Separatist Agitations in Nigeria: War versus Peace Journalism

The mass media are veritable tools for information dissemination, surveillance and correlation. Conflict reporting is one of the delicate areas of media practice. The type of agenda the media set on a conflict can either fuel or quell the crisis. Warring parties take their grievances to the media, with words as lethal as ballistic missiles. The Nigerian media, having been divided along ethnic lines since the colonial era, report separatist agitations with ethnic lens. With the trend, peace journalism, an emerging form of journalism that creates conducive environment for peaceful resolution of conflicts, seems elusive in Nigeria. This paper examined how the Nigerian media reported Biafra and Boko Haram, and how peace journalism approach can be adopted to improve media performance in this regard. Using desk review, descriptive survey, content analysis and personal interview methods, the study found that the Nigerian media adopted war journalism approach in reporting Biafra agitation and Boko Haram, amidst influencing factors. The paper recommends the adoption of peace journalism approach by the Nigerian mass media, to be relevant in finding lasting solutions to the conflicts; integration of Nigerian media into the national security framework and domestication of Freedom of Information Act in States of Nigeria.