Author(s): Oyebode Musibau Olabamiji
The new media expectedly are to bridge the knowledge gap and compact the global village, however, changes in communication brought about by increasing access to them have engendered complexity, vitality and absurdity in many cases. Scholars have argued that new media make many who lack the skills required to scan exposure, selection and application of avalanche of massages posted on them every moment vulnerable. This is compounded by the failure of the print and electronic media to play secondary gate-keeping role before bringing to the mass audience information accessed through new media. However, these arguments will remain pure scholastic endeavour unless they are connected to the experience of Nigerians during political campaigns. Therefore, this paper examines media in political communication in Nigeria’s 4th Republic. Based on qualitative content analysis of some new, print and electronic media messages and interviews with the users, the paper presents a situation analysis of the nexus between new media messages and political harmony or conflict in Nigeria. The paper reveals that although the new media have enhanced political awareness and interaction, however, they are also being used in Nigeria to malign, intimidate and discredit political opponents thus triggering conflicts. The print and electronic media in Nigeria have also accentuated such political conflicts through their over reliance on and re-publication of new media messages without proper gate-keeping. The paper concludes that although beneficial, problems still exist in the utilization of new media for political communication in Nigeria as their uses are sometimes dysfunctional. Aggressive education of the populace on the limitation of the new media is needed in order to develop required capacity for message scrutiny. News production processes in the mass media should also be conflict-sensitive.