Media in Protest Reportage

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Power

Polsby (1963) notes that Power can be conceived as the ability of one actor to do something influencing another actor, which changes the possible pattern of specified future events. This can be conceived most easily in a decision-making situation (cited in Lukes, 2004, p17-18).

occupy_nigeria_rally_in_ojota_temi
Taking a look at this definition from a context of the Occupy Nigeria, which held its first major protest on January 2, 2012 after the removal of fuel subsidy by the immediate past president of Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan. The mass action witnessed a massive shutdown of law and order in the Nigerian society and in this blog post I would be critically analysing how  power was used to  influence a mass protest in the past government meanwhile, when the present government hiked the fuel price no protest was witnessed.

The most shocking turn out of event for me was when the present government removed subsidy and there was not a single mass action just like the occupy Nigeria of 2012 against such action.
In my observation, the allies of the present government can be said to have ‘’Hidden Power’’ which they used to influence a mass action against the past government. Gaventa described Hidden power as ‘’setting the political agenda”for attain their campaign purpose.  (2006, p29).
Since the campaigning structure of the present government in the past administration was to increase participation through the grievance which had stemmed from relative deprivation, frustration, or perceived injustice they got the love of the people as they were been perceived and seen to be the party of the people. Though, working with some mechanisms in the past government, it achieved what it wanted by the winning the 2015 elections. So they used their power to influence the people to oust the past government. (Berkowitz, 1927; Gurr, 1970; Lind and Tyler 1998 cited van Stekelenburg and Klandermans, 2013).

References:

Gaventa, J. (2006) Finding the Spaces for Change: A Power Analysis. IDS Bulletin, Volume 37 Number 6.

Lukes, S. (2005) Power: A Radical View. Second Edition. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave MacMillan. pp. 14-38.

Van Stekelenburg, J. and Klandermans, B. (2010) The Social Psychology of Protest. Sociopedia.ica.

 

The Nottooyoungtorun campaign in Nigeria

There has been so much excitement amongst youths about a bill titled the Not-Too-Young-to-Run sponsored by a Nigerian legislator Honourable Tony Nwuhulu in the Federal House of Representatives to reduce the age of political office aspirants.
The NotTooYoungToRun Campaign was launched globally to expand democracy and youth political participation and is gaining more followership.
The bill which seeks to reduce the ages of political office aspirants in a bid to open up the political space to more youths and have the benefit of their energy and vibrancy in Nigeria’s political space and decision making process. It proposes a reduction of the age for Presidential aspirants from 40 to 30 years; Senatorial and Gubernatorial aspirants from 35 to 30 years and House of Representatives from 30 to 25 years.
Since the ending of first republic, the participation of youths and their inclusion in political space has become so low and a matter of general concern.
No doubt, that Nigerian youths are very much happy with the proposal of the Not-too-young-to-run bill that is even about to pass second reading on the floor of the green chamber. Since the beginning of this struggle, Nigerian youths are over excited as they claimed that they have been over-marginalized.
So far, the only recognized youths holding high political office in the country are the speakers of Houses of Assemby in Akwa Ibom, Hon Effiok, Aliyu Sabiu Muduru of Kaduna State and Hon Aminu Shagali of Katsina States. There is also youngest serving commissioner of budget and planning in Kaduna state.
The governor of Kaduna state has make the inclusion of youth in government a matter of priority. Many of his aides and cabinet members are youths.
The Not-too-young-to-run bill has been welcomed by Nigerians with excitement, with the hope that this is the time they will start enjoying the dividends of democracy since they constitute 65% of the national population.
Despite their contributions in campaigns and electioneering, the youths are marginalized by the old people in governance> The passage of the bill will ensure guarantee to their right to vote and be voted.
It is noteworthy that most countries have laws restricting young people from running for office and denying the young people the right to lead.
In 2007, because of the “How old is old enough?” campaign, the minimum candidacy age in England, Wales, and Scotland was lowered from 21 to 18, in line with the voting age. In Turkey, young people lobbied the Government to reduce the age of candidacy for Parliament from 30 to 25. In Nigeria, the Not-Too-Young-to-Run campaign has embarked on a mission to address age discrimination in candidacy for the legislative and executive branches. That serves as an inspiration for the global campaign.
With campaign gaining momentum in Nigeria, many young people have so far indicated interest to vie for political offices. The campaign has successfully inspired the youths to aspire and take mantle of leadership.

Political Campaigning: A Nigerian Perspective

A significant change has been observed in the campaigning strategies of political parties. In the past, Political campaigning was a more mutual evidenced campaigning where campaigning was more interpersonal structured. For example, in the pre-modern campaigns; ‘’the electorate is anchored by strong party loyalties. During this era, local parties selected the candidates, rang the doorbells, posted the pamphlets, targeted the wards, planned the resources, and generally provided all the machinery linking voters and candidates’’ (Norris, 2000: p1). A major evidence of the change is observed in various approaches to politics were citizens emerged more like consumers ‘’instrumental, oriented to immediate gratifications, and potentially fickle) than believers. Politicians in this era work harder to retain their interest and support’’ (Blumler and Kavanagh, 1999: p210).
A vital issue for campaigners, and for political communicators, is how these changes in political campaigning structures  occurred. In this blogspot, I will examine series of campaigning explanations to understand the drift in this changes, in campaigning and also consider why this change has emerged overtime. This explanation will be best understood by taking a look at PR issues related to present political campaigning.
A major form of explanation for rapid changes in political campaigning focuses in involvement of media in campaigning. For Example, Blumler and Kavanagh (1999) argue that the media moving toward the focal point of the social process. This advances the idea and practices of a “media-constructed public sphere,” hoisting the communication function and the communication experts in an extensive variety of institutions.  The “modernization” of such organizations is frequently likened with tooling them up for sophisticated public relations (p211). Norris (2000) therefore stated that ‘’following the rise of television, parties increasingly developed a coordinated national and regional campaign with communications designed by specialists skilled in advertising, marketing, and polling. The adoption of these practices did not occur overnight; rather one recent study of European political marketing terms this process a ‘shopping model’, as parties grafted practical techniques which seemed useful or successful in other campaigns onto the existing machinery on a more ad hoc basis.’’
Looking at it from a Nigerian Perspective where a campaign is mostly witnessed on the street and which has also witnessed a paradigm shift to the recruitment of PR experts for conducting campaigns for electioneering purposes, the incumbent national government employed foreign PR experts from America to help coordinate its political campaigns. Though, it received a lot of backlash from local PR firms and other institutions in Nigeria, the foreign PR experts succeeded in the campaign which won the party victories in the elections.  PR consultants in modern campaigning are  keys to achieving a campaign purposes. See link as its party leaders where criticized for such action 
It is hard to offer a far reaching clarification for the developing pattern of political communication campaigns; and it is significantly more hard to point out what political campaigning tactics is more acceptable, but the involvement of PR Consultants in this modern campaigns can be more relevant and key to a successful campaign.
Lastly, it is worthy to note that, whilst the world is constantly changing, researchers have suggested most especially in this digital age the involvement of experts. As Mayhew (cited in Blumler and Kavanagh, 1999) point out that to adapt to the requests of a new medium, its larger group of audience, and a more mobile electorate, political parties need to work harder and learn new tricks. They accordingly adopted an array of tactics to get into the news, shape the media agenda, and project a pre-planned “line” in press conferences, briefings, interviews, and broadcast discussions.
From this development, the core features of the professional model of modern campaigning emerged. This evolved into a highly positivistic, scientistic, unsentimental approach to communication and persuasion of opinion climates than on civic visions. Mayhew further added that Campaign themes had to be pretested, and politicians were discouraged from “speaking their minds” directly to the public; instead, experts often were called on to predict acceptability in advance.
References:
Norris, P. (2000) A virtuous circle: Political communications in Postindustrial societies. Cambridge, MA: John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
BLUMLER, J.G. and KAVANAGH, D. (1999) ‘The Third age of political communication: Influences and features’, Political Communication, 16(3), pp. 209–230. doi: 10.1080/105846099198596.

Framing: The BBOG Campaign

Overtime, I have always considered how framing and storytelling are key to success of major campaigns. They are perceived to influence and persuade people’s actions towards participations in social actions (Social movements). 
Storytelling and Framing are two major concepts used in the media to create a Narrative for Social Movements. However, it is necessary to understand how does the concepts work in bringing the best out of a social movement.
One form of explanation for storytelling and framing in campaigning, Snow and Benford et.al., (cited in Poletta), describes frames as ‘’persuasive devices used by movement leaders to recruit participants, maintain solidarity, drum up support and, in some instances, demobilize opposition’’ (1998, p421). Based on this definition by the scholars it is necessary to understand that framing is an intentional effort by movement leaders to seek participation from the public for social movements causes, However, in another similar argument about framing which is a word borrowed from Goffman (1974:21) has been viewed by Snow et al., (1986) stating that ‘’frames function to organize experience and guide action, whether individual or collective.” So, conceptualized, it follows that frame alignment is a necessary condition for movement participation, whatever its nature or intensity.
However, from the above definitions about framing it is worthy to note that framing are key to the success of campaigns based on the role of persuasion it tends to function as during mass mobilization in campaigns. A perfect example of such narration, is during the ‘’Bring Back Our Girls’’ campaign, as the group used its name to capture the minds of people and increase participation. From the name of the group i observed that it carries everybody along as it indicated that the girls belong to everyone and not segregated to the Chibok community they came from.
The purpose of the framing in the Bring-Back-Our-Girls campaign cannot be overemphasized as the stories about the group resonate with millions of people around the world.
However, the Bring-Back-Our-Girls by framing their mobilization appeals in the language of cherished democratic principles, peace activists not only attempt to build “idiosyncracy credit” (Hollander, 1958; Snow, 1979), but they also seek to redefine their public image as a movement serving the best interests of their country, in part through revitalization of what they see as atrophied values such as the right to redress grievances and express dissent’’(Cited in Snow et al, p469).
Note: Please click link above to see how celebrities joined the BBOG campaign.
References:
Snow, D. A., Rochford, E. B., Worden, S. K., & Benford, R. D. (1986). Frame Alignment Processes, Micromobilization, and Movement Participation. American Sociological Review, 51(4), 464–481.
Polletta, F. (1998). Contending Stories: Narrative in Social Movements. Qualitative Sociology, 21(4), 419–446.
New Economics Foundation (2014) Framing the Economy: The Austerity Story. Available at: http://www.neweconomics.org/publications/entry/framing-the- economy-the-austerity-story

Still on Social Change

In the ancient times wars were waged and protests staged as campaign tools to send strong messages to leaders and followers. In the modern age a lot of strategies have been inculcated to ensure success of social change policies and campaigns through peaceful and harmonious means. 
ancient-egyptian-soldiers-eae
 Such change in the modern world is borne out of systematic plans. It is a known fact that social change policies are being implemented globally, and largely due to the influence of campaigners and social movements.
Social movements, according to Krznaric, have been a major subject of sociological study since the 1960s, based on a realisation that collective organisation outside traditional party politics had a major impact on governments and the state.
I agree with the perspective of Krznaric on social movements when one relates it to the Occupy Nigeria Movement. The Nigeria’s social movement which was established to oust the past administration in the country succeeded in aggressive mass mobilization against obnoxious policies of the government.
However, ‘’Change processes are highly complex and unpredictable’’ (McGee and Gaventa, 2010). They can easily be attained through adequate social mobilization as collective efforts can bring out the best of social change campaigns.
As indicated by the Regime theory of change by Stachowiak (2013) for social change to occur a social movement can ‘’organize opposition to a regime policy agenda’’ p15 in which it can create an increased opposition to existing policy agenda which is clearly observant with the Occupy Nigeria movement, that fought against the policies of the immediate past government. However, the group which was established to concur the policies of the past government couldn’t rise against such obnoxious policies when it was implemented by the present government.
References:
Krznaric, R (2007) How Change Happens, Oxfam GB report
Stachowiak, S. (2013) Pathways for Change, Centre for Evaluation Innovation

‎Diretas’ Ja: Examining the Success of Brazil’s Largest Political Demonstration

Classical theories propose that people participate in protest to express their grievances stemming from relative deprivation, frustration, or perceived injustice. (Berkowitz, 1972; Gurr, 1970; Lind and Tyler, 1988).
The Diretas Ja, meaning Direct Elections was a civil movement organized in Brazil in 1984 to stop a process that involved indirect elections that continuously put up presidents from the armed forces through an electoral college in the Congress to a process that would open up a popular vote for all the citizens of Brazil.
In Brazil, the campaign saw a massive turn-out of an estimated crowd of over 1.5 million people, in what has been dubbed, the largest political demonstration ever seen in the country.
The campaign achieved its success following a massive turn out of an estimated crowd of over 1.5 million, which is said to be the largest demonstration ever seen in the history of Brazil.
Foster and Matheson (1999), however, showed that the relation is more complex. They demonstrate that when the group’s experience becomes relevant for one’s own experience –i.e. when the personal becomes political – motivation to protest increases. People who experience both personal deprivation and group deprivation are the most strongly motivated to take to the streets.
This statement in relation to the Diretas Ja  could best be understood looking at it from the angle that the political campaign in Brazil started from a single political party called the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PDMB) when its members made the first public protest in the emancipated town of Abreu e Lima, in Pernambuco, on March 31, 1983 as participation grew to a broad spectrum of political parties, trade unions, civil, student and journalistic leaderships.
Foster and Matheson (1999) argue that the single party was able to mobilize and organize a large crowd because they felt deprived of the right to get direct elections as they had to go through the electoral college which they felt was unacceptable.
However, the campaign started after Dante de Oliveira Constitutional Amendment, named after the Congressional representative who introduced it, and which was a breakthrough for Brazilians democrats.
Klandermans (1984, 1997) shows that people are more likely to participate in movement activities when they believe it will help to redress their grievances at affordable costs.
The people in Brazil at that time felt they were not involved in the elections of anyone that emerged the president and felt that the best way to redress their grievances was to join the Deritas Ja Campaign.
In the argument by Klandermans above, the relationship between the politically aggrieved people (Politicians) was passed on to the citizenry. Hence, one can posit that for a protest to be success, it must carry everyone along and this was what the Deritas Ja was able to achieve.
Similarly, social psychological studies report consistently that the more people identify with a group, the more they are inclined to protest on behalf of that group (Kelly and Breinlinger, 1995; Klandermans et al., 2002; Mummendey et al., 1999; Reicher, 1984; Simon and Klandermans, 2001; Simon et al., 1998; Stryker et al., 2000). Also this relation has been confirmed meta-analytically (Van Zomeren et al., 2008).
The civil unrest achieved its success following the end to military rule and a civil take over in 1985 and an approval of a new Brazilian constitution in 1988 which laid the bedrock for the first direct elections in 1989 without military interference.
The  movement proved to be a catalyst for various opposition forces and a voice for popular discontent. The re-democratization process ended with the return of civil power in 1985 and the approval of a new constitution in 1988, which called for the first direct presidential elections in 1989. Brazil then elected Fernando Collor de Mello, its first democratically-elected president since 1961.
References:

Jacquelien van Stekelenburg and Bert Klandermans(1997)The social psychology of protest; VU University, The Netherlands, 1-5

Selcher, Wayne A. Political Liberalization in Brazil: Dynamics, Dilemmas, and Future Prospects. Boulder: Westview Press, 1986.

Mettenheim, Kurt . The Brazilian Voter: Mass Politics in Democratic Transition, 1974-1986. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1995.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diretas_J%C3%A1

http://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/content/brazilians-act-end-military-rule-diretas-j-1983-84

Understanding the Bring Back Our Girls Campaign

 “A state that can act as a servant requires a people that is also willing to take and use power for itself. The history of democracy is therefore never simply a story of pacification and passivity; instead it is bound up with the histories of social protest and moral persuasion in which social movements have claimed to better represent the interests and spirit of the people than their supposed representatives.”- Geoff Mulgan in Good and Bad Power.
The basis for the quote above is to illustrate the popularity of  the Bring-Back-Our-Girls campaigners against the weak denial of Nigeria’s government on the missing Chibok- girls at the initial stage. In fact, the government even claimed that the campaign was was politically motivated.
Overtime, the Bring-our-Girls campaign enjoys tremendous goodwill, especially from the media, making it one of the most outstanding and success global campaigns from Nigeria.
The campaign which has continued to enjoy supports from the media, spread across the globe attracting top celebrities and world leaders to key into the campaign. The campaign which was organized to give support for abducted Chibok Girls in Nigeria, calls for the immediate release of the abductees from the clutches of Boko Haram terrorists. More girls have been releases by the terrorists. At least about 21 of the girls were recently freed by the Boko Haram Terrorists.
In his book Political Campaigning, Sigrid Baringhorst said ‘’the Internet has offered all political actors new chances to differentiate their strategies and achieve their aims at lower costs. First of all, web-based campaigning facilitates the information function of political campaigning.’’
Though a lot of people felt the campaign was politically motivated when the government claimed so but the use of social media with the hashtag #bringbackourgirl trending continuously it spread quickly across the streets of the world.
The group used the social media platforms to call for action. During the initial campaign, I was an intern in one of Nigeria’s top Online media platform, http://www.premiumtimesng.com, where we covered the campaign online and on the field because its newsworthiness was massive: See link to one of the stories we wrote after the coverage of the protest: http://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/159875-kidnapped-girls-outrage-tears-nigerian-women-protest.html
On the campaign, it could be said that the campaign of the #Bringbackourgirls group could have hidden power that may not be known to the public and influenced by vested interests to influence and maintain powers and privilege.
Those hidden power could are attainable by creating barriers to participation and by excluding key issues from the public arena, or by controlling politics  from the ‘backstage’.
 They may occur not only within political processes, but in organizational and other group contexts as well, such as workplaces, NGOs or community-based organizations.
 Through hidden forms of power, alternative choices are limited as less powerful people and their concerns are excluded. The rules of the game are set to be biased against certain people and issues.  Academics have described this form of power as the ‘mobilization of bias’, where ‘some issues are organized into politics while others are organized out’ (Schattschneider 1960: 71). This is done by dominant rules and procedures; the framing of issues in a way that devalues them; the use or threat of sanctions, and the discrediting of the legitimacy of actors who are challenging the status quo.
The previous government of President Goodluck Jonathan might have underrated the power of the group. The government was removed through the ballot box largely due to its failure to ensure the release of the girls. The opposition used the loopholes to outshine the then administration and continued the call to action for the government incapability to protect its citizens.
Schattschneider, Elmer, E. (1960) The Semisovereign People: A Realist’s View of Democracy in America, Harcourt Brace College Publishers.
Mulgan, G. (2006) Good and Bad Power, Penguin Books: London.