AUDIENCE PERCEPTION OF NEWSPAPER CARTOONS DURING THE 2019 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
1.1 Background to the Study
As Lamb (2004) cited in Agba (2014:1) suggests, “maps fascinate us because they create an illusion of unmediated knowledge”. The author further noted that maps on their own represent the geographical information, with various sections well knitted in scales. This infers that maps convey meaning, aid comprehension with ease, huge thanks to the beauty of the drawings. In light of this, cartoons are similar in function to communication most especially as it concerns politics and social issues. These may be the reason for their popularity in Nigeria and the whole world. No doubt, their productions have played a significant role in Nigerian economic, social and political processes. Agba (2014) adds that cartoons were not found wanting even during the military junta. He noted recounts the contribution of cartoons during those days thus; “during the military era, cartoons often played a major role in the quest for democratization process in Nigeria.”
Though in civil rule, the mentality of ‘Khaki Rule’ has barely left Nigeria as many Nigerians including its leadership are yet to fully embrace the freedom of expression as enshrined in the constitution of the 1999 Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended). This is where cartoons in newspapers and magazines very aptly fit in, as they provide Nigerians, too scare to speak in plain communication, the opportunity needed to employ metaphors shrouded in innuendos presented in pictures, drawings, gestures, etc. to express their feelings and opinions. It is observable facts that over the years, cartoons have positively or negatively shaped public opinions on societal issues, not only in Nigeria, but globally.
Obasi (2011:149) views cartoon a drawing or series of drawings that tells a story or expresses a message. It can be a type of drawing, usually intended to be amusing used in newspapers, magazines and books. Ahuja and chhabra (2002) believe cartoons are one of the light materials used by newspaper houses to lighten the mood of their readers as they (cartoons) have become an integral and common feature of most newspapers, if not all. In the words of Ahuja and Chhabra, even the most serious newspapers and magazines nowadays are expected to carry strip cartoons or topical comics here and there” (pg. 22-23). It is one thing on which most of the newspapers seem to be agreed as it makes for the continued popularity of such newspaper…… and offers a welcome change from the cares, anxieties and worries of everyday life.
Cartoons are important elements of newspaper publication. Over the years, Newspapers have lived up to the expectation of being an indispensable medium for conveying information to wide and audiences, who anticipate such information in other to make life-changing decisions. And, as an important medium of communication in
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