This study examined the effects of media ownership on objective reporting in Nigeria, A case study of Nation and Daily Sun.

The PDP and APC political parties were selected, and the study focuses on 2019 general election which was held in February 2019. The presidential election campaign started on 19/11/2018 and ended 14/02/2019, which was 19 weeks used for the president campaign. Thus, two reporting days of the each week was selected across the 13 weeks. Which is equal to 26 editions for each newspaper.

The two news papers showed the level of influence which ownership has in the political reporting of the newspapers, in which fifty-two (52) headlines were collected from the new newspapers with twenty-two each.

The findings revealed that; Both political parties are reported in each newspaper but with dual intentions; The political headlines in the Nation newspaper are reported in favor of the ruling party (APC); The political headlines in Daily Sun  newspaper are reported in favor of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP); There is a considerable level of ownership influence on the reports of each newspaper which affects the play of professionalism and discharge of objectivity.

The study concluded that the level of objectivity in the Nigerian news media especially when it comes to political reports is low, due to the high rate of influence by the owners of the newspapers being politicians with high profiles. The study further recommends that; Upcoming researchers should always examine the level of objectivity in the news reports of government owned newspaper industries in Nigeria.




1.1       Background to the Study 

Newspapers as an important form of media play a vital role in democracy. They help in keeping the masses informed and educated. By acting as watchdog, they expose injustice and other societal ills. Vital information that shapes public opinions are kept by the newspapers media. Newspapers media play the role of secondary socialization agent alongside the family, school and peer groups. Newspapers media are highly regulated in the economy because the news and other information they report can have positive or negative effect on peoples’ perception regarding phenomenon or political landscape of a nation.

From inception when the first newspapers was developed in1605 by Johann Carolus in Strasbourg, the newspapers has been playing active role of influencing the society through the provision and analysis fact and information which enables citizens to make efficient decisions. Universally, in developed countries and developing countries like United State of America, Germany, Sweden, China, South Africa, Ghana and Malaysia among others, news papers serve variety of functions. Such functions include news reporting, information sources about the world, state and local events. Also, in Nigeria, newspapers have been playing leading role in informing the citizens by creating unique communication process by extensively and quickly information that enhance national and democratic development. In Nigeria, it serves as tool of education and enlightenment which contribute to the development of human resources and capital thereby promoting economic growth.

Media academics such as Gans (1979) and Tuchman (2000) refer to objectivity as an examination of contents of collected news materials. Glasser (1992) points out that objectivity is a balance of beliefs restructured by a journalist and presented against independent thinking. It is difficult to test the objectivity of journalists because it is the credibility of facts gathered by a journalist that lies at the heart of objectivity which may be affected by ownership of the media. Thus, the ownership and control of the media is identified not only as an important factor in determining the structure and the working of the mass media but also the objectivity of news reported (Williams, 2003; Nwammuo, Edegoh & Iwok, 2015).

Objectivity in the reporting of information in newspapers was widely accepted in media professionalism since 1990. Media professionals are viewed as judge of social reality and thus must be highly objective in performing their duties. Media professionals use objectivity in reporting as a tool of revealing societal reality to the public and news consumers. Every media organisation reflects the values, beliefs and ideologies of its owner. However, irrespective of this, media professionals must practice the virtue of objectivity in performing their duties as high as possible without undue influence from owners.

The Nation newspaper was found in 2006 by Bola Tinubu. The newspaper whose current managing director and editor in chief is Victor Ifijeh is published in Lagos State. it was the second widely read newspaper in Nigeria according to 2011 report by The Advertisers' Association of Nigeria (ADVANS). According to the website of the newspaper, the newspaper is claimed to stand for freedom, justice and the market economy. The main readers of the newspaper are business mogul, political elite and educated citizens among others. The newspaper which covers the area of business, sports, and cultural arts has branches in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. The newspaper became the first newspaper to gain national recognition in Nigeria within two years of operation because of its popular eight-page Campus Life published every Thursday.

The Daily Sun newspaper was established by Dr Orji Uzor Kalu in 2001. The newspaper started was formerly published weekly before being published on daily basis on June 16 2003. The newspaper which was founded and published in KiriKiri Industrial Layout, LagosNigeria has Mr. Onuoha Ukeh has its Editor-in-chief who took over from Mr. Eric Osagie. The newspaper which is similar to the Sun newspaper of United Kingdom targeted audience of 18 – 45 age bracket and politician and economic class.  Since 2011 Daily Sun newspapers had a daily print publication of 130,000 copies, and 133,000 for weekend titles, with an average of 80% sales. This has made the newspaper one of the highest selling newspapers in Nigeria.

            The Nation and Daily Newspapers are selected to because they are owned and operated by politicians. Also, the newspapers are widely read in Nigeria and two of the best selling newspapers in Nigeria. Moreover, the newspapers have been widely used for political tools of reporting some political cases especially during elections in Nigeria. Thus, this study seeks to investigate the effect of media ownership on objective reporting in Nigeria.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

It is widely believed that the media have a great impact or influenceon its audiences around the globe. It allows the free flow of communication without the barrier of time and space. The influence of media ownership on objective reporting has been a source of debate over time. It has been said that as a result of the challenges faced by journalists they find it difficult to embrace journalism’s principles due to the nature of the profession. One of the major challenges faced by journalists today is the influence of ownership on news reporting process (Semiu, Aminat&Folarin, 2012).  Thus, the question of objectivity arises.

While there are many factors that can affect objectivity in news reporting, two important factors have been cited where a reporter can be biased when reporting certain events. When the information collected by a reporter is imbalanced and get distorted in the process of transmission from one person to another and when the owner of the media outlet has the capacity to influence the media content of reports leading to misinformation (Ali, 2015). The core theoretical argument is that the centralization of media ownership may affectowner’sabilityto controljournalistsand editors which may influence objective reporting. The problem of objective reporting is emphasized in mass media and journalism (as it is one of the core values that every journalist should possess) because the processes of news reportingareoftentaken for granted and the objectiveness of news contents perpetuated by media owners rather than being critically reported by journalists (Okwuchukwu, 2014).

Ojebode (2013) opined that journalists in private owned newspapers encounter difficulties in reporting facts accurately which is a clash of interest that arises due to the fact that many journalists are put in the position of having to choose between professionalism, and satisfying the interests of their proprietors. Thus, it may be challenging for journalists working for private owned newspapers to be objective in their report.

The extent of the influence of media ownership on objective reporting is a source of disagreement in empirical studies. Most studies conducted were not carried out in Nigeria. The few studies conducted in Nigeria did not concentrate on the issue of objectivity in the media. The study of Okwuchukwu (2014) focused on the influence of media ownership and control on media agenda setting in Nigeria. Nwammuo, et al., (2015) Mordi and Ogbu (2017) investigated the influence of newspaper ownership on the coverage of Nigeria’s 2015presidential election.None ofthese studies attempted to identify the factors impacting on objectivity. Thus, the problem that the study seeks to address is to investigate the influence of media ownership on objective reporting.

1.3       Research Objectives

            The broad objective of this study is to investigate the effect of media ownership on objective political reporting in The Nation and Daily Sun newspapers reporting in Nigeria. The specific objectives are to:

  1.         i.            study how the two main political parties are reported in the newspapers.

      ii.            examine which of the two parties is more reported in the newspapers.

    iii.            ascertain the level of influence ownership has in political reporting of the newspapers.

1.4       Research Questions

            In line with the research objectives, the following questions were raised:

        i.            How are the two main political parties reported in the newspapers?

      ii.            Which of the two parties is more reported in the newspapers?

    iii.            What is the level of influence ownership has in political reporting of the newspapers?

1.5       Significance of the Study     

            Mass media has been of great significance to the development of modern economy. Mass media keep the citizens informed about the political and social landscape of a country. Thus, this study is timely given the high role of mass media in the Nigerian economy. The study will be of great significance to the Nigerian economy and government by unveiling the influence of media owners on objective reporting. This will enable government to formulate policies aimed at ensuring that media owners do not compromise ethical standards in objective reporting.

The study will enable journalism in Nigeria to be for social and economic development rather than being a tool of destruction and misinformation used in the hand of unscrupulous owners to mislead the people. The outcome of the study will enable journalists and editors carry out their duty without the influence of the owners. Finally, the study will contribute to the advancement of literature in Nigeria while serving as useful materials for future study.

1.6       Scope of the Study

This study seeks to investigate the impact of media ownership on objective reporting in Nigeria. Objective reporting in this context, will be measured or determined in terms of balanced and fair reportage. The study will focus on two news papers namely The Nation and Daily Sun newspapers. The two news papers are selected because they are owned and operated by politicians. The study focuses on 2019 general election. Two days each of Mondays and Wednesdays are selected from each month. However, the months prior to the month the election are selected. Thus, the five months of August, September, October, November and December are selected in 2018 while only January is selected in 2019. Total of six months are selected with two editions in each month. Thus, the total editions comprises of 110 issues representing 55 days each for the two newspapers selected.

1.7       Limitations of the Study

            This study is limited to only newspapers in Nigeria. However, while the study is applicable to other mass media outlet like television and radio, the study is to some extent influenced by the mode of reporting and ownership which may differs among the mass media


1.8       Operational Definition of Terms

Media: These are thetools of mass communication used in disseminating information which are broadcast (TV, Radio) and print (newspaper).

Impact: The strong influence or effect that something has on a situation or a person.

Journalist: This is a person that engages in writing and reporting of news. 

Journalism:This the activity or profession of writing for newspapers, magazines, or news websites or preparing news to be broadcast

Objectivity: objectivity is a balance of beliefs restructured by a journalist and presented against independent thinking.

Objective Reporting: This is the fair and unbiased reportage of a news story without being influenced by personal feelings and opinions.

Ownership: The legitimate possession of an organization by the government, private individual or a group.

Control: The ability of the management of any organization to restrict, limit and regulate the already set standard in a profession.

Print Media: It is the outlet of the media that communicates through newspaper, magazines etc.