The mass media is usually referred to as the fourth estate of realm.The term fourth estate of realm is commonly used to designate the critical watchdog role of the media, especially the press, in in a democratic society. The expression refers to the concept of separation of powers, which divides the state into different branches, typically the legislature, executive and judiciary.
The role of the media is also reflected in Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution ( as amended), as an institution that is charged with the responsibility to police over the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy as well as citizens’ fundamental rights.
The media also performs the crucial role of investigating the truth when people try to hide it and protect people from those in power.
It assesses and propagates government’s policies and programmes for the people to adopt. Aside these duties, the media is key to the growth and stability of the country’s democracy and politics. It aligns with the three arms of government and keeps watch over their actions and inactions on behalf of the general public.
It is also on record that, the media was at the forefront of the collective struggle for Nigeria’s independence in 1960.
Regretably, in an attempt to speak out for people, some journalists have been arrested and imprisoned.
Although the return of democracy in 1999 was a victory for Nigeria, the media still owes it as a duty to leave up to it responsibility to ensure the stability and sustainability in the Nigeria’s democracy.
To this end, the media is expected to provide surveillance of events, interpretation of the meaning of events, socialization of Individuals in to their cultural and political settings as well entertainment.
Since agenda setting forms part of the constitutional responsibilities of the media, it stands in a better position to provide a room of discussion after the election with a view to reconciling the differences that may arise among politicians during campaigns. In addition, through the function of media as a watchdog and get keeper of the society, it facilitates dialogue between the government and its people. This gives journalist in a society the unique opportunity of enhancing transparency and accountability by exposing corruption, abuse of power and corporate wrong doings.
By raising citizens’ awareness on social issues, the media enables the citizens to hold the government to account, curving corruption and creating a forum for debate.
Most importantly, journalists must always remain neutral, non-partisan and should avoid personal bias or sectional interest in delivering their mandate.
Those covering political happenings and campaigns must eschew favouritism, ethnicity, prejudice and sentiment in the discharge of their professional callings.
Nigerian media community, must base their reportage on truth, balance, fairness, and objectivity.
They must not subject themselves to brown envelope journalism, where journalists accept money or rather gift from news makers to compromise or influence a news item.
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As the mirror of the society, the media must endorse free, fair and credible election by organizing debate and discourse where candidates will interact with the people.
By placing stories in perspective and interpreting them, media agents ascribe meaning to information and indicate the value by which it ought to be judged.
Also by creating and sustaining political values, the mass media forms important role for political stability and social equilibrium in the polity.
Shamsudeen Abubakar.pressboy1991 @gmail.com