Title Page                                                                                                    i

Declaration                                                                                                  ii

Certification Page                                                                                        iii

Dedication                                                                                                   iv

Acknowledgement                                                                                                v

Table of Contents                                                                                        vii

Abstract                                                                                                       xii



1.1 Background of Study                                                                                      2

1.2 Statement of Problem                                                                                      6

1.3 Purpose of Study                                                                                   7

1.4 Objectives of Study                                                                               7

1.5 Research Questions                                                                               8

1.6 Scope of Study                                                                                               9

1.7 Significance of Study                                                                                      9

1.8 Definition of Terms                                                                               10



2.0 An Overview of Print Media Messages                                                  11

2.1 History of Cartoon                                                                                12

2.2 History of Cartooning In Nigeria                                                           15

2.3 Form of Satire in Nigeria                                                                       16

2.4 Modern Cartooning In Nigeria                                                               16

2.5.1 Importance of Newspaper Cartoons                                                    23

2.5.2 Functions of Newspaper Cartoons                                                      24

2.6 Review of Literature                                                                              26

2.7 Theoretical Framework                                                                          28

2.8 Review of Relevant Empirical Research                                                          30

2.9 Summary                                                                                              32



3.1 Introduction                                                                                          33

3.2 Research Design                                                                                    33

3.3 Area of Study                                                                                        34

3.4 Population of Study                                                                              34

3.5 Sampling Technique and Size                                                                34

3.6 Research Instrument for Data Collection                                                          37

3.7 Content Validity                                                                                    38

3.8 Data Collection Method                                                                        38

3.9 Method of Data Analysis                                                                       38



4.1 Data Presentation                                                                                   39

4.1.1 Response Rate                                                                                    39

4.1.2 Demographics Variables                                                                     40

4.1.3 Analysis of Physiographic Variables                                                   42

4.2 Analysis of Research Questions                                                             49

4.3 Discussion of Findings                                                                          50





5.1 Summary                                                                                              52

5.2 Conclusion                                                                                            53

5.3 Recommendations                                                                                 54

5.4 Limitations                                                                                            54

References                                                                                               56     

Appendix                                                                                                         59






















Table 1: A table showing the various groups and villages in Awka                  36

Table 2: A table showing the distribution of questionnaires                             37

Table 3: Respondents gender distribution                                                        40

Table 4: Respondents age distribution                                                                       40

Table 5: Respondents occupation                                                                    41

Table 6: Respondents marital status                                                                 41

Table 7: Respondents newspaper readership                                                              42

Table 8: How often respondents read newspapers                                            43

Table 9: Respondents awareness of cartoons in newspapers                             43

Table 10: Respondents readership of cartoons in newspapers                           44

Table 11: Respondents reason for reading cartoons in newspapers                   44

Table 12: Respondents understanding of messages in cartoons in newspapers            45

Table 13: Respondents reason for not understanding cartoons in newspapers            46

Table 14: Respondents seriousness towards cartoons in newspapers                 47

Table 15: Respondents reason for not taking cartoons in newspapers seriously   47

Table 16: Influence of cartoons in newspapers on respondents                         48

Table 17: Cartoons in newspapers influence on buying behavior of respondents 49




Cartoons has more recently become a more prominent feature in newspapers. An increasing number of publishers and editors has realized its relevance and are beginning to exploit its full potentials. Despite its usefulness and popularity in many media houses, one wonders, as replete and common placed as these cartoons are in newspapers, do they command the attention, yet alone the readership of the reading audience? Hence, this researcher sort to know the pattern and trend of: Audience perception of the use of cartoons in newspapers using Awka Urban as a case study. Employing the survey research method enabled by administering self-administered questionnaire, this study found out that newspaper readership and cartoon in newspaper readership is generally high among Awka Urban residents. With the humor and inherent message being the major reasons why readers read cartoons in newspapers, it is clear that cartoons are not seen as mere pieces of drawings to make readers laugh, rather it leaves a trail of telltale in its wake. Even though this study reveals that cartoons are not essentially why people buy newspapers, many newspaper readers do not consider their reading experience complete without reading one or two cartoons. Going by various findings of this study, more newspapers need to incorporate cartoons into their editorial menu, using it more strategically, appropriately and responsibly.



Ever since the first appearance of cartoon in newspaper, it has remained one of the most integral parts of newspaper. It plays different roles depending on the cartoon and caption used. Cartoon for many is for entertainment and funny graphics. One of the major reasons for using cartoon in newspapers is to set agenda on current issue or matter which may neither be expressed by news and features including editorial page.

Cartoons have over the years become a major feature of newspaper and magazine content in Nigeria. A panoramic observation would reveal that most daily newspapers and weekly magazines publish various cartoons and comic strips. The Punch, the Guardian, New Nigerian, Nigerian Tribune, Tell, Newswatch, the News, etc, all publish cartoons and comic strips on social, political and economic affairs of the country or as illustrations of some editorial matter. Some of these cartoons have become so popular that some newspapers and magazines are sought by some readers because of their cartoons.

Cartoons in newspapers is used by media houses to pass various messages across to its readers but it seems that most readers now view cartoons in newspapers as a source of humor only. This study will show the functions of cartoons in newspapers, its importance and also audience perception of cartoons in newspapers.





By definition, the Encyclopedia Britannica (Macro-Paedia, 1897 vol.3) sees cartoon as a pictorial parody or imitation, which, by the devices of caricature, analogy as well as ludicrous juxtaposition, sharpens the public view of a contemporary or topical issue, event, political or social trend. A cartoon carries with it the caricature as an almost indispensable element. Just as the caricature is for an audience that is familiar with the original, the cartoon is based on wide acquaintance with the subject. Cartoons come in various forms: the comic strip, animated cartoons for the electronic media (such as ‘Tom and Jerry’, ‘Superman’ ‘Pocahontas’,etc.) and editorial cartoons in newspapers and magazines. It is important at this point to note or emphasize that this paper focuses on newspapers and magazine editorial cartoons.

The Encyclopedia Britannica (Macro-paedia, 1897 vol.3) says the cartoon is originally meant to be a drawing, a full size pattern for execution in painting and tapestry. It was the final stage in the series of drawn preparations for painting in traditional renaissance studio practice. By the 1840s when that studio practice was rapidly declining, cartoon rather acquired a new meaning (earlier given in the introduction).

In 1843 the British parliament ordered for designs in a competition for fresco. These designs were later parodied in The Punch by John Leech. He used the cartoon to satirize and lampoon the socio-political abuses of that period. From that moment, the word cartoon acquired its present popular meaning of a humorous drawing or parody that satirizes. Over the years, cartoons have gained prominence in newspapers and magazines in different countries, not only as means of entertainment and education but also as tools for enhancing the sale of the papers. The relative peace that Europe enjoyed after the First World War (1914-1918) witnessed a great boom in the newspaper publishing business and in turn, this influenced the use of cartoons for socio-political commentary.

According to Nze (1989, p.21), the importance of cartoons as instrument of political and social commentary was not confined to Europe alone. During the American Civil War, the cartoon became a powerful tool on the side of the North and in the overthrow (in 1873) of the corrupt political group known as the Tweed Ring which controlled the government of New York from about 1870. By the 1800s, cartoons had become so important in the American newspaper industry that through it a type of journalism that lays emphasis on sensationalism, gossip, crime, sex, etc. got the name ‘Yellow Journalism’. It happened that an American newspaper publisher, Hearst, hired an illustrator, Richard F. Outcault from Joseph Pulitzer‘s The World. Outcault had drawn a child cartoon character that appeared in yellow dress and became known as the ‘Yellow Kid’.

Biittner (1989, p.40) says however, the kid stayed behind at Pulitzer‘s The World to be drawn by George B. Luks. This era became known as the yellow journalism era. Coupled with the popularity of the penny press (an era that flourished after that of yellow journalism), newspapers became very powerful and influential among the masses. Still in the US, general interest in cartoon, their interpretation and relevance became heightened when an individual like Bill Mauldin of the Chicago Sun Times and nineteen (19) students of Yale University started a course in political cartoon. The interest this aroused gave those students the opportunity to know the extent of freedom of expression that cartoons guarantee. It also exposed them to the technicalities involved in cartooning that one of the students, a sophomore quoted by Robert (1977, p.9) remarked, ‘It is harder to come up with a succinct caption than it is to write a five page research paper’. The 20th Century saw cartoons become a daily feature of newspapers and magazines.

Political cartoons for any newspaper are indispensible. It is a visual medium that engages the audience, helps them understand and interpret the political, social and economic scene in the country and the world. The political cartoons lately have gained much importance and have a raised standing in a newspaper. Political cartooning is essential for a newspaper to put out a point of view, which may differ from one of its own .Cartoons that can help them understand the mood of the country benefit people.


Political cartooning is inspired by the situations around the cartoonist, what he sees and believes are portrayed through the sketch he creates. Apart from a great sense of humor, a cartoonist is required to understand the political scene and make a commentary on the situation, but to refrain from making it of bad taste. The cartoonist is required to make an informed decision on his cartoon that will appear the next day.


The currency of the cartoon is what makes it different from other comic strips; a cartoonist tracks the stories of the day and makes his cartoon accordingly. Cartoons are often slapstick and exaggerated, yet aim at making a realistic appeal. To some cartoons appear silly and as underplaying the severity of a situation, however it is actually to establish the severity of the same.


Cartoons have been around much longer than newspapers themselves. From the times of Leonardo Da Vinci caricatures have been an art form that was used for light-hearted satirical comedy that often exaggerated the physical features of the subject to create humor.

Of late, cartoons have become more controversial as their impact has become more wide spread; cartoons such as the Jyllands Posten cartoon of The Prophet, cartoons of Osama Bin Laden have made headlines. Since there is no law to implicate cartoonists for their expression of ideas, the power of censorship is vested with the artist himself.


On the other hand the Common Man, a symbol of all this the Indian common man goes through has created a cult following for the man and his maker. R K Laxman, a political/social cartoonist has brought in the woes of the common man to the readers through The Times of India and has brought politicians, bureaucrats and just about everyone to the front page.


What is a Political cartoon?

According to Jonathan Burack, ‘Political cartoons are vivid primary sources that offer intriguing and entertaining insights into the public mood, the underlying cultural assumptions of an age, and attitudes toward key events or trends of the times. Since the 18th century, political cartoons have offered a highly useful window into the past. Just about every school history textbook now has its quota of political cartoons….’ (Jonathan)


Burrack goes on to say that the simplicity of the cartoons is what makes cartoons deceptive, the more simplicity of the drawing or visual, the more complex the thought behind it. He points out that cartoons have evolved from the 1700’s where they were elaborate heavy on dialogues and obscure visuals. He says cartoons in short, are visual strategies to make a point in small spaces.


It goes without saying that political cartoons or cartoon‘s in newspapers have a special place in our dailies, apart from the obvious roles they play, as Burrack points out, Cartoons are a reflection of society and provide for a point of view to the people reading it. Cartoons are considered as harmless, while in reality they can unleash a revolution, be it from a positive perspective like in the case of R.K.Laxman‘s Common man or in a very negative way in case of the Jyllands Posten cartoon of Prophet Muhammed.



True, many newspapers are replete with burlesque representations in the form of cartoons which are used to pass across various messages, these cartoons to some people helps to lighten the mood from stress when going through these newspaper cartoons giving them sense of humor and freedom laughing through these caricatures.

Cartoons tend to be perceived by many newspaper readers from an entertainment laden perspective, sometimes considered by intellectuals to be for the simple minded people. Williams Stephenson lends credence to this claim in his “Play Theory of Mass communication” when he posited that many people use media messages more for pleasure and relaxation than for information and improvement.

Regardless of the readership of newspaper cartoons, this study triggers a sense of reasoning as to what truly motivates the readership of newspaper cartoons among residents in Awka Urban; probably the readership of newspaper cartoons by residents help motivate the buying of newspapers and maybe educational advancement on the part of the residents of Awka Urban might aid a better understanding of newspaper cartoons and probably the effects on residents.

This study therefore aims to ascertain if cartoons in newspapers actually have influence on the residents of Awka Urban and to also investigate the perception of residents of Awka Urban on cartoons in newspapers and their contents.

This study sought to find out what other values people sought from reading cartoons other than entertainment value and if residents of Awka Urban consider cartoons to be for the simple minded?



The general purpose of this study is to find out residents of Awka Urban perception of the use of cartoons in newspapers and its influence on their newspaper buying behavior.



Cartoons in newspapers have become an integral and very common feature of most, if not all newspapers in Nigeria. Most newspaper houses have acknowledged the use of cartoons in their publication as it has brought about more popularity to their newspapers. Regardless of the escape they provide from the supposed ‘dreary’ and ‘boredom’ of reading straight news, features, commentaries and opinions, they are also a rich source of humor, satire, innuendos and parody, often used to condemn, commend, and generally pass across salient and trivial messages.

It is on this note that objectives are formulated to examine the perception of residents of Awka Urban to cartoons in newspapers.

  1. To find out if cartoons in newspapers are read by residents of Awka Urban.
  2. To find out the value of cartoons in newspapers to its readers.
  3. To find out if cartoon messages are understood.
  4. To find out reader’s perception of cartoons in newspapers.
  5. To find out if audience readership of cartoons in newspapers increase newspaper sales.



In order to achieve the specific objectives of this study, the following questions guided this study:

  1. To what extent do residents of Awka Urban read cartoons in newspapers?
  2. What is the value of cartoon in newspaper to its readers?
  3. To what extent do readers of cartoons in newspapers understand the messages?
  4. What is the reader’s perception of cartoons in newspapers?
  5. Does audience readership of cartoons in newspapers increase newspaper sales?






In a typical ideal situation, a study of this nature is supposed to be extensive but due to some inevitable constraints, the study is therefore limited to Awka Urban in Anambra State.

In trying to put together an elaborate interview with selected members of the sample population, it was possible to pick a limited number of people. Awka Urban was thus segmented into zones to enable the researcher carry out his work well.

The scope borders on the perception of cartoons in newspapers by residents of Awka Urban.



This study helps reveal the readers read in newspapers, how they perceive such cartoon and how much influence such cartoon has on them.

This study also attempt to analyze the readership of cartoons in newspapers among residents in Awka Urban as the population with a view to providing insight making it a valuable document especially for media practitioners, advertisers, other stake holders and researchers.

This study also examined the relevance of cartoons in newspapers viz-a-viz its readership by respondents, highlighting the trends and patterns in its readership pattern from an Awka Urban perspective.

Therefore, the significance of this study lies in the scholarship it offers, going a long way in extending the frontiers of knowledge in mass communication research.


For the purpose of clarity, understanding and comprehension, certain terms and concepts employed in this work are defined. They include:

CARICATURE: A pictorial representation of someone in which distinguishing features are exaggerated for comic effect.

CARTOONS: An amusing drawing in a newspaper or magazine about events or happenings in the news.

CARTOONIST: A person who draws cartoons.

COMIC STRIP: A sequence of drawings arranged in interrelated panels to display brief humor or form a narrative, often serialized with text in balloons and captions.

EDITORIAL CARTOON: Also known as political cartoon is a drawing containing a commentary expressing the artist opinion.

MESSAGE: The important moral, social, cultural and political idea that a cartoon is trying to communicate or portray.

NEWSPAPER: This is an unbounded publication that is published on a regular basis containing a variety of reading matters and is often supplemented with pictures.

SATIRE: A literary device of writing or art which principally ridicules its subject often as an intended means of provoking or preventing change. Humor, irony and exaggeration are often used to aid this.