This work content-analyzed Cartoons in Nigerian dailies. Its central objective is hooked on the measurement of efficiency in deployment of cartoons as a tool of communication. Different cartoons were analyzed from Tribune newspaper. Due to the dearth of literature in this area, this study will prove an inhalable asset to other researchers and also place media house in the right pedestal to assess how well this potent weapon has been employed. Cartoon focuses on one out of two or many news events. The even focused on automatically enjoys more prominence and becomes ‘agenda’ for public discourse (Okunna, 1999 p.42). Agenda setting theory therefore forms the theoretical framework of this study. Analyses were guided by a number of research questions centered on frequency of feature, slant, type, origination and subject-content of the cartoons. Findings on the frequency at which cartoons were featured were not wholly encouraging. The case of This Day was particularly alarming. On slant, a large percentage adopted negative parlance towards their subjects. Results on the placement showed that many Nigerian dailies hardly place their cartoons on the front and back pages. Discovery also showed that the subject contents were largely social than political and economic. All cartons were domesticated. With the above findings the strength and weaknesses of cartooning in Nigeria became glaring enough.
1.1 Background to the study
The cartoon has been denoted as a screaming medium that cannot be denied attention (Nelson, 1975:11, cited in Adejuwon and Alimi, 2011). It is known to combine metaphor, humour, allusion and caricature in order to pass across salient messages. Newspaper cartoons are especially apt for propagating ideas because it easily attracts readers’ attention. It is generally believed that images leave lingering impressions on the minds of viewers, because they last longer in the mind than words read or heard. This claim perhaps accounts for why such scholars as Kress and van Leeuwen (1996), Burns and Parker (2003), and Bezemer and Jewitt (2005) have turned their attention to multimodal discourse, holding that it could be an effective pedagogic tool.
That beneath the humour, exaggeration and metaphor in a cartoon there appear to be more important messages is a widely acknowledged fact (Adejuwon and Alimi, 2011; Sani et al., 2012; and Kondowe, Ngwira, and Madula, 2014). Apart from its applicability to learning, cartoons bring much to bear on the social existence of people. They are means of projecting ideas and thoughts – and desires, even. Most will consider the cleverness of the cartoonist’s contrivance intriguing, but one need pay attention to the interplay of the different modes of communication in cartoons.
The question that one might ask is: “How effective are cartoons in generating – and perhaps even sustaining – social discourse?” The crux of this research therefore is to explore how cartoons mean what they mean in order to gain insight to their effectiveness, and to examine this phenomenon critically a multimodal analysis of media cartoons in Nigeria becomes expedient.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Newspaper cartoons are rich sources of information. Being powerful communication tools, newspaper cartoons are important to the total education of every member of the society they portray. There is, therefore, the need to situate newspaper cartoons within the larger domain of social discourse. Newspaper cartoons are easily seen as political commentary; they are seen as making some political points that should be noted. But if political cartoons can easily draw attention there seems an urgent need to consider their poignant treatment of social issues, so that they can be engaged for the social education of the citizenry. We often opine that there is more to life than meets the eye, and this is characteristic of the cartoon, too. The ingenuity of cartoons in presenting and satirising social ills thus demands careful scrutiny, for, perhaps, in the scrutiny lies the means of solving societal problems.
Indeed, political cartoons are always seen as political materials; they are not seen as full-fledged “agents” of socialisation (even when politics remains but a subset of social life), and thus their capacity to educate people about social issues appears less espoused. Analysing cartoons by showing how the modes of communication in it project social issues could draw attention to this function of cartoons.