1.1 Background of the study
Terrorism and conflict have become a worldwide trend that has sparked widespread worry. Nigeria has seen its fair share of terror incidents, the most of which have been caused by internal insurgency. The Fulani herdsmen and farmers dispute is one of Nigeria's worst crises and conflicts. This is tragically accurate, since the Fulani herders are now ranked as the world's fourth deadliest terrorist organization by the Global Terrorism Index (2016). Some experts believe it is a community dispute, while others believe it is a religious war. Hundreds of people have been murdered in the process, properties worth millions of dollars have been damaged, thousands of individuals and families have been displaced, and the violence has been blamed for various forms of community degradation. Farmers and herders in a variety of locations and nations rely on the same physical, political, and socio-cultural circumstances, which might be marked by resource scarcity (Braukämper, 2000). Disputes between farmers and herders have been linked to land resource use conflicts, which are worsened by depleting supplies (Blench, 2004). However, in many regions of Nigeria, the struggle between these two agricultural land user-groups has often devolved into significant overt and covert manifestations of hostility and social conflict. Conflicts have shown a significant potential to worsen insecurity and food shortages, especially in rural areas where most conflicts are confined, with far-reaching implications throughout the country (Adisa & Solagberu, 2012). Conflict news is one of the most appealing types of news for the media; it appeals to the human-interest component of the news, resulting in a variety of interpretations and twists on the conflict from various organizations. When your country goes to war, the principles of reporting are put to the test, according to Owens-Ibie (2002), "the media are inherently driven to conflict." Zelizer and Allan (2002). In addition, when presented with the frequently horrible facts of battle, any assumption that the journalist can stay aloof, remote, or unaffected by what is occurring "tends to go out the window" in a hurry, Allan and Zelizer said. According to (Eti, 2009), Nigerian newspapers are prone to being a bit sensational, gossipy, and manipulative in the presentation of stories in order to remain in the market due to its basic structure, ownership, mode of operation, and sustenance. Their blaring headlines, scandal and gossip articles, and, in some instances, pedestrian use of language, are proof of this. Because of the media's agenda-setting function, it is the best location to learn about current happenings in society. People rely heavily on the media to present balanced and fair news, particularly during confrontations in which neither side is favored. (Best 1996) believes that the Nigerian press had a role in the country's thirty-month civil war, which resulted in the loss of lives and property. Yusuf (2002) goes on to say that the way the Nigerian press covered the Sharia problem worsened the tension and strife in the northern portions of the country. As a result, it is critical to examine the media's coverage of violence between ranchers and their host communities, as well as the attention paid to it and the impartiality with which it is reported.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Any kind of conflict has a negative impact on both people involved. With this in mind, newspaper editors, journalists, columnists, and writers should be cautious in determining the key reasons and not jump to conclusions (Solagberu,2012). The Fulani herdsmen and farmer problem has resulted in decreased productivity and revenue for farmers and herders, disease outbreaks, erosion, loss of life, arms running, destruction of homes and assets, and loss of agricultural commodities in storage. According to McCombs, the constant assaults have had a significant impact on food security, resulting in a $14 billion loss in three years. The issue isn't only there; the way the subject is presented in newspapers is also a contributing aspect. News regarding a dispute should be properly targeted in order to avoid exacerbating the situation. To convey the problem in such a manner that the conflict is managed and the audience is not alarmed, an appropriate conflict management technique must be used. Furthermore, the media covers events, and the significance of such events is defined by their placement in newspapers and televised bulletins. Are the operations of herders on host communities in Nigeria adequately covered by the Nigerian media? Are news articles prominently featured in the media, or are they hidden away in the pages of newspapers? In Nigerian publications, how often do reports of Fulani herdsmen assaults on villages appear? Is the news reporting trending in a positive, negative, or neutral direction? As a result, the purpose of this research was to look at the role of news papers in covering Fulani Herdsmen activities in Nigeria (Yusuf, 2002).