Date of Award

5-1-2016

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Mass Communication and Media Arts

First Advisor

Onyebadi, Uche

Abstract

While the media are known as information and entertainment source, some scholars (e.g. Galtung, 2002; Lynch, 2014) have also proposed peace advocacy as one of the concerns of journalism. This study provides an insightful account of a complex conflict- the Boko Haram conflict, in northern Nigeria. Boko Haram is an Islamic fundamentalist group that operates out of north-eastern Nigeria. With the Boko Haram conflict as the focus of analysis, this study examines conflict reporting strategies against the backdrop of the peace and war journalism model proposed by a Norwegian scholar, Johan Galtung. Galtung looked at the dichotomy in conflict coverage and views war and peace journalism as two varying frames in the coverage of conflicts. The study also examines national versus international media practices in the coverage of an intra-national conflict. Through content analysis this study concentrates on the coverage of the Boko Haram crisis in Nigeria over a 16- month period by two Nigerian national dailies, Vanguard and Punch, and two United States’ dailies, New York Times and Washington Post, from February 1st 2014 to May 29th 2015. It considers the extent to which the newspapers covered the crisis based on war and peace frames as well as the dynamic nature of the coverage. Furthermore, this study also investigates whether the newspapers showed exclusivity in coverage towards war journalism or towards peace journalism or a combination of both. Within the period considered for this study, Boko Haram kidnapped about 300 girls from the Chibok High School, of whose fate uncertainty still prevailed as at the time of writing this dissertation. The study found that the Boko Haram crisis was represented in the newspapers examined as a thematic issue. However, the newspapers did not provide sufficient contextual and background information about the crisis. The media did not play active roles towards conflict management, as advocated by Galtung, and were involved in partisan reporting of incidents in the crisis. This study therefore makes a significant contribution to the debate about objectivity in news reporting and the role of the media for societal good.

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