. “Give peace a chance”, the Ondo State Radio, obviously supporting another candidate, late Chief Michael Ajasin, was also simultaneously playing the record of late Bob Marley entitled, “Get up, stand up, stand up for your right.

Poopola averred that the people decoded the message and instantly took to the streets, attacking every identified member and leaders of the NPN. They did not spare their properties as well. Some of the houses that were razed during the fracas are yet to be rebuilt till today (Poopola, p.61).

Furthermore, the June 12, 1993 political crisis has always remained evergreen in the minds of Nigerians that witnessed it and even those that were merely told about it. The 12th day of June, 1993 was indeed very historic in the annals of Nigeria’s political history. The presidential election that took place on that day was adjudged as the most free and fair election ever conducted in the country. Poopola, (p.62) writes that it was

The day Nigerians from all walks of life defied ethnicity, religion, north-south dichotomy as well as other vices which had seen Nigerians voting along ethnic or religious lines in the past. It would be recalled that both the presidential candidate of the defunct SDP who was widely believed to have won the election, late Chief MKO Abiola and his running mate, Abassador Babagana Kingibe were Muslins. The election was not only peaceful but orderly throughout the federation. It is also on record that June 12 was the first election since independence in which a Nigerian or party would win by a landslide in all the geopolitical zones in the country.

The then military president, Gen. Ibrahim B. Babangida (rtd) annulled the election result without adducing cogent reason for his action. The annulment triggered unrests across the country. There were protests in virtually all parts of the country calling for Gen Babangida to rescind his action and abide by the wishes of the people who elected MKO Abiola as their president. The media, no doubt, played serious roles in that political crisis. Poopola (p.62) notes that:

With the manner with which the media campaigned for the revalidation of the election results, thousands of lives were lost while property worth millions of naira were destroyed, especially, when rumour of war spread like wild fire with people from the east of the Niger as well as other parts of the country running to their villages.

Since Nigeria returned to democratic governance in 1999, it has witnessed four general elections which, just like the previous elections were bedevilled with crisis. The media, no doubt, played significant roles in managing or manipulating the crisis.

With regards to the impeachment saga in the Nigerian political scene during the period under investigation, Nigerians witnessed how only four members in a twenty members Plateau State House of Assembly sat and purportedly impeached a Governor from office in 2006. In Ekiti (one of the six western-states in Nigeria), Nigerians also saw the emergence of two incumbent governors before the declaration of a state of emergency in the state by president Obasanjo in 2006. The constitutional amendment debates, the “Third Term” agenda and the political succession disputes left some points in the Nigerian political history. These issues caused a lot of political tensions in Nigeria and some actually generated conflicts of enormous proportion. The media being the watchdog of the society and agenda setter had little or no other option than to ensure that these issues were adequately reflected in the news of the day. There were streaming and bullet headlines and some of the media organizations even resorted to sensationalism (Ekeanyanwu, p.68).

Also, the political crisis in Nigeria’s federal House of Representatives in 2007 occasioned by the controversy surrounding the use of 628 million naira for the renovation of their official residence and the purchase of utility vehicles for principal officers of the house remarkably received the critical attention of the Nigerian press. It will be recalled that Hon. Patricia Etteh was elected into the Federal House of Representatives in 1999 under the platform of Alliance for Democracy (AD) to represent Adedade/Irewole federal constituency of Osun State. After two terms, she was re-elected in 2007.

On June 5, 2007, she emerged as the first female speaker of the Nigerian Federal House of Representatives by a motion moved by Hon. Farouk Lawal and seconded by Hon. Ita Enang. Shortly after her emergence, she was soon involved in a financial crisis that almost brought down the House.

The news of the speaker’s six hundred and twenty eight (628) million naira contract scandal broke out on the 19th of August, 2007 when Sunday Trust Newspaper reported that the speaker and her deputy spent N628 million for the renovation of their official residence and the purchase of utility vehicles for principal officers of the House.

In the heat of the scandal, Etteh severally accused the media of plotting her downfall through sensational reportage. The question that came to mind were; did the media actually plot her downfall? What effect did the coverage and direction of coverage have in the opinions of the masses and the final resolution of the scandal?

The first public attention of the renovation scandal was the report of the Daily Trust newspaper. At that point, it was just an issue which the newspaper stumbled upon and reported, believing that it will sell their paper, which actually did more (Umeh, 2008, p.51). This report spiralled into serious crisis that lasted till October 30, 2007 when Etteh and her deputy resigned after much imbroglio that almost cost Nigeria her democracy.

However, two days after her resignation, she was in a hurry to accuse Nigerian newspapers of plotting her downfall. She alleged that her matter was blown out of proportion. The truth is, the papers were merely performing their social responsibility function. That was the power of the media in action.

Chukwuemeka and Obiora wrote a paper in 2012 entitled “The Media, Constitutional Democracy and Tenure Elongation in Nigeria: The Third Term Agenda”. The paper viewed the role Nigerian media played during the struggle against President Obasanjo’s “Third Term” agenda using social movement theory as its framework of analysis. The Agenda caused enormous political instability, orchestrated media repression, indifference to the constitution and the rule of law. Using the documentary method of data analysis, the paper observed that the pro-active role of the private media was instrumental to the failure of the agenda as it provided the fundamental information and a transparent platform that enabled democratic forces and processes to defeat the anti-constitutional agenda. Consequent upon the above, the paper, therefore, recommends full liberalization of the media and the privatization of state-owned media industry in Nigeria to safeguard their functions and advance democracy in Nigeria (Chukwuemeka and Obiora, 2012, p.1).

Another very remarkable political crisis was the impeachment of the then Senate President, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo over allegations of corruption and misappropriation of funds. On August 8, 2000, 81 senators as against 11 impeached Dr. Chuba Okadigbo who assumed office as Senate President on November 18, 1999, due to the resignation of his predecessor, Chief Evans Enwerem. The media no doubt played very expedient role. According to Olutokun and Seteolu (2001, p.5) citing CDRR Annual Report, 2000, p.131)

The impeachment by 81, to 11 votes on August 8, 2000 of Dr. Chuba Okadigbo as senate president, over allegations of corruption and misappropriation of funds, had a lot to do with media advocacy of a sanitized national assembly.. Although the media had generally put a spotlight on the National Assembly, which it fingered for truancy, and for approving extravagant allowances for itself, no serious allegation was levelled against Dr. Okadigbo until senate itself in July 2000, partly as a result of its own internal politics set up the Idris Kuta panel to take a closer look at the award of contracts in the senate between 4th June, 1999 and 17th July, 2000.

The media’s watchdog role of intently monitoring the proceedings and giving prominence to the allegations of irregularities, corruption and perfidy should be noted. Beginning from the stunning revelations of Alhaji Ibrahim Saleh, Clerk of the House at the Kuta Panel on July 24, the media consciously mainstreamed the issue. Interestingly, even after Dr. Okadigbo was indicted for spending an unauthorized N30 million to purchase cars and another N37.5million to furnish his official cars among other misdeeds, he continued to maintain his innocence and threatening not to resign (Olutokun and Seteolu, p.36).

In spite of waving the ethnic card by rallying many Igbos behind him and making threatening calls to editors, Okadigbo had to vacate his office, principally as a result of media advocacy. Although in Nigeria’s fractious polity, Okadigbo’s fall may have been partly engineered by his political opponents, who made the most of his debacle. (Olutokun and Seteolu, p.36).

Alhaji Salisu Buhari’s case is also very important to explore here. Alhaji Salisu Buhari is a successful man in business, specifically dealing in computers. Olutokun and Seteolu, (p.34) writes that:

Alhaji Salisu Buhari, a business tycoon dealing in computers typifies the prosperity of a military – assisted “contractocracy” under Nigeria’s rentier political economy. Taking advantage of a flawed transition; especially the horse trading and politics of zoning that went on in the PDP in the months immediately before and after the presidential elections of 1999, Buhari defeated Alhaji Sadiq Yar’Adua, a journalist to emerge as the nominee of the north-west zone of the House of Representatives. Given that the office had been ‘zoned’ by the party to the north-west, complaints about irregularity in his bio-data were brushed aside at this stage.

In the best tradition of investigative journalism, The News (one of the publications that survived underground under general Abacha’s despotic regime) thoroughly research Buhari’s claims about his age, which was lower than what the constitution stipulated for the office he held, as well as, debunked his claims to have attended the university of Toronto. Other newspapers and magazine as well as human rights groups across the country enlisted in the moral crusade for justice (Olutokun and Seteolu, p.34).

After many revelations from the media, Buhari on the 22nd of July, Buhari was subdued. He pleaded guilty to the allegations and turned in his resignation letter which heralded his trial in the court.

The case of late president Yar’Adua’s illnesses which triggered off controversy is, as well, expedient. Late president Yar’Adua travelled out of the country for the treatment of his ailment without handing over power to his then vice president Goodluck Jonathan. His continued stay outside the country with nobody to step-in and pilot the affairs of the nation saw many reactions which badly condemned such action. According to the Nigerian Muse, the first to report the issue in the press was Reuben Abati of Th e Guardian who, barely two days after the president’s departure came out in a sensational article entitled “who is in charge of Nigeria?’ to lament the creation of a vacuum by the president’s absence as if the whole presidency was hospitalized.

That highly prejudiced article was the height of insensitivity and irresponsibility for a man who heads the editorial board of a foremost newspaper in Nigeria (The Nigerian Muse, 2009).

Abati’s case is no doubt, one of the numerous roles the media played in the crisis. Just like Umeh (2008, p.3) said, “Yar’Adua lost to public opinion, moulded by the media”.

Having discussed several political and constitutional crises in Nigeria vis-à-vis the role played by the media, it is very fundamental to posit here that objective and balance political reportage is the hallmark of the media. As Umechukwu (2003, p.242) notes:

The thrust and content of the mass media in any society reflect the nature of that society’s political climate. There is a symbiotic relationship between the mass media and the political structure of any country. Political events can only be known and appreciated when the mass media expose them. Traditionally, the mass media have the task of surveying the environment and correlating parts of that environment for social and political cohesion. And in a democratic setting, these functions are made easier than what obtains in a dictatorship.

Any effort to excavate the objective cum subjective functions of the media in maintaining political stability in any nation such as Nigeria ought to be located within the framework of their traditional functions as enunciated by scholars like Lasswell (1948). The mass media should provide surveillance of events and the integration of individuals into their cultural and political settings. For Wright (1960), entertainment is very necessary to diffuse political tension, in addition to the functions developed by Lasswell. On his own part, Graber (1984, p.3) added deliberate manipulation of the political process. The manner in which these four functions are performed affects the lives of individuals, groups and social organizations as well as the course of domestic and international politics (Umechukwu, p.244).

Ekeanyanwu (2010, p.67) summarized below the roles of the mass media in reporting politics and ensuring political stability. They are:

1. The mass media can serve as behaviour models for the political class by indicating which behaviour patterns and attitudes are acceptable or not.
2. The mass media can set the agenda for civic concern and action.
3. The mass media call attention to issues of potential public concern and they also provide clues to the public about the degree of importance of such an issue.
4. The media could also function as agencies of social legitimisation – as forces that reaffirm those ultimate value standards and beliefs, which in turn, uphold the social and political status quo.
5. The mass media survey the political events of the day and make them the focus of public and private attention. They also interpret their meanings, put them into context and speculate about their consequences on the society.
6. The mass media, also, promote political socialization and education.
7. The mass media should, also, function as a watchdog of the society by exposing political evils and corruption in government and political circles.

Lastly, the mass media coordinate news stories and support political activities to bring about the desired reforms in the socio-political life of a nation.

Nigeria as a developing nation needs a press more attuned to developmental reporting than with conflicts and crisis (Egbon, 1994). Ekeanyanwu (2005), also, notes that caution should be exercised in the coverage/reportage of politically motivated conflicts in developing societies. Nwuneli (1986) further notes that too much crisis journalism can have a disturbing effect on the rationality and dedication needed in a developing polity. This view, also, receives the support of Mahatma Gandhi, cited in Galadima and Enighe (2001, p.62), who stated thus: “The press is a great power but as an unchained torrent submerges the whole country side and devastates crops, even so an uncontrolled pen serves but to destroy”. This situation as described by Gandhi many years ago is, also, applicable in the Nigeria of today (Ekeanyanwu, 2010, p.67).

2.6 Media Framing of Yar’Adua’s Absence: The Battle for Public Opinion

For three decades now, the attention of sociologists, political scientists and communication experts has been on social constructivism. This was a complete shift from the Noelle-Neumann’s strong media effects era when the media were seen as strong instruments to influence attitude and command behavioural charge (Baysha and Hallahan, 2004, p.234). Scheufele, Tuchman and Gamson’s era of social constructivism is equally a departure from Joseph Kapper’s strong media effect and propaganda era (Baysha and Hallahan, 2004, p.234). According to Baysha and Hallahan (2004, p.234), “social constructivism explains the relationship between the media and their audiences by combining elements of both strong and limited effects of mass media”. Basically, the concept explains the relationship that exists between what the media frame and the effect such framing has.

Gamson and Modigliani (1987) cited in Baysha and Hallahan (2004, p.234) define a media frame “as a central organizing idea or story line that provides meaning to an unfolding strip of events”. Ngoa (2012, p.13) sees framing as “a means through which an issue is given a particular meaning”, Ngoa (2012, p.13) further explains that:

Framing, therefore, means the selection of some aspects of a perceived reality and making them more salient in a communication text, in such a way as to promote a particular problem definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation and/or treatment recommendation for the item described.

In social constructivism, two types of media frames exist – the episodic and thematic frames (Iyengar 1991 cited in Baysha and Hallanan 2004, p.24). Episodic framing according to Baysha and Hallanan (p. 234) “depicts public issues as concrete instances or specific events that are the results of actions by individuals.” In thematic media frames, issues are usually reported in a more abstract level as a form of general outcomes. In any case the type of media framing usually influences how the audience attribute responsibility.

In the realm of political communication, media framing of issues and events has considerable influence on the public. The attitude of people, most times, in political crisis can be traced to the kind of images the media placed on people’s minds. According Lee and Park (2011):

Based on the nonlinear characteristics of the value function and decision-weight function of prospect theory, it is assumed that the framing of outcomes and contingencies may induce different decisions. As people tend to place greater weight on the value of losses than on the value of gains, as assumed in prospect theory, in gain-framing scenario decision makers are likely to choose risk-aversive alternatives, but in loss-framing scenario they are likely to opt for risk-taking alternatives. As discussed in the following, a number of previous studies have verified these assumptions.

The agenda setting idea of Mccombs and Shaw (1972) explains the process of telling the public what to think in a given political situation. No doubt, it is the importance the media placed on an issue that determines the attention the public gives it. McQuail (2010, p. 512) supports this assertion by insisting that the main idea behind agenda setting and framing lies in the fact that news media indicate to the public what the main issues of the day are and this is reflected in what the public perceives as the main issues. McQuail (p.512) goes further to explain that:

…evidence strongly suggests, that people think about what they are told but at no level do they think what they are told’. The evidence collected at that time, and much since, consists of data showing a correspondence between the order of importance given in the media to ‘issues’ and the order of significance attached to the same issues by politicians and the public.

However, McQuail (2010) argument revolves on the first level of agenda with recourse to the second level of agenda. According to Moon (2011,p.699).

Agenda-setting scholarship has evolved from the initial finding that the media tell us“ what to think about” (first-level agenda setting) to “how to think about it” (second-level agenda setting). The current exploration adds the assertion that the media sometimes even tell the public “what to do.” Some scholars have already raised questions about why agenda setting research should be restricted to the cognitive level (Entman, 1989). The extension of agenda setting to attitudinal and behavioral levels becomes even more essential in conjunction with second-level research, which incorporates understanding or comprehension that is more closely associated with detailed messages of the media.

Despite this evidence, however, some scholars have argued that there are no sufficient evidence to establish a “causal connection between the various issues’ agendas” (McQuail, 2010, p.513). Putting aside the argument on whether there is causal connection or not, there is sufficient evidence, especially from the realm of political communication research to demonstrate the occurrence of certain effects on audience that are in line with news frames. In the writing of Iyengar (1991), cited in McQuail (2010, p.512), he argued that ‘the way in which news about social problems (such as political crisis) was framed affected whether audiences were more or less likely to blame the victim for their troubles. Contributing on this argument, Iyengar and Simon (1997) cited in McQuail (p.513), claimed that:

Research into the 1991 Gulf War showed that framing of news encouraged audiences to endorse military rather than diplomatic solutions. In the case of the news reporting of the two air disasters [between US and that of Soviet Union] in 1983 and 1988) Entman (1991) found strong evidence of public opinion forming in line with the inbuilt news frames: the Soviets were strongly condemned for the loss of the Korean Plane, and the Americans were largely absolved of responsibility for the Iranian loss (McQuail, 2010, p.513).

From the writing of McQuail (2010) and Entman (1991), it is obvious that public opinion in any democratic society is shaped by the type of frames put up in the line of communication. Needless to say that news frames determine the response and thinking of the people in a given social or political situation. In fact, in most political situations, the media are regarded as conveyors of popular opinion (Owens-Ibie, 1994, p.76). So, whatever they frame stands a chance to determine what direction a particular issue will take at a given time. This situation is more pronounced in developing countries where opinions of the elites and the press are regarded as public opinion (Owens-Ibie, p.76). This is why Cohon (1963) in Owens-Ibie (1994, p.77) opined that:

The policy maker reaches for the newspapers as an official source of public opinion; as the instrument of “feedback”. In fact many officials treat the press and public opinion as synonymous, either explicitly equating them or using them interchangeably.

The main thrust of this review is to establish whether media framing of late President Yar’Adua’s absence from his duty post for treatment in Saudi Arabia influenced the way Nigerians thought about the situation. Some studies conducted during the Lacunna suggested that the type of coverage given to the issue influenced public opinion which eventually led to some protest in Lagos and Abuja.

A survey conducted by Umeh (2010), revealed that the type of frames put up by the media during the long absence of President Yar’Adua influenced public opinion which eventually pushed for the decision to make his deputy, the acting president (Umeh, 2010, p.22). In conducting her study, she used survey and content analysis methods to look at the different frames of the issue in five national dailies and people’s response to such frames. According to Umeh (2010, p.29):

Late president Yar’Adua lost his presidency to ill-health, but ultimately to public opinion. All effort by the late president’s kitchen cabinet led by the first lady, Hajiya Turai Yar’Adua, and Governor Bukola Saraka to thwart public opinion and remain in power failed. In fact, the sympathy the Arewa consultative forum (ACF) tried to generate in favour of the late president equally failed. Gauging unfavourable public opinions of the Nigerian people did not equally work. Therefore, Yar’Adua and the entire Northern Nigeria lost in the battle of public opinion.

Umeh (2010, p.46) concluded in her findings that the media framed the Yar’Adua situation in such a manner that negative public opinion was generated.

Another related study conducted by Bello (2010) suggested that the Nigerian media used unfavourable frames in the Yar’Adua situation. According to him “it is difficult to pick any story in the newspapers that did not have a negative media frame on Yar’Adua’s absence”. He went further to argue in his analysis that the “media used frames that heated the polity and made it look like the entire nation was hospitalized”. He concluded that the frame used were sensationalism.

However, one might be quick to disagree with some of his findings especially the one that has to do with sensationalism. Scientifically, it may not be correct for Bello (2010) to conclude on whether the frames were sensational or not because he merely studied only one newspaper (Sun) over a period of two months. The data generated, as many researchers will argue, were not enough to lead to such conclusion.

His second finding was, however, supportive of the fact that the way media frame issues determine which direction the opinion will tilt to. His finding claims that:

Nigerians got to know everything about their president’s fluctuating health situation from the media… of course, this kind of coverage entertained terrible frames that push emotions very high. The protest on the streets of Lagos and Abuja were expected considering the media frames placed in our minds about who is really in charge of Nigeria. (Bello, 2010, p.39).

The findings of Bello (2010) and Umeh (2010) once more showed the power of the media in public opinion formation. Supporting this claim, Oji and Okafor (2000, p. 7) assert that “the mass media are particularly powerful in the formation of public opinion. Any medium which has daily contact with the people has the capacity to cause a shift in people’s views”. Also Oji and Okafor quoted Napoleon’s maxim where he stated that:

In drawing attention to the potency of the mass media in moulding public opinion… four powerful newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets. These mass media attempt to shape opinion for or against the government or its agencies or personnel.

Another study on media framing and public opinion put up by Jasperson, Shaw, Watts, Faber and Fan (1998) revealed that the way the media frame a political issue determines the type of public opinion that will be formed. In their study of the 1996 United State Federal budget controversy between Democrats and Republicans, Jasperson et al (1998, p.219) found that the frames used by the news media explained the changes in public opinion. However, they warned of “the fact that impasse frames and crisis frames do not significantly contribute to change in public opinion”.

More so, Baysha and Hallahan (2004) in their survey of how Ukrainian news media framed the 2000-2001 political crisis, found that there was strong influence in people’s ideology (opinion) during the crisis, because of the way it was framed.

Yakubu (2010, p.11) equally linked public opinion to media frames in his study of how Costa Rican media covered the ill-health of President Oscar Arias in 1999 when he was infected by Swine Flu (HINI). According to Yakuba, Costa Rican media painted President Arias’ few weeks ill-health that “kept him away from his official duties in a bad fate”. Yakubu (2010) asserts that the type of frame used made it possible for his people to start believing that he would die just the way eleven others infected did not survive. He equally concluded his study by arguing that it was the same situation in the United States when President Richard Nixon was forced to resign because of negative public opinion advanced by the media (Golcˇevski, Engelhardt and Boomgaarden, 2013, p.121).

2.7 Ownership and Ethnicity/Geographical Considerations in Media Coverage of Political Crisis

In reporting daily occurrences, including the outbreak of political crisis, the media, in spite of the ownership patterns, geographical locations and ethnic backgrounds, are generally expected by the society to display a real sense of objectivity by accurately reporting such occurrences. This implies that the media must ensure balance and fairness in their reports. Their reports must be free from any form of bias. To ensure accuracy, objectivity and balance, all parties involved must be given equal attention. Coverage must not be one sided and facts must be separated from opinions.

In the world over, virtually all media codes of conduct and journalism ethics emphasize objectivity and frowns vehemently at ownership/geographical influence that often encourage bias in media reports (Umeh, 2008). For instance, Code 3.3.3 of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code states that:

All sides to any issue of public interest shall be equitably presented to ensure fairness.

Also, code 2 (i) of the ethics for Nigerian journalists affirmed the above when it stated that:

The public has a right to know. Factual, accurate, balance and fair reporting is the ultimate objective of good journalism and the basis of earning public trust and confidence.

Code 2 (ii) of Code of Ethics for Nigerian journalists further warned that journalists should refrain from publishing inaccurate and misleading information.

This means that the mass media have the sacred responsibility of appropriately reporting events without any influence from ownership, geographic and ethnic affiliations and backgrounds. Journalists must be guided by the relevant laws and ethics of the profession.

As established earlier, the media have a duty to report events, including political crisis accurately. However, the effective discharge of this duty in the midst of ownership, geographic/ethnic influences is a cardinal issue that requires adequate attention. In reporting political crisis and other events, scholars have argued that the duo (ownership and geographic/ethnic influences) are amongst the greatest factors that influence/affect the way the media report developments. Udoduo and Bassey (2011, p.4) assert that:

The issue of fairness as one of the qualities of a good reporter has been a subject of debate in many quarters. Whatever opinion an individual holds on the matter is often justified with reasons. One of such reasons is the ownership interest of the press. Such argument is based on the fact that the press tries to be fair as far as the interest of the owner is not in conflict with the report.

One factor which came to play in the Gen. Gowon era, and which has consistently been relevant, is the personal interest of either the proprietor or the journalists themselves. This factor is, of course, relevant in the behaviour of the media worldwide. The world media, to varying degrees, are sensitive to proprietors’ interests. “The piper dictates the tune” is the well-known adage (Jibo and Okoosi-Simbine, 2003, p.182).

Ugboaja (1980), cited by Anim (2007, p.4), after a study of Nigerian newspapers coverage of the controversial 1973 national census, showed how the Nigerian Tribune, representing the Southern Constituency whose population decreased, manifested anti-government behaviour on the issue while the New Nigerian newspapers, representing the Northern states whose population increased, was neutral, editorially speaking (Nwabueze, 2011, p.220).

Anim (2007) conducted a study on “the influence of geopolitical affiliations on newspapers’ coverage of national Issues. Content analysis research method was used to carry out the study. Five national dailies were content analysed. The newspapers are The Guardian, The Punch, The Trust, Daily Times and The Daily Champion. The overall goal of the study was to find out if the newspapers coverage of the decision by the former Nigeria’s President Obasanjo to contest the 2003 presidential election was influenced by the papers relationships with the six geopolitical zones of the country. Using systematic sampling technique to select the specific issues that were eventually analysed, the study found that the coverage by these newspapers was significantly influenced by their geopolitical affiliations. The papers reflected the dominant views of the geopolitical zones with which they were associated.

Before independence, the press jointly fought to see that the colonial administration handed over power to Nigerians by way of granting the nation independence. The press at that time sensitized the people on the need for independence and carried other anti-colonial government information. After independence, the objective of politicians who mostly operated through the mass media changed; politics of ethnic antagonism was projected through the press. As Aliede (2003) observed, “on independence, Nigeria inherited a complex political system. Politicians were already sectionally oriented. The situation was aggravated by the ethnic and religious differences of the different 250 ethnic groups in the country” (Nwabueze, 2011, p.218).

During the same period (after independence), each of the three regions came up with its own regional mouthpiece, still influenced by ethnic interests. The Western region started publishing Daily Sketch, Daily Express, Nigerian Tribune and Irorun Yoruba; the Eastern Region came up with Eastern Observer, Nigerian Spokesman, Eastern Sentinel and the Nigerian Outlook. The Northern region came up with the Nigerian Citizen, New Nigerian and Gaskiya Tafi Kwobo. The federal government had to come up with its own newspapers (Morning Post and Sunday Post) to serve its interest. Even ethnic minorities also had media organizations that protected their interests. For example, there was Middle Belt Herald in Jos, the Midwest Echo in Benin and Advocat e in Uyo (Nwabueze, 2011, p.219).

In a study conducted by Okafor (1981) as highlighted by Amonye (1995, p.37), ethnic and political biases were identified as factors that colour the receivers’ perception of media credibility in Nigeria. In that study, legislators of the National Assembly of Nigeria were used as the audience. It was revealed in the study that the New Nigerian Newspaper was rated as high as “most credible” by respondents from the Northern states while no respondents from the Southern states except one from Anambra and another one form Lagos states gave the medium that credit.

Furthermore, Opubor (1976, p.14) writing on the influence of ethnicity affirmed that:

People believe the media are related to where they are located and who the audience are. Some of our researchers suggest that on some matters, people are more willing to believe any media from their home states. It should be expected that ethnicity will be highly rated in a country like ours.

This, however, is relevant during politics/civilian administration. People tend to believe more the stories of the newspapers that belong to their political party and their ethnic region (Amonye, 1995, p.38).

Another obvious instance of ethnicity influence on the press was the flag off editorial of the New Nigerian Newspaper which appeared in its maiden issue of January 1, 1966. it stated as one of its objectives that:

As a Northern newspaper, we shall seek to identify ourselves with the North (of Nigeria) and its people, their interest and aspirations for this we offer no apology (Amonye, 1995, p.39).

Today, according to Nwabueze (2011, p.219), “there are still strong signs of geographical/ethnic influence in the Nigerian press (print and broadcast). The political class has contributed immensely in making the mass media a reflection of ethnic convictions.” Ndolo (2004), as in Nwabueze (2011, p.219), captured the geographical/ethnic colouration of the Nigerian mass media as brought by the selfish political class when he observed thus:

The mass media have developed vis-à-vis the political structure of Nigeria. Media evolution and structure therefore, led to ethnic interests at the expense of national integration and unity. Today, the media institution, especially print media, is a reflection of the ethnic divisiveness in the country.

Nwabueze (2011, p.219) affirmed that this development often reflected in the ownership pattern which plays an influential role in the content of the media.

A study on “ownership and coverage of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) strike” was conducted by Jibo in 1981. In the study, Jibo studied the coverage of event by the National Concord, the New Nigerian, The Daily Sketch, The Nigerian Tribune and The Daily Times Newspapers. Using content analysis research method, it was found that the National Concord, the New Nigerian and the Daily Times newspapers owned by a member of the Federal government partly at that time and the federal government respectively condemned the NLC strike and gave little coverage to the strike. While on the other hand, Daily Sketch newspapers owned by the UPN controlled government, the Nigerian Tribune newspaper owned by the leader of the UPN, Chief Obafdemi Awolowo, and The Punch Newspaper owned by Chief Aboderin were on the side of the workers. Jibo (1982, p.7) concluded that:

Every newspaper under study defended the interests of their mentors. All of them gave prominence to their stories where necessary. Divisive political considerations based on sordid sentiment dictated their manner of coverage and analysis of the event explored.

Olusola in 1982 conducted a study entitled “The Influence of Ownership on the Coverage of the Collapse of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) and Nigerian People’s Party (NPP) Accord”. Findings of the study revealed that the National Concord owned by Chief M.K.O. Abiola who was a member of the NPN and the New Nigerian Newspaper owned by the federal government were in support of all the actions of NPN on the accord. On the other hand, the Nigerian Tribune and the Daily Sketch newspapers were totally for the abrogation of the accord which in effect would draw the NPP to the side of their political mentor, Chief Awolowo’s UPN. Olusola (1982, p.47) further stated that:

In Nigeria, the press is either used to consolidate the proprietor’s stand on any issue, or to try as much as possible to guard against anything which, though may be truth, that can bring into the open those misdemeanours of the proprietor. The pronouncements of these press, therefore, must only be the singsong of the proprietor. Really, he who pays the piper dictates the tune.

Another study conducted by Adesoba (1975, p.40) entitled, “Press Coverage of the Student’s Crisis of 1974,” using content analysis research method, it was found that ownership of newspaper influenced the editorial direction of the papers on the crisis. Four newspapers were content analysed to ascertain the nature of coverage given to the crisis. The papers include New Nigeria, Nigerian Observer, Daily Times and the Nigeria Tribune. From the study, New Nigerian and Nigerian Observer newspapers were found to be pro-government while the Nigerian Tribune and Daily Times Newspapers were on the side of the students.

In addition, Aborisade (1981, p.5), asserts that:

What we have in Nigeria under the rubric of the press is sectional press which caters for sectional interest and not national interest. The press are basically UPN papers, NPN papers, NPP papers and GNPP papers. The papers were all out to protect the interests of their owners and criticize the opposing camps without any respect for available facts.

The performance of journalists is mainly determined by the wishes of the newspaper proprietors. Journalists are disciples of this or that politician whose praises they frame and sing for better only and never for worse (Agbazue, 1981 cited in (Amonye, 1995, p.37).

Afolabi (1981, p.39) in a study on ownership and reportage of the regular meetings of the nine governors of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), People’s Redemption Party (PRP), and Great Nigerian People’s Party (GNPP), known as the Progressive Governors’ meeting found that the Nigerian Tribune supported the nine governors’ meeting, because the newspaper’s proprietor was favourably disposed to the meeting. On the other hand, the National Concord newspaper was against the governors’ meeting because of its publisher’s opposition to the meeting. The study established that owners of newspapers can decide what the contents of their papers shall be. Afolabi further asserts that “the proprietor, printer or publisher can publish or cause to be published dishonest, irresponsible and subjective reports on events. He can manipulate news as he pleases.”

Bower (1967) through interview with managing editors of 613 daily evening newspapers confirmed publisher’s interference in newspapers content. He found that publisher’s interference is higher in geographically close topics in areas related to newspaper revenue, in areas close to the personal concern of publishers and on papers lower in circulation (p.57).

Ownership/ethnicity and geographical influences on the media could impact negatively on the society in many ways. It basically creates an atmosphere of insecurity and even sparks off or worsen existing crisis. By reporting or interpreting issues from an ethnocentric perspective or by the influence of ownership, the media heat up the system and bring about distrust and friction between ‘rival’ ethnic/political groups. The coverage of political issues, especially “ethno-political” issues is capable of causing uproar in the society. As a matter of fact, the unconventional, unethical, and sectional approach of politicians (through the media) to national issues during the post-independence era, overheated the system and led to the January 15, 1966 military coup that dismantled the first republic (Aliede, 2003). Restraint is necessary in the reportage of issues capable of igniting crisis in the political arena (Nwabueze, 2011, p.220).

The mass media would be failing in their social responsibility role to the society if they operate from ethnic/geographical or ownership perspective. When for instance, a Yoruba reporter projects a politician from an Igbo speaking area in bad light just because of personal interest, objectivity and fairness which are tenets of social responsibility of the media, are slaughtered on the altar of ownership, ethnicity/geographical affiliation (Nwabueze, 2011, p.220).

Furthermore, as part of the social responsibility function, Uchem (2003, p.255), writing on the role of the media in times of political crisis asserted that:

What is to be done, therefore, when a conflict arises is to bridge the gap arising between the two parties who have found them hauled into the terminal flood of the dialectic process….. what the mass media need to do is to quickly study their situation and package effectively, information responsibly that emphasizes the common grounds they still share together or could share to bring them back once more to a synthesis. Such useful and important information or communication on the areas that unite while leaving out those that divide is all that is needed to end conflict and reconcile the actors on the line of the divide.

Also, McQuail (1987, p.117), cited in Obot (2004, p.104), x-rays the main principle of social responsibility function of the media to include;

a. Media should accept and fulfil certain obligations to society.
b. These obligations are mainly to be met by setting high or professional standards of information, truth, accuracy, objectivity and balance.
c. In accepting and applying these obligations, media should be self-regulating within the framework of the law and established institutions.
d. The media should avoid whatever might lead to crime, violence or civil disorder or give offence to minority groups.
e. The media as a whole should be pluralistic and reflect the diversity of their society, giving access to various points of view and right to reply.
f. Society and public, following the first named principle have a right to expect high standards of performance and interaction and can be justified to secure the public.
g. Journalists and media professionals should be accountable to society as well as to employer and the market.

In a related study in 2003, Xinkum Wang of Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, sufficient evidences were found to support the fact that ownership influences the contents of the news media. Wang (2003) used content analytical research design to establish whether ownership of newspapers in the United States affected the contents of news reports during the 2000 presidential contest between President George Bush and Albert Arnold Gore. In conducting this study, Wang used quantitative content design to examine the news contents of two daily newspapers, The Boston Globe and Boston Herald. Two theories – Media Ownership theory by Altschull, J.H. developed in 1984, and Media Ownership and News Content developed by Shoemaker and Reese in 1987 were also used by Wang to anchor his study.

Altschull’s Media Ownership theory contends that “the content of the press is directly correlated with the interests of those who finance the press (Wang, 2003, p..5). For Shoemaker and Reese’s theory of Media Ownership and News Contents, the basic tenet of interest remains the fact that “the owners of a media organization have ultimate power over the news content of the newspapers” (Wang, 2003, p.6). Shoemaker and Reese (1991), cited in Wang (p.6), explain that:

The primary focus of a news organization owned by a publicly held corporation is to make profit, and objectivity is seen as a way of attracting the readers desired by advertisers. The content of the news is built into the economic objectives of the company. Though in some rare cases, the owner may choose to make profits secondary to an ideological goal, such as promoting a particular agenda, the organization can’t indefinitely ignore the economic goal (Wang, p.6).

Basically, these theories are very apt in explaining the variables in her study.

The findings of the study revealed that ownership greatly influenced the way the two dailies used in the study covered the election. In analysing the result, Wang (2003, p.11) states that:

A content analysis of 238 news stories and eight editorials from publicly-owned Boston Globe and privately –owned Boston Herald showed that not only did the ownership affect the objectivity of the coverage of these two newspapers on 2000 presidential election, the endorsements also affected the degree of objectivity…. the study found more evidence to support shoemaker’s theory of news content and ownership.

From most of the studies reviewed, some conjectures can be made in relation to this study. One, it can be argued, theoretically, that the New Nigerian Newspapers (government- owned) and the privately- owned papers (Thisday, The Guardian and Daily Trust) covered the presidential power vacuum differently, because of their ownership pattern.

Arguably, ownership, ethnicity and geographical considerations have continued to be very instrumental to the non-observance of the above social responsibility principles of the media. When the trio are in control of media/information flow, inaccurate and unbalanced reports are the end products. This, no doubt, contravenes the demands of the social responsibility function, particularly, the fourth and the fifth principles which states that the media should avoid whatever that might lead to crime, violence or civil disorder or give offence to the minority groups, and the media as a whole should be pluralistic and reflect the diversity of their society, giving access to the various points of view and right to reply (Umeh, 2008).

Therefore, the principles of the social responsibility function of the media demand that for the media to effectively discharge their duties, particularly in political crisis, there must be a requiem for ownership, ethnicity and geographical influences.

2.8 The Sick President Yar’Adua in the Eyes of Western Media: The propaganda that Threw Him Out.

Observers, have concluded that in the modern Nigerian political history, no issue of political controversy has received the kind of coverage Yar’Adua’s presidential lacuna received (Umeh 2012, Bello 2012 and Yakubu 2012). According to these observers, the late president Yar’Adua’s medical sojourn in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its consequent power vacuum in Nigeria’s seat of political power left many nerves frayed and its national unity threatened. And for many who understood the power of mass media and didn’t believe in the unity of the country, it was time to use the media to orchestrate and plan the worst political propaganda in the nation’s history. In doing this, both local and international media were used.

However, for some others who believe in the unity of Nigeria, it was time to stand up and condemn the politicization of Yar’Adua’s ill- health by some Nigerians. These Nigerians, mostly elder statesmen and pressure groups alike, used everything at their disposal to ensure that the right thing was done according to the nation’s federal constitution. To this end, both local and international media were used to generate international condemnations (Umeh, 2010).

Prominent among the groups that ensured that the right thing was done include: Save Nigeria Group (SNG), Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Congress for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Campaign for Democracy (CD), Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), Constitutional Right Project(CRP), and National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADL). These groups mostly led by Prof Wole Soyinka, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Barrister Olisa Agbakoba and others used the media to play great role in compelling not only the Nigerian National Assembly to do what was right, but the entire nation. The Save Nigeria Group (SNG) in particular led several protests within Nigeria and abroad to force the National Assembly and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to do what was right. For instance, the SNG after several publications in both local and international media staged a mammoth anti-Yar’Adua’s rally championed by Prof Soyinka and Pastor Bakare on 12th January, 2010 in Abuja. The rally was attended by thousands of Nigerians who felt that the country’s unity was paramount than any protest to draw the attention of the international media to the happening within the political stable of the strongest black nation of the world (Sahararepoters .com, 2010 Para. 3)

Few days after the Abuja protest, the Save Nigeria Group staged another protest in Lagos on the 21st of January, 2010. That protest put the entire Lagos State on hold for several hours. The protest which was tagged “Enough is Enough” sent a lot of pressure to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and The National Assembly. In fact, few hours after the Lagos protest, members of the House of Representatives started gathering signatures for a possible impeachment of the sick president. In all, these foreign media were awash with the entire development (Umeh, 2010, p. 11 ).

According to Akaeze ( 2010, Para 2), President Yar’adua’s failing health had always been a subject of speculation and controversy in both local and international media. Akaeze (Para 2 ) further maintained that:

Even before the much publicized current trip to Saudi Arabia on November 23, 2009, concerns over president Umaru Yar’Adua’s health had featured in many foreign media, prints or electronic. From these have emerged opinion writers and columnists on the issue. Whenever the Nigerian president travelled abroad and rumours of his death made the rounds back home, as was the case in at least three occasions in the past three years, the news was, also, reported by the foreign media across the world.

Even though, the international community was following the Yar’Adua’s ill-health development with keen interest, his November 23 medical trip to Saudi Arabia was different. This trip marks the end of his foreign visit which was greeted by sensational foreign media reports. Akaeze (2010, Para 2) reports that a day after that trip, Gilbert da Costa, writing for the Voice of America (VOA) stated that “this is President Yar’Adua’s third visit to the Middle East country in as many months for medical treatment, raising fears about his fitness to lead Africa’s most populous nation.”

However, a much greater beam on president Yar’ Adua’s ill- health on the global level during that period was caused by the December 25, 2009 attempted bombing of a United States passenger plane by a 23 years old Nigerian, Abdulmutallah Umar Farouk. Despite the fact that the plan of the 23 years old engineer from London University was unsuccessful, the United States and indeed the entire world used the occasion to remind Nigerians that they had no leader. This was because many wanted to know what Nigerian government was doing about terrorism.

Ten days after the unsuccessful attack by Farouk, Todd Moss a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Post (an American daily) wrote a scathing piece, entitled, “where in the world is Nigeria President?” Akaeze (2010 Para.4) writes that Moss asserted that Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua left his country for medical treatment in Saudi Arabia on November 23, and hasn’t been seen or heard from since… The mystery over Yar’ Adua is so bizarre as to be comical if the consequence weren’t so sever”. Moss further wrote in that article that

The failure of Yar’Adua to hand over power to Goodluck Jonathan has thrust the country into an immediate constitutional crisis but with a power vacuum being swiftly filled by an insular cabal bent on exploiting the situation for their own gain (Akaeze, 2010, Para. 5).

Another impact of international media propaganda during the logjam came from Toronto Star which weaved a story on President Yar’Adua’s health and continued absence. The Toronto Star, during this period published an article, “Power vacuum leaves Nigeria Ripe for Jihadists”, in which it insisted that Nigeria was too large for a sick president to lead. The article claimed that the attempted bombing of US airline by a Nigerian was an indication that Jihadists were beginning to take charge because of loose situation in Nigeria. As expected, such sensational views in the foreign media were “fallouts of the Abdulmuttallab Saga, which ironically, beamed a searchlight on Yar’Adua, also.” As such, the long absence of Yar’Adua was no longer a local affair “as anxiety and pressure for full disclosure of the president’s health grew in Nigeria; Yar’Adua understandably are more mention in international media across the world (Akarze, 2010, para.6).

On Tuesday, 12 January 2010, the late president broke silence after about 50 days in Saudi Arabia. Curiously, the president chose British Broadcasting Service (BBC), a foreign news organization. to speak to Nigerians. In reporting the issue, BBC wrote that:

Nigerian president …has spoken publicly for the first time since going into hospital in Saudi Arabia in November for heart treatment… the silence over the president’s health has fuelled rumours that he was critically ill-or even dead and unable to return to power. The fact that he did not designate his vice president to take over in his absence has led to fears of a power vacuum and a potential constitutional crisis (www.news.bbc.co.uk/)

Umeh (2010, p.11) wrote that “the Yar’Adua’s kitchen Cabinet thought they were doing a damage control by using BBC Hausa Service, but failed to realize that “Foreign media don’t like him any more than we do”. This singular interview with BBC fuelled speculations that it was not the president who actually spoke. Many wondered why he chose a foreign medium to communicate with Nigerians. According to Akaeze (para.2) the breaking of silence by the president followed reports in a Nigerian newspaper, NEXT, that the President was brain damaged, as well as another report in an American online newspaper, American Chronicle, that Yar’Adua had died since December 10, last year American Chronicle quoted in Akaeze (para. 7) states that;

His Excellency, Umara Yar’Adua, is dead according to authoritative sources at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre. He died on the 10th of December at 3.30pm at an intensive care unit at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Sources at the Hospital said that the first lady wants to keep the news secret for the next few days for personal reasons. At the time of his death, he was surrounded by his wife, Turai and a childhood friend, Nigerian Member of Parliament.

These reports by both American Chronicle and Nex t further fuelled speculations that the President was either dead or incapacited.

Also, American Cable News Network, (CNN), on the 13th of January, 2010, broadcast a three minutes news on the issue under the caption, “Nigerian missing president breaks silence to dispel death rumours” (CNN 2010). The obvious question is, why the use of the phrase, “missing president?” Is that how to show the world the gravity of his long absence or to generate trouble for Nigeria? In the same vain, Aljazeera, an international news network equally reported on the 6th of January 2010 that the Nigerian missing leader is causing serious challenge back home”(www.english.aljazeera.net/news/africal2).

2.9 Nigerian Newspapers’ Reportage of President Yar’Adua’s 78 days Absence Crisis

The mass media, no doubt, are citizens’ most important source of information during political crisis. Everyone expects the media to play key roles in resolving any political crisis that has the tendency to snowball into lawlessness or system collapse (Puglisi and Snyder, 2008, p.1). This was the kind of role Nigerians and indeed the international community expected mass media institutions in Nigeria to play during the late Yar’Adua’s power vacuum crisis. As is the practice round the world, the print media are expected to play more roles in situations like that, because of their elitist and detailed nature.

During the 78 days power vacuum, a lot of reports were put across to the audience by the various news organizations within and outside. Both broadcast and print media were awash with developments on the vacuum crisis. During this period, allegation was made by observers that the mass media, especially, the print were manipulating instead of managing the crisis (Umeh 2010, Bello, 2010 and Yakubu 2010). In this review, the editorial contents of some of Nigerian newspapers are reviewed to see the direction reports on the crisis took.

The first report in this series was that written by Reuben Abati of the Guardian Newspaper on the 29th of November 2009. Abati, then a board chief of the Guardian Newspaper entitled his article, “who is in charge of Nigeria?” In this piece, he tried to tell the entire world that President Yar’Adua did not put anybody in charge before he jetted out to Saudi Arabia in line with the provisions of the 1999 constitution. According to Nigerian Muse (2009, para.5).

The first to fire the short among the big boys of the press was Reuben Abati of the Guardian who barely two days after the president’s departure came out in a poorly articulated alarmist and sentimental article titled ‘who is in charge of Nigeria?’ to lament the creation of a vacuum by the president’s absence as if the whole presidency was hospitalized.

Nigerian Muse (2009, para.5) further maintained that such an article was not befitting of Abati’s status. In fact, Nigerian Muse (para.5) maintained that:

That highly prejudiced article was the height of insensitivity and irresponsibility for a man who heads the editorial board of a foremost newspaper in Nigeria. There are certain things the editor of New York Times won’t just say about an American president no matter his personal conviction.

Even though one might not agree with Nigerian Muse completely, a critical look at Abati’s article may suggest that. The title of the article, “who is in charge of Nigeria?” actually suggests that the identity of the country’s commander in chief was contentious. The third paragraph of his article actually reveals this point. It reads:

Has Nigeria now been reduced to a country managed by proxy, run by telephone conversations from a hospital in Saudi Arabia? In the president’s absence, it looks as if a committee is running Nigeria with nobody actually exercising authority. How do we safeguard and inspire belief in our national security, investment drive and international repute under this circumstance – where no one is sure who exactly is in charge? It is an unfair way to treat a country of over 140 million people (Abati; 2009, p.42).

The full text of this article, might be said to be sensational. However, other similar articles by Abati during the period under review leaves more to be desired. On the 15th of January 2010, Abati came up with another article entitle, “Yar’Adua: lost but found” (Abati, 2010, para 1). Also the same Abati published another article, entitled “Yar’Adua: The game is up” on the 7th of February 2010. In this article, Abati suggested that the “political strategy of president Yar’Adua was over” (Abati, 2010, para.4).

Dele Momodu in Thisday Newspaper of 5th December 2009, also came up with an article similar to that of Abati’s. In that article, “A Nation on Auto pilot” published on page 72 of the paper, Dele Momodu claimed that Nigeria had no leader. According to him:

Meanwhile, our nation continues to haemorrhage away. Everyone is calling for prayers, as if we’ve not been praying and fasting enough. Everything has gone quiet in the seat of power. Nothing is moving. But everyone has been involved in one permutation or the other, from the sublime to the supine (Momodu, 2009, p.72).

Basically, Momodu was trying to paint a picture of the vacuum that existed in the nation’s seat of power. However, one can argue that the entire content of his piece was rather sensational.

Tunde Rahuman of Thisday Newspapers equally came with an analysis which may be described as unwarranted. That story which was published on page 6 of Thisday Newspaper of 8th February 2010, described how the absence of the president was telling on the entire country. Rahuman argued that Anambra State’s electoral problem was connected to the president’s absence. In fact, the title of the story “Anambra falls victim of Yar’Adua’s Absence” may not be the best of headlines (Rahuman, 2010, p.6).

However, newspapers in the Northern part of the country appeared to be in support of the vacuum crisis or, at least, sympathized with Yar’Adua.

For instance, most stories published by these papers were not sensational or alarmist like those of their Southern Nigerian counterpart. Some of these stories’ headlines read:

Yar’Adua’s resignation will upset political equation – senatorDaily Trust 11 December 2009.

No power vacuum at presidencyPDP insists - New Nigerian 29th January 2010

- Yar’Adua: ACF Disagrees with FECNew Nigerian, February 1, 2010
- Yar’Adua: senate never discussed impeachment – Mark. Daily Trust, February 3, 2010
- Yar’Adua recovering fast, PDP BOT saysThe New Nigerian, January 2, 2010
- Yar’Adua speaks on BBC todayDaily Trust, January 12, 2010
- Court: VP can wield Yar’Adua’s powersDaily Trust – January 14, 2010

The above headlines, like many others, show that the Northern newspapers were very mild on the issue. Writing about the role the media, especially, the print played during the crisis, Ijeoma Nwaogwugwu of Thisday Newspaper asserts that:

Gratifyingly, several media organizations, particularly the print media, have taken strong positions on the leadership vacuum in the country and written persuasive editorials recommending that the president hand over to Dr. Goodluck Jonathan until he (Yar’Adua) is of sound mind and body to execute the functions and duties of his office, unfortunately, not all the stories published by the Nigerian media in the last 57 days have been correct. Quite a few have been false and misleading (Nwogwugwu, 2010, p.74).

In conclusion, one can argue that the print media in Nigeria managed the Yar’Adua’s vacuum just as they manipulated the issue.

2.10 Theoretical Framework

Every research activity in this area of learning usually relies on a theoretical base on which the study stands. Some decades ago; an American humorist, Will Rogers averred thus, “All I know is just what I read in the papers” (Udeze, 2002, p.29). In all sense of sincerity, this aphorism holds true in the context of the Nigerian environment. Most of what people knew about the Late Nigerian President, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s ill-health came principally from the newspaper.

Sequel to the above context, Agenda Setting theory became fit in giving this study a theoretical support.

During the 78-days presidential lacuna occasioned by the ill-health of Late Yar’ Adua, the Nigerian people, most especially the literate ones, got knowledge of the ill-health and all its adjoining implications from the reportage of the press.

According to Graber (1990,p.74), proponents of this theory, Maxwell E. McCombs and Donald L. Shaw, strongly believe that;

Not only do they learn factual information about

Public affairs and what is happening in the world,

they also learn how much importance to attach to

an issue or topic from the emphasis placed on it by

the mass media. Graber (1990,p.74).

In their essay, McCombs and Shaw describe how and to what extent the topics selected by news reporters for presentation by the mass media become the issues the public regards as important. Their findings have been confirmed by numerous other studies demonstrating that issues featured by the media become correspondingly important to the public. By contrast, issues receiving little media coverage are unlikely to arouse public concern or to engender any action. This is the advocacy of the Agenda Settings theorists.

Between November 23, 2009 and February 9, 2010, the Nigerian newspapers played an important role in setting the agenda for the people. The national assembly, federal executive council, the judiciary, pressure groups, civil society and the international community were all directed into the absence of Yar’ Adua from his presidential seat. The importance placed on Yar’ Adua’s ill-health and consequent constitutional logjam then was a product of the angle the newspapers gave to it. This explains why Sandman et al. (1976, p.19) opined that:

The editorial decision that a particular event is not News is a self fulfilling judgment. If the mass media ignore it, then it cannot be news. Conversely, any event given major play in the mass media become, by definition, a major event. In this sense, even when the media do not tell us what to think, they tell us what to think about.

Similarly, McComb and Shaw (1972, p.28) believe that the mass media have the ability to transfer the salience of items on their news agenda to the public agenda. They also opined that people look to news professionals for cues on where to focus attention, so, that is, “we judge as important what the media judge as important” McCombs and Shaw (p.176).

The notion of agenda setting of the mass media is traceable to Lipmann who suggested that the media act as a mediator between “the world outside and the pictures in our heads,” Lippmann (1922,p.3).

However, Cohen (1963,p.13), averred that the press may not be successful most of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about.

In supporting the idea of Cohen, Defleur and Bill-Rockeach (1978,p.218) noted that “the mass media still play a major role in the social learning process, and have influence on how individuals acquire news, ideas, attitudes and change orientation in society.”

The Nigerian newspapers is believed to have agenda for the Nigerian readers with their reportage of late President Yar’ Adua’s treatment sojourn in Saudi Arabia for 78 days. Accordingly, Edeani (1990,p.18) averred that:

The mass media have the ability to create and nurture vivid images of events in people’s mind through the amount and style of coverage they give to the events. Events that are important in themselves are often easy to distinguish from others in terms of the prominence given to them by the mass media and the frequency with which accounts of those events are presented to the mass media audience.

This exposition on Agenda Setting Theory above, clearly gives the complete picture of how the theory is relatively supportive of the problem being investigated in this social study. This theory became one of the bases upon which this research work stands (Ragas and Tran 2013).

This theory also explains three out of the four hypotheses raised in this study. In hypothesis one, the researcher sought to find out whether Nigerian newspapers gave prominence to the 78 days presidential vacuum crisis. This theory explains the fact that agenda cannot be set if the papers did not give the vacuum crisis prominence in their reports. In fact, it can be concluded that through constant repetition and projection of an issue, agenda are set. Close to this, is the fact that the frequency with which an issue is reported can determine whether agenda will be set or not. Therefore, the last hypothesis in this study which has to do with frequency of coverage is better explained by the agenda setting theory. It is equally possible that the volume of a particular coverage can determine whether agenda will be set or not. For agenda to be set, theoretically, the issue must be covered adequately.

Another theory that can explain how the Nigerian press covered the crisis is the social responsibility theory.

The Social Responsibility Theory

The universal demand for a socially responsible press is a direct result of the strong belief that sentiments, bias, deliberate distortion of facts or genuine errors of misinformation could threaten the guaranteed sovereignty, peace, security and progressive development of a nation (Ngwu, 1996,p.11). This perceived threat may not be limited to the nation’s social fabrics alone. It could even affect, to a large extent, the nation’s information dissemination system. That could be why, in its social responsibility theory, the Hutchins Commission of 1947 states that every responsible press devotes itself to the service of public interest. It, further, said that this could be done through the provision of accurate, truthful and complete accounts of the day’s events to the public, as a matter of binding obligation.

The propositions of this theory, according to the Commission, are as follows:

- The media have obligations to the society, and media ownership is a public trust.
- News media should be truthful, accurate, fair, objective and relevant
- The media should be free, but self-regulated
- The media should follow agreed code of ethics and professional conducts.
- Under some circumstances, government may need to intervene to safeguard the public interest (McQuail, 2010, p.170).

In view of the above, it is right to argue that the Nigerian press should be socially responsible to the Nigerian publics, particularly as it pertains to its reportage of the 78 days presidential power vacuum crisis in Aso Rock Villa. This is because these mass media are obliged, to inform, educate, and protect the general public’s interest at all times, especially on topical matters which affect their social fabric, hence their accountability to the general public.

Based on the above scenario, therefore, this study was, also, guided by the press Theory of Social Responsibility. The second hypothesis which deals with the direction of coverage can be better understood from the angle that it is the responsibility of the media institution to take a direction that is in conformity with the ethics of journalism. One expects that all journalists should take positive direction in their coverage of the Yar Adua presidential vacuum crisis.

2.11 Summary of Literature

The researcher consulted a lot of materials in the course of the review out of which many were used as the main sources for secondary data.

First, the researcher reviewed the Agenda Setting Theory and the Social Responsibility Theory. These theories offered an explanation into how the media condition our minds on what to attach importance to, and how the media can be accountable to the masses they represent.

Media roles in political crisis also took the centre stage in this review. The researcher reviewed a whole lot of issues on the role the media play in every society, especially during political crisis. Here some cases that caught the attention of the media in recent times were looked at. In the fight to keep a society together, it is not just the media; pressure groups equally play an important role.

Another issue that was looked into in this review is the media and the framing of the political vacuum crisis. Here, emphasis was placed on the fact that the way news media frame certain issues affect the direction public opinion will take. One important issue that dominated this review is the politics behind Yar’ Adua’s ill-health. This politics generated a lot of controversies in both local and international media. This, in our humble opinion, cost the country a lot.

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CHAPTER THREE RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY

3.1 Research Method

The essence of this study was to analyse existing contents of data as it related to this research work. Putting the study in its appropriate context, content analysis research method was adjudged to be the most suitable and appropriate research method when studying the quantitative description of existing content material in communication.

Content analysis, according to Monette, Sullivan and Dejong (1998, p. 201) is a “method of transforming the symbolic content of a document, such as words or other images, from a qualitative, unsystematic form into a quantitative, systematic form”. Walizer & Wiener (1978), as cited in Ogbuoshi (2006, p.45), opined that content analysis is any systematic procedure designed to examine the content of recorded information. In relation to the idea of Ogbuoshi and Berelson, Scott (1985, p.17), sees content analysis as a study based on secondary data. Here, the data are derivable from newspapers, magazines, journals, books and other printed matter.

In the same vein, Zito (1977, p.45), defined content analysis as a methodology by which the researcher seeks to determine the manifest content of written, spoken or published communications by systematic, objective and qualitative analysis. For Krippendorf (2004), cited in Wimmer and Dominick (2011, p.156), it is “a research technique for making replicable and valid reference from data to their context.”

An empirical evaluation of newspaper coverage of the 78-days presidential vacuum in Nigeria under Yar’ Adua’s regime can only be obtained and done through an objective and a systematic study of the content of some selected newspaper within the period under study.

The rationale for the use of this research method is that content analysis, in its statistical sense, is an unobtrusive research technique that deals with available data, which must have been recorded electronically or published in black and white, and so does not introduce elements of subjectivity or fabrications into the results. The justification for the use of content analysis in measuring newspaper contents as posited by Nwodu (2006,p.96), is based on the fact that the contents of newspapers are systematically accumulated and distributed information over which the researcher has no original control with respect to how they were collected and classified.

Babbie (1979, p.114), advanced a popular justification for the use of content analysis when he stated that:

Content analysis is useful to many social sciences researchers, because communication has been known to handle messages about events in a number of different ways. Some may select one part of the event to report, and others another part. Some may display the message prominently, others may place them in locations where they are likely to attract little attention.

In all, the systematic technique of content analysis would paint a vivid, insightful, clear and graphical picture into the perspective nuances with which the Nigerian newspapers handled the 78-days of President Yar’Adua’s sojourn in King Faisal Specialist Hospital, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

However, this research method does have some limitations which, if not properly taken care of could hamper the entire study. According to Wimmer and Dominick (p.159), “content analysis alone cannot serve as the basis for making statements about the effect of content on an audience and the findings of a particular content analysis are limited to the framework of the categories and the definitions used in that analysis.” Nevertheless, these perceived limitations did not affect this study to an extent above allowable error of 5 percent as the researcher took steps to ensure that all variables in the study were properly controlled.

3.2 Research Design

In studies of this kind, the expectation is for the researcher to draw a roadmap, upon which he is to trudge statistically and empirically. Research design is a blueprint or plan which determines the nature and scope of study carried or proposed (Ogbuoshi p.31). In agreement with Ogbuoshi, Chukwuemeka (2002, p.31), defined research design as “a plan of investigation that specifies the sources and types of information relevant to the research question; it is a strategy or blueprint specifying which approach will be used for gathering and analyzing data.” In this study, descriptive research design will be used. This design will enable the researcher to generate quantitative data.

In this study, four national dailies (The Guardian, New Nigerian, Daily Trust and Thisday newspapers) were selected, out of which 312 editions, comprising all the 78-day’s publication for the four selected newspapers were used, from which a sample size was drawn.

The Newspapers’ coverage of Yar’ Adua’s presidential 78-days absence was coded synchronously with these:

(1) PLACEMENT: This variable is used to identify the degree of importance, in terms of page placement, attached to the stories on the presidential vacuum crisis by the dailies – that is whether the story is placed in the front page, back page or inside page. To measure prominence, front page banner lead stories were scored 5 points, front page other stories were scored 4 points. Back page banner lead stories were scored 3 points, back page other stories were scored 2 points. All other stories in the inside page were scored 1 point.
(2) Volume of Coverage: This variable takes cognizance of the depth of coverage in terms of space and number of columns dedicated to the presidential power vacuum in the selected newspapers, measured in relation to the total newspaper content.
(3) Direction of Coverage: This variable indicates the slant of the stories on Yar’ Adua’s absence from presidential duty post. Positive stories are those attacking stories to the power vacuum, negative stories are those that are supportive of the presidential vacuum while neutral stories are those stories whose tone cannot be seen to be either supportive or against the vacuum crisis. Positive stories are identified by key phrases like; vacancy in Aso Rock, resign now, transmit letter to NAS, power manipulation, empower the vice president, protest, kitchen cabinet, Northern conspiracy, etc. Negative stories are identified by key phrases like: prayers for the president, president recovering, president back in the country soon, economy on track, it’s our turn to rule, North behind Yar’Adua, president can rule from anywhere, etc. Neutral stories are those stories that are neither for nor against the power vacuum. All these are done in relation to the total newspaper content.
(4) Frequency of Coverage: Here, the number of times the absence of late president Yar’Adua was reported in the selected papers within the eleven weeks that the presidential power vacuum lasted was measured. This is measured by checking how many times the issue was reported in each week.

A code sheet was designed specifically for the study. The researcher, also, trained two other independent coders who used the coding instructions to code the manifest contents for the study. The essence was to establish the validity and reliability of the collected data through inter-coder reliability test.

3.3 Population of the Study

Population in any research work, according to Udeze (2004,p.47), “is all members or elements of a well defined group, be they human beings, animals, trees, objects, events, etc.” The population defines the limit within which the research findings are applicable. Ogbuoshi (p.31), also opined that the factor which determines the choice of population is the problem under study. The population should be such that it can provide the most authentic and dependable data necessary for solving the problem under study.

Therefore, the population of the study encompasses all the newspapers published in Nigeria within this study period (83 newspapers) (www.wikipedia.com). However, the researcher purposively selected four dailies of The Guardian, New Nigerian, Daily Trust and Thisday newspapers. Daily Trust a nd New Nigerian newspapers which are published in the North were selected to represent the Northern voice while Thisday and The Guardian newspapers represented the Southern voice. The study covered between November 23, 2009 and February 9, 2010. The import of the above revealed that each selected daily had 78 editions within the period under study. The summations of all the published editions are as follows.

Thisday Newspaper 78 editions

The Guardian Newspaper 78 editions

New Nigerian Newspaper 78 editions

Daily Trust Newspaper 78 editions

Total 312 editions.

The statistics above shows that the total population for the study is 312 editions of all the publications of the four purposively selected newspapers.

The rationale for the selection of these four national dailies are:

1. They represent the voices of both the North and the South of Nigeria.
2. They are daily tabloids in size, but broadsheets in content
3. They are inclusive of weekend publications
4. They have wide readership
5. The corporate reputations of the newspapers are high

3.4 Determination of Sample Size

Because of the largeness of the population size, (312 editions of the four selected newspapers) the researcher opted for the selection of a manageable and representative sample size that would produce reliable results.

Tuckman (1978, p.58) stated that an investigator can never be sure of the representativeness of a sample unless the whole population is evaluated. To prove that the sample was representative of the population, a critical parameter at an acceptable level, which Tuckman described as a confidence level, was normally put at 95%. This means that a manageable sampling error of 5% is tolerable. According to Monette, Sullivan and Dejong (1998, p. 201), “as with other types sampling, a critical issue is representativeness. In order to generalize the findings of our document analysis, the sampling procedure must be likely to yield a representative sample, which is often difficult to achieve with documents.

However, Ogbuoshi (p.62), believes that it is very difficult to determine a sample size which will be accurately representative of the population. According to him, “the ideal sample is the large sample, but there is no single number fixed as the ideal sample size. The fact is that large sample will give more accurate results.”

For the sake of statistical convenience as it concerns the management of complex data in manifest content form, the researcher took a representative sample out of the population of 312 editions of the four selected newspapers. The essence was to take a sample size that was analyzable within the purview and context of this research.

Consequent upon this premise, the researcher aligned himself with Nwanna’s (1998, p.44), stipulation of 40% for few hundreds in sample size determination (percentage formula).

illustration not visible in this excerpt

The 0.8 left over is within the tolerable error margin (0.8 sampling error) since approximation into 125 cannot be divisible by the 4 newspapers selected. Therefore, the sample size is 124

3.5 Sampling Techniques

Systematic random sampling method was used as the sampling procedure in order to select a true representative sample of the editions of the newspapers studied.

Firstly, the researcher numbered the days (24th November, 2009 to 8th February, 2010) and grouped them into 11 weeks.

November

23 (24) 25 26 (27) (28) 29 week 1

(30) 1 2 (3) 4 (5) 6 week 2

7 8 (9) 10 (11) (12) 13 week 3

14 (15) 16 (17) (18) 19 20 week 4

21 22 (23) 24 (25) 26 27 week 5

28 29 (30) 31 1 2 (3) week 6

(4) 5 (6) 7 (8) 9 (10) week 7

11 12 13 (14) (15) 16 (17) week 8

18 19 (20) (21) 22 23 (24) week 9

25 26 (27) 28 (29) 30 31 week 10

1 (2) 3 (4) 5 (6) 7 week 11

The researcher subjected the 78 days into 11 constructed weeks so as to pick 3 days publications to represent each week. But the need to take out 31 issues for each daily to match the 124 sampled editions made the researcher to number the weeks into 11, and 2 weeks were randomly selected for 2 editions’ representation, while the other 9 weeks produced 3 editions each, totalling 31. This was done in order to give all the weeks an equal chance of being selected.

At the randomization of the weeks, weeks 5 and 10 produced only 2 day’s publications, while the other weeks produced 3 day’s editions each.

In week 5 and 10, Monday to Sunday were written down and 2 days were randomly selected to represent the week’s edition each and in other weeks, 3 days each, were randomly selected.

The overall randomized sample is presented below.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

All this brought the number of days selected within the 78 – days absence of Late Yar’ Adua from office to 31. The publications for these days multiplied by the 4 selected newspapers brought the statistics in tandem with the 124 sample representation selected.

3.6 Units of Analysis

This is the smallest unit of a content analysis, but, also, one of the most important. “In written content, it might be a word or symbol, a theme, (a single assertion about one subject), or an entire article or story” (Wimmer & Dominick, 2011, p. 164). Units are wholes that analyze, distinguish and treat, as independent, variables (Krippendorff, 2004, p. 97). Krippendorff, further says that “the wholeness of a unit suggests that it is not further divided in the course of an analysis or at a particular stage of an analysis” (p. 97).

In the analysis of textual content, such as newspaper content, it could be a news story, an opinion piece, a feature, etc. For example, if you want to find out the scope of coverage of a phenomenon in a newspaper, you might decide to look for news stories, opinion articles, photographs, institutional editorials. What you do is to count the number of stories, articles, features, etc. Your unit of analysis is what you count. In broad terms, then, you can say your unit of analysis is every published editorial item on the particular phenomenon you are investigating. In short, the unit of analysis is what the coder places under the content categories established by the researcher (Udeze, 2004).

Berelson (1952,p.77), noted five major units of analysis when embarking on a study of this kind. They are: words, theme, character, time of publication, items and space. Also, Bruce (1989), cited in Babbie (2007, p.322), points out that units of analysis “might be words, themes, characters, paragraphs, items, (such as books or letters), concepts, semantics, or combinations of these.”

Sequel to the position of Berelson and Babbie, the researcher focused his analysis in this study on News, Editorials, News Features, Cartoons, and Opinion Articles. Here, the entire contents of these units including headlines were used in relation to total newspaper content. The coding was done word for word. For cartoons, everything about them that relates to the subject matter was coded.

3.7 Content Categories

At the heart of any content analysis is the category system used to classify media content. The precise make up of this system, of course, varies with the topic under study (Wimmer and Dominick, p.165). As Berelson (1952, p.147) points out, “particular studies have been productive to the extent that the categories were clearly formulated and well-adapted to the problem and the content”.

In this study, the variables analysed were content categorized into the following:

Table 3.1: Content Categories and Units of Analysis

illustration not visible in this excerpt

3.8 Measuring Instrument

The code sheet was designed and used as the instrument for the collection of data in this study. The justification for the use of this instrument was that it is the best in the collection of manifest content of communication, in line with the demands of this study.

3.9 Reliability and Validity of Measuring Instrument

Usually in research, a researcher is required to discuss and test the reliability and validity of the data collection instrument(s) as per instrumentation. (Chukwuemeka, 2002, p.103). According to Ogbuoshi (2006, p.243), reliability has to do with the degree to which an instrument constantly tests or measures what it intends to measure.

In addition to being reliable, a measuring instrument must yield valid result. Validity simply means the degree to which an instrument actually measures and generates a valid data (Wimmers & Dominick 2011, p.175).

To ensure reliability of the measuring instruments (code sheet), the researcher conducted a pilot or pre-coding. Here some copies of the editions were coded by all the coders to watch how reliable and valid the code sheet was.

Apart from being reliable, the researcher equally tested its validity. Face Validity was employed in testing the validity of the measuring instrument, because the categories are rigidly and satisfactorily defined and the procedures of the analysis will be adequately conducted (Wimmer & Dominick, p.176).

3.10 Intercoder Reliability

The inter-coder reliability test was used to assess the degree to which the coders agreed. The higher the percentage of agreement between and among the coders, the more reliable the analyzed content becomes.

The researcher engaged the services of 2 coders whom he trained for four weeks. Within these weeks, the coders were able to familiarise themselves with the study methodology, the objectives of the study, the code sheet and the coding instruction. Various results gotten during the training sessions were analysed and areas of disagreement studied and addressed.

Efforts were made to guard against agreement of coders by chance. In this regard, Scott’s (1988, p.55), P1 index formula was adopted to scale the percentage of agreement between the 3 coders in this research work.

Pi = % of observed agreement - % of expected agreement

1 - % of expected agreement

The justification for the Scott’s pi index formula was to guard against the Holsti’s formula that is frequently used by researchers, which eventually and always produces faulty agreement (by chance) between and among independent coders. The intercoder reliability test was attached as an appendix. Nominal Scale Measurement was, equally, used to denote content categories as 0 and 1.

The intercoder- reliability test using Pi Index formula revealed thus:

Cummulative Average Pairwise Percentage of Agreement for all tables /

AVG Percentage of Agreement = 94.75%

The reliability test done at the end of the entire coding showed that there was 94.75 agreement among the three coders. This means that the coding error was just 6.6 percent. This, according to researchers (Creswell, 2002 and Wimmer and Dominick, 2011), is acceptable. Details of this calculation is attached as an appendix

3.11 Method of Data Collection and Analysis

The code sheet was used to collect data for this study. The code sheet was designed in such a way that it would effectively test and collect the needed data.

In order to test the statistical significance of the data collected, Chi-Square statistical tool was used in carrying out the test. All the hypotheses earlier formulated in chapter one was subjected to an empirical and statistical test, and results gotten were presented in tables, using percentages.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Where:

X2 means the value showing relationship

O means observed frequency

E means expected frequency

means summation

References

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Chukwuemeka, E.O. (2002). Research method and thesis writing: A multidisciplinary Approach. Enugu: HRV Publishers.

Creswell, J. (2002). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc

Krippendorf, K. (2004). Reliability in content analysis. In Human Communication Research, 30 (3), pp. 411-433.

Monette, D., Sullivan, T., and Dejong, C. (1998). Applied social research: Tool for the human services. USA: Hot, Rinehart and Winston

Nwanna, O.C. (1981). Introduction to educational research for student teachers. Ibadan: Heineman Educational Books, Ltd.

Nwodu, L. C. (2006). Research in communication and other behavioural science principles, method and issues. Enugu: Rhyce Kerex.

Ogbuoshi, L.I. (2006 ). Understanding research method and thesis writing. Enugu: Linco Enterprises.

Osuala E.C. (1987). Introduction to research methodology. Onitsha: Africana Fep Publishers Ltd.

Tuckman, B.W. (1972). Conducting educational research. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc.

Udeze, S.E. (2004 ). Step by step process in content analysis. In ESUT Journal of Management Sciences. Enugu: Bismark Publishers.

Wimmer, R. D., and Dominick J. R. (2011). Mass media research: An introduction. Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Zito, G. (1975). Methodology and meaning: Varieties of sociological inquiry. NewYork: Preager Publishers

CHAPTER FOUR DATA PRESENTATION, ANALYSIS AND RESULTS

4.1 Data Presentation

In this chapter, data collected through the code sheet are presented and interpreted in a manner that makes it easy for everyone to see at a glance which data are showing or representing what. Here, tables, pie charts, bar charts and percentages are employed to present and analyze information collected from the four newspapers (New Nigerian, Daily Trust, The Guardian and Thisday Newspapers) used in this study. These data are presented according to the research questions and hypotheses raised in the study.

However, some editions of the selected papers were missing in both National libraries in Lafia and Lagos. Other states’ libraries and the headquarters of the selected papers could not help with the missing editions. Therefore, this study, just like many others, experienced mortality. The analysis is shown below:

Table 4.1.1: Missing Editions of Newspapers

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Source: Content Analysis 2012

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The data in the table above show that out of the 124 editions selected for this study in line with the sample size, 117 editions were found and coded, while 7 editions were missing.

Table 4.1. 2: Units of Analysis

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Source: Content Analysis 2012

Figure: 1

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There was 92.60% agreement among the three coders

The data in the table and chart above show that a total of 468 issues were published by the four selected newspapers within the period under review. The Guardian Newspaper published a total of 141 issues on the presidential vacuum crisis out of 468; ThisDay Newspaper published 99 issues out of 468; New Nigerian published 63 issues while Daily Trust Newspaper published 165 issues out of 468.

Of the 141 issues published by The Guardian Newspaper, 59 were news stories; 1 was editorial; 44 were feature stories; 13 were cartoons and 24 were opinion articles. ThisDay Newspaper published a total of 99 issues in all. From this figure, 61 issues were news stories; 1 was editorial; 11 were feature stories; 6 were cartoons and 20 were opinion articles. Of the 63 issues published by New Nigerian Newspaper, 48 issues were news stories; 1 was editorial; 6 were feature stories; and 8 were opinion articles. New Nigerian did not publish any cartoon. For Daily Trust Newspaper, a total of 86 issues were news stories, 1 issue was an editorial, 13 features stories, 10 cartoons and 55 opinion articles.

In all, there were a total of 254 news stories, 4 editorials, 74 feature stories, 29 cartoons and 107 opinion articles.

Table 4.1. 3 Placement of News Stories

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Source: Content Analysis 2012

Figure:2

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There was 94.79% agreement among the three coders

The table and chart above show that the four selected newspapers published a total of 254 straight news stories on the presidential power vacuum. These 254 straight news stories scored a total of 580 points going by the analysis in Table 3.2. Table 3.2 shows that front page lead stories were scored 5 points each, any other front page stories got 4 points each, back page lead stories got 3 each, while any other back page story got 2 points. All inside page stories got 1 point each. Going by this analysis, The Guardian Newspaper published straight news stories that scored 166 points; Thisday Newspaper scored a total of 147 points; New Nigerian Newspaper scored 102 points; while Daily Trust Newspaper scored 165 points. Again, out of the 166 points scored by The Guardian Newspaper, front page got 127 points; inside page scored 24 points; while back page scored 15 points.

Also, from the 147 points that Thisday Newspaper scored, front page news stories got 105 points; inside page scored 39 points; while back page stories got 3 points. Moreover, a breakdown of the 102 points scored by New Nigerian Newspaper unveiled that the front pages stories scored 67 points; inside page stories scored 32 points; while back page stories scored 3 points. From the 165 points scored by Daily Trust Newspaper on news stories, front page placement got 110 points; inside page stories got 55 points; while back page stories got 0 point.

Table 4.1.4: News Direction

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Source: Content Analysis 2012

Figure:3

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There was 96.81%agreement among the three coders

From the table and chart above, The Guardian Newspaper published 45 positive news stories on the presidential power vacuum, 11 were negative, while 3 of the stories were neutral, thus making a total of 59 news stories. From the news stories published by ThisDay Newspaper, 29 were positive, 23 were negative while 9 were neutral. A breakdown of the 48 news stories published by New Nigerian Newspaper revealed that 9 were positive, 34 were negative while 5 were neutral. For Daily Trust, 33 were positive, 33 negative stories were, also, published while 14 of the news stories were neutral.

Table 4.1. 5: Volume of News

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Source: Content Analysis 2012

Figure:4

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There was 93.92%agreement among the three coders

The table and chart above show that 49 news stories published by the four selected newspapers were between 0-15 inches; 61 were between 16-30 inches; while 138 were between 31 inches and above. A breakdown of the 49 stories published between 0-15 inches by the four selected newspapers shows that The Guardian published 6, ThisDay published 21, New Nigerian published 3, while Daily Trust published 19. 61 news stories published in column inches between 16- 30 by the four newspapers revealed that The Guardian published 13, ThisDay published 18, New Nigerian published 12 while Daily Trust published 18. The 138 news stories that fell between 31 inches and above shows that The Guardian published 40; ThisDay published 22 while New Nigerian and Daily Trust newspapers published 33 and 43 respectively.

Table 4.1. 6: Frequency of News Stories

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Source: Content Analysis 2012

Figure: 5

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There was 91.17%agreement among the three coders

Information in the table and chart above and show the frequency at which the selected newspapers covered the78 days presidential vacuum crisis under late president Yar’Adua. From the table, a total of 15 news stories were reported by the papers within the first one week of the vacuum crisis; 28 news stories were reported on the second week; 23 news stories on the third week; 25 news stories on the fourth week; 16 stories on the fifth week; while week six got 12 news stories, week seven got 25 news stories; 34 news stories were published on the eight week; 24 on the ninth week while weeks 10 and 11 got 26 and 26 News stories respectively.

Table 4.1.7: Direction of Editorials

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Source: Content Analysis 2012

Figure: 6

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There was 96.61% agreement among the three coders

A total of 4 editorials were published based on the table and chart above, 2 were positive; none was negative; while 2 were neutral. The Guardian published just 1 neutral editorial while no positive or negative editorial was published by the paper. ThisDay also published only 1 editorial and did not publish any negative or positive editorial. New Nigerian, as well, published 1 neutral editorial, while no positive or negative editorial was published. Daily Trust Newspaper published 1 positive editorial, while no negative or neutral editorial was published.

Table 4.1. 8: Volume of Editorials

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Source: Content Analysis 2012

Figure: 7

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There was 93.23%agreement among the three coders

An analysis of the table and chart above show that all the 4 editorials published by the 4 selected newspapers are between 31 inches and above. None of the editorials fell between 0-15 and 16-30 inches.

Table 4.1. 9:Frequency of Editorials

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Source: Content Analysis 2012

Figure: 8

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There was 94.71% agreement among the three coders

From the table and chart above, one editorial comment was published in week 3; two editorial comments in week 4 and one editorial comment in week 5. No editorial was published in week 1,2,6,7,8,9,10and 11.

Table 4.1. 10: Placement of News Features

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Source: Content Analysis 2012

Figure:9

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There was 91.35%agreement among the three coders

The table and chart above reveal that a total of 74 feature stories were published by the four selected newspapers, thus scoring a total 94 points. A breakdown of this shows that The Guardian Newspaper s cored 4 points on the front page; 38 points in the inside pages and 15 points on the back pages. No point was scored by Thisday Newspaper on the front page; but scored 10 and 3 points on the inside and back pages respectively. New Nigerian scored 4 and 5 on the front and inside pages, respectively, while none was published on the back page. Daily Trust scored 12 and 1 points in the inside and back pages, respectively, while it did not score any on the front page.

Table 4.1. 11: Direction of News Features

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Source: Content Analysis 2012

Figure: 10

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There was 97.56%agreement among the three coders

For the direction of the published news feature stories, 74 feature stories were published by the four selected newspapers , The Guardian published 25 positive, 11 negative, and 8 neutral feature stories. Thisday published 2 positive, 1 negative and 8 neutral feature stories. New Nigerian published 2 positive, 2 negative and 2 neutral feature stories, while Daily Trust published 6 positive, 4 negative and 3 neutral feature stories.

Table 4.1. 12:Volume of News Features

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Source: Content Analysis 2012

Figure:11

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There was 96.40 % agreement among the three coders

The above table and charts show that out of the 74 news features published by the four selected newspapers, none fell in the range of 0-15 inches. The table further reveals that The Guardian published 2 features that fell in the range of 16-30 inches, while 42 of The Guardian’s features fell in the range of 31 and above inches. Out of the 11 features published by Thisday, 3 are between 16-30 inches while 8 of the features are between 31 and above inches, New Nigerian published 6 features that are between 31 inches and above, while Daily Trust published 13 features that are, also, 31 inches and above.

Table 4.1. 13:Frequency of News Feature

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Source: Content Analysis 2012

Figure:12

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There was 97.65% agreement among the three coders

The table and chart above show the frequency with which the selected papers reported the power vacuum through news features. From the table, the selected papers published 10 news features in the second week of the power vacuum crisis: 4 news features were published in the third week; 1 in the fourth; week five has 1 news features, week 7 has 13 news features, week 8 has 4 news features, week 3 has 4 news features, week 9 has 24 news features, week 10 has 2, while in week 11, 7 news features were published

Table 4.1. 14: Placement of Cartoons

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Source: Content Analysis 2012

Figure:13

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There was 94.24%agreement among the three coders

The table and chart above show that a total of 29 cartoons were published by the four selected newspapers, The Guardian published 13 cartoons in the inside pages and published none on the front and back pages. Thisday published 6 on the back page but did not publish any on the front and inside pages. New Nigerian did not publish any cartoon within the period under study, while Daily Trust published 9 and 1 in the inside and back pages respectively.

Table 4.1. 15:Direction of Cartoons

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Source: Content Analysis 2012

Figure:14

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There was 95.16%agreement among the three coders

The above table and chart indicate that The Guardian published 12 positive cartoons, and 1 neutral one. Thisday published 3 positive and 3 neutral cartoons. New Nigerian did not publish any cartoon, while Daily Trust published 8 positive, and 2 neutral cartoons.

Table4.1. 16: Volume of Cartoons

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Source: Content Analysis 201

Figure: 15

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There was 93.78% agreement among the three coders

A look at the above table and chart will show that out of 29 cartoons published by the 4 selected newspapers, The Guardian did not publish any within 0-15 inches; it published 1 within 16-30 inches, while 12 cartoons published by the paper fell within 31 inches and above. Thisday published 4 within 0-15 and none 16-30 inches respectively. It published 2 within 31 inches and above . New Nigerian did not publish any cartoon within the period under study, while Daily Trust published 10 cartoons out of which 9 are within 16-30 inches and 1 is within 31 inches and above. None of the 10 cartoons published by Daily Trust fell within 0-15.

Table 4.1. 17: Frequency of Cartoon

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Source: Content Analysis 201

Figure: 16

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There was 93.76%agreement among the three coders

The table and chart above show that the selected newspapers published 3 cartoons during the first one week of crisis. They published 4 cartoons in the second week; 2 in the third week; 2 in the fourth week; none in the fifth week and 2 in the sixth week. The seventh week recorded 2 cartoons; week eight has 3 cartoons; week 9 has 5 cartoons; week 10 has 3 cartoons; while week 11 has 3 cartoons

Table4.1. 18: Opinion Articles (Direction)

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Source: Content Analysis 2012

Figure: 17

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There was 95.27 %agreement among the three coders

The above table and chart show that 107 opinion articles were published. Out of the 24 published by The Guardian, 17 were positive, 4 were negative, while 3 were neutral. Thisday published 20 opinion articles out of which 9 were positive, 9 were negative, while 2 were neutral. Out of the 8 published by the New Nigerian, 1 was positive, 7 were negative and none was neutral . Daily Trust published 55 opinion articles out of which 39 were positive, 12 were negative while 4 were neutral.

Table 4.1.19: Opinion Articles (Volume)

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Source: Content Analysis 2012

Figure:18

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There was 92.34%agreement among the three coders

An analysis of the above table and chart unveiled that out of the 24 opinion articles published by The Guardian, 2 were within 0-15 inches, another 2 were within 16-30, while 20 were within 31 inches and above. Out of the 20 published by Thisday, none was within 0-15; 3 were within 16-30, while 17 were within 31 inches and above. New Nigerian published 8 opinion articles out of which all the 8 were within 31 inches and above. Out of the 55 published by Daily Trust, 18 were within 0-15, 12 were within 16-30 while 25 were 31 inches and above.

Table4.1. 20: Frequency of Opinion Articles

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Source: Content Analysis 2012

Figure: 19

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There was 97.64% agreement among the three coders

The information in the table and chart above shows the frequency with which the power vacuum crisis was covered by the selected newspapers. From the table, within the eleven weeks of the vacuum, the selected papers published a total of 107 opinion articles. In the first week, the selected papers published 4 opinion articles; 17 articles were published in the second week; 20 articles in the third week; 4 articles in the fourth week; 3 articles in the fifth week and 3 articles in the sixth week. 14 articles were published in the seventh week; the eighth week had 14 articles; the ninth week had 13 articles; 2 articles were published in the tenth week while the eleventh week had 13 articles.

4.2 Presentation of Content Data

Here, data which form part of the content categories that reflected the four (4) research questions and hypotheses raised were analysed. They are presented in the tables and charts below according to the research questions.

Research Question 1: How was the 78 days presidential power vacuum covered by the selected newspapers in terms of prominence?

Table 4.2.21 :Prominence (Placement)

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Source: Content Analysis 2012

Figure: 20

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The table and chart above show the degree of prominence given to the presidential power vacuum under late president Yar’Adua by the selected newspapers. From the table, all the editorial contents of the selected papers that were published on the front page, scored a total of 417 points; those published in the inside page scored 238 points, while items on the back page got 49 points. The Guardian Newspaper scored 131 points on the front page; Thisday Newspaper got 105 points on the front page, New Nigeria Newspaper scored 71 points; while, Daily Trust scored 110 points on the front page. On the inside page, The Guardian Newspaper scored 75 points for all editorial contents on the issue under review; Thisday Newspaper scored 49 points; New Nigeria scored 38 points; while Daily Trust scored 76 points. On the back page, The Guardian scored a total of 30 points for all the editorial contents published on the presidential power vacuum; Thisday Newspaper scored 12 points; New Nigeria scored 3 and Daily Trust scored 4 points.

Research Question 2: What direction of coverage did the selected newspapers take in the coverage of the 78 days presidential power vacuum crisis?

Table4.2. 22: Direction of Coverage

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Source: Content Analysis 2012

Figure: 21

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The data in the table and chart above show the direction the selected newspapers took in their coverage of the power vacuum. A total of 242 reports published by the dailies were positive, 154 reports were negative, while 66 reports were neutral. The interpretation is that 242 reports were against the president’s absence, 154 reports were in support of his absence, while 66 reports were neither for nor against the power vacuum

Research Question 3:What volume of coverage did the 78 days presidential power vacuum receive from the selected newspaper?

Table 4.2. 23: Volume of Coverage (Adequacy)

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Source: Content Analysis 2012

Figure: 22

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The data in the table and chart above show the amount of space allotted to the presidential power vacuum in the selected newspapers. A total of 73 issues were published in spaces occupying between 0-15 inches; 93 issues were published in spaces between 16-30 inches; while those published in spaces occupying 31 inches and above were 295. This table also shows that 63.99 per cent of all the issues published occupied between 31 inches and above.

Research Question 4: What frequency of coverage did the sampled newspaper give to the power vacuum under late Yar’Adua.

Table 4.2. 24:Frequency of Coverage

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Source: content analysis 2012

Figure: 23

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In the table and chart above, 22 issues were published in the first week of the power vacuum; 59 in the second week; 50 in the third week; 35 issues in the fourth week; 17 issues in the fifth and sixth week. In the seventh week, 50 issues were published by the selected newspapers; the eighth week had 55 issues; week nine has 64 issues; week ten had 33 issues while the eleventh week had 49 issues

4.3 Test of Hypotheses

In testing the hypotheses, Chi-Square statistical tool was used. The formula for testing hypotheses using Chi-square is:

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Where

Of = observed frequency

Ef = expected frequency

Hypothesis One

Ho: The 78 days presidential power vacuum under late president Yar’Adua did not receive prominence in the selected newspapers

Hi: The 78 days presidential power vacuum under late president Yar’Adua received prominence in the selected newspapers

Operationalization: The data coded and presented in table 4.2.21 was used in testing this hypothesis.

Contingency Table I: Prominence (Placement)

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Expected Frequency Calculation

Total Row (TR) x Total Column (TC)

Grand Total

Row 1 Cell1 417 x 236 :- 704 = 139.8

Row 1 Cell 2 238 x 236 :- 704 = 79.8

Row 1 Cell 3 49 x 236 :- 704 = 16.4

Row 2 Cell 1 417x 166 :- 704 = 98.3

Row 2 Cell 2 238 x 166 :- 704 = 56.1

Row 2 Cell 3 49 x 166 :- 704 = 11.6

Row 3 Cell 1 417 x 112 :- 704 = 66.3

Row 3 Cell 2 238 x 112 :- 704 = 37.9

Row 3 Cell 3 49 x 112 :- 704 = 7.8

Row 4 Cell 1 417 x 190 :- 704 = 112.5

Row 4 Cell 2 238 x 190 :- 704 = 64.2

Row 4 Cell 3 49 x 190 :- 704 = 13.2

Chi-square Table 1: Testing for Prominence of Coverage

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To calculate the degree of freedom (df)

df = (R – 1) (C – 1) R = Row, C = Column

(4-1) (3-1)

3 x 2 = 6

At 6 significant levels, the table value is 12.592

Decision Rule

Accept the null hypothesis and reject the alternate hypothesis if the calculated value is less than table value. But reject the null hypothesis and accept the alternate hypothesis if the calculated value is greater than the table value. Since the calculated value (25.4163) is greater than the table value (12.592), the null was rejected and the alternate accepted. This means that the presidential power vacuum under late president Yar’Adua received prominence in Nigerian newspapers.

Hypothesis Two

Ho: The selected newspapers’ coverage of the 78 days presidential power vacuum did not take a positive direction.

Hi: The selected newspapers’ coverage of the 78 days presidential power vacuum under Yar’Adua took a positive direction.

Operationalisation: The data coded and presented in table 4.2.22 was used in testing this hypothesis.

Contingency Table 2:Direction of Coverage

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Expected Frequency Calculation

Total Row (TR) x Total Column (TC)

Grand Total

Row 1 Cell1 245 x 141 :- 468 = 73.8

Row 1 Cell 2 154 x 141 :- 468 = 46.4

Row 1 Cell 3 69 x 141 :- 468 = 20.8

Row 2 Cell 1 245 x 99 :- 468 = 51.8

Row 2 Cell 2 154 x 99 :- 468 = 32.6

Row 2 Cell 3 69 x 99 :- 468 = 14.6

Row 3 Cell 1 245 x 63 :- 468 = 32.9

Row 3 Cell 2 154 x 63 :- 468 = 20.7

Row 3 Cell 3 69 x 63 :- 468 = 9.3

Row 4 Cell 1 245 x 165 :- 468 = 86.4

Row 4 Cell 2 154 x 165 :- 468 = 54.3

Row 4 Cell 3 69 x 165 :- 468 = 24.3

Chi-square Table 2:Testing for Direction of Coverage

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To calculate the degree of freedom (df)

df = (R – 1) (C – 1) R = Row, C = Column

(4-1) (3-1)

3 x 2 = 6

At 6 significant levels, the table value is 12.592

Decision Rule

Reject the null hypothesis if the calculated value is greater than the table value and accept the alternate hypothesis (Hi). But reject Hi if the calculated value is less than the table value. Since the calculated value (59.812) is greater than the table value (12.592), the null hypothesis was rejected and the alternate (Hi) accepted. This, therefore, means that the presidential power vacuum received positive coverage in Nigerian newspapers. The implication is that a majority of the reports published by the newspapers on the issue were against the late president’s absence in office.

Hypothesis Three

Ho: The 78 days presidential power vacuum under Yar’Adua did not receive much volume of coverage from the selected newspapers.

Hi: The 78 days presidential power vacuum under Yar’Adua received much volume of coverage from the selected newspapers.

Operationalization: The data coded and presented in Table 4.2.23 was used in testing this hypothesis.

Contingency Table 3: Volume of Coverage (Adequacy)

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Expected Frequency Calculation

Total Row (TR) x Total Column (TC)

Grand Total

Row 1 Cell1 73 x 141 :- 468 = 21.9

Row 1 Cell 2 96x 141 :- 468 = 28.9

Row 1 Cell 3 299 x 141 :- 468 = 90

Row 2 Cell 1 73 x 99 :- 468 = 15.4

Row 2 Cell 2 96 x 99 :- 468 = 20.3

Row 2 Cell 3 299 x 99 :- 468 = 63.3

Row 3 Cell 1 73 x 63 :- 468 = 9.8

Row 3 Cell 2 96 x 63 :- 468 = 12.9

Row 3 Cell 3 299 x 63 :- 468 = 40.3

Row 4 Cell 1 73 x 165 :- 468 = 25.7

Row 4 Cell 2 94 x 165 :- 468 = 33.8

Row 4 Cell 3 299 x 165 :- 468 = 105.4

Chi-square Table 3: Testing For Adequacy of Coverage

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To calculate the degree of freedom (df)

df = (R – 1) (C – 1) R = Row, C = Column

(4-1) (3-1)

3 x 2 = 6

At 6 significant levels, the Table Value is 12.592

Decision Rule

Reject the null hypothesis if the calculated value is greater than table value and accept the alternate hypothesis (Hi). But reject Hi if the Calculated Value is less than the Table Value. Since the Calculated Value (46.108) is greater than the Table Value (12.592), the null hypothesis was rejected and the alternate accepted. This, therefore, means that the presidential power vacuum received much volume of coverage in Nigerian Newspapers. The implication is that the issue was adequately covered by Nigerian newspapers.

Hypothesis Four

Ho: The 78 days presidential power vacuum was frequently covered in the sampled newspapers.

Hi: The 78 days presidential power vacuum was not frequently covered in the sampled newspapers.

Operationalization: The data coded and presented in table 4.2.24 was used in testing this hypothesis.

Contingency Table 4: Frequency of Coverage

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Expected Frequency Calculation

Total Row (TR) x Total Column (TC)

Grand Total

Row1 Cell1 22× 141 ÷ 468= 6.6

Row1 Cell2 59× 141 ÷ 468= 17.8

Row1 Cell3 50× 141 ÷ 468 = 15.1

Row1 Cell4 34× 141 ÷ 468= 10.2

Row1 Cell5 21× 141 ÷ 468= 6.3

Row1 Cell6 25x 141 ÷ 468= 7.5

Row1 Cell7 54x141 ÷ 468= 16.3

Row1 Cell8 55x141 ÷ 468= 16.6

Row1 Cell9 66x141 ÷ 468= 19.9

Row1 Cell10 33x141 ÷ 468= 9.9

Row1 Cell11 49x141 ÷ 468= 3.9

Row2 Cell1 22x99 ÷ 468= 4.7

Row2 Cell2 59x99 ÷ 468= 12.5

Row2 Cell3 50x99 ÷ 468= 10.5

Row2 Cell4 34x99 ÷ 468= 7.2

Row2 Cell5 21x99 ÷ 468= 4.4

Row2 Cell6 25x99 ÷ 468= 5.2

Row2 Cell7 54x99 ÷ 468= 11.4

Row2 Cell8 55x99 ÷ 468= 11.6

Row2 Cell9 66x99 ÷ 468= 13.9

Row2 Cell10 33x99 ÷ 468= 6.9

Row2 Cell11 49x99 ÷ 468= 10.4

Row3 Cell1 22x63 ÷ 468= 2.9

Row3 Cell2 59x63 ÷ 468= 7.9

Row3 Cell3 50x63 ÷ 468= 6.7

Row3 Cell4 34x63 ÷ 468= 4.6

Row3 Cell5 21x63 ÷ 468= 2.8

Row3 Cell6 25x63 ÷ 468= 3.4

Row3 Cell7 54x63 ÷ 468= 7.3

Row3 Cell8 55x63 ÷ 468= 7.4

Row3 Cell9 66x63 ÷ 468= 8.9

Row3 Cell10 33x63 ÷ 468= 4.4

Row3 Cell11 49x165 ÷ 468= 6.6

Row4 Cell1 22x165 ÷ 468= 7.8

Row4 Cell2 59x165 ÷ 468= 20.8

Row4 Cell3 50x165 ÷ 468= 17.6

Row4 Cell4 34x165 ÷ 468= 11.9

Row4 Cell5 21x165 ÷ 468= 7.4

Row4 Cell6 25x165 ÷ 468= 8.8

Row4 Cell7 54x165 ÷ 468= 19

Row4 Cell8 55x165 ÷ 468= 19.4

Row4 Cell9 66x165 ÷ 468=23.3

Row4 Cell10 33x165 ÷ 468= 11.6

Row4 Cell11 49x165 ÷ 468= 17.3

Chi-Square Table 4: Testing for Frequency of Coverage

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To calculate the degree of freedom (df)

df = (R – 1) (C – 1) R = Row, C = Column

(4-1) (11-1)

3 x 10 = 30

At 5 significant levels, the table value is 43.773

Decision Rule

Reject the null hypothesis if the X2 calculated value is greater than the table value and accept the alternate hypothesis (Hi). But reject Hi if the calculated value is less than the table value. Since the calculated value (53.4793) is greater than the table value (43.773) accept the alternate hypothesis and reject the null hypothesis (Ho). This means that the presidential power vacuum under late president Musa Yar’Adua was frequently covered by the selected newspapers.

4.4 Discussion of Findings

The discussion in this section is guided by the four research hypotheses raised in this study which were re-stated at the beginning of every test of the hypotheses. Each hypothesis was discussed based on the findings as obtained from the test of the hypothesis. These findings are linked to other similar studies and theories used in order to give the findings empirical backing.

In hypothesis one, the researcher sought to find out whether the presidential power controversy under late president Umaru Musa Yar Adua received prominence in Nigerian newspapers. After the hypothesis was subjected to an empirical test, using Chi-square formula, it received statistical support. This means that the alternate hypothesis was supported. The implication of this is that the presidential power vacuum controversy received prominence in the selected newspapers. From the analysis, the calculated valued (25.4163) was greater than the table value (12.592). Going by the statistical rule of Chi-square, it means that the alternate hypothesis (Hi) should be accepted and the null hypothesis (Ho) rejected.

Apart from this, the coded data which were presented in contingency Table 1 showed that issues published on the presidential power vacuum that came on the front page, scored a total of 417 points, those that came on the back page scored 49, while those published on the inside page had 238 points. Going by the benchmark set by the researcher, the number of issues published on the front and back pages (466) were enough to say that the issues received prominence.

The Findings is supported by the writings of the McComb and Shaw (1972 p.28). These scholars found in their studies that the media have the ability to transfer the salience of items on their news by placing them prominently. The work of Graber (1996 p.257), also, supports the outcome of the hypothesis test. Graber (1990 p.257), found that the prominence given to the Watergate Scandal contributed to the political down fall of President Nixon of the United States in the early 70s. It was observed by Graber that the press “has a way of placing issues prominently to attract attention especially during national crisis.” The work of Umeh (2010, p.11) equally supports this result. She found that newspaper usually lift issues above the market place of ideas when it comes to political crisis.

The Agenda Setting theory as put forward by McCombs and Donald in 1972, also, gives strong backing to this finding. The theory holds that an agenda can be set by placing an issue prominently (McCombs and Shaw, 1972, p.28).

In hypothesis two, the researcher tested whether the presidential power vacuum controversy under late President Yar’Adua took a positive direction in Nigerian newspapers. This was done by looking at the directions the coded issues took. At the end of the test, the alternate hypotheses (Hi) received statistical support, while the null hypotheses (Hi) did not. This means that the presidential power vacuum controversy took a positive direction in the selected papers.

Statistically speaking, the calculated value (59.812) was greater than the table value (12.592). This, therefore, means that the Hi received statistical support and hence is accepted. The data coded, also, showed that the issue took a positive, direction in the selected newspapers. From the Contingency Table 2, 245 published issues were positive as against 154 issues that were negative. 69 issues were neither against nor in support (neutral). Therefore, looking at these figures, one will readily see that more positive stories were published by the four selected newspapers on the issue. By positive, we mean that a majority of the published items were against the absence of the late president from office. Negative reports mean those supportive of the absence.

This finding is supported by the writing of Edeani (1990, p.18). According to him, the mass media have the ability to create and nurture vivid images of events in the people’s minds through the direction they take. Edeani (1990, p.18), added that the press, most often than not, takes a positive direction in its reports.

The social responsibility function of the media calls for a well-behaved press. It is expected, going by the Social Responsibility theory of the press, that the media should remain socially responsible. The positive direction taken by the selected newspapers on the Yar’Adua issue showed that the papers were socially responsible during the period. By not aligning themselves with the propaganda of late Yar’Adua’s kitchen cabinet shows how socially responsible they were.

Hypothesis three is on the volume of coverage given to the presidential power vacuum controversy under late president Yar’Adua. This hypothesis was tested specifically to find out whether the issue was adequately covered by Nigerian newspapers. The test revealed that the alternate hypothesis (Hi) received statistical support while the null hypothesis (Hi) did not receive any support. This means that the presidential power vacuum controversy was adequately covered by the selected newspapers.

The result gotten from the test of the hypothesis is supported by the findings of Umeh (2010, p.29). According to her, the Nigerian press will always give controversial issues adequate coverage. Bello (2010, p.30), equally found in his study that only controversial issues get enough space in Nigerian newspapers.

In hypothesis four, the researcher sought to find out whether Nigerian newspapers frequently covered the 78 days presidential power vacuum. The test revealed that the selected papers frequently covered the 78days power vacuum.

In the test, the alternate hypothesis (Hi) was accepted while the null hypothesis (Ho) was rejected. This is, because the calculated value (53.4793) is greater than the table value (43.773). This finding is supported by the findings of Park (1993.p.11), who found that most newspapers’ are frequently covered in order to increase sales. Umeh (2010, p.22), equally lend credence to the findings of park. According to her, the mass media, especially the print, frequently carry controversial reports in a bid to increase sales. Yakubu (2010, p. 34) in his study of Yar Adua’s absence equally found that the press covered the issue more frequently.

References

Edeani, D.O. (1990). Impact of ownership of national newspaper coverage on a mass mobilization campaign. In Nigerian Journal of Mass Communication (1) 18 28.

Graber, D. (1990). Media Power in Politics. Washington: University of Illinois.

McCombs, M. & Shaw, D. (1972). The agenda setting function of mass media. In Public Opinion Quarterly 36 (2). 176 – 187.

Park, R. (1995). Preface to the Nigerian press under the military: Persecution, resilience and political crisis, 1983-1993. In A. Adeyemi , Discussion Paper Presented at the Joanshorestein Centre, John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, USA.

Umeh, T. (2010). Media framing of late president Yar’Adua’s absence: The push for favourable public opinion. An unpublished seminar paper presented at the Annual Conference of SIFE in Abuja, May, 2010

Yakubu, N. (2010). Media projection of sick leaders around the globe. Journal of International Relations and Diplomacy 8 (2) pp 10-21.

CHAPTER FIVE SUMMARY OF FINDINGS, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

5.1 Summary of Findings

To empirically ascertain how Nigerian newspapers covered the 78 days presidential power vacuum controversy under late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, four (4) national dailies (The Guardian, ThisDay, New Nigerian and Daily Trust Newspapers) were content analysed. In doing this analysis, four research hypotheses were raised and tested using Chi-square statistical formula. After the test, all the hypotheses received statistical support.

The test revealed the following results:

(1) The selected newspapers gave the 78 days presidential power vacuum controversy prominence in their coverage.
(2) The selected dailies took a positive direction in their coverage of the 78 days power vacuum crisis under late President Yar’Adua
(3) The 78 days presidential power vacuum crisis under late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was given much volume of coverage which can be taken to be in-depth.
(4) Nigerian newspapers frequently covered the 78 days presidential power vacuum controversy.

5.2 Conclusion

After a thorough analysis of the data, results gotten and literature reviewed, the researcher reached the following conclusions

That Nigerian newspapers gave prominence to controversial issues, especially when it has national implications. This is so, judging from the way the 78 days presidential power vacuum under Yar’Adua and other issues were covered.

The researcher, also, concludes that Nigerian newspapers took a positive posture in their coverage of the presidential power vacuum under late President Yar’Adua.

Again, the researcher concludes that the power vacuum controversy, like any other power vacuum in the world, was adequately covered by Nigerian newspapers.

It was finally concluded that Nigerian newspapers covered the presidential power vacuum crisis under late President Musa Yar’Adua more frequently.

5.3 Recommendations

Following the analysis made, the literature reviewed, and the results gotten, some recommendations were made.

1. First, a wider study covering more dailies and magazines should be carried out by interested researchers. This will help to have a wider understanding of how the Nigerian press covered the presidential power vacuum issue under late Yar’Adua.
2. More so, ownership or geographical location of a print medium should not be seen to affect editorial contents.
3. Also, desirable is a comparative study of the Northern and Southern axis of the Nigerian newspapers coverage of the power vacuum crisis under late president Yar’Adua to see if there could be other salient points like the credibility score sheet of the newspapers of these geographical divides of Nigeria.
4. On the final analysis, we recommend that the mass media, especially, the print, should go beyond setting agenda to consolidating agenda. A whole lot of times, the mass media set agenda only for it to collapse because it was not consolidated. From past experiences, the media set agenda that do not stand the test of time, because they were not consolidated. In fact, if agenda are not consolidated, the public soon move away from the set agenda and this, most times leads to serious confusion.
5. In the light of recommendation 5 above, the researcher is proposing Agenda Consolidation Hypothesis. This hypothesis is saying that when agenda are set, they should be consolidated to avoid agenda collapse or lack of streamlining. Consolidation of agenda will effectively guide public opinion.

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Appendix 1

Calculation for degrees of agreement among the three coders on each unit of analysis and content categories

TABLE 1: MISSING EDITIONS OF NEWSPAPERS

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TABLE 2: UNITS OF ANALYSIS

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TABLE 3: PLACEMENT OF NEWS STORIES

FILENAME

News Stories.csv

File Size

371 bytes

n coders

n cases

n decisions

average pairwise per cent agreement

94.79%

Pairwise agreement cols 1 & 3

0.983467898

Pairwise agreement cols 1 & 2

0.924676753

Pairwise agreement cols 2 & 3

0.935678871

TABLE 4: NEWS DIRECTION

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TABLE 5: VOLUME OF NEWS

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TABLE 6: FREQUENCY OF NEWS REPORTS

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TABLE 7: DIRECTION OF EDITORIALS

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TABLE 8: VOLUME OF EDITORIAL

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TABLE 9: FREQUENCY OF EDITORIALS

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TABLE 10: PLACEMENT OF NEWS FEATURES

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TABLE 11: DIRECTION OF NEWS FEATURES

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TABLE 12: VOLUME OF NEWS FEATURES

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TABLE 13: FREQUENCY OF NEWS FEATURES

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TABLE 14: PLACEMENT OF CARTOONS

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TABLE 15: DIRECTION OF CARTOONS

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TABLE 16: VOLUME OF CARTOONS

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TABLE 17: FREQUENCY OF CARTOONS

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TABLE 18: DIRECTION OF OPINION ARTICLES

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TABLE 19: VOLUME OF OPINION ARTICLES

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TABLE 20: FREQUENCY OF OPINION ARTICLES

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CUMMULATIVE AVERAGE PAIRWISE PERCENTAGE OF AGREEMENT FOR ALL TABLES

AVG PERCENTAGE OF AGREEMENT = 94.75%

Appendix 2 (CODE GUIDE)

In order to code the manifest contents in this study, a code guide that specifies and explains all the issues in the study is designed.

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The abbreviations in the code sheet are explained below:

F - Frequency of Coverage

P - Placement representing Prominence

V - Volume representing Adequacy of Converge

I - Illustrations (pictures)

D - Days of coverage

F.P - Front page

I.S - Inside page

B.P - Back page

0”-15” stand for 0-15 inches

16”-30” – 16-30 inches

31 + - 31 inches and above

P.N - Positive News

N.N - Negative News

Nu.N - Neutral News

P.E - Positive Editorial

N.E - Negative Editorial

Nu.E - Neutral Editorial

P.F - Positive Feature

N.F - Negative Feature

Nu.F - Neutral Feature

P.C - Positive Cartoon

N.C - Negative Cartoon

N.C - Neutral Cartoon

P.L - Positive Letter / Opinion Article

N.L - Negative Letter / Opinion Article

Nu.L - Neutral Letter / Opinion article

Details

Pages
167
Year
2014
ISBN (Book)
9783668076501
File size
1.3 MB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v306879
Grade
B
Tags
nigerian president umaru adua

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Title: Nigerian press coverage of the 78 days presidential power vacuum crisis under President Umaru Yar'Adua