COMPLETE SCHOOL PROJECT TOPICS & MATERIALS :
CHAPTERS: Chapter 1-5
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This study is aimed at finding out the influence of Newspaper political Reports on the voting Behaviour of Electorates. It aimed at determining through opinion survey, the degree at which the voting behaviour of electorates is effected by their exposure to newspaper political report, using Enugu state local Government Areas (North and South) as a case study. An empirical survey of five (5) of the twenty (20) wards in Enugu local Government was conducted. Two newspapers Daily Star and the Newsman were used while collecting the data in determining the influence, their political reports have on the voting behaviour of their audience readers. The sample was randomly selected across five of the twenty wards to find out those who voted during the Governorship Election of March 2003, using stratified sampling technique in terms of the location. For the theoretical framework and guide for the study, related literature especially in mass communication, psychology and political science, were extensively reviewed. Moreover, three-research hypothesis were tested and analyzed, using statistical table and simple percentages. As regards the results, it has been discovered through this study, that newspaper political reports have some effects on the voting behaviour of Enugu electorates. Similarly the exposure of the electorates to newspaper political reports creates certain awareness on them. Meanwhile, the study showed that a combination of factors like interpersonal communication, party affiliation, information from other media, in addition to newspaper political reports, were the principal determinants of the voting behaviour of Enugu electorates. Finally, the finding of this study will be of help to politicians, political reporters and media executives in determining how to channel their political messages to achieve desired effects.
1.1 Background of the Study
It is a commonly held view that mass media play unquantifiable roles in matters of public interest, public opinion and formation of attitude. According to James Curran et al (1977), “pioneer investigators accepted popular impressions of the media as omnipotent and capable of being employed for manipulative purposes”, Thus, Edwin Emery et al (1974), said, “newspapers everywhere are available channels through which political leaders express their views and seek to rally public backing for their policies”. Many researchers have been conducted on the effects of mass media on the audience. The unfortunate thing, however, is that none of these studies has bothered on the effect of newspaper political messages on the audience. This is pertinent, especially as newspaper predates all the other media of mass communication as well as exerts tremendous impact on the society.
The newspaper performs the primary functions of informing, entertaining, educating, and serving the propaganda needs of the society, with regard to the propaganda needs of the society, the newspaper generally plays a critical role in National development, especially during political elections. The powerful role of the press in political institution has also been highlighted by the great American leader, George Washing ton. He once remarked that if he were asked to choose between a government without the press, or press without government, he would opt for the latter. According to Sunday Olagunju, a columnist with the Times International (September 23, 1985), “great leaders such as Lenin of Russia, Bismarck of Germany, Attorturk of Turkey, Napoleon Bonar parti of France and even Chamberlain of Britain, succeeded because of their unalloyed recognition of the powerful role of the press”.
The tremendous political knowledge generated by political reports in newspapers have probably had a lot of impact on the growth, quality and development of political activities in the society. This is given credence by frank Ugboaja, who asserted in his “communication policies in Nigeria” (1980), that “Nigeria therefore had its newspapers to fight the cold wars that eventually led to the lifting of the shackles of colonialisne on 1st October, 1960, after having been under British colonial tutelage for nearly half a country.
Consequently, Nigeria gained her political independence on the powerful “wings” of the press. Since Nigeria secured her independence in 1960, the press in this country has been accused of deviating from its militant journalism to a mere tune-dancer of the drums beaten by its owners. It was in the light of the fore-going that we deemed it necessary to study the influence of newspaper reports on voting behaviour of electorates, taking cognizance of the fact that even though studies have been conducted on press coverage of political campaigns, not adequate report has been given on the voting behaviour of the electorates. Thus, this study is set out to inquire the extent to which newspaper political reports influenced the voting behaviour of the Enugu electorates during March, 2003, Governorship election in Nigeria.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
Undoubtedly, communication is essential for the conduct of polities. Some scholars have called it the nervous system of the body politic, transmitting messages among the various parts. An event that is not communicated is like the hypothetical tree that fell in the market place and nobody heard about it. Just as the fallen tree fails to be heard, so the excommunicated event fails to have effect. However, there have been doubts on how much the newspaper as a print medium of mass communication, has been able to contribute to one of its primary objectives of inducing behaviour. Election is a socio-political affair which is initiated for then change of government. It is a civic responsibility of all and sundry to participate in the election of political leaders. To do this therefore, the electorates need some kind of orientation in the political affairs and electorate procedures. Newspaper constitutes major medium through which this political orientation could be disseminated. Again, the content of such messages invariably affects their assessment by the electorates as either favourable, unfavourable, credible or incredible. Those who use newspapers as a medium for dissemination of political reports must have reasoned that it confers some usefulness and thus, have some impact. In the light of these, therefore, our intention is to find out the extent to which newspaper political reports affects the voting behaviour of the Enugu electorates, at least within the period of February to March, 2003. That very period was characterized by intense political struggles, reports of election malpractices and party campaigns, with unquantifiable promises, all in attempt to win voters consciences in the Governorship election. The study is prompted by the fact that newspapers are believed to be able to damage the prestige of any party or candidate, add its own interpretation to a political newstory, give stance to favour a candidate or political party, and above all, influence public opinion. It is hoped that answers to our findings will help to ascertain the influence of newspaper political reports on the voting behaviour of Enugu electorates. This study drew some of its parameters from studies of Bernard R. Berelson, Paul F. Lazarsfield, H. Gandet amidst other scholars.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
This study aimed at finding out through opinion survey, the voting during the March, 14, 2003 Governorship General Election, as influenced by the newspaper political reports. It is our intention to find out the degree of such political reports on the electorates. Do the stories, articles and other political reports influence the voting actions of the electorates? Or, are the newspaper political reports not just enough to induce a change in the electorates voting behaviour.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
A lot of researches have been conducted on the influence of mass communication on the behaviour and attitude patterns of audiences. Unfortunately, there has been none done on the influence of newspaper political reports on the voting attitude of electorates. The necessity for this study, therefore, stems from the fact that the use of newspapers as avenue for political policy dissemination, has not been fully developed and utilized. Factors like inter-personal communication and party affiliation still seem to have a predominant influence on the voting behaviour of the electorates. Thus, we intend to discover the extent to which newspaper political reports influence the voting behaviour of electorates. That is whether newspaper political reports create awareness, induce or change opinions, or whether these reports are not just enough to induce a change in the behaviour of electorates, or still, whether such political reports facilitate or reinforce political decisions on the electorates. We hope that the result of this study will help the government and it’s agencies in making decisions on the best way to channel political education and help the media organizations understand the appropriate way of structuring political information for their audiences.
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