CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF THE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND MASS MEDIA IN THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE SPREAD OF CORONA VIRUS DISEASE
1.1 Background to the study
The Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria is part of the global scourge of coronavirus disease 2019 caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS Covid-19). Coronavirus was first discovered in Wuhan, China in December, 2019. Initially, coronavirus was tagged an epidemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) but because of its global spread and deadly nature, WHO upgraded the virus to a pandemic in 2020. More than 200,000 COVID_19 cases have been confirmed on the African continent, with over 5,600 deaths. Globally as at July, 26, coronavirus cases was 16,432,110, with 10,056,554 recovery and 652,437 deaths (www.worldometers.info). Coronavirus, has caused widespread concern and anxiety. COVID-19 also changed the way viewers search knowledge in the twenty-first century. On January 30, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a Global Public Health Emergency (www.worldometers.info).
The first confirmed case of the coronavirus in Nigeria was in February, 27 2020, an Italian citizen in Lagos state who tested positive for the virus. The second case was reported in March, 9, 2020 in Ewekoro, Ogun state through contact tracing of a Nigerian citizen who had contact with the Italian citizen. The first case of coronavirus in Akwa Ibom state was in April. 2020, with another case reported on May, 2020, where a Government House Press Corps reportedly tested positive to the dreaded Covid-19 disease (http//allafrica.com). According to Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) the total number of confirmed cases in Nigeria as at 25th July 2020 stands at 40,532, with 17,374 persons said to have recovered and 858 persons confirmed dead. According to NCDC the total number of confirmed cases in Akwa Ibom state as at 25th July, 2020 stands at 208, with 121 persons said to have recovered and 7 persons confirmed dead. (wikipedia.com).
The daily global updates on coronavirus pandemic information is trending immensely, broadcast on radio stations, scrolled on television screens and the social media. Moreso, with the liberalization of the telecommunication sector in Nigeria, which result in over 139 million active mobile phone users and an installed capacity of over 180 million lines (Monye, 2015), the media dependency level of Nigerians during Covid-19 Pandemic increased tremendously. The media have an essential role to play in communicating health promotion. According to Asogba (2019) citing Quattrin,Filliputt and Brusaferro (2015) public health programmes may benefit from the use of mass media to promote positive health behaviours.
Interestingly, when Melvin DeFleur and Sandra Ball-Rokeach (1976) postulated the Media System Dependency theory, little did they know about the emergence of the social media. The Media System Dependency theory major assumption is that in times of crisis or uncertainty, people will depend on the media to obtain information in order to reduce uncertainty and anxiety. Moreso, during health emergency situations, like the coronavirus pandemic, the more people rely on having their health needs met by media use, the more important will be the role that the media will play in the life of such people which will lead to more media influence on such people. This study therefore, investigates the Use Of Mass Media and Social Media in the Campaign against the Spread Of Corona Virus Disease.
1.2 Statement of the problem
The disease primarily affects the respiratory system with symptoms ranging from fever, cough, and mild shortness of breath, to severe desaturation, causing respiratory failure. Despite the lung damage in the form of adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), there are reports of the novel virus creating a thromboembolic condition in the body and hence causing myocardial infarction and pulmonary embolism. It can also result in kidney failure in several patients. Modes of spread range from droplets, airborne, or feco-oral to contact spread. There is news of viruses staying viable on surfaces from a few hours to many days. This heterogeneous spectrum of disease is concerning and one of the reasons for the increased fatality of the disease.
These aspects create a public worry and force the general public to seek help from the most accessible ways available to them. For most people, it’s either the internet or media, which includes print, as well as broadcast options. The internet is considered a worldwide media. In an epidemic or pandemic, controlling the spread of disease is a basic requirement. It requires early recognition of symptomatology, prompt diagnostic measures, effective home and hospice management, and appropriate preventive steps. This in turn, requires the role of varying departments ranging from government to healthcare, to the media, to the general public itself. Whenever a new virus or bacterial disease emerges, it goes through localized transmission, amplification in the spread, and finally, the remission with successful measures. The controlling measures are taken at each step of the chain. They include anticipation about the likely widespread infection, early detection, effective containment, control and mitigation measures, and lastly, eradication. According to WHO, it involves the coordination of responders, proper health information system, and managing communication risks. Media plays a crucial role at each step. The method of news reporting modifies the behavior of people and their attitudes. This was studied in the H1N1 influenza epidemic in the Shaanxi province of China in 2009. In a study published in 2016, Yan Q. et al. showed how people’s response can change with media reports and, hence, can affect emerging disease control. Media reports of the disease spread during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009 raised fear and awareness among people. On the one hand, it helped people to adopt essential protective measures. On the other hand, some people started stigmatizing diseased persons from inappropriate articles published in some newspapers. This is an example that indicates that the interaction between media awareness and disease control is a two-directional approach.
To study the media impact and disease dynamics, the media impact model was designed after the pandemic of SARS 2003-2004. This was inconclusive of the overall positive or negative impact of media, thus prompting the need to expand the model and studying its effects. In the MERS outbreak in 2012, again, the media played its role. With advancements in technology and an increase in the accessibility of the internet to the common man, public awareness increased manifold, thus urging better adherence to essential public health measures. The role of social media in the MERS epidemic in 2012 and the H7N9 epidemic in China was studied, showing a stronger reaction in the H7N9 epidemic. It further delineates the importance of the topic of discussion. This study will investigates the Use Of Mass Media and Social Media in the Campaign against the Spread Of Corona Virus Disease.
1.3 Objective of the study
The main objective of the study is to critically examine the Use Of Social Media and Mass Media in the Campaign against the Spread Of Corona Virus Disease. Specifically, the study aims to:
- Determine the extent to which Uyo residents depended on the media for information during the Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
- Identify the most preferred media for information during the Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
- Determine Uyo residents perception of the role of each media in information dissemination during the covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
1.4 Research question
The following research questions were formulated in order to achieve the research objective:
1. What is the extent to which Uyo residents depended on the media for information during the Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
2. What is the most preferred media for information during the Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
3. What is the Uyo residents perception of the role of each media in information dissemination during the covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
1.5 Significance Of The Study
The study will enable relevant agencies concerned with eradicating coronavirus in Akwa-state and Nigeria in general to appraise the media framework for possible modification or modernization. The study will show the how media have covered the outbreak of the novel virus. The study exposes the rural people’s perception of the use of media as an institution concerned with people’s welfare and from there highlight the potency of the media as instrument of mass education and mobilization for public policy implication in the state.
1.6 Scope/Limitation of the study
The study on the critical examination of the Use Of Social Media and Mass Media in the Campaign against the Spread Of Corona Virus Disease was carried out in Uyo the state capital of Akwa-Ibom state, in south-south Nigeria. It will cover the whole of Uyo metropolis. Uyo metropolis was divided into six clusters, Abak road, Ikot Ekpene road, Nwaniba road, Oron road, Aka road and Wellington Bassey Way.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
SOCIAL MEDIA: Social media are interactive technologies that allow the creation or sharing/exchange of information, ideas, career interests, and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks.
MASS MEDIA: Mass media refers to a diverse array of media technologies that reach a large audience via mass communication. The technologies through which this communication takes place include a variety of outlets. Broadcast media transmit information electronically via media such as films, radio, recorded music, or television.
CAMPAIGN: an organized course of action to achieve a goal.
CORONA VIRUS: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is defined as illness caused by a novel coronavirus now called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2; formerly called 2019-nCoV), which was first identified amid an outbreak of respiratory illness cases in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China.