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An evaluation of the role of the mass media in conflict management: The Niger Delta experience
This paper is aimed at examining the role of the mass media in the perennial conflict that engulfed the oil rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria before the presidential amnesty granted to the repentant militants in recent past. Mass media as a field of human endeavour saddled with the responsibilities of covering and reporting societal events and situations in the time of joy and anger, love and hatred, ups and downs to the public within the ambit of social responsibility theory of the press have been praised and dawned by media exponents and cynics especially in media coverage and reportage and reportage of Niger Delta conflict scenario. Media exponents hold that media practitioners have thrived well in their conflict management role in the region under review. Whereas media critics argue that media practitioners played dysfunctional role in the aforementioned conflict. Thus, blowing mere misunderstanding and misconception of issues from the warring parties into a full blown violent conflict that hampers societal development which would have been nipped in the bud if mass media were alive to their social responsibility role to the society. Media cynics argue further that media inflammatory reports made Niger Delta a hotbed of crisis for personal aggrandizement of media bigwigs and entrepreneurs at the expense of societal development before the emergence of the amnesty to the ex-militants. This of course, made the Niger Delta a safe haven to conflict in pre amnesty era. Hence, instigating cultists and ex-militants in the region against federal government and corporate bodies without a dialogue. Consequently, the cynicms aginast media role in pre amnesty era in the Niger Delta have given rise and stimulus to this paper. Therefore, this paper holds valid recommendations with vitality to impel a paradigm shift from media industry in conflict packaging and presentation to media product consumers without blemish.