During a pandemic, news media play a crucial role in communicating public health and policy information. Traditional newspaper coverage is important amidst increasing disinformation, yet uncertainties make covering health risks and efforts to limit transmission difficult.
In Nigeria, online news media played a major role during the outbreak of the corona virus .
Here the first confirmed case of the disease was announced on 27 February 2020, when an Italian citizen in Lagos tested positive for the virus. On 9 March 2020, a second case of the virus was reported in Ewekoro, Ogun State, involving a Nigerian citizen who had contact with the Italian citizen.
According to the agenda setting theory proposed by McCombs and Shaw , there is a significant relationship between media reports and peoples’ ranking of public issues. The theory establishes a correlation between the rate at which the media cover a story and the value people place on such a story. This indicates that the media determine what issues should be considered more important by society.
The prominence the media gave to COVID-19 influenced peoples’ opinions and reactions towards the pandemic.
In no particular order, Kennisplace takes a look at how some select Nigerian news media covered the outbreak.
The news platforms that will be considered for this story includes
Leadership, Vanguard and Kemi Filani News.
Vanguard did a total of 81 stories which included news, editorials, features, opinion, and column sections.The news platform also has a column on her website for ‘Covid-19 news updates’.Most of the stories done were mostly undersized and brief.
Leadership did a total of 97 stories with a 28.4 percent frequency. Most of the stories were news focused. Other stories were features, editorial, opinions and columns. Leadership News simply has a tag on their website named ‘COVID-19’.
Kemi Filani News
Kemi Filani News better known as KFN has over 87 news stories on COVID-19.Most of the stories published are basically news with a dint of sensationalism. Example is a story published on the 1st of June 2021 with the caption ‘How my wives ran away from me when I had COVID-19’ — El-Rufai’.
The website’s focus on COVID-19 were mostly news, entertainment and health related.
The media space in Nigeria paid huge attention to the issue of the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the coverage was not detailed; most stories were undersized and were mostly straight news. Furthermore, the media quoted the NCDC and government officials more often. They also used health sector and medical experts as sources. Most of the stories were alarming and induced dread.