Safer-Media Initiative’s Survey Shows Residents Unsatisfied with Media Coverage of Local Issues in Abuja

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Peter Iorter
Founder/Executive Director,
Safer-Media Initiative

The Safer-Media Initiative (SMI) survey conducted in the six Local Area Councils (LAC) of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja has shown that 64.9% of respondents are dissatisfied with the media coverage of local issues in the FCT.

SMI conducted the survey with the aim of providing evidence-based analysis on the visibility of marginalised voices in the media, the level of media coverage of local issues and in-depth reporting on governance and accountability at the local levels for the implementation of the Strengthening Journalism – Independence, Capacity and Presence (SJ-ICAP) Project under the Collaborative Media Project.

The survey finding shows that the majority (69.4%) of survey respondents rated the level of media coverage of issues around their community as unsatisfactory. Again, a large number of respondents (71.1%) opined that there would be recorded change when issues that affect people in the community are reported in the news.

The survey also underscored the need for in-depth reporting of local issues, including governance and accountability as a majority 60.4% of the survey respondents said issues around their communities are not well reported in the news; 63.6% of respondents said there is need to increase the representation of marginalised voices – Women, Youths and Persons with disabilities – in the news; and a large proportion of respondents 73.9% said news around national politics are reported more often than local issues.

It also identified governance and accountability, regulatory failure, growing rate of poverty, youth unemployment, health, education, issues affecting women and children as priority areas the population would want to find in news coverage.

As a result of the survey findings which provides a baseline for important statistics, SMI will open an application for training for journalists interested in telling stories that are vital for these communities. The capacities of selected journalists will be built and supported to investigate and uncover stories that need to be told and give voice to some of the most underrepresented groups in society.

SMI recommends the survey report as a reference tool for newsrooms and journalists interested in creating new beats and stories that will give voice to some of the most under-represented groups in society.

The effort is an intervention within SMI’s mandate to implement the Strengthening Journalism – Independence, Capacity and Presence (SJ-ICAP) Project under the Collaborative Media Engagement for Development, Inclusivity and Accountability Project (The Collaborative Media Project) of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ), with funding from the MacArthur Foundation.

The Collaborative Media Project is designed as a multi-level intervention for media independence and government accountability. It seeks to strengthen media independence and presence, especially at state and local government levels in a bid to improve public awareness and the ecosystem for accountability at the lower level of government.