But further studies have come up with other important roles such as persuasion, interpretation, surveillance, interpretation, advocacy and mobilization, integration, selling and advertising, publicity, cultural transmission, propaganda, agenda setting and the list can be endless. But for the sake of this presentation I shall discuss a few. And the aim of this paper is to discuss the role of the media with the 2015 elections in view. And it should be noted that the media has an important role to play in the 2015 electoral process.
Straight to it, the major role of the media in the electoral process towards the 2015 election is that of an Informing function. It behooves the media practitioners to spread useful information, which will enable Nigerian citizens to make informed decisions. Therefore, the question that comes to mind is what should the media inform Nigerian citizens about? First, the media should bring to the fore, the activities of the current administration(s) or incumbents’ activities. This should be done objectively. The media should bring back the manifestoes of the incumbents and juxtapose them with what they have achieved.
The policies that have changed the lives of the Nigerian citizens or driven them into the abyss of pervasive poverty and dehumanization. The media should inform the Nigerian citizen on where they were before the current government came into power and now that they are in power with their different tenures coming to an end and with the 2015 election in view. Moreover, it is the media’s responsibility to perform a checking function by ensuring that elected representatives uphold their oaths of office and carry out the wishes of those who elected them.
More also, the media should inform the Nigerian citizens on the ideologies of the contesting political parties. What has been the ideology of these parties? What are their policies? What are their economic values? And how do they meet with the existing challenges of our society. But it should be stated, the media is not to take side or decide for the people but should direct the people in an unbiased, balanced, objective and productive line of thinking. Furthermore, the media should do more of developmental reporting and not used as a hunt dog to hack down opposition parties. The media should report events to promote the unity of the country.
There is a lot of sectional sentiment in the Nigeria media today. Sensationalism has become the order of the day. We see big headlines with no substance, headlines capable of causing unrest. In informing the Nigerian electorate, yellow journalism should be avoided. The truth must be told though it may incur the wrath of a political party but it must be told. The media should as well sensitize the people on the need to constructively fight for their rights that have been denied them by the elected representatives. Persuasion and mobilization is another pertinent role the media is to perform in the forthcoming elections.
The media must persuade the Nigerian citizens on why they have to be registered before the election as this is the criteria on which their freedom of franchise is based. Further on this, they should mobilise Nigerians on the need to come out to exercise their freedom of franchise by casting their votes for their trusted and desired candidate. The media must let them know that their destiny is in their hands and they will decide what form, pattern and colour their destiny will look take in the next tenure. The print media have an important hold on the people.
It is a stronghold of information that affects the decisions of people about government polices that are made, neglected, implemented and other needed information for the people’s daily life. Walter Lippmann in 1920 had this to say about the newspaper: “For the newspaper is in all literariness the bible Of democracy, the book out of which a people determines its conduct. It is the only serious book most people read. It is the only book they read everyday. Now the power To determine each day what shall seem important and What shall be neglected is a power unlike any that has Been exercised since the pope lost hold on the secular mind”
Well said. It means that the print media should not become a recruitment agent for political parties but a source of useful information that will not create anxiety in the society but rather integrate the society together. But I will end this write up with this question can the media really perform this role of objective and constructive information, dissemination? When the elected representatives and their friends have hijacked and bought over most of it not all the media houses? Don’t query me, answer the question objectively and then you can forecast what kind of 2015 elections we are going to have in Nigerian. What is your role?