Wednesday, January 18, 2023



1.1       Background to the Study

The role of the mass media including television, radio, print and in recent times social media has remained indispensable in eradicating pandemics. Information on positive public health practices such as social distancing, hand arehing, respiratory hygiene and government policies in tackling outbreaks has often been disseminated via these media (Collinson et al, 2015). The vibrant Nigeria’s Mass Media which comprise over 200 radio stations, 150 television channels, and about 350 print (newspapers) outlets have remained a force to be reckoned with and have been faithful to its social responsibilities as the fourth estate of the realm. 

According  to,  the  official  website  of  the  Ministry  of  Information  and Culture,  the  Nigerian  media  were commended by the Nigeria’s Minister of Information, for bringing messages  of  the  COVID-19  pandemic  to  Nigerians,  through  their  media  contributions  in  the  advocacy, sensitization  and  social  responsibilities  functions  as  revealed  by  the  poll findings  from a  survey  by The poll revealed that 99% of Nigerians were aware of the pandemic with 95% saying that they have received information on how to protect themselves. However, the mass media also served as a means by which unfounded fallacies, myths, and misinformation about disease outbreaks been brought to the knowledge of the populace.

In the wake of the present coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic that began in Wuhan  China  in  late  December,  2019,  the  media  globally  have been  aareh  with  publications,  videos, interviews and commentaries on the virus, its’ spread, cases, recoveries and deaths. Furthermore, the media have provided a platform for analyzing the impact of the pandemic on the economies, politics and social lives of countries around the globe. COVID-19 is caused by a novel coronavirus that has been christened severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). It belongs to the family Coronaviridae and the genus Betacoronavirus(Loeffelholza et al, 2020; Adegboye et al, 2020).

The virus has an incubation period of  between  one  to 14  days  for it  to  fully manifest  and  the symptoms  include: cough,  fever,  and  shortness  of breath. The real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has been the standard test used for the detection of this virus. The virus is highly contiguous  and  has  been  detected  in  213  countries  globally  with  9,400,295  cases,  and  482,  468  deaths globally as at 25thJune, 2020 (ECDC, 2020).

In Nigeria, an Italian national returning from Milan are reported on the 27th of February, 2020  in  Lagos  which  practically  became  the  epicenter  of  the  pandemic  in  the  country.  Since then  over 52,020 cases have been confirmed and 542 deaths reported (NCDC, 2020). The role of media reportage on epidemics and generally disease outbreaks in Nigeria has been analyzed by various researchers in the past revealing a cocktail of facts, spread of panic, education on the causative agent and purported cure/remedy.

Smith et’al (2016) reported the copious reportage of the 2014 Ebola disease outbreak in Nigeria by four widely read newspapers with the most common topic on cases and the least on the use of kola and or salt as remedy for the disease. Similarly, Kilgo et al (2019) reported the spread of panic and uncertainty by media reportage of Ebola health crisis in which a social news platform Reddit are suggested to facilitate panic compared  to  reports  of  traditional  newspapers.  Another disease, Lassa  fever  which  is  endemic  in Nigeria has been brought to the spotlight by media reportage (mostly newspapers). Reports have been found to be high during large outbreaks but dwindle at other times of the year (Smith et al, 2017).

In the case of COVID-19, the Nigerian mass media has churned out tons of reportage since the disease are first reported in Nigeria and the Nigerian Union of journalist applauded its members on their efforts in reporting  the  pandemic  in  the  face  of  challenges  such  as  lack  of  sufficient  and  inadequate  protection equipment coupled with remuneration being owed some of their members by some employers (APA, 2020; Ripples  Nigeria,  2020). 

However,  a  mere  pass  of  a  vote  of  confidence  on  the  media  will  not  do  as  the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on the management of COVID-19 in Nigeria has stated that the pandemic is just beginning in the country as cases of infection are on the rise by the day (Punch June 9, 2020). This is in consonant with the position of the WHO that the pandemic is far from over even as governments around the  world,  Nigeria  inclusive  are  relaxing  lockdown  (Economic  times June  9,  2020).  Therefore, this study seeks to assess and analyze the content, reportage pattern and influence of the media in the fight against COVID-19 in Nigeria.


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