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Reporting on political corruption in Nigeria: Sources, ownership affiliations, and other determinants of news frames

Henshaw, E. E. (2024). Reporting on political corruption in Nigeria: Sources, ownership affiliations, and other determinants of news frames. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Research on the media’s ability to address political corruption have tended to focus substantially on Western democracies, despite the increasing democratisation of countries in other regions of the world, including those on the African continent. Since emerging from military rule in 1999, Nigeria has been described as Africa’s largest democracy and is considered as having one of the continent’s most vibrant press, yet it continues to be branded as politically corrupt by scholars and policy makers alike. This study, drawing from content analysis of almost 700 articles and qualitative interviews with 24 experienced journalists, examines press coverage of political corruption in the country. It compares news reporting on political corruption in a competitive election year (2019) when journalists are actively courted by political elites because votes are at stake, to a relatively lack-lustre routine year (2020) when these elites prefer to be reticent about malpractice. Findings from the content analysed reveal a preference for portrayals of political corruption as blame assigned to the government for causing or solving the problem, or as accusations and counter-accusations between contending political elites, regardless of the year examined. However, while political elites remain the principal sources used in news articles to discuss corruption in both years, there is a sharp increase in the deployment of civil society organisations as sources in the non-election year. Interviews with journalists highlight a range of discreet considerations determining the portrayals and serving to restrict the authoritative reporting on political corruption, among them, access to sources, ownership affiliations, and risks on reporting malpractice.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
J Political Science > JC Political theory
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Journalism
School of Communication & Creativity > School of Communication & Creativity Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
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