A media content monitoring research conducted by the International Press Centre (IPC) and the Nigerian Press Council (NPC) shows that female political aspirants and candidates are given poor media coverage and that persons living with disabilities “were very poorly used as sources” among other findings.
The “Overview of the Media (Newspapers & Online) Monitoring Report” by IPC and NPC is the findings and outcome of the monitoring of the coverage and reportage of the 2015 elections for the months of November and December, 2014. It monitored twenty-six newspapers, both privately and government owned, three online media and four social media platforms.
IPC and NPC monitored media reportage focusing on five vital issues, namely sources, conflict sensitivity, language, issues, and the electoral management body (EMB).
They monitored to assess the credibility and diversity of the sources in terms of the mentions of political parties contesting the elections; the gender of the politicians; the use of experts; the use of key electoral stakeholders; the use of gender-represented groups like women, youths and persons living with disabilities as sources etc.
The monitoring also sought to assess whether media reports give enough alert about possible outbreak of violence and whether or not they cast sensational headlines that can instigate people into violence.
The exercise also observed the words used or the tone of the reports, monitoring hate speech and the ability to incite people to violence. It examined the focus and dimensions of the electoral reports so as to assess the degree of importance attached to various relevant issues of political and electioneering activities as well as election stakeholders.
The exercise also examined the extent of reportage of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the trend of such reports while also assessing public perception of the independence, performance and accountability of INEC.
Findings from the report also shows that the newspapers performed fairly well in the reportage of INEC as they tried to hold the electoral umpire accountable by publishing many reports in response to demands and complaints.
For the exercise, the NPC monitored: Nigerian Pilot, Abuja Inquirer, Leadership, Peoples Daily, Fresh Facts, Daily Trust, Blueprint, and Desert Herald. IPC on the other hand monitored the following dailies: Daily Sun, The Nation, National Mirror, Vanguard, The Punch, ThisDay, Daily Independent, The Guardian, Nigerian Tribune, and Daily Champion.
IPC also monitored three regional dailies including Daily Star, Nigerian Chronicle and Nigerian Observer. The three online media it monitored were Cable News, Premium Times, and Tide.
The report also found out that the two biggest political parties All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) dominated media reporting during the period under review; the few sensational headlines recorded ought to have been avoided because of their potential to cause disaffection as well as inflame passions; and that many stories were published on political and electoral conflicts showing that conflict as against issues have tended to dominate the media space.
For best practices in reporting the election, the report drew the attention of journalists and media houses to the existence of the Nigerian Media Code of Election Coverage which provides professional and ethical guidelines for news reporting and political advertisements during elections especially in the contest advising them to abide by it and refrain from reporting on issues which can lead to incitement and hate speech.