oa Global Media Journal - African Edition - Deconstructing the reporting of hostage taking in the Niger Delta
The pattern of reporting the January 11, 2006 incident of the kidnapping of four expatriate oil workers from the EA Oil Field in Delta State provides a window into the nature of media coverage of the escalating crisis in the Niger Delta region. This study shows that conflict reporting in the Nigerian press is 'episodic', featuring such conflict behaviours as the bombing of drilling platforms and oil pipelines, killing and maiming of oil workers and state security operatives, and kidnapping and hostage taking, which are the focus of this study. Framing of these conflict behaviours is influenced by ethno-political factors, foreign policy implications, and the height of drama of the situation. Drawing data from three national daily newspapers - The Punch, the Daily Champion and the New Nigerian - this work shows that the reporting by The Punch and the Daily Champion indicated 'support framing' of the Niger Delta, while the New Nigerian showed 'distance framing'. The press, however, needs to reverse the practice of 'describing' conflict situations through straight news stories and to focus on more analysis-based features and editorials that 'prescribe' solutions.
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