International Journal of International Relations, Media and Mass Communication Studies (IJIRMMCS)

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Media Depiction of Sufferers/Victims of Boko Haram Attacks in Nigeria and Audience Response


This study employs focus group discussion to explore the Nigerian audiences’ reactions and responsibilities to the suffering images of victims of the Boko Haram. The study further utilizes two audience practices, which are media witnessing and moral responsibility as its theoretical frameworks. It extends to the position of audiences as witnesses to the mediated images and their actions towards events witnessed. Extant literature suggests that in depicting the suffering victims, the media plays a number of roles in engaging and connecting audiences to the suffering of others. Scholars have also argued that factors such as distance, gender and culture contribute to or influence how audiences respond to the depicted images of suffering victims on the media. Compelled by these factors identified by Western scholars, this study weighed their authenticity within the Nigerian context. No known study has empirically measured this in Nigeria. This study is an attempt to bridge that gap. The finding of this study reinforces earlier findings that viewers of suffering victims tend to show compassion towards ameliorating the conditions of the sufferers. On the contrary, this study finds that Nigerian audiences feel pity and compassionate towards the suffering victims despite their gender and lack of proximity. While this finding may not have ‘charted a new territory’, it has demonstrated that reaction to media messages is culturally relative.

Keywords: Audiences’ response, Boko Haram, Media Depiction, Media Witnessing, Suffering, responsibility

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