Domestic Media Coverage of Boko Haram Insurgency in Nigeria

Ogbodo, Jude Nwakpoke (2018) Domestic Media Coverage of Boko Haram Insurgency in Nigeria. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This study examines the domestic media coverage of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. It focuses on the media coverage between 2011 and 2014. The thesis employs a mixed methods approach – content analysis, interview and questionnaire to critically evaluate the nature of coverage of the insurgency. The use of mixed methods allows the study to not only analyse media content but also situate it within its context of production thus broadening our understanding of the relationship between media and terrorism. The study applies seven predetermined (deductive) frames in its analysis. It establishes that political, religious and ‘ethnic’ frames were dominantly used in the coverage of the insurgency. The frames indicate a lack of nuance or texture in the coverage with various critical aspects of the insurgency ignored. Beyond the predetermined frames, ten new sub-thematic (inductive) frames also emerged from the analysis. By knitting the multi-layered arguments in the coverage of the insurgency, this study finds evidence of the Government’s hegemonic narratives and strategic influence in the coverage of the insurgency. The study also notes that institutional weaknesses within news organisations and a hostile legislative environment forced journalists to source stories from the foreign media. Most of these stories are often decontextualized and therefore only give a partial view of a situation and particularly conflict situations in Africa. As a consequence, the domestic media adopted the language of ‘international terrorism’ and now institutionalised the ‘war against terror’ narrative. This ‘homogenous’ or ‘universal’ ‘war against terror’ implies that the media covered the Boko Haram insurgency from the same perspective that terrorist groups in the Middle East and other parts of the world are covered without necessarily recognising the different dynamics that led to their emergence. The thesis thus argues that overtly or covertly, external forces influenced the direction of the coverage thereby eroding the domestic media’s editorial independence. This study therefore offers both quantitative and qualitative contributions to an issue that has largely been approached from normative and prescriptive perspectives.

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