Media must not abandon agenda-setting function to politicians, says NGE president


Mustapha Isah

Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja

The President of the Nigerian Editors’ Guild (NGE), Mr. Mustapha Isah, yesterday urged the Nigerian media not to abandon their duty to set the public agenda on the country’s politicians.

Speaking at a town hall in Lagos, on the theme: “Establishing an agenda for sustainable development”, the NGE helmsman explained that the press has a responsibility to hold the government to account as the provides for the constitution.

Isah argued that the meeting should assess the performance of the Nigerian media and suggest ways for improvement, arguing that all aspects of good governance are facilitated by strong and independent media.

According to him, “what currently dominates the headlines of the media on the general elections of 2023 is the zoning or rotation of powers. This is the agenda of politicians. Should the media allow these politicians to set the agenda for us? I think it should be the opposite.

“While the politicians talk about zoning, we, I mean the media, have to remind them that we are more interested in the issues of development, education, insecurity, youth unemployment and poverty that are ravaging the country.

However, Isah said that only when journalists are free to monitor, investigate and criticize policies and public actions can good governance take place.

He said media freedom allows for the creation of a public space in which a wide range of debate and expression of diverse viewpoints can take place, asserting that a free and critical press is essential for growth and the development of any democracy.

“The media as a watchdog of society to oversee governance and hold public office holders accountable to those who elected them,” Isah said.

He added: “Article 22 of the 1999 Constitution stipulates that the press, radio, television and other media agencies should at all times be free to assume responsibility and accountability for government to the people.

“This section gives the media the enormous responsibility of holding the government accountable to the people.”

He explained that good governance is simply an essential framework that serves to achieve broader goals, including the security of life and property, which is the primary goal of government.

The boss of NGE said: “Now let’s talk about the role of the media in setting an agenda for a sustainable democratic culture and the deepening of the democratic space.

“One of the major roles of the media is to set the agenda. The more articles the media write on a particular topic, the more importance the public will attach to it. “

Citing research by Maxwell McCombs and Donaki Shaw in 1972 on the 1968 US presidential election, Isah said the work concluded that editors played an important role in shaping political reality, claiming that the mass media identify important issues for the campaign.

“Can the media in Nigeria shape the political reality of the country? If the answer is yes, how then can this be achieved? ” He asked.

Quoting another author, Stanley Baran’s 2002 book, Isah noted, “The media may not tell us what to think, but the media can certainly tell us what to think. “

He called for comments on the media’s agenda-setting role, adding that the press was open to suggestions on how it can improve its performance.

Isah further thanked the US government through its embassy in Nigeria for making the event possible.

“The Nigerian Publishers Guild is indeed very grateful for your support. This city

The room meeting will take place around the six geopolitical zones. The next one will be held in Kano in January 2022, ”he noted.


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