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A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF NEWSPAPERS’ COVERAGE OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN NIGERIA

 Format: MS-WORD   Chapters: 1-5

 Pages: 99   Attributes: STANDARD RESEARCH

 Amount: 3,000

 Aug 05, 2019 |  10:16 am |  2185

ABSTRACT

This study content analysed four Nigerian newspapers; Daily Trust, Leadership, The Nation and This Day from Jan 2013 to Dec 2014, with the aim of finding the pattern in climate change reporting in the selected newspapers. The objectives of the study include ascertaining the level of attention given to climate change in Nigerian newspapers, analysing the various frames used in reporting climate change, determining the prominent genre of reporting climate change and comparing the pattern of climate change reporting in the four selected newspapers. The study adopted framing theory as its theoretical approach. Content analysis was used to gather data for the research. Stories with any of the key words; climate change, global warming or green house, were the content categories. Units of analysis include news, features, editorials, interview and opinion. Findings from the study show a slight disparity in the volume of reportage of climate change in all papers except The Nation which had the lowest volume. Climate change mitigation was the major frame of reportage in all the papers and features were the major genres used in reporting climate change. A comparison within the papers shows that climate change reportage is similar across the papers with little differences. In conclusion climate change stories were not given much attention by all the papers considering the low volume of reportage, page placement, keyword appearance and story length. More so, issues that are keen to certain areas should be taken more serious, more frames on the causes and effects of climate change should be used in reporting as this will help educate the public of the dangers of climate change so they can willingly change their behaviour towards a greener society.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION

1.1    Background to the Study

The worlds’ climate has been an issue of utmost importance to discuss and its change is causing adverse effects on lives and property. Due to the change in climate, our world is facing one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century. Researchers (Anderson, 2008, Onyekachi Solomon and Ifeanyi, 2012 , Fawole and Olajide, 2012, Kleinschmit and Sjostedt, 2014) have shown that the last 20 years has seen an unprecedented climate change in centuries. In an article published in The Guardian newspaper on the 22/04/2016, the year 2015 was said to be the hottest year since record keeping began in 1880, but temperatures for the 1st three months of 2016 have already demolished that record.

According to Wilson (2000:203) “the global warming story is one of the most complicated stories of our time which is affected by a number of journalistic constraints such as; deadlines, space, one-source stories, complexity and reporter education”. Other factors like geographical location, happenings and events, media ownership and gate keeping also contribute to its complication. Climate change stories involve abstract and probabilistic science, labyrinthine laws, grandstanding politicians, speculative economics and complex interplay of individuals and societies, (Stocking and Leonard, 1990 as cited in Wilson 2000). In developed countries with high science and technical level, climate change is seen as a threat to human existence.

Climate, according to Ajayi (2003:58) “is the average weather condition of a place over a long period of time usually about or over 30 years”. It comprises of elements such as temperature, rainfall, atmospheric pressure, humidity, wind, sunshine and cloud. Climate change as defined by the Inter- Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007:2) “is a change in the state of the climate that can be identified (using statistical tests) by changes in the mean or variation of its properties- and that persists for an extended period of time”. Green- house effect is the ability of the atmosphere to capture and recycle energy emitted by the earth surface. This is a natural process, but human activities have altered the process through the release of green-house gases like carbon-di-oxide, water vapour, methane and chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s). This makes the atmosphere trap more heat.

Worldwide losses due to natural disasters have been roughly doubling since the 1960s; with the European Insurance Federation highlighting that 91% of all natural catastrophes between 1980 and 2005 can be classified as extreme weather. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies attest that weather related disasters have increased from an annual average of 200 in the early 1990s to more than 350 since the year 2000. The increase in disasters relates to equally rising numbers of people affected world- wide. These numbers have risen from 190 million in the 1990s to 243 million in 2008. The IFRCS further states that the high number of climate related disasters accounted for 60 percent of grants allocated by its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF). (IRFC 2009 as cited in Lekwot, Uchenna and Alfred, 2012).

According to Boykoff and Yulsman (2013:2), “research in the last decade has consistently found out that the general public gains understanding of science (and more specifically climate change) largely through mass media accounts”. Since the news media are the central interpretative system of modern societies, they are thus crucial for the societal uptake on climate change issues. They are central agents for awareness rising and information dissemination. As global climate change lies beyond the life-world and biographical horizons of most people, knowledge about it is mainly disseminated via public communication. Most citizens would not learn about climate change research directly from the cautious lexicon in science journals but rather from the mass media (Peters and Heinrich 2005 as cited in Schmidt, Ivanova and Schafer, 2013).

Through media coverage, the public can learn a lot about science and the environment. However, climate change reporting is low and of poor quality in all major media across the African continent. Media owners/editors have little appreciation of climate change, and do not view climate as worth prime space in newspapers (Luganda, 2008). Besides, there has been limited training in climate change communication for development; there are few institutions for specialized training in the continent.

1.2    Statement of the Research Problem

Ihedioha (2007) as cited in Fawole and Olajide (2012:32) observes that “every state of Nigeria across the various ecological zones suffer from the effects of one climate variable change or the other”. Nigeria is vulnerable to climate change impacts due to its geographical location, climatic variation, vegetation, population, settlement, agricultural practices, (rainfall dependent) energy demands, economic and political structure. Some of the effects of climate change felt across the country includes: heat waves, desert encroachment, flooding, drought... these are supposed to be the trending issues in Nigerian newspapers as the climate affects all facets of life.

However, empirical data shows that the Nigerian mass media do not give the needed attention to the coverage of the environment. According to Nwabueze (2007) as cited in Onyekachi et al (2012:24), the quantity of climate change coverage in African media is disproportionate to the level of threat it poses to the continent. In Emekaumejie’s weblog @justanotherwordpress.com, he stated that “Nigeria would risk the worst ravages of global climate change if most of its mass media continue in their present ignorance of the basic issues and the grave challenges they face”. Given the serious effects climate has on Nigeria, the researcher finds it worthy to assess the coverage of climate change by Nigerian newspapers, how and what the newspapers are saying about climate change.

1.3      Research Objectives

The following objectives are developed around the core issues in global climate change debate which includes:

1.      To ascertain the level of attention (prominence) given to the coverage of climate change in Daily Trust, Leadership, The Nation and This Day newspapers.

2.      To analyse the frames used in reporting climate change in these newspapers.

3.      To determine the dominant genre of climate change reportage in the four selected newspapers.

4.      To compare the coverage of climate change among the four newspapers.

1.4      Research Questions

The research attempts to provide answers to the following questions:

1.      What is the level of attention given to climate change stories in Daily Trust, Leadership, The Nation and This Day newspapers?

2.      Which are the various frames used in reporting climate change in the four selected newspapers?

3.      Which is the dominant genre used in reporting climate change in the four selected newspapers?

4.      What are the similarities and differences in climate change reportage in the four newspapers?

1.5      Significance of the Study

Studies on newspaper coverage of climate change in Nigeria have been carried out by some researchers like; Nwabueze, Nnaemeka, Okika and Umeora (2015), Oyeyinka et al (2015),

Ayogu, Agwu and Enwelu (2015), Popoola (2014), Batta, Ashong and Bashir (2013), Agwu and Amu (2013), Ukonu, Akpan and Anorue (2013), Onyekachi et al (2012), Fawole and Olajide (2012) . However, a gap as to the reason behind the low representation of climate change stories in newspapers has not been filled. Therefore, accurate investigation of print media coverage of climate change issues in Nigeria would help to study comprehensively, the pattern of reportage of climate change in Nigeria. This study will also serve as a guide for newspaper organizations to increase their space, time and prominence as well as increase journalists awareness on environmental issues.

Furthermore, this research adds to the body of existing literature on climate change by analyzing the relationship between journalist’s knowledge and level of reportage of climate change in Nigeria. The study would also contribute to knowledge by confirming or affirming the results of the past findings on press coverage of climate change. Findings and conclusions of these studies would also be used in the analysis of this research.

1.6    Scope of the Study

This research is aimed at investigating the reportorial pattern of climate change in Nigerian newspapers. For this purpose, four daily newspapers were analysed; Leadership, This Day, The Nation and Daily Trust due to their regularity of publication, ownership, geographical location, wide reach and circulation level. The study began newspaper review from January 2013 to December 2014. 2012 is the year Nigeria experienced severe flood all through the country, as such Nigerian newspapers are expected to take climate issues more seriously after the flood incident. The total population of the study is 2912 editions of the four selected newspaper out of which 528 sampled editions were analysed.

 

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