A Critical Discourse Analysis of Print Media Depictions of Insurgent Activities in Nigeria

Author: Ebim, Matthew Abua

Supervisors: Augustine Uzoma Nwagbara and Mojisola A.

It has been observed that studies on insurgency in Nigeria have in the most parts been anchored on politics, law, economy, the environment or religion; highlighting the economic implications of pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta and religious crises in the north. Quite a few others have taken into consideration the use of language and representations of the phenomenon focusing on labeling and ideological dimensions inherent in the News. Though insurgency and its media reports are not recent occurrences in Nigeria, most studies on the subject have not engaged the issues prominently from a linguistic view point. In the same vein, there has been a dearth of scholarly works on the phenomenon of insurgency reportage especially from the perspective of language with a 23 specific focus on metaphor and semiotics. Insurgent activities in Nigeria have rather been viewed as political or religious issues while studies of their discourse elements from a linguistic perspective have been neglected. It is therefore necessary to investigate the nature and patterns of English usage in the Nigerian print media reports on insurgent activities beyond the level of micro linguistic structures. The present study analyzed the nature and patterns of language use in portraying insurgent activities in the Nigerian print media. Particularly, it examined the discourse patterns that seem to emerge from the news reports. The study focused on the settings, topical issues and the major actors projected in the content and context of print media reports of insurgent activities in Nigeria. The study presented the linguistic features engaged in the reportage from the perspectives of depiction and revealed discernible patterns of discourse in the reports. Data elicited from three Nigerian newspapers: Vanguard, This Day & Daily Trust were analyzed under these headings: bombing, vandalism, pollution, amnesty, educational terrorism and politics. The data were examined from the perspectives of depictions, significations, ideological projections and strategies of the news reports. The study established that language use in the media in relation to crises reportage is judgmental and is capable of causing disaffection through linguistic labels. The study analyzed, using the Peircean Semiot framework of Icon, Index and Symbol how specific patterns of meanings are expressed overtly and covertly and communicated through pictorial representations revealed that language use in crises reportage tends to be both an agent of peace and war depending on usages. It exposed the ideologies that shape news reports of crises thereby assisting members of the public to re-evaluate their perception of the insurgents based on media depictions. The study established that the media conceptualizes insurgency in Nigeria in metaphoric terms such as journey, warfare, sports, time and food because metaphors are strong source domains given that they provide a clear path with start and end points. This study thus unveiled the fact that: language use in the media in relation to crises reportage is judgmental and it is capable of causing disaffection through linguistic labels. It further explored semiotic constructs in Nigerian print media reports especially on insurgent activities by focusing on pictorial analysis to explicate the hidden messages in graphic illustrations of events. The study exposed the portrayal of insurgents and militants as stereotypes through the use of various shades of language that depict the insurgents in bad light. Since terrorism is alien to Nigeria and the nation was experiencing the menace of terrorism at the time of this research, the study is therefore a timely contribution to scholarship in that area from a linguistic perspective. It equally has the potential to promote peace and nation building through the reconstruction of media reportage on sensitive national issues.