The Roles of Broadcast Media in the Recent Boko Haram Crisis in Nigeria



In today’s world, there is hardly a day you will open any major newspaper or watch television without seeing a report on terrorism; those news is usually back with visual images, depicting the gory pictures of dead persons, maimed victims, collapse buildings as a result of the impact of bombs, and carcasses of vehicles at the scene of the incidents. Because of the limited knowledge of what constitutes an act of terrorism; some journalists are always quick to brand all types of violent incidents as an act of terrorism, including crimes of opportunities like armed robbery, kidnapping, and murder. In all these, terrorists benefit immensely from free media coverage, which help in propagating their messages. Terrorism according to the defunct League of Nations (1937, quoted in Afowowe, 2011) described terrorism as “all criminal acts directed against a state and intended or calculated to create a state of terror in the minds of particular persons or a group of persons or the general public.” Several countries of the world have witnessed and are still witnessing one form of crisis or the other. The Liberian war, Somalian crisis, Rwanda’s genocide, Sierra Leonean war, Libyan crisis, Bahrain unrest, clampdown on Yemen, the Syrian conflict and the Nigeria book haram crisis are obvious instances of the above assertion. The outcomes of these conflicts, amongst others, have been devastating and painful.

However, the role of the media in counterterrorism strategy cannot be overemphasized because one of the major objectives of terrorist groups is to get maximum publicity for their terrorist act. The mass media especially the broadcast media through television has been an effective tool for terrorists because of the images and pictures they broadcast to the public. The images have so much influence on the public, the policy makers, and thereby influence both local and foreign policies. It is obvious that the violence and act of violence portrayed on the television consciously or unconsciously are set of opinionated view of the editor or television station, which may have serious control of how the public react. The media is very powerful base on the image and pictures of violence been displayed all the time about terrorist activities. The big question is…..should the mass media give less publicity to terrorist activities? Of course, the denial of maximum coverage to terrorist violent activities will cut short the expectation of the perpetrators and make them not to achieve their main objective of using violence to create fear in the heart of the public.  There is no doubt in the fact that the major instrument of terrorism is media propaganda; any terrorist action without the media is of no effect on the targeted audience. In the word of former prime minister of Britain, Margaret Thatcher has widely been cited by scholars (Muller et al. 2003) as saying that, “publicity is the oxygen of terrorism.” The above assertion is understandable given that the main objective of terrorists is to spread message of fear to as many people as possible including those not directly involved in the attack; and the mass media play a very vital role in achieving this objective. According to Hoffman (1998), a counterterrorism expert, he said in his book that “terrorism and the media are bound together in an inherently symbiotic relationship, each feeding off and exploiting the other for its own purposes.” The terrorist always wants to communicate their revolutionary or divine messages to a wide audience and they have recognized the potential of new mass communication technology. At the same time, the media will want to compete in breaking such news without weighing the repercussion that such news may have on government policy. There is therefore a symbiotic relationship between the media and the terrorism.

Furthermore, the modern terrorist organizations today have access to the internet, affordable video production and duplication process and the private, terrorist owned television stations. Osama Bin Ladin, before his death, maximized the opportunity of the new Media. He always sends his messages via the Internet and YouTube. Mallam Ibrahim Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram in Nigeria has been consistently using YouTube to send messages to the government and his followers.  However, in attacking modern terrorism, the media is very important. While media censorship is not the best on the side of the government; on the other hand, the traditional media operators must know the type of news and story that promote the objectives of the terrorists and the news that enhances the counterterrorism effort. Unfortunately, The Internet has expanded the terrorists’ theatre of operation, allowing them to by-pass the traditional media gatekeepers through the use of the cyberspace infrastructure.

In the face of the current security crisis orchestrated by Boko Haram sect in Nigeria, the mass media can play an effective role in resolving the crisis through adequate coverage. The surveillance function of the media (beware surveillance) must be effectively played, to warn people of an impending danger. Through effective reportage, those perpetuating the crisis can have their perception changed, and peace loving Nigerians can equally step up their security consciousness.

It is against this background that the research of this nature becomes imperative with a view to examine the roles of broadcast media in recent Boko Haram crises in Nigeria.


The mass media, as the fourth estate of the realm in Nigeria is not only a powerful tool of national coexistence but an effective tool in counterterrorism strategy and promoting security of lives and property through its media contents that either come in form of news reporting, features or editorial. That is why one of the major goals of the media is to spread the message to more people than just those hit in a terrorist attack. Unfortunately it is worrisome and devastating to note that the Nigerian broadcast media have been a catalyst that lubricates the activities of Boko Haram through their sensational report. This is manifested in the report of ethnic based media in Nigeria. For instance, Agbaje (1998) observed that geographical/ethnic affiliation of newspapers in Nigeria does affect their pattern of editorial coverage. Euwema and Verbeke (1993) had equally noted that dysfunction occurred when journalists working and reporting from each other’s regions of operation could not free themselves from their ethnic biases. Lawal (2008) using content analysis for analyzing three newspapers – Daily Times, New Nigeria, and Daily Sketch, showed that ethnic loyalty rather than national interest determines the stand taken by any section of the Nigerian press in times of crisis.

It is against this backdrop that this research tends to examine the roles of broadcast media in their reports of recent Boko haram crises in Nigeria.


The overall aim of this study is to examine the roles broadcast media in the recent boko haram crises in Nigeria.

Objectively, this research covers the followings:

  • To determine the frequency and timely of reportage by the Nigeria broadcast media in the recent Boko haram crisis.
  • To determine the effect of broadcast media report in the fight against Boko Haram crisis.
  • To examine whether broadcast media have objectives in their reportage of the Boko Haram crisis.
  • To ascertain whether Nigerians perceive mass media reportage of the Boko Haram crisis as glorifying the act of terrorism?
  • To examine the challenges facing broadcast media in their reportage of Boko Haram crisis?


  • Do Nigeria broadcast media has been frequent and timely in thier reportage of recent Boko haram crisis?
  • Do broadcast media reports have any significant effect in the fight against Boko Haram crisis in Nigeria?
  • Do broadcast stations have been objective in their reportage of the Boko Haram crisis?
  • Do Nigerians perceive mass media reportage of the Boko Haram crisis as glorifying the act of terrorism?
  • What are the challenges facing broadcast media in their reportage of Boko Haram crisis?


The significance of this study are enormous in the sense that it does not only aim at examining the roles of broadcast media in the recent Boko haram crisis, but also imposing concrete and attainable practical steps, through which the media practitioners can be strengthened in the discharge of their social responsibilities. It is hoped that this research would be of help to media practitioners and security experts to be more conscious of the heinous activities of Boko Haram by using synergistic approach to combat them.

Furthermore, conclusion reached in this research work will serve as a crystal guide to Government, policy makers, Nigeria union of journalist and all media practitioners in Nigeria to identify which strategy should be adopted in the use of media as an agent of anti-terrorism in Nigeria. This research study is also justified on the ground that it will serve as a frontier of knowledge to upcoming researchers who are willing to carry out similar research work.


This research work is not expected to span beyond examining the roles of broadcast media in the recent Boko Haram crisis. However, there are some hiccups that the researcher may encounter in the process of carrying out this investigation which may constitute limitation to the research credibility. Some of the limitations therefore may result from the reluctance of respondents, in cooperating with researcher to provide needed information for the purpose of this research, the cost involved in distributing research instrument and in printing the project work, to mention a few.


In other to ensure clarity, and simplicity of the work as well as avoiding ambiguity, this section will be devoted to defining some major operational terms used in this research work.

Mass Media: This is a media that is intended for a large audience. It may take the form of broadcast media, as in the case of television and radio, or print media, like newspapers and magazines. In this research study, the word media is used to refer to both the print and broadcast media as indicated above.

Terrorism: This is the deliberate creation and exploitation of fear through violence or threat of violence in the pursuit of political change or any other reasons.

Boko Haram: Boko Haram is an anarchist Islamist sect that focused its campaign against western education and democracy, and that the sect has become a vehicle of disunity and religious conflict in Nigeria.


For the purpose of easy referencing and consultation, the study span through five chapters. Chapter one covers the background of the study, research objectives, problem statement and research questions. Chapter two contains the review of related literatures and the theoretical framework underpinning broadcast media and Boko Haram. Chapter three basically contains the methodology of the study. It includes population, sample size, method of data collection and procedures for data analysis. While the penultimate chapter covers the presentation and analysis of relevant data collected for the research, as well as interpretation of findings or result, Chapter five therefore comprises of summary, conclusion and recommendations.


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