The Impact of Nigerian Press on the Choice of Political Candidate

The Impact Of Nigerian Press On The Choice Of Political Candidate (A Case Study Of Residence Of Kaduna Metropolis)

The development of the press and journals at the early stage was hither by non-Nigerian. It was not until around 1900`s that Nigerians began to take serious part in the formation, establishment and running of newspaper business. These arose from the political consciousness of the people and the literary level which was beginning to show an upward curve and partly due to the conscientious socio-cultural and political work of society building emanating from the struggle for independence and the search for liberal, democratic and just society.

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As journalism veteran, Lateef Jakande said the war of independence was fought on the pages of the Nigeria press. “Not one shot was fired. But many thundering editorials were written. No blood was shed”. (Duyile. [1988], Makers of Nigerian press.

Nigerians interests are huge and this interested are varied in issues affecting the world, Africa, and their domestic environment. Hence they fought for many years to have a press, Radio and Television to nourish them and to contribute to their intellectual development.


The first newspaper to be published in Nigeria came through a religious experience of Reverend Henry Townsend the Apostolic legend of the Church of England who brought a branch of the church to Nigeria in 1842. Having stayed in Badagary, the coastal town of Lagos state for some time and established the church there, he finally settled in Abeokuta where he published the historical “Iwe Irohin”. Fun awon Egba ati Yoruba, which is the forerunner of the Nigeria newspaper in 1859.

It was a unique experiment in newspaper making with the meager resources and a small printing press which he brought from Exeter.

The newspaper was published in English and Yoruba, it lived for eight years and contributed enormously to the growth of Yoruba literary development and education, it was the only newspaper of it’s kind at that time providing publicity for gubernatorial movement of the colonial heads of government, movement of church leaders, production and sales of cash crops, shipping etc.

Another reverend gentleman this time, the Church of Scotland, was busy in the eastern coast with his own printing experiment; he was Rev Hope Waddle of the Presbyterian church of Scotland. He settled in Calabar in 1846 with printing equipment which he brought. He published pamphlets, mainly religious and educational in nature.


Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe a reputable African journalist and statesman MJV Clinton who started a newspaper in the early thirties and a number of great educationists Like Sir Francis Iblam came from the eastern part of Nigeria, which to say the least was revolutionized by Hope Waddle printing technology which promoted education. Rev Hope Wadded later added a newspaper to his publication. Apart from a vernacular news publication, the Church of Scotland mission headed by Rev Hope wadded published an English newspaper, “The Calabar Observer”, between 1880 through 1890.

But in chronicle order in this history of news media development, it was Mr. Robert Campbell’s “Anglo Africa” which was established in 1863 that came next to Iwe Irohin. In the book of History of Nigeria, Robert Cambell a Western India Mulatto trading in Nigeria around the middle of 1800`s began his publication in Lagos. Some where around Campbell street in 1863 and it ceased to be published in December 1865, Campbell’s Newspaper was an improvement on Rev Townsend’s “Iwe Irohin.

The Anglo-Africa carried editorial that are highly critical of oppression of the black race and from its media issue: had been calling for independence of the Dependencies.

After Campbell’s “Anglo Africa”, the Lagos Times and Gold Coast Advertisers was edited by Andrew Thomas in November 1880, but the brain behind it was Richard Blaize of the then Victoria Street, Lagos. This was about seventeen years after the demise of “Anglo-Africa, that it finally ceased publication in October, 1883.

After the 1880 establishment of the Lagos Times and Gold Coast advertiser, came the “Lagos observer” in February 1882 it was super headed by Mr. J.B. Benjamin.

The next newspaper to be established was the “Eagle and Lagos Critic” it came into existence on March 31, 1883, through the contributions of Mr. Owen Macaulay of Odunlami street Lagos. Mr. Andrew Thomas of the Lagos Times/Gold Coast advertiser later returned to the publishing field with a bi-ligual “Iwe Irohin Eko” published in Lagos. Lagos has since then been the centre for concentration and establishment of newspaper.

The “Mirror” of December 1887 was a weekly newspaper edited by Mr. Adolphous Marke somewhere along broad street Lagos. It however ceased to exist in November 1888 just one month to its birthday anniversary which it never had.

In 1890, another successful set up sprang up in Lagos. It was the “Lagos Weekly Record”. The newspaper had a controversial surrounding its initial years. But it turned out to be the longest surviving newspaper of its time. It lived for 40 (forty) years. Its publisher was a Liberian National based in Lagos Mr. John Payne Jackson, one of the greatest Pan-Africanist ever born. He was a printer, a trader and a politician. He came into Lagos as a trader but was not so successful in his ventures. He changed his trade and work as a clerk with the Lagos Times headed by Richard Blaize, and later worked as partner with Consul Leigh in founding it Lagos weekly record, which he finally took over. After his death, his son, Thomas Horaho Jackson took over the administration of the paper.

In 1908 another Lagos based business man Mr. George Williams added another publication which was published in the Lagos metropolis. The Lagos Standard of 1908 was a real standard newspaper in terms of its Journalism. It was widely read like the “weekly record” and heavily patronized commercially. Its advertisement volume was high; it was a lineal Newspaper judging from its content and its motto: “for God, the king and the people.”

Another newspaper surfaced through Mr. Chris Kumola Johnson of Silta street Lagos who started his publication on 20th November 1908. Its Title was. “Nigeria chronicle” which completely Nigerianised. I.e. all personal working for the paper were Nigerians. It was a real turbulent period for Kumola Johnson as his newspaper was aught in between two newspaper laws. The “Nigerian chronicle” arrived five years after the promulgation of the 1903 Newspaper ordinance and one year preceding the 1909 seditious offences ordinance. It was not easy period for publishers as harsh laws to control them were being introduced. But the “Nigeria chronicle” managed to exist.


Dayo Duyule successfully divided the progress of the Nigeria newspaper into four periods. Saying, the first period was before world war 1, the second extending from the end of the first world war through the early 1930`s the third from the late 1930`s to the late 1940`s and the fourth the post war era

During a close kin with more recent newspaper of the 1800 the first era “crisscross” from the period between the beginning of the first world war through the end of 1920s. Notable newspapers of the first era were the “African messenger” established by Earnest Ikoli in 1921 and the “Lagos daily news established in 1923. The Lagos Daily became an organ for the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP). These were the first Nigerian nationalist newspapers that paved the way for the emancipation of the people under colonial rule. The Daily times, which was established on June 1, 1926 falls within the era. Daily Times came into existence through the combined efforts of a prominent lawyer and politicians, who was based in Lagos, Sir, Adeyemo Alakija, the Chairman of the Lagos chamber of commerce Richard Barrow; and Earnest Ikoli, whose African messenger was acquired, for the establishment of the paper and its first editor.

The second chapter opened on may 19, 1923 with Dr. Akinwande savage “weekly spectator” which was followed by the lengendary Herbert Macaulay’s “Lagos Daily News” — first Nigeria daily news. Other newspapers were established during this period: – the Nigeria Observer (1930), the Daily Service (1933), “Akede Eko” (1922) by Mr. Iseac Thomas. But the most remarkable of them all was the establishment of the Nigeria Times by the Nigerian printing and publishing company presided over by Sir Adeyemo Alakija. The newspaper which was established in June 1926 celebrated its 60th anniversary in 1986; it is the oldest surviving Newspaper in Nigeria. The chapter closed with the establishment of the “Nigeria Eastern Mail” by Mr. J.V. Clinton in 1935. This is a reputable non-compromising Newspaper of its age and the Gaskiya Tafi Kwabo” a Hausa vernacular Newspaper by Gaskiya co-operation of Zaria it was the beginning of actual Newspaper Journalism in the North in 1938.

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The third chapter of the history of Nigeria press opened with the arrival of the Indefatigable “West Africa Pilot” established by the equally indefatigable or Nnandi Azikiwe, a political scientist; a product of Herbert Macaulay political thought; a Garvenist; a pan Africanist of the highest order and a statesman of the twentieth century. The “West Africa Pilot” played many leading roles in the nationalist struggles for independence. It was a leader in the war of independent. The “Daily Service” was revived in 1939 to join the crusade with earnest Okoli as Edition but was replaced in 1944 by Mr. Samuel Ladoke Akintola who in 1963 became the premier of western Nigeria. In 1948 the Gaskiya co-operation of Zaria started the “Nigerian citizen” a national English newspaper. It was a very successful experiment in November 18, 1949; and an equally formidable and journalism scene in Nigeria. With his paper, “the Nigeria Tribune”, late chief Obafemi Awolowo, a lawyer, politician and statesman, he led many political grouped before his death on May 8,1987.

The fourth chapter is the year of independence, the 1960`s saw many newspaper springing up, while there were still traces of the old Newspaper around, like the west Africa pilot, the Nigeria tribune the Daily service etc. The Daily express, the Sunday express published by the Amalgamated press with Roy Thomson support, had firmly established themselves in Lagos in 1960. In the northern parts, the Daily mail a political organ of the northern parties had been established in 1961. The “New Nigeria” another Newspaper from the northern part was established in Kaduna in 1966. It was the “Nigeria citizens” of 1948 that metamorphosed into this publication. However, the “New Nigerian” had since the 1970`s ceased to be a state government owned Newspaper, it had been taken over by the federal government, the same thing goes for the Daily Times of Nigeria. The federal government now appoints the board. The federal government also in the sixties established the “Nigeria-morning post” in October 1961; it also started a Sunday medium, the “Sunday post” earlier.

In August 1961, the Nigeria National press was the publisher of the two Newspapers. It was established in 1961 to prepare for the setting up of the two Newspapers and to manage them. The Nigeria press began a tremendous growth from the sixties and the seventies. The “Punch” newspaper Published by Chief Olu Aboderin of Ibadan began in 1976 at Ikeja Lagos. The “National Concord” published by Chief M.K.O Abiola began in Lagos in 1980 and had by 1990 grown into an Octopus with so many publications weeklies, monthlies and periodicals including a chain of vernacular publications and an international Economic and business magazine published in London.

The guardian” came in February 1983 published by Chief Alex Ibru. The “vanguard” came in 1984 published by Sam Amuka-Penu, a product of Daily Times of Nigeria set-up.


The “Democrat” (Kaduna) came in 1983, published by a handful of notable Nigerians including a formal top government official, Alhaji Ahmed Joda.


The “news watch” arrived too in 1983, published by a handful of Nigeria journalists including the Slain Mr. Dele Giwa, Mr. Ray Ekpu, Mr. Dan Agbese and Mr. Yakubu Mohammed.


The “Lagos News” of John West publication came on December 12, 1985 under the initiative of a father of Nigeria journalism, and a veteran in the craft, Alhaji L.K Jakunde who writes under the Pseudonym, “Jonh west”. He added a weekly paper the “Sunday news” in November 1989. Other publications of this period include the “mail” in August 24, 1986 through the initiative of Clackson Majomi, “Prime people” (1986), “This week” (1986), “News Nation” (1977) published by Mr. Gbolabo Ogunsanwo, three other  remarkable dailies joined the chain later, they were “the Republic” in June 1987 by Chief Olufemi Ajayi. The “Reporter”, a daily newspaper established by Major General Musa Yar`adua formally of the Nigerian Army and published by Nation House press publication in May, 1987. The number of daily newspaper began to increase.

In 1988 when another Nigeria businessman, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyawu established his “Champion newspaper” He produced daily and a weekly paper. A veteran newsman, Prince Henry Odukomaiya who led the concord newspaper team at its inception in 1980 was also involved in the “champion newspaper”. At this time of this publication only two or three states had no newspaper of their own; Ondo state who shares partnership in the “Daily sketch” with Oyo and Ogun state, was already completing its effort to publish a state owned newspaper, the “Owena News”. Lagos state government established the “Lagos Horizon”, Akwa-Ibom, the “Pioneer” etc.

Such had been the story of newspaper development in Nigeria. The Nigeria press will continue to enjoy a prostration in newspapering to keep pace with nation development for a long time to come says. Dayo. Duyila (1979).


There cannot be information without a message. Message makes information meaningful, and it is the nerve center of communication. The message, which serves as the content of information, gets to the people through a medium of communication. Prior to this fact, there has to be a message before communication takes place. As far as the media is concerned, information dissemination is the Hallmark of all its activities.


The print media particularly newspaper has become the major source of information dissemination. According to Mac Bride, “the rise of Newspaper as a communication medium is obvious more striking since started from a zero base only a few decade ago, there has been tremendous and rapid improvement in newspaper production since, its inception few years back”.


This occurred as a result of the improvement in technology, which paved way for the production of coloured and bulky pages newspaper.

A survey proved that the nature of print (Which sent message across visual) makes people most inclined to believe in newspaper to report more accurate than the other media of mass communication.


The function of the press is principally to disseminate news and to pass judgement, when it so desires, on matters of moment or topical interest by means of printed words illustrations, cartoons, caricatures or other visual symbolizations.

Before the advent of newspapers, the dissemination of news had to be done by word of mouth. This was by its very nature extremely slow and narrowly circumscribed. The news, which was transmitted from mouth to mouth, was more often than not grossly distorted. False rumours passed on from mouth to mouth and distorted and exaggerated in the process of transmission, could be the precursor of grave situations and consequences.

But not so with printed news and criticism, Obafemi A. (1981) puts it thus: “A newspaper by its very nature enjoys much wider circulation than oral news, even  in those old days of 17th century when communication was very poor indeed.


The news, criticisms and eulogies contained in a newspaper are again by that very nature permanent. What is more? They impress themselves more on the minds of the people who read them than the world of mouth ever does on its hearers”. Written or printed news, as it is the case with newspapers, are more pungent and incisive because, being written, they are deliberate, and carefully considered and couched.


The newspaper in the service of the state apart from being a disseminator of news, is the most potent medium by means of which the masses of the people ventilate their feelings and views on any issue of the day.


Secondly, and in consequence of the first characteristics, newspaper has always been and still is inseparably identified with the masses. Lastly, newspaper have the latent power of securing the continuity and integration of social order (Wright; 1964) by promoting cooperation and integration of a social cultural values. This last point may not negate what Mequail (1991) said about the media and society. When he claimed that newspaper are often seen as serving conflicting goals and interests and offering conflicting versions of an actual or desirable social order.

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Discussion of the role newspaper plays in the service of the state or the democratic role of newspaper is bind up with a debate about how the media should be organized. Traditionalist conceptions were framed partly in order to legitimate the deregulation of the press, and its full establishment of free market lines (Curran 1978).

From which ever view point one is looking at it, the following more conventional accounts of the newspaper in service of the state, which is the democratic role of newspaper are very prominent.



Traditionalist liberal thought argues that the primary democratic role of the media is to act as a public watchdog overseeing the state. This is usually defined as revealing abuses in the exercise of state authority, although it is sometimes extended to include facilitating a general debate about the functioning of government. This watchdog role is said to override in importance all other functions of the media, in the service of the state, and to dictate the form in which the media should be organized. Only by anchoring the media to the free market, is it possible to ensure the newspapers` complete independence from government? Once the newspaper becomes subject to public regulation, it will lose its bite as watchdog and may even be transformed into a snarling rot wolver in the service of the state.


Kelley and Donway (1990: 97) agreed with this particular submission above when they argued that any reform of the press however desirable is unacceptable if it is “at the cost of the watching function. And this is the inevitable cost. A press that is licensed, franchised or regulated is subject to political pressures when it deals with issues affecting the interest of those in power”. The argument is restated in a different form by a political scientist of centrist views, Stephen Holmes: “Doesn’t every regulation converting the media into a “neutral forum” lessen its capacity to act as a partisan gadfly, investigating and criticizing government in an aggressive way?” (Holmes 1990:51).


When you come to think critically about it you cannot but conclude that the public watchdog perspective is essentially negative and defensive. It usually defines the role of the media in terms of monitoring government, protecting the public, preventing those with power from overstepping the mark. It thus stops short of more positive perception that newspaper is an instrument of the popular will. But there is on strand within traditional liberal thought. This defines the role of media as that of the fourth estate. Some Victorian commentators argued that newspapers were subject to the equivalent of an election every time they went on sale, in contrast to politicians who were elected only infrequently (Boyce 1978). Consequently, they claimed, the press was a fully representative institution, and should be accepted as a partner in the process of government. As Thomas Carlyle argued, the press should be deemed ‘a power, a branch of government, with inalienable weight in law-making’ derived from the will of the people (Carlyle 1907:164).

There is also a more general sense in which the traditional conception of the media as a public representative does no seem to fit the contemporary newspapers. A view formed when most media were partisan and “spoke for” clearly defined constituencies seems less appropriate to market based news systems, as in the USA. Which are predominantly bi-partisan and define themselves in terms of disseminating information?

The view of the media as a public tribune thus seems almost obsolete. Yet, it is still with clinging on to the notion of the media as a representative agency.



In addition to the concept of the media as a watchdog representative in the service of the state commentators have also stressed its ‘informational’ role. This is usually portrayed in terms of facilitating self expression, promoting public rationality and enabling collective self-determination. These different functions can only be fulfilled adequately, it is argued, through the processes of a free market.


The free market is equated with efficiency in the pursuit of the public interest. The freedom to publish ensures that all significant points of view are in play in the public domain, and that a wide range of information is made available from diverse and antagonistic sources. Thus makes for good judgement and wise government. Originally, this claim was advanced in an assertive form based on the assumption that truth would confound error in an instructed debate. This argument came to be reformulated in cautions approach is the American Jurist. Oliver Holme`s much quoted contention “that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the mark…” (Barrom, et al, 1975: 320).


The market system is also celebrated as the best possible way of facilitating self-government. The market media inform citizens form a variety of view points, they keep open the channels of communication between government and governed, and between groups in society, they provide a neutral zone for the formation of public opinion.


Kelley and Donway (1990:90) added that “the free market place of ideas has a self righting tendency to correct errors and biases.



Another (and complementary) function of the newspaper in the service of the state is to act as an agency of representation. It should be organized in a way that enables diverse social groups and organisations to express alternative viewpoints. This goes beyond, however, simply disseminating diverse opinion in the public domain. The newspaper should function in a way that invigorates civil society. It should assist collective organisations to mobilize support; help them to operate as representative vehicles for the views of their supporters, and them to registered effective protests and develop and promulgate alternatives. In other words, the representational role of newspapers includes helping to create the conditions in which alternative view points and prospective are brought fully into play. Curran and Gurevitan (1991) said this implies a break from a “postmodernists” approach in which the act of media consumption is equated with political activity; the private holding of a political opinion is equated with political activism; and the guiding democratic force in society is demand to be enlightened public opinion in the public sphere’ shaped by the interplay of argument and evidence in the mass media”. This is a recipe for control from above, given the extent to which newspapers are currently influenced by dominant elites.



The democratic function of the media is also to assist the realization of the common objectives of society through argument or compromise between conflicting interests. The media should contribute to this process by facilitating democratic procedures for resolving conflict and defining collectively agreed aims.


James Curran (1991) while giving example on how the press can help in realization of common on objectives of society said “the media should brief the electorate about the political choices involved in elections and so help to constitute elections as defining moments for collective decision about the public direction of society. The media system should also facilitate organized representative by giving due publicity to the activities, programmes and thinking of organized groups in addition to the tribunal process of government and party opposition”.  But newspapers are themselves also an important mechanism for collective self-reflection. By staging a public dialogue in which diverse interests participate, the media can also play direct role in assisting the search for areas of common agreement or compromise.


Implicit in this prescription is a complex set of requirements in a democratic press system or for a newspaper in the service of the state. It should empower people by enabling them to explore where their interest lies; it should foster sectional solidarities and assist the functioning of organisations necessary for the effective representation of collective interests; it should sustain vigilant scrutiny of government and centres of power; it should provide a source of protection and redress for weak and unorganized interest; and it should create the condition for real societal agreement or compromise, based on an open working through of differences rather than a contrived consensus based of domination.

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It is clear so far that the press or newspaper have important role in a democracy. There are certain attributes however, which the press must possess in other that it may be able to render this service with wholesome, penetrating the lasting effect.


In the matter of dissemination of news the press must ensure the accuracy of its information before it passes it on to others as gospel truth. It is a well-known dictum of journalism that “facts are sacred”. Freedom to known is to first among all freedoms. An ignorant and ill-informed person cannot be his neighbors. (Awolowo, 1981). To know the truth, and to disseminate untruth to the ignorant, or to disseminate news careless at to whether it is true or false, is the most heinous of all sins in a democracy. The people as well as the government might be misled as a result, and untold adverse consequences might ensue (Arthur 1973). Truth and liberty are twin sisters where there is truth there is liberty. The first service of the state is truthfulness or, in journalistic parlance, accuracy of reporting.


The importance of Newspaper to the society cannot be overemphasized. They include the following:

  • Information: Newspaper helps the society to acquire useful information on what affect it. There is a need for information in the society and newspaper is dedicated to the provision of such information.
  • Education: Newspaper educates people on a whole number of things, be it on health, politics, driving, cooking etc. newspaper particularly educates the people on how to go about certain issues that the people may have little or no knowledge on how to go about it.
  • Entertainment: Newspaper entertains the people through the various Cartoon and celerity picture they published.
  • Enlightenment: Newspaper help to increase our awareness. Newspaper serves as a means through which people get politically enlightened, educated and oriented especially to a particular political system practiced in a country. This means that the newspaper adds to our knowledge and gives more understanding into issues that is known, but not known indepthly. The ability of newspaper to transmit message to its audience in picture makes it the major reason why the government and private bodies give much attention to it.

Mobilization: Newspaper through its various content mobilizes the people to behave in a given manner and to perform certain actions. Newspaper as a mass medium serves as a means for political sensitization and mobilization and in the society.


According to Medinick Sornaff “A serious political issue involving attitude is the effect of the mass media especially newspaper.” (Medinick Sornaff .A. 1975 p. 442).


As political freedom downed on societies in Nigeria,        newspaper has been an important means of socio –        economic and political development. It is essential for communication to fit organically into the political and    socio economic structure and be consistent with the       society’s cultural values, because communication has   been established as the bedrock of any society.

For instance the newspaper is airing certain programmes that is mobilizing the people to take part in the just concluded 2007 national election.

In all her importance we should note that the audience role is also worthy of attention. Michael Gurrenvitch and Jay .G. Blumer (Mass communication and society) explained that different receivers of political information are motivated by different expectation of it, developed different orientation toward it and many therefore be perceived as playing different roles in political communication system.


Basically, the function of the newspaper in any political environment is to mediate and enable different groups that make up a nation to communicate with each other, (Langenburhor, 1947). Newspapers are regarded as facilitators and arbiters in the society. According to Kunczik (1988), the role of newspaper in a democratic environed is to create, focused public opinion by enabling the groups in the society to communicate freely.

For any political organization or programmes to succeed, the people must be carried along and their support must be appreciated. This can be achieved by passing a message across to the public through newspaper and by enlightening and educating them on why they should actively participate and support the programmes.

Newspaper serves as a medium through which message can be effectively passed across to the general public for easy comprehension, particularly political messages.

Luku Uku Uche (1984) gave his opinion on the functional uses of mass media messages in periods of critical political events as follows.

The mass media system particularly newspaper has always performed significant function each time a critical political event occur in Nigeria.”

In a democratic country such as Nigeria, the media is very dynamic and powerful in the sense that it perform protective, integrative, educational and linkage functions. The media protects the democratic principle enshrined in the Nigeria constitution. Thus, it depends and promotes the genuine aspiration to the people.


Pye (1967) observes that the press should serve as inspector-general to the entire political system so as to provide the necessary public criticism to ensure some degree of political integrity among the power holders. Arguing also from this perspective, Mcquial (1980) opines that since developing nations have the problems of nation building and lack developments in many facets of life, the press should focus on the needs, interests, and aspirations of the receivers in a political society”.


In close reference the media monitor the activities of the government institutions, interest groups and individual in the nation, the media for example played a useful role in the 1983 election. To this end, the media has been calling the attention of all the political parties and politicians for the purpose of adhering to the democratic principle entrenched in the constitution.

Communication researchers have recognized the role of the newspaper and the mass media at large as determination of the altitudes and behaviours of the people in a political democracy. Brookfield (1986) says that educators of adults should regard the organization, products and effects of the press as important phenomena because the press crucial roles informing our world-views and the context within which we decide which issues and problems are significant in the political realm. Haque (1986) supported the submission, which he said that the press devotes a substantial part of their time and resources to covering polities. Infact, the vicissitudes of the parties, personal changes, their rise and fall, the personality conflicts and bickering combined with the all pervasive government decisions and activities from the political process and institutions the press must report on.

Haque (1986) says that in any media system whether in the democratic or socialist system politics and government would probably be a major topic of coverage although the ideological orientations and social structures involving them would significantly affect the nature of reportage, in terms of the central characters, issues, and the manner of the reporting.

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