News Sourcing, Positioning and Thematic Focus: Examining Newspaper Portrayal of Herdsmen-Farmers Conflict in Nigeria

© Media Watch 11 (2) 281-295, 2020

ISSN 0976-0911 | E-ISSN 2249-8818

DOI: 10.15655/mw/2020/v11i2/195648


News Sourcing, Positioning and Thematic Focus: 
Examining Newspaper Portrayal of Herdsmen-Farmers Conflict in Nigeria


Chuks Odiegwu-Enwerem1, Lai Oso2 & Lanre Amodu3

1,3Covenant University, Nigeria

2Lagos State University, Nigeria


This study examined how Nigerian newspapers reported the herdsmen and farmers’ conflict in Nigeria. It analyzed the contents of six newspapers to explore the primary sources, the prominence accorded the conflict reports, and the themes focused on their reportage. Findings show that out of the 159 stories considered for the study, newspapers relied mostly on their correspondents and herdsmen representatives as primary news sources. Public condemnation/protests and government/public intervention were the dominant thematic focus. The north-south media axis phenomenon in Nigeria resonated in the coverage as the frame of ‘herdsmen-against-farmers’ is indicated more in the southern-based newspapers consistent with the prevailing public notion. The study suggests that the media in Nigeria relied mainly on third party sources with the consequence their reports on the issue could be subject to source credibility deficiency. In addition to addressing the general theme of reportage of the herdsmen conflict, this study explicitly addresses how the newspapers covered the conflict in Benue and Enugu states.


Keywords:    Benue and Enugu states, representation, herdsmen and farmers, news sources, Nigerian newspaper




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Chuks O. Odiegwu-Enwerem is a lecturer in Mass Communication at Faculty of Social Sciences, National Open University of Nigeria and a PhD student in the Department of Mass Communication, College of Business and Social Sciences, Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria. His research interests are in the areas of journalism, media studies, corporate communications, development communication, and open and distance learning.

Lai Oso (Ph.D., University of Leicester, England, 1987) is a Professor of Mass Communication at the School of Communication, Lagos State University, Lagos. At present Prof. Oso is the President of the Association of Communication Scholars and Professionals of Nigeria. His research interests include political communication, journalism, and media studies.

Lanre Amodu (Ph.D., Covenant University, Nigeria, 2012) is a senior lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication at Convenant University, Nigeria. His areas of research interest include smart public relations, digital communications, public relations entrepreneurship, and consumer communication studies.