REPORTERS RESPONSIBILITIES AND THE URBAN – RURAL NEWS IMBALANCES IN NIGERIAN NEWSPAPERS
Academic writings are replete with studies on news imbalance. So much have been said about news imbalance in the international scenes.
However, by writing this project, the researcher intends to look beyond the imbalance to the root cause.
It is hoped that the information contained in this project will go a longway to correct the persistent problem of urban – rural news imbalance in Nigerian newspaper.
Consequently, chapter one introduce this study as well as the theoretical frame work on which the study is based.
In chapter two, the researcher gives an in-depth review of the works and studies done by the urban – rural imbalance.
Chapter three simply states the method of study used to conduct t he study.
Chapter four and five presented and analysed the data. Besides, the researcher drew some conclusions from the data presented and make appropriate recommendation.
TABLE OF CONTENT
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
1.5 THEORETICAL FRAME WORK
1.6 RESEARCH QUESTION
1.7 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
2.1 GATE KEEPING STUDIES
2.2 STUDIES ON RURAL -
REPRESENTATION IN NEWSPAPERS
2.3 STUDIES SHOWING IMBALANCE WITHIN –
3.1 RESEARCH METHOD
3.2 RESEARCH DESIGN
3.3 SAMPLING TECHNIQUES
3.4 SAMPLE SIZE
3.5 MEASURING INSTRUMENT
3.6 DATA COLLECTION
3.7 DATA ANALYSIS
3.8 EXPECTED RESULTS.
4.1 DATA ANALYSIS AND RESULT
4.2 DATA ANALYSIS
SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATION
REFERENCES OR BIBLIOGRAPHY
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY:
“Two powers which make modern society different from the previous one are the power of industrial technology and mass media of communication, of which the newspaper is a part . when Dexter (1964) made this statement, little did he know that the mass media of communication will create some problems for modern society.
However, this news and information from the mass media has never flowed in a balanced way. It has always been lopsided – this imbalance in information flow has been one pertinent issue both in international and national communication in the global scale, the information imbalance has reached the stage, according to Nwosu (1986) when “a demand for adrastic change I the present pattern of information flow between and among nations should gather momentum.
The third world nations are complaining that “not only is every little said about them but also that every little said about them but unfavourable’. (Masmond,1979). Such information about the third world is usually about disaster, crime, coup detect tribal war. Etc.
This unequally distributed and badly used information /news made some see the reason to demand for the new world information and communication order (NWICO).
Sofar, so much effort and resources are being spent in the call for NWICO. The demand of the third world of which Nigeria is a part, for a balanced flow of information, is perhaps best delineated and forcefully argued in the so-called NWICO (mgbemena & Onwura, 1980).
Moreover, the western nations go to any length to defend their nations. Stephenson (1990), for instance, argued that “the attention given to disruptive news in the third world is characteristic of all, media system, particularly those of the third world it self.
In re – affirming what Stephenson said, meil (1990) says that if western journalism is quality of bias, sop is journalism all over the world. He said apply that “certainly much global coverage can be said to contain basis –but all reporting can be so indicated”.
However, are the allegations of the western nations right? It is a fact that Nigeria is an outspoken nation among the third world nations demanding or this new balance and free flow of information between two parties.
The result of some researchers and expressed opinions did not exonerate Nigeria from the imbalance flow of information, which it accuses the western media of.
After all, imbalance flow of information has the same ill consequences, whether it is at international or inter – national levels. Imbalance within a nation is equally unacceptable as imbalance between nations (Agba,1997) one may ask, what is the situation of Nigerian journalism? Is it guilty of imbalance flow of information among and between different sectors of the country.
1.2 THE ROLE OF NEWSPAPERS IN RURAL DEVELOPMENT
The print media of which newspapers is an outstanding parti-plays an important role in rural development. According to general system theory, which has an important influence on system level analysis of mass media effect, “social system’s usually change their structures to higher level of complexity (development) (cawallader, 1968). This process of elaboration according to general system theory “is a result of information exchange element of social systems” (DEUTCHE,1968).
Besides scramn (1972) described newspapers as a channel for informing, motivating, persuading, instructing and providing a means of a collective participation in development. Lasswell(12972) has identified it’s other basic functions to include the surveillance of the environment, correlating parts of the environment and the transmitting cultural breakage. “rural development, according to Okorie (1986) is predicted upon understanding the rural people, rural environment, and interaction of rural system brought about by “change agencies” incidentally the newspaper is among the change agencies.
It is obvious and beyond doubt that newspaper doubt that newspapers are important to national development and variably to rural development it all depends on the way the newspapers discharge their functions.
Unfortunately, the situation in Nigeria is not commendable. Although Nigeria is imbued with a passion for rapid national development and has embraced the notion that the mass media must be used and guided to promote national development, the newspaper (mass media) is still found wanting in this regard.
Lerner posted that mass media (newspapers) have a relationship with national development. He attached great importance to newspapers in nation –building process. It has been said that media development is “tied closely with a country’s development” (schramn, 1964).
However, our situation in Nigeria is pathetic. Our information officers, including newspapers managers, editor and reporters have not done well enough is sensitizing the people toward rural development, which constitute the center for national development programmes. A traditional view is that the resolution of social problems in rural areas is related to inputs of information. If a system sufficiently saturated with information. According to this view, “a general understanding will invariably lead to development of the system (Rogers, 1975).
With respect to Nigeria suleiman (1983) has noted that reading the Nigerian newspaper one will almost get the impression that outside the various states capitals and some local governments headquarters (urban areas) there are no more human habitations in the country” .
This is because the tendencies of the expense of the newspapers have always been to report the urban areas at the expense of the rural areas. This tendency has not helped to foster rural/national development in any way, because according to the population census figure of 1979 over 70 percent of Nigerians are rural dwellers. Oton (1978) observed that everywhere in the rural areas, development programme are going on that are never chronicled.
It is also alleged that Nigerian reporters, being urban-based tend to perceive the news different from the rural areas to urban cities. Often times news reports about rural areas to urban cities. Often times news reports about rural areas seem to concentrate on disasters, failures, disputes and the negative features. All of these are antithesis to rural and national development. The urban centrality of news has gotten to the stage when one has no choice but agree with Omu (1981) who pitied the realities for doing so much and getting so little from the Nigerian mass media (newspapers).
It is bad enough that the rural area seldom gets mentioned in the newspaper, but worst Dave (1970) said “people in the rural area are neither little nor invisible and are doing newsworthy things besides committing crimes.
It is as if the Nigerian reporters/editors forget that the content of communication of any given time reflects the value pattern of society (schramn, 1964). By removing almost in entirety rural news room the newspapers, it is as if the newsmen are telling the public that the rural areas are not important in national development.
1.3 STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
In the international scene various reason have been proffered by the third world nations for their unyielding demand for a balanced information flow between them and the western nations. Firstly, the third world nations have realised the importance of information. Secondly, they have observed that the under reporting of the developing nations, distorts the image that others have about them.
However, according to Agba (1997: pg) the third world nations including Nigeria must show sincerity in their agitation for news balance by balancing news flow between urban and rural communities in their individual nation:
Ironically, inspite of their unyielding demand for balanced flow of news, no noticeable change have been observed in their national urban rural news imbalance. This is traceable to the failure of Nigerian newsmen and communication policy makers to integrate the rural populace through banked information flow. This study intends to find out the extent of the coverage of rural areas vis-à-vis the urban areas.
Besides, there is an apprehension that dwindling government ownership of newspaper in Nigeria poses a threat to the integration of the rural populace in the news content of newspapers. This encourages the super imposition of the urban populace.
Furthermore, the responsibility of Nigerian newsmen in this news imbalance is one problem that this study intends to sole.
1.4 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
Communication is an indispensable tool for motivating and mobilizing the human resources needed for national constructively and instrumentally (Agba,1997).
This study also intends to review the reports about the rural areas to ascertain whether they are positive or negative. Another purpose of this study is to find out the causes of the prevailing news imbalance and see whether newsmen are to blame.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY:
This study is important to our present day Nigerian society where 80 percent of the total populations are in the rural areas. Schramn (1975) once said, “the content of communication at any given time reflects the value pattern of society”. It is hoped that this study will proffer some useful suggestions on how to include the majority of Nigerians in the newspaper rather than just a few elites. Besides, for our demand for NWICO to be met and to benefit the majority, there is need for this imbalance between urban and rural areas to be dismantled.
This study will help develop a new national information and communication order for Nigeria. This seems to be the first step in the right direction, if NWICO must be realized. Further, the information contained in this research will provide handy reference materials for all communication policy – makers.
1.6 THEORITICAL FRAME WORK:
The theoretical frame work that best explains the urban rural news imbalance in a explains the urban rural news imbalance in a given society like Nigeria is the agenda-setting theory. It was the late lewin who applied the term “gatekeeper” to a phenomenon, which is of considerable importance to students of mass communication. Lewin pointed out that the traveling of a news item through certain communication channels was dependent on the fact that certain areas within the channels functioned as “gates” carrying the analogy further, Lewin (1947) said that “gate sections are government either by impartial rules or by gate keepers”, and in the vater case an individual or group is in power for making the decision between “in” and “out”. Little wonder Larson (1986) argues that “the public agenda is powerfully shaped and directed by what the news media choose to publicize. True concept of agenda-setting is defined as “ the ability of the media to effect cognitive changes among individual, to structure thinking, to mentally order and organise the world” (Ramprasad, 1983).
The implications is that news men through the gate keeping process may decide to report a rural event instead of an urban event or vice-versa. Furthermore, part of the organising principle for this study is essentially derived from Gattug’s “structural theory of imperialism” and more particularly from aspects of his model that touch upon communication structure and its differential news flow consequences.
Essentially, Gatting’s theory posits a structured division of the world (Nations) into ‘centre’ and ‘periphery’ that relate to each other in a clominance dependency exchanged relationship. According to Galtung (1965) this structural division is accompanied with an reinforced by feudal network of communication dominated at the centre. These feudal communication network are characterized by high degrees of interaction and flour between ‘centre’ and lesser degrees of interaction and flow between ‘centres’ and periphery of Gattung identifies some defining parameters that distinguished a center from periphery. Centre and periphery holding. For example, centre trend invariably to be at the higher end of the technical economic development. The ‘periphery on the other hand tend to be at the lower end of the development scale.
In news communication flows Gattung sees distinct pattern emerging from the structured division.
1. A preponderance of centre-news events in the press systems.
2. The discrepancy in centre-periphery news exchange ratios invariably will be negative, that is centre news will always take up a much larger proportion of news content in the news media.
1.7 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
Following the studies to be reviewed four research questions were formulated to guide the study.
1. Are Nigerian newspapers dominated by urban or rural news items?
2. Do Nigerian newspapers cover negatively the rural areas than they do the urban cities?
3. Are news men entirely dependent on their own personal criteria of news selection/rejection or not?
4. How are top news stories chosen, who and what constitute the guide of newsmen?
1.8 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS:
In this study, hypothesis were formulated to test the reliability of our assumption hence, the researcher have the following hypothesis that will help achieve accurate result.
a. Nigerian newspapers mostly are dominated by urban news items.
b. Rural areas are being covered negatively than urban cities.
c. Whether the news will be carried on or not depends on the news men (chief editors)
d. Code of conduct help to guide the newsmen, also chief editor controls their works too.
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