Building capacity for conflict-sensitive reportage of elections in Nigeria
Adebayo, Joseph Olusegun
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Nigeria’s vociferous media has the potential to be divided along ethnic and religious lines. Given that most Nigerians view political aspirants in terms of their ethnic and religious lineage rather than political ideology, and since most Nigerians rely on the media for information, there is the tendency to fall prey to biased and insensitive reportage, capable of inciting violence which is elicited by prejudiced information often presented as news, features, commentaries, documentaries, etc. This problem is the major motivation behind this research, which aims to build through training, the capacity of the media to report elections in a conflict-sensitive manner. This thesis develops, through the use of a participatory action research design, an alternative method of news reportage using the peace-journalism model. The model, developed by Jake Lynch and Annabel McGoldrick (2005), encourages journalists to report social issues in ways that create opportunities for a society to consider and value nonviolent responses toward conflict by using the insights from conflict analysis and transformation to update concepts of balance, fairness and accuracy in reporting. It also provides a new route map, which traces the connections between journalists, their sources, the stories they cover and the consequences of their reportage. In addition, it builds awareness of nonviolence and brings creativity into the practical job of everyday editing and reporting. This research holds theoretical significance in that it explicitly identifies conditions that encourage journalists to apply conflict-sensitivity to their reportage, thereby promoting societal peace, particularly during elections. The research findings herein offer a unifying multi-dimensional, conceptual framework which can be used to analyse and discuss the role journalists play in ensuring peaceful elections and demonstrates that they have a constructive part to play when covering sensitive social issues. A training manual has been developed from the findings of the study; it is intended to serve as a template and guide for journalists reporting on elections across the African continent.