The Nigerian Alternative Online Media and Political Misinformation: News producers’ perspective on the defining characteristics, tensions and mitigation strategies

University essay from Lunds universitet/Medie- och kommunikationsvetenskap; Lunds universitet/Institutionen för kommunikation och medier

Abstract: This thesis investigates the characteristics of the Nigerian alternative online media as an effective tool for political discourse with the intent to influence governance despite claims that the form of media is awash with political misinformation - which is mostly termed “fake news” in the local parlance. This thesis takes an Afrikology stance in defining the role of the Nigerian alternative online media as a digital public sphere placing the people’s lived and cultural experiences at the centre of the discourse from the content producer’s perspective. The research used qualitative interviews for the data collection taking a purposive sampling in recruiting elite content producers. The content producer’s perspective is instrumental to give vital information about the news-making process of the Nigerian alternative online media platforms in a bid to find out how their platforms have been mitigating the spread of misleading political information prominent in the digital space. Likewise, the research also normatively discusses the types and levels of political misinformation in Nigeria opening up a professional understanding beyond the general use of “fake news”. The result of the investigation shows that the Nigerian alternative online media has evolved beyond mere resistance to the government or as an alternative to the mainstream but as an integral component in sustaining and deepening the country’s democracy. Likewise, the influx of the platform's publishing news in the country’s digital space due to the open access occasioned by the internet has contributed to increased tension in the private and public sphere that has contributed to the spread of political misinformation. In mitigating this political misinformation, the interviewees highlight their efforts in combating this menace and also sue for a collective effort from all actors by placing the public interest at the centre of their decisions.

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