Media and COVID-19 in West Africa: The Case of Nigeria

Across the world, media houses have suffered as the economic consequences caused by COVID-19 have ravaged budgets and revenues. Unfortunately, government-enforced mitigation efforts are sometimes linked to press freedom violations. Nigeria’s media has suffered dramatically, though its role in providing the news, information and resources the public needs to know has remained as critical as ever, especially during these COVID-19 times.

The short- and long-term impact of the disease on the mediascape across West Africa needs critical examination to help ensure there is a sustainable future for the fourth estate. The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) is collaborating with its national partner organisations in the respective countries in the region to produce reports that highlight the effects of the pandemic and other key emerging issues on media operations and viability. These reports focus on five major factors that could ultimately impinge on the survival and sustainability of media institutions, professional journalism practice, and freedom of expression in the region. These factors are (1) availability and accessibility of information; (2) legal and policy context; (3) safety of journalists; (4) economic sustainability; and (5) media support. It is hoped that the reports will provide empirical information and insights to inform and guide stakeholders who may initiate media sector support interventions at national or regional levels.

This report focuses on the situation in Nigeria. Nigeria recorded its first case of COVID-19 on February 28, a month after the WHO declared COVID-19 to be a public health emergency of international concern. To control and combat the spread of COVID-19, Nigeria closed its borders early on, enforced lockdowns and introduced new legislation aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19. These measures significantly impacted the media. This brief examines Nigeria’s situation from March to June.

Here is the full report.

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