Abdullahi Tasiu Abubakar, UoA 36, MAD

Crowd of men in Nigeria

Dr Abdullahi Tasiu Abubakar is an award-winning Nigerian journalist who has worked for both the BBC World Service in London and many newspapers in Nigeria. Prior to coming to the University of Westminster for his doctoral degree he was a producer at the BBC World Service and Editor-at-Large for Daily Trust newspaper. He has won several journalism awards, including Nigeria’s Best Newspaper Reporter of the Year 1995 Award and Nigeria Union of Journalists’ Certificate of Professional Excellence in 2004.

He has reported extensively in West Africa, giving greater attention to Nigeria and covering key events in Cameroon, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Abdullahi has also published literary and academic works on media, culture and politics. He is currently a research fellow at the Africa Media Centre, University of Westminster, and is specialising on audiences, international journalism and public diplomacy.

This study examines the dynamics of the long-term relationship between the BBC World Service and its mainly Muslim Northern Nigerian audiences. It explores the patterns and consequences of Northern Nigerians’ interactions with international media, focusing particularly on their engagement with the BBC World Service. Using a multidimensional qualitative research approach, the study examines the historical background of the relationship, the transformations it has undergone, and how the current dynamics of global geopolitics and advances in communications technologies are redefining it. It looks at the complex processes of content production and consumption. On the production side, it unveils the BBC’s contradictory functions of providing an impartial international news service and promoting British public diplomacy, the complexity of its relationship with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the nature of its engagement with distribution technologies. On the reception side, Muslim Northern Nigerians were found to be high consumers of BBC products but with high selectivity. Although they see the BBC as the most credible broadcaster that aids their comprehension of international affairs and influences their everyday life, they still regard it as a western cultural and ideological instrument that portrays the West positively and depicts the Muslim world and Africa negatively. The findings point to patterns and particularities of postcolonial audiences’ consumption of media that suggest new conceptual and theoretical strands in reception research. They indicate audiences’ tendency to exhibit a phenomenon of selective believability in their interactions with global media; the mediating role of religion, culture and ideology in such interactions; and the dynamics of credibility and believability. Credibility is found to be a necessary but not sufficient condition for believability in audiences’ consumption of dissonant messages.

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