The Role of Mass Media in a Democratic Governance


This study examines the role of mass media in a democratic governance. Specifically mass Media are generally assumed to play an important role in democracies, but how effective are they in performing this function within specific states hence this study. The study adopts four specific objectives to the study which are (i) To ascertain the level of equal media coverage given to political parties to candidates. (ii) To ascertain the significant relationship between mass media & electioneering campaign. (iii) To ascertain the significant level of mobilization of mass media towards elections and (iv)To determine the significant role mass media plays towards the democratic governance in Nigeria. The Methodology of the study includes: design of the study, area of the study, the population of the study, the sample of the study, the institution of data collection, validation of the instrument, distribution and retrieval of the instrument and the method of data analysis in the cause of data distribution. Total numbers of 100 questionnaire were released to the 80 respondent. 80 administered questionnaire were retrieved from the field while 20 were missed. As a result of findings from this research work, the following recommendation have been suggested: Since it has been discovered that there is a direct relationship between media coverage and elections result, the mass media should endeavor to give equal media coverage to political parties and their candidates. In other word, the mass media should allow political parties and their candidates a level playing for their campaign. Secondly Agenda-setting programmes of mass media towards elections is an effective way of mobilizing, educating and enlighten the public and the electorates on electoral process, hence, the mass media practitioners should endeavor to package more of agenda setting programmes to ensure a free and fair elections in Nigeria. Finally the study concluded that the mass media has been effective in mobilizing the electorates towards elections as seen in various programmes before, during and after the elections in Nigeria. Various political programmes in media towards elections in Nigeria are evidence to the fact that they are playing their agenda-setting roles in Nigeria towards successful, free and fair election in Nigeria.



Background of the Study

The mass media generally regarded as a channel of communication that are capable of reaching heterogeneous audience simultaneously with uniform message. They regularly cover all sorts of issues such as health, music, fine art, crime, sport, entertainment, political events among others (Meyer, 2002, Soela 2004). The mass media transmits ideas and new information to target audience in the society. Tosani Sunmi (2004) has observed that the mass media educate, inform and entertain beyond these functions as they also persuade and catalyze for social mobilization. In other words, the mass media can be regarded as powerful service of information because they have the capability to penetrate every segment of society. They have the ability to disseminate information about issue, ideas and product.

Furthermore, the mass media has that capability to create awareness and knowledge about issues of national interest. The traditional mass media usually consist of radio, television, newspaper and magazine while the news media involves the internet technologies. Contextually, these media have the responsibility to mobilize for national development. In other words, social mobilization for development largely depends on the media for success. Crusade for change and dissemination of useful information against corruption, bad governance and terrorism depend on the mass media. Ogwezzy (2010) states that it is a common knowledge that the media is the engine of mass communication and the avenue through which the public could be reached.

In the other hand, election is an important element of democracy; elections enable the individual to express a sense of belonging to a political system. Elections provide forum for the discussion of public opinion on important issue. Elections allow an exchange of influence between leaders and the electorate (Nwaozuzu 1999). This statement captures the relevant functions of the broadcast media in elections which serves as a mobilizing of all the different people in society and at the same time to coordinate the activities as they are made to express their views about candidates who are contesting for political position. The broadcast media through their programmes create avenue through which the people express their views about candidates. There may be phone calls in programmes like radio link, state of the Nation, or debate programmer responsible or otherwise and has made people pass on topical political issues. Also the broadcast media (Radio and Television) provide platforms through which individuals or member of society contribute on issues of public interest. They may be based on stewardship of political offices holders wishing to recontest for elections or it may have to do with electoral law that are perceived to be capable of fermenting violence. Ebo (1997) maintain that: the broadcast media play decisive roles in the lives of the citizens no matter where they are located and whatever their stage of development. The broadcast media are the most potent and sensitive sector of the communication industry considering the reach and influence they have on their viewers and listeners.

Therefore, it is against the above background that this study seeks to examine the role of mass media in a democratic governance, with reference to Nigeria.

1.2 Statement of Research Problem

The role of media in every society is often to educate, inform and enlighten. It is assumed that, where those roles are adequately carried out, elections are bound to be free and fair. However, in Nigeria, several elections have been marred, the question is how the mass media had mobilized the Nigerian populace. How come electoral processes have not been successful? Is the broadcast media system not commensurate to other media systems elsewhere? These and many others are questions that this study hopes to identify.

Research Questions

The following research questions were considered:

  1. To what extent does electioneering campaign on media affects the results of elections?
  2. What is the significant relationship between mass media and a free & fair election?

iii. How does the media play the role of agenda-setting during election?

  1. What is the significant level of media mobilization during electoral process?

1.4 Objectives of the Study

The general objective of this study is to examine the role of mass media in democratic governance.

The specific objectives of this study are:

  1. To ascertain the level of equal media coverage given to political parties to candidates.
  2. To ascertain the significant relationship between mass media & electioneering campaign.
  3. To ascertain the significant level of mobilization of mass media towards elections.
  4. To determine the significant role mass media plays towards the democratic governance in Nigeria .

Significance of the study

On the completion of this project the end result will benefit academics, students of political sciences and other researchers that intend to carry out further research on the study of this nature. Also, the practical significance is that the policies /recommendation that will emanate from this study will serve as a guide to policy makers in dealing with issues of this nature.

Scope of the Study

The scope of this research work will only cover the people within Anambra metropolis. This focus will be on the people living around Abagana, Awka and Onitsha axis of the city.

Research Hypothesis

Ho :Mass media do not plays significant role towards democratic sustenance in Nigeria

Hi: Mass media plays a significant role towards democratic sustenance in Nigeria

Limitations of the Study

The research work may be challenged by time, funds and unavailability of materials.

Definition of Terms

A Political campaign: this is an organized effort which seeks to influence the decision making process within a specific group source Wikipedia

Mass media: This is a medium of communication (as newspapers, radio, or television) that is designed to reach the mass of the people.

Democracy: a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections (Oxford English Dictionary)



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