Nigeria's media landscape remains a dynamic and constantly evolving space with state and private broadcasters, popular international brands like the BBC and CNN, and numerous print titles. Traditional media outlets in the country are embracing new digital formats and channels, as they transform their legacy businesses.
As fewer people turn to traditional news sources such as television and print media for information, their business models have come under pressure. Print, in particular, has been in sharp decline in recent years with a further 5 percentage point drop in weekly reach in our data. Despite these problems, there are still around 100 national and local print titles, of which the best known include The Punch, The Nation, Vanguard, The Guardian and The Premium Times.
Television and radio remain critical sources of information, especially for those that are not online, but internet access is growing fast. Nigeria hit 122.5 million internet users as of January 2023, according to DataReportal, and Nigerians have been quick to adopt a wide range of social media platforms. Meta-owned products such as Facebook and WhatsApp remain most widely used for news, followed by Twitter and YouTube. The messaging service Telegram has grown rapidly in recent years and Nigeria’s youthful population is now vigorously embracing short-form video via TikTok – accessed by 56% of 18–24s, according to our Digital News Report survey, with around half of these now accessing news on the platform.
Some Nigerian media organisations such as Business Day, Daily Post, HumAngle, The Guardian, The Punch, and ThisDay have been innovating their product offerings including the introduction or extension of premium subscription services. As well as full access to digital content these often include exclusive newsletters and other subscriber-only content. It is not clear how many people have taken up these paid services with so much free news available. Meanwhile, the size of the Nigerian market has been attracting interest from international venture capital with Stears Business raising $3.3 million for a data start-up and Big Cabal Media raising $2.3m to build and extend new content verticals. This demonstrates potential new avenues for media funding in Nigeria.
The rise of digital journalism continues apace, with podcasts becoming increasingly popular across a number of genres. Email newsletters are being widely deployed to increase engagement with websites, and platforms such as Substack have also made it easier for individual journalists to launch stand-alone newsletters.
Hotly contested presidential elections in Nigeria in February 2023 passed off largely peacefully but turnout was affected by fuel shortages, insecurity, and evidence of voter suppression in some parts of the country. Election rallies and political speeches were widely covered by the media but questions linger regarding the objectivity of some news coverage, considering that traditional media outlets are heavily dependent on political (and government) advertising.
Despite the evolution of the media sector, the pursuit of press freedom, as enshrined in the constitution, remains elusive. The government arrested and detained several journalists and publishers in the run-up to the election for publishing reports deemed offensive. Those affected include Haruna Mohammed, publisher of WikkiTimes, Ayodele Samuel, the publisher of Taraba Truth and Facts, and Agba Jalingo, publisher of Cross River Watch, while others were physically assaulted.
Misinformation was rampant on social media before, during, and after the election according to experts monitoring the campaign. In an effort to combat the problem, a new initiative was set up by major news platforms and civil society organisations working together under the umbrella of the Nigeria Fact-checking Coalition (NFC). Participants included the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), Dubawa, Africa Check, FactMattersNG, the Insight, FactCheckHub, TheCable, and Daily Trust and the group was active in fact-checking live presidential debates and set up an Election Observatory Room to monitor misinformation and disinformation in the months leading up to the election.
In recent years, several laws regulating social and other digital media have been proposed by the government, in the face of international and local criticism about the wider potential impact on freedom of speech and on journalists’ ability to operate. Partly as a result, a number of stakeholders have been exploring new ideas for how to govern information on digital platforms. The Federal Government of Nigeria has established a new Code of Practice through the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) while news organisations, civil society, and non-media groups have been discussing various proposals for self-regulation.
Code for Africa
These data are based on a survey of English-speaking, online news users in Nigeria – a subset of a larger, more diverse, media market. Respondents are generally more affluent, younger (18–50 only), have higher levels of formal education, and are more likely to live in cities than the wider Nigerian population. Findings should not be taken to be nationally representative.
Trust in news overall
Trust in news I use
Nigeria's overall trust in news (57%) score has remained relatively stable over recent years and ranks fourth (4th/46) in our survey. International broadcasters such as BBC News and other local traditional media outlets such as Channels TV, The Punch, Arise TV News, and The Vanguard, among others, maintain high levels of public trust. But the level of government interference in the news media remains significant, according to RSF. It can involve pressure, harassment of journalists, and censorship.