THE ROLE OF PRINT AND SOCIAL MEDIA IN SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: THE CASE OF BRING BACK OUR GIRLS

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THE ROLE OF PRINT AND SOCIAL MEDIA IN SOCIAL MOVEMENTS: THE CASE OF BRING BACK OUR GIRLS

CHAPTER ONE

1. Introduction

In this chapter, an overview of print and social media, as well as social movements has been discussed. Observers of social movements have agreed that new media provides new opportunities for collective action at a global level (Van Aelst and Walgrave, 2002). Fighting against military dictatorship and the entrenchment of democracy, in addition to corruption and social movements, are some of the ways positive roles have been portrayed in the mass media in Nigerian society (Kur, Agudosy and Orhewere, 2015). Along with the mass media, social networking sites and internet are equally important for social movement (Goodwin and Jasper, 2009).  A large number of theoretical work has been discussed to create a relationship between mass media and social networking sites. The Bring Back Our Girls campaign has taken an active and inactive plan to make their campaign free from any religious or political affiliation in the social movement. The BBOG campaign is neither a religious group nor a tribal group, but rather it is ‘a diverse group of citizens’ that advocate ‘for speedy and effective search and rescue’ of the kidnapped Chibok Girls (bringbackourgirls, 2014). Social media platform, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, as well as blogs, have provided individuals with a voice they may not otherwise have. Social movements rely on the media (print and social media) to gain public attention in order to achieve their aim or agitation (Lopes, 2014). The impact of the print and social media in the social movements will be explored in this study.

This study will focus on the four stages of the Bring Back Our Girls social movement, namely: (1) emergence, (2) coalescence, (3) bureaucratisation, and (4) decline. Therefore, this study will consider earlier social movements in Nigeria before the Bring Back Our Girls campaign, such as Ali-Must-Go and Occupy Nigeria. The aim is to compare and contrast, evaluate, and determine how the Bring Back Our Girls global campaign has attracted the international community (Olutokun et al., 2015).

To test the hypothesis, this study will use a qualitative focus group interview in Nigeria, to investigate the role of print and social media. Also, this study will use a computer-based research approach for the prototype development of the digital signage using Microsoft PowerPoint.

 

1.1 Background and Motivation

This study will focus on the impact of print and social media on the BBOG campaign, given that Mass media can be an agent of both positive and negative change (Kur, Agudosy and Orhewere, 2015). According to Dictionary.com, an online dictionary, media is defined as ‘the means of communication, such as radio and television, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet, that reaches or influences people widely’ (Dictionary, 2017). Today, the significance of the mass media is globally recognised (Oso and Akhagba, 2014). The media creates social awareness and informs the public about their social rights and duties. On December 17, 2010, 26-year-old Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire because of frustration. Immediately, the news was spread on facebook, twitter, online newspaper and print media.

Consequently, this induced a revolution in Tunisia and, according to Fox, young Tunisians began organising themselves on Facebook and Twitter. The Arab Spring led to the Syrian uprising, the Libyan revolution, the Egyptian revolution, and the Bahraini uprising. Both the conventional (print media) and new media (social media) have been used as a means of communication for the mobilisation of social movements (Fox, 2011).

The media has influence and can work for or against a political system. A country’s economy can be improved or halted by media reports. Additionally, the media can facilitate social equality and change, or seek alternatives to the status quo (Egbon, 2001). However, for a society that is a developing nation, dependence on internet and digital technology for the spread of media and mass communications could create a digital gap between people who can afford it and those who cannot. Therefore, access to online news or social media would be limited.

According to bring back our girl’s website, 276 girls were abducted by a group called Boko Haram on the 14th of April, 2014. The girls were kidnapped from a secondary school in Chibok, a north-eastern region of Nigeria. In order to protest against this abduction of the school girls, the Nigerians took to the streets of Abuja and their demand was to return the school girls. The name of their protest campaign was Bring Back Our Girls. The campaign was made viral within two weeks’ time of the campaign.

Nigeria has a population of 178,516,904 as of July 2014, with different ethnic groups and languages (Worldometers, 2017). In other words, Nigeria is a heterogeneous and secular society, but due to frustrations and social factors like corruption, injustice, high illiteracy rate, insecurity and so forth, Nigerians came together to advocate. A heterogeneous society should come together to stand for each other during crisis. This advocacy was for the speedy and effective search and rescue of the abducted Chibok girls and to demand for immediate government response and the quelling of insurgency in Nigeria (bringbackourgirls, 2014).

Historically, the Ali Must Go movement was organised by university students in 1978, while the June 12, 1993 movement was because of the ‘annulment of the election result’ and, according to Jaye Gaskia, Premium Times of Nigeria. ‘During a political crisis, mass media protest can be coordinated and organized by mass movements whose intention is for the cessation of military dictatorships and polity democratization’ (Gaskia, 2013).

The Ali Must Go and the June 12 movements had little publicity compared to the Bring Back Our Girls movement because the Nigerian media landscape was limited to traditional media, i.e. print media, TV, radio, and analogue telephone. In addition, in 1993, the rate of Internet connectivity globally was limited, therefore, Nigeria’s Internet connectivity was slow when compared to the present global broadband speed. The global attention of foreign governments has been gained by the Bring Back Our Girls campaign. The success that the Bring Back Our Girls campaign gained with twitter raised awareness among the people of Nigeria and along with mass media, social network sites helped the campaign for the social movements. The social media serves as a vehicle for the social movement.

The Bring Back Our Girls movement has been acknowledged ‘to be one of a kind in world history’ because, regardless of cultural, gender, ethnic, and religious differences, the members and volunteers were able to come together as one entity due to the effective media campaign. The BBOG members and their sympathizers effectively used the power of the internet for interactions with one another, as well as sharing the visual images and the videos of the Chibok Girls on Social media to promote global media coverage. The media (print and social media) played a major role in this social mobilisation (Olutokun et al., 2015). Today, the movements are gaining public support and sympathy due to media attention (Lopez, 2014).

The new media has afforded opportunities to the less privileged and less advantaged people to express themselves freely, provided they are connected through social media, blogs, and websites, to mention a few. Clark (2012) observes that the ‘striking feature of this new method of communication is its ability to bypass the bias of official sources and the mass media’.

The new media, as well as information and communication technology, (ICT) have posed some challenges in developing nations. Idowu and Esere (2013) identify some of the challenges of Information and Communication Technology in Nigeria, as follows:

  1. Inadequate ICT      infrastructure, including         computer         hardware,        software,         and bandwidth/access
  2. Lack of qualified ICT personnel
  3. Epileptic service delivery and unbearable high bills
  4. Resistance to change from traditional methods to a more innovative and technology-based system

Hence, these challenges have increased the rate of the digital divide in developing nations.

1.1.1 Digital Divide

The digital divide is a term used to define the difference between people who have access to resources such as the internet, and those who do not (Beal, 2015). Digital divide exists primarily between those who live in urban areas and those who live in rural regions; between the uneducated and educated; between different socio-economic groups; and, on a global scale, between developed and developing nations (Rouse, 2014).

In 2012, the BBC stated that Nigerian poverty had increased, with nearly 100 million people having to survive on less than a $1 (£0.63) a day (BBC Africa, 2012). Therefore, due to social inequalities and the high illiteracy rate in the developing nations, many Nigerians have no access to digital technology because of the gap between the rich and the poor, as well as the high cost of Smartphones, the high rate of Internet services and high digital illiteracy rate.  Computers and the Internet are present in the homes of the rich but not the poor because of the high cost of computers and expensive Internet access. Although the prototype does not provide access to Internet, it provides an essential step towards the digitisation of Nigerian society.

On one hand, only a few people can afford a laptop or PC and broadband services, while on the other, many Internet users in Nigeria use their affordable Smartphones to chat on Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter, similarly, they use their mobile phones to download and upload images or pictures on the web. The digital divide separates those at opposite ends of the economic scale in Nigeria for competing in the global economy, communication, and gathering information.

This study will design and prototype a digital signage to see how it could be used to reduce the digital divides issue. If a digital signage is installed in a strategic place in a rural or remote area, then the inhabitants in those remote communities may be well informed about the activities of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign. This may encourage them to join the campaign and participate fully in the movement, and this will help to achieve the aim of this study in terms of the mobilisation, communication, and organisation of Bring Back Our Girls.

1.2 Significance of the research

The Nigerian people have started an interesting campaign for the social movement. Through the Bring Back Our Girls campaign, many Nigerians voluntarily joined the campaigned group to express their anger and frustrations. Moreover, for a country like Nigeria, which is not yet in the post-industrial stage (Investopedia, 2016), it was a good initiative by the citizens of Nigeria. The social movement was very interesting however, it also includes strong leadership quality and strategic coordination along with proper discipline.

The protest would not have been possible without proper leadership and discipline among the Nigerians as the protest campaign was a broad issue. The campaigners protested in the streets of Nigeria by wearing white and red dress, which was the sign of protest against the abduction of the girls. Though it was not the objective to maintain proper discipline in the campaign, the protesters maintain the discipline inside the campaign program for the school girls who were kidnapped from the secondary schools. The protest went viral through the social networking sites. Lots of tweets and re-tweets helped the topic go viral. The hash tag #BringBackOurGirls went viral within two weeks of protest.

1.3 Aim of the study

The aim of this study is to examine the impact of print and social media and its influence on the Bring Back Our Girls movement in terms of mobilisation, communication, and organisation. In addition to this main aim, the study has two sub aims; the first is to study the habits, strategies, and documents that the Bring Back Our Girls Campaigners used and the second is in exploring whether digital signage could be used in the future to complement print and social media, to span the digital divide in Nigeria. Digital divide can be bridged by using the prototype model of digital signage in which people can make up their own presentation and present via the digital signage. Using PowerPoint as a model of digital signage is one of the cheapest methods of advertisement, requiring only access to a computer with PowerPoint installed and a basic knowledge of PPT creation.

1.4 Research objectives

To analyse how the Bring Back Our Girls campaign can affect the people of Nigeria To analyse how the print media was used by the Bring Back Our Girls campaign.

To analyse the role of the digital divide and use of the digital signage in the Bring Back Our Girls campaign.

To analyse the nature of coverage of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign.

1.5 Research Questions

In this study, the research questions will be based on the usage of print and social media by BBOG, as well as the design and prototype of the digital signage. Therefore, the following research questions were formulated:

  1. What will be the influence on the people of Nigeria by Bring Back Our Girls campaign?
  2. How do Bring Back Our Girls campaigners use print media, such as flyers, T-shirts and banners, as well as social media platforms to promote the awareness of their campaign in terms of frequency of use?
  3. What is the role of the digital divide? How could digital signage be used to complement print and social media in the ongoing Bring Back Our Girls campaign in Nigeria?
  4. What is the nature of coverage in media regarding the BBOG campaign?

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