The study was aimed at examining mass media and voter education, a case study of Plateau state. The survey research was used in this study to sample the opinion of respondents. This method involved random selection of respondent who were administered with questionnaires. The target population of the study comprised of residents of selected areas in Plateau state. The questionnaire administered was one hundred and ten (110) copies and one hundred copies retrieved which constitute the sample size. The descriptive and analytical approach was adopted using Chi-square to test and analyze the hypotheses earlier stated. The findings revealed that mass media significantly influenced the voting behaviour of voters in Plateau state and that there is a significant relationship between mass Media and the voting behaviour of voters in Plateau state. It was therefore concluded from the findings that mass media specifically made voters to take certain actions like going to the registering centres to register as voters and then going to the polling centres to vote. It was recommended that management of mass media platforms should as a matter of necessity galvanize efforts towards re-directing news, commentaries as well as other sundry programmes to issues of voter education.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The mass media have always played significant roles across the globe as the general public typically relies on it to provide information regarding political issues, social issues, entertainment and news in pop culture. Mass media play an important role in shaping our attitudes which affect our society. The distinctive features of the mass media all companies are the dissemination of information and ideas to the public, or they're part of (Bulmler, & Katz, 1974). The mass media mean communication to the public at large. Public influences the media through their viewership, listenership or readership or collectively. According to some studies media are essential providers of political information. The media provide political decision on which voters base their decision on. Media effects are often important, but they vary depending on media type and outcome (Chaffee and Frank, 2016; John Halpern, and Morris, 2012, McLeod et al, 1968). Furthermore, media plays a significant role in shaping public perception on political issues such as election campaign is going on in Media spaces. In contemporary times mass media is use as a tool in disseminating information to the people about the electoral process. Such enlightenment is meant to educate voters and members of the society about electioneering campaigns and other issues related to it. Media are central to politics today due to immediate and instant dissemination of political issues. In advance democracies, the media is freer and more independent when it comes to journalistic content. The media are generally defined as those channels of communication which are capable of reaching heterogeneous audiences simultaneously with uniform messages (Oyesomi, Oyero, and Okorie, 2014). This diversified communication technologies are divided into traditional media and new/digital media. The three forms of traditional media are print (newspapers, books, magazines), broadcast (television, radio), and cinema (movies, documentaries) while internet and mobile mass communication (email, social media sites, websites, and internet-based radio and television) are referred to as the new or digital media. The notion of the media as the fourth branch of government, as watchdog, as guardian of the public interest, and as a conduit between governors and the governed is widely claimed. It is believed that an informed citizenry is beneficial to democracy. Citizens who are informed and knowledge about politics tend to make decisions that reflect their real interests. Citizens only need to watch the news, listen to the radio, read the newspaper or browse the internet or social media to receive a wide range of information (Lindstedt and Naurin 2010) which can help to promote and improve government performance and accountability (Snyder and Stromberg, 2010) as well as reduce corruption (Natamba, MuyombaTamale, Ssemakula, Nimpammya and Asiimirwe, 2010). Citizens’ participation in the political process is an important element of a democratic political culture. The participation of members of a political community is usually influenced by the political information, attitudes, feelings and skills they possessed. Cognitive orientation or political knowledge about the political system of a nation is important to the quality of citizenship and health of the collective (de Vreesea and Boomgaarden, 2016). Voter education is a measure of citizen’s ability to provide correct answers to a specific set of fact-based questions (Boudreau and Lupia, 2011). It depends, in part, upon access to information about governmental actions, political officeholders, and so on, and generally refers to relevant information and the level of skills and understanding of civic and political affairs surrounding regional, national and global issues (Molaei, 2017). Bathelt (2015) opined that electoral education breed politically informed, vigilant, vocal and competent citizens who are able to evaluate their own interests and act to protect these interests in political situations. Voter education helps citizens to better understand the current affairs shaping their societies, contributes to more stable and consistent political attitudes. It also helps citizens to achieve their own interests and make decisions that conform to their attitudes and preferences, promotes support for democratic values, facilitates trust in the political system, and motivates political participation (Galston, 2011). While citizens that lack the minimum levels of knowledge and skills to meaningfully engage in politics can be described as political dropouts (Milner, 2010). The media in Nigeria are sources of political information, and avenue for political participation and discussion, right from the colonial era to the present democratic dispensation. Obasanjo (1992) described it as any agency that operates for the articulation and dissemination of ideas and information, generally with the intent to influence an audience or the institution that constitutes legalized power and authority. Against this background, the role of mass media in voter education of citizens over time will be the focus ofstudy.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The question of how those who are not very knowledgeable politically can be rendered more knowledgeable about politics by means of media exposure has been focus of research by communication experts, political scientists and other social scientists. A significant quality of political knowledge is required for citizens to be considered politically active, but most people’s knowledge about politics appears insufficient to meet the standards of a “competent citizen” (DelliCarpini and Keeter, 2016; Reichert, 2016). So many people in Nigeria have been discovered to be unwitting when it comes to national politics, news and current affairs as they mostly use the media for entertainments. Similarly, previous studies examining media access relationship with mass media and voter education have also produced conflicting results and explanations.
Consequently, there is no enough efforts from Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) aimed at promoting voter education in the country. Voter education is essential to ensuring that voters can effectively and efficiently exercise their voting rights and express their political will through the electoral process (Akintayo, 2011). If voters are not prepared or motivated to participate in the electoral process, questions may begin to arise about the legitimacy, representativeness, and responsiveness of elected leaders and the electoral body i.e. INEC in this case. Without voter education, Nigerians may not be sensitized about the elections as well as reposing their confidence in the electoral system. Voter education is a very focused and deliberate undertaking. It is targeted at eligible voters and addresses specific electoral events as well as the general electoral process. INEC should see it as laudable endeavour to properly educate and enlighten Nigerians about the elections. It is the responsibility of INEC to organize a campaign aimed at voters‘ education. Such enlightenment as ―Who can vote from outside the country?, Are citizens residing outside the country allowed to participate in the election?, How do electors cast their votes?, Manually marking of ballots?, and what are the legal qualifications to become a candidate at legislative elections?. Nigerians needs to be educated assisted to participate and understand the electoral process and the above stated questions. The education campaign comes with desired messages through various media platforms to effectively and efficiently educate and mobilize Nigerians to participate in the forthcoming and subsequent elections. These efforts are aimed at avoiding hugger and violent election.
1.3PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The main purpose of the study is to examine mass media and voter education in Nigeria. Specific objectives of the study are:
1.4. RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H0: Mass Media does not influenced the voting behaviour of voters in Plateau state
H1:Mass Media significantly influenced the voting behaviour of voters in Plateau state
H0: There is no significant relationship betweenmass Media and the voting behaviour of voters in Plateau state
H1: There is a significant relationship betweenmass Media and the voting behaviour of voters in Plateau state
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study is important because it provides useful and vital information on the role of mass media in electoral education. The research shall expose the researcher and the entire respondents either as reference point or as a past literature that could be studied – thus shall be in a better position to enlighten others.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is restricted tomass media and voter education in Nigeria, a case study of Plateau state.
1.8LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Mass Media: Mass media refers to a diverse array of media technologies that reach a large audience via mass communication. The technologies through which this communication takes place include a variety of outlets.
Voter Education: Voter education means providing citizens of a democracy with basic information about participating in elections. Voter education is often provided by the state itself, often through a national electoral commission, so it is therefore important that it is politically non-partisan.
Political Messages: Information on the candidate’s attributes that resonate with voters needs. They also contain attributes of politicians that relate with constituents through the media.
Election: Is represented as a process by which the electorates of a country vote directly to elect their leaders in either legislative or executive arm of government, or choice of selecting a leader by people vote. Democracy entails the notion of election as the means of selecting political decision makers. Election is described as the pillar of democracy. Election is the back born of democracy and there is no democracy without election.
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