AUDIENCE PERCEPTION OF MEDIA REPORTAGE OF MONKEY POX OUTBREAK IN LAGOS

ABSTRACT: The research examined the perception of people on media reportage of Monkeypox outbreak in Lagos. It is established that radio, television and other mass media are essential tools for promoting awareness on various health matters including the outbreak of Monkey Pox. The study was anchored on Agenda Setting Theory and Perception Theory. A survey research method was used coupled with questionnaire that was used to elicit responses from the respondents that were drawn using accidental sampling in which 150 respondents were picked within Alimosho local government. The data collected were analyzed using the frequency and percentage method. The majority of the respondents admitted that radio (37%) and television (30%) are most effective during the outbreak of Monkeypox as they communicate to even the illiterate. It was recommended that media should develop proactive and responsive programmes to prevent, create awareness and educate people before and during the outbreak of any disease in order for people to prepare ahead and prevent such phenomena.


CHAPTER ONE

1.0       Introduction

1.1       Background to the Study

Communication is an effective means of preventing, controlling and creating adequate awareness regards any disease particularly Monkeypox which can be achieved through mass media particularly radio because it can reach out to the various categories of people in the society from the lower to the middle and upper class.

Monkeypox is an infectious disease caused by the monkeypox virus. Symptoms begin with fever, headache, muscle pains, swollen lymph nodes, and feeling tired. This is then followed by a rash that forms blisters and crusts over. The time from exposure to onset of symptoms is around 10 days. The duration of symptoms is typically 2 to 5 weeks (McCollum and Damon, 2014).

Monkeypox may be spread from handling bush meat, an animal bite or scratch, body fluids, contaminated objects, or close contact with an infected person. The virus is believed to normally circulate among certain rodents in Africa. Diagnosis can be confirmed by testing a lesion for the viruses DNA. The disease can appear similar to chickenpox. The smallpox vaccine is believed to prevent infection. Cidofovir may be useful as treatment. The risk of death in those infected is up to 10% (McCollum and Damon, 2014).

The disease mostly occurs in Central and West Africa. It was first identified in 1958 among laboratory monkeys. The first cases in humans were found in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. An outbreak that occurred in the United States in 2003 was traced to a pet store where imported Gambian rodents were sold (McCollum and Damon, 2014). Early in the week, Monkey Pox, a rare viral zoonosis transmitted from animals to humans, was discovered in Bayelsa State in the South South region of Nigeria and 10 persons had been infected while 49 had been placed under surveillance.

Some of the affected states include Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ekiti, Lagos, Enugu, Nasarawa, Rivers and Abuja FCT. Like in previous epidemics, government should not be casual in tackling the disease and adequate measures should be put in place to ensure effective sample collection and testing to enable laboratory confirmation. Luckily, most of the victims were not dying from the disease, except in a few cases. A victim who reportedly committed suicide in Bayelsa State might have done so out of frustration, maybe, due to lack of proper counselling (Wikipedia, 2018).

It should be recorded that majority of Nigerians knew little or nothing about Monkeypox virus until it was reported in the media that a suspected Monkeypox disease was found in Bayelsa State and within a few weeks, it had spread to eleven more states with no less than 74 infections, according to the latest reports. Within few days of the outbreak, it became issue of discuss on both traditional mass media, social media and blogs among Nigerians especially the ways it being contacted and believe of been very dangerous and deadly more than HIV/Virus has continued to create panic and fear among the citizens (Ajaja, 2017).

NTA, AIT, Channels led other mass media where Monkeypox and other associated issues were discussed. Although, many information at the earlier report when the virus just broke out were based on the speculations, propaganda and half information as most of the sources used were not credible enough until few days later when experts came to debunk and shed light on what causes it, how it can be contacted, how to prevent it, and treatment for the victims.

Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has condemned the manner in which the media has handled the outbreak of Monkeypox virus in the country. The Health Minister lashed out at the media for reporting the outbreak of the disease with” terrible photographs that were not even sure came from monkeypox infected people”. (Ajaja, 2017).

The professor of gynecology and obstetrics said this carefree reportage became the order of the day because people that are not trained media personalities have taken up the responsibilities of the press. His words:  “What we have now is that everybody is a media person. What you need is just a camera and internet access then you can create a scare. Well, it is unfortunate that the monkeypox virus outbreak has created so much scare such that one of those infected even committed suicide and I think it’s the way the media has handled it. The media has gone into archives and brought out terrible photographs that were not even sure came from monkeypox infected people, scary pictures that give a wrong picture of the outcome of this disease.

The position occupies by the mass media (radio, television, newspaper, magazine) has placed it in the fore front of socio-education and enlightenment through its various programmes and news that it presents in the form of agenda setting. Radio and television are agents of socialisation and tool for community mobilisation. It is a medium that comes with its unique characteristics making it still very relevant despite the globalisation and intimidations by the new media.

The flexibility of radio and television places it at the advantage over every other media of communication thereby making it easy to reach out to people faster and effectively especially on health matters before, during and after an outbreak of any disease such as when monkey pox suddenly emerged, mass media was a powerful tool employed by the government through health experts in creating adequate awareness.

It is against this background that research examines the Perception of Media Reports of Monkey Pox Outbreak among the Residents Alimosho Local Government with the view to know whether media reportage is blessing or curse during the outbreak.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

Money pox like other virus outbreak in Nigeria often attract attention and cause tension because of the mode of contacting it. Also, government and people in Lagos usually worry when any viral outbreak occur in the country due to the fact that Lagos is a commercial hub of the country and it is very easy for an disease that break in any part of Nigeria to find its way to the city within 24 hours due to the high influx of the people to the city as a result of this, people in the city often rely on mass media for information on what they need to know about the disease.

Similarly, the minister had once accused mass media in Nigeria especially the bloggers for sensational and creating so much scare that can increase tension in the mind of people because there was inadequate information and rumour about Monkeypox when first broke out which has attributed to the spread of the virus as many were misled particularly in the south south  geopolitical area of Nigeria on the causes, mode of transmission, prevention, cure as little was known by the people at that time thereby living people with speculations  on social media.

The research thus examines the Perception of Media Reports of Monkey Pox Outbreak among the Residents Alimosho Local Government with the view to know how and the extent which media reportage influence them.

1.3       Objectives of the Study

  1. To examine whether mass media provided adequate coverage to monkeypox virus outbreak or not.
  2. To ascertain the perception of people in Lagos metropolis regards media reportage of monkey pox outbreak.
  3. To examine whether the perception formed by Lagosians about Monkeypox was as a result of media reportage.
  4. To ascertain whether mass media reportage of Monkeypox was a blessing or curse during the outbreak.

1.4       Research Questions

  1. To what extent did mass media provide adequate coverage to monkeypox virus outbreak?
  2. What is the perception of people in Lagos metropolis regards media reportage of monkey pox outbreak?
  3. Did the perception formed by Lagosians about Monkeypox was as a result of media reportage?
  4. Did mass media reportage of monkeypox a blessing or curse during the outbreak?

1.5     Scope of the Study

This research work will concentrate on people’s perception in Lagos Metropolis on media reportage of monkey pox outbreak. Lagos state is selected because it is a central hub of Nigeria having almost all tribes and culture while another factor is due to the proximity of Lagos to the researcher.

1.6       Significance of the Study

Fundamentally, it is essential we understand current usage and behaviour and identify potential problems so that they can be addressed. This can be seen in the amount of academic studies on mass media within the last seven years. Therefore, the overall motivation for conducting this study is to contribute to research about mass media in Nigeria. This research should also create a platform for further research in this field and how it affects information processes as well as other spheres of life.

This research should provide useful data for the general public and professionals as well as educators as to how they can maximize dramatic approach in appealing to the people.

Future researchers who many what to carry out research in this area or related aspect will find this materials as reference point.

1.7       Limitation to the Study

Wide research of this nature cannot be carried out without some constrains, this constraints pose a lot of limitations to this work.

Time: Duration for the research work is relatively short while stress emanated from other academic activities is also another constraint.

Material: Little materials are also available because the work is relatively new. Financial constrain poses another challenges as most of information are gathered through books rather than using various sources including internet.

Financial: Financial constraint poses another challenge as it is very difficult get materials and travel to get related research and cost of browsing internet.

1.8       Operational Definition of Terms

To effectively do justice to this research project, there is need to explain some of the key words:

Perception: This refers to the opinions or views of Lagosians regards media reportage of Monkeypox outbreak.     

People in Alimosho L.G: These are people living in Lagos state Nigeria particularly those in the residential area.

Media Reportage: This involves various media reportage such as news and programmes about the outbreak of Monkeypox.

Monkey Pox Outbreak: This is one of the oldest diseases that is similar to smallpox and it was first recorded in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970 which is caused by Monkey.

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