Agenda Setting In Nigeria Newspaper And Challenges In Rural Development

Project and Seminar Material for Mass Communication

Agenda Setting In Nigeria Newspaper And Challenges In Rural Development


This study investigated the extent to which the print media, and particularly the newspapers, faced the challenge of informing, educating and championing the rights of the people in rural development and environmental education in 2006.This study takes a look at perspectives on agenda setting in Nigeria newspaper and challenges in rural development. It espouses the view that community media are well appreciated by the people because they are well ‘bonded’ with them. Anchored on the agenda setting and agenda building theories, the study articulates the view that community media are well suited to the needs and aspirations of the communities they serve, thereby promoting development in various aspects. In achieving their objectives, community media are constrained by financial inadequacy, political interference, illiteracy and low patronage, among others

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

For some time now there has been an upsurge in community media. This is partly due to the need for a more effective and widespread information of the relevant audiences. Again, this is understandable because democracy necessarily requires a measure of information on the part of the citizens in order to meaningfully participate in the process. It is thought that the bourgeoning of community or local publications is a natural development in a democratic dispensation. On a general note, community media are crucial agents in development communication among the rural dwellers where majority of Nigerians reside. Another perspective is that decades of brutal military rule in Nigeria had discouraged the springing up of newspapers and other publications because journalists were often harassed by the military authorities and in many cases media houses were shut down arbitrarily. For instance, in 1987, Newswatch, Nigeria’s leading newsmagazine was proscribed for six months during the rule of General Ibrahim Babangida. Many other publications were shut down without even the bureaucratic procedure of a proscription order! During that era, government’s tolerance of opposing views was practically nil. Even though there is no evidence that the current rulers are more tolerant of opposing views, the democratic government in place seems to be a moderating influence, knowing that the judiciary could intervene in some situations. In Delta state of Nigeria Nigeria, some notable community newspapers include Ika Weekly, Anioma Voice, Urhobo Voice, Ndokwa Vanguard, Isoko Vanguard, and a host of others. In the next segment, a definition of relevant terms is presented.A number of roles have been assigned to the media in achieving development within any society. At one point in time, policy makers, government, civil societies, development organisations and the private sector acknowledged the important role the mass media can play in achieving developmental goals or targets. A senior executive of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), NarinderAggarwala (1979), noted that a journalist covering the development beat is expected to: ‘critically examine, evaluate and report on the relevance of a development project to national and local needs, the difference between a planned scheme and its actual implementation and the difference between its impact on the people as claimed by the government and as it actually is’ (cited in Dare, 2000, p. 164). Aggarawala’s description of development journalism emphasises the watchdog role of the press. In a CIMA report on independent media’s role in development, Graves (2007) noted the need for the media to provide reliable sources.

According to this report, developing an appropriate media development strategy can create accelerated sustainable democratic and economic development. The report also noted that the media can enhance democratic development by giving a voice to the people, acting as a balance and watchdog to potential government misconduct.Adoption of innovations is crucial for modernization and development of rural communities in Nigeria . Cognizant of this fact, the Federal Government of Nigeria formulated policies and designed programmes aimed at establishing foundations of self reliance, and ensuring maximum utilization of human and material resources. Nigeria’s rural development strategy shifted from sectoral to integrated approach, with emphasis on multi-dimensional elements such as territorial reorganization, infrastructural development as well as lands, agrarian and institutional reforms (Mabogunje, 1992) in order to enhance rural aesthetics and stem rural-urban migration.A number of technology development and transfer pathways, and approaches have been adopted in Nigeria over the years. The Nigerian society has indeed, evolved from an illiterate, pre-industrial setting, with small homogenous populations living in contiguous neighborhoods, to an anonymous and dynamic mass society where direct communication is difficult because of a large scattered and heterogeneous population whose interpersonal relations are characteristically formal and secondary and under an organized industrial environment (Igbo, 2003). Consequently, folk media such as story telling, songs, myths, masquerades and puppet shows, which served as traditional channels for education and diffusing societal mores and values within the society, and from one generation to another (Ijioma,1998), are gradually fading away. As we leave the information age and enter the communications age (Ezell, 1989), the traditional channels are now ineffective and are being replaced with sophisticated information and communication technologies which are capable of reaching a larger audience in a shorter space of time. Mass media channels (radio, television, computer, newspaper) have revolutionalized information delivery to a mass audience simultaneously, thereby overcoming problems faced by interpersonal channels. Newspaper publication started in Nigeria in 1859 and today, there are quite a number of government and privately -owned newspapers in the country varying in frequency and time of publication as well as circulation rate, target audience and achievements. One of the primary functions of the newspaper is to objectively report news situation or events in all fields of human endeavor. Usually, management of the print media assesses the newsworthiness of events and based on the philosophy and interests of the organization, takes the decision on how best to present or showcase news events to achieve maximum effect. Newspaper messages are durable. Produced as tabloids or standard newspapers, their pages basically contain news items presented as editorials, features or advertorials.

The news behind the news (Eze, 1995), or stories explaining the background of news events, the personality highlights surrounding them, the relationship to other news, and future development the news might cause (Emery et al, 1973) appear as features stories. Newspapers also set aside display and classified columns to assist producers and establishments to run advertisement campaigns. When advertising is used to present a controversial public issue, it is called advocacy advertising (Ijioma, 1980) To what extent is the print media, and particularly the newspaper, serving or promoting agricultural and rural development issues of public interest in Nigeria? This study provides an answer to this question as the procedure adopted (content analysis) gives clue to editor’s or writer’s intentions and to the kind of audience which a publication or broadcast attracts. It also serves the purpose of describing trends in communication, analyzing techniques for persuasion, and relating known attributes of the audience to messages produced for them (Hoslti, 1969).Discussions revolving around agriculture and environment have been fore across the globe because of the important roles of their interplay in the economy and existence of humanity as well as the inherent aftermath and dangers unethical environmental and agricultural practices can cause humanity. The press has gone a long way in setting the agenda around these two issues of pertinence globally. The media has contributed to the political, economic, cultural, educational, agricultural and social growth and development of the society.

The mass media roles in the attainment of desired development(s) cannot be overemphasized especially through various levels of coverage they give to such developmental subjects over time. The media has been identified as a major determinant of public enlightenment and opinion. In his position, Cutlip (1992) in Utulu (2009:36), “the force of public opinion has steadily gained strength around the world as Mass Communication has become a global phenomenon”. There have been various topical issues raised on the subjects of environment and agriculture in Africa especially in Nigeria: the recent series of flooding, incessant unexpected rainfalls, harsh weather conditions, food shortage, land use, mitigation and adaptation processes among others. Even the global issue of climate change has brought about the use of the media as a conduit through which environmental and agricultural education is passed to the masses. Various mass media contents have been passed through various media structures (newspapers in the case of this study) in form of news, editorials, and features and so on.

The educational and informational roles newspapers play in these areas are thus being analysed to see how news reportage have enhanced the sustainable development of agriculture. Against the backdrop of the background of this study, the researchers seek to find out what role the Nigerian newspapers play as development communication media in reporting agricultural and environmental activities, policies and programmes and how they perform such role in terms of the slant and prominence or importance given to issues in both areas. Furthermore, the study seeks to determine if the newspaper reports on agricultural sector as an arm of Nigeria economy were adequately represented or whether all the sub-sectors of agriculture attracts press coverage. It also seeks to look at how the Nigerian Press joined the world press in reporting environmental issues and canvassing for a green economy.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

There have been various topical issues raised on the subjects of environment and agriculture in Africa especially in Nigeria: the recent series of flooding, incessant unexpected rainfalls, harsh weather conditions, food shortage, land use, mitigation and adaptation processes among others. Even the global issue of climate change has brought about the use of the media as a conduit through which environmental and agricultural education is passed to the masses. Various mass media contents have been passed through various media structures (newspapers in the case of this study) in form of news, editorials, and features and so on.It is in view of the above that the researcher decide to investigate the efficacy of agenda setting in Nigeria newspaper and challenges in rural development

1.3 Objective of the Study

The main objective of the study is to ascertain the efficacy of Agenda setting in Nigeria newspaper and challenges in rural development. But to aid the completion of the st6udy, the researcher intends to achieve the following specific objective;

  1. To ascertain the impact of agenda setting in Nigeria newspaper reportage
  2. To investigate the challenges of newspaper reportage on rural development
  3. To examine the relationship between agenda settings and rural development in Nigeria
  4. To examine the role of newspaper reporting in fostering rural development

1.4 Research Hypotheses

To aid the completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher;

  1. H0: agenda setting does not have any significant impact on Nigeria newspaper reportage
    H1: agenda setting does have a significant impact on Nigeria newspaper reportage
  2. H0: there is no significant relationship between agenda settings and rural development in Nigeria
    H2: there is a significant relationship between agenda settings and rural development in Nigeria

1.5 Significance of the Study

The importance of this study was to determine the perceived impact of Newspaper vendors in the newspaper process in Nigeria.

It will enable the newspaper publishers to be well aware of the role that newspaper vendors’ played in the Newspaper distribution process.

It also educates the student, workers, and the general public the to understand the relevance of newspaper vendor in the production and distribution process of a newspaper.

1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study

The scope of the study covers agenda setting in Nigeria newspaper and challenges of rural development. But in the cause of the study, there were some factors which limited the scope of the study,

a) Availability Of Research Material:

The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study

b) Time:

The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

c) Finance:

The financial resources at the disposal of the researcher was very limited, which in turn affect the scope of the study as the researcher could not afford to travel to other neighboring state to source for data

1.7 Operational Definition of Terms

Agenda setting

Agenda-setting theory describes the “ability [of the news media] to influence the importance placed on the topics of the public agenda. That is, if a news item is covered frequently and prominently, the audience will regard the issue as more important.

Rural development

Rural development is the process of improving the quality of life and economic well-being of people living in rural areas, often relatively isolated and sparsely populated areas. Rural development has traditionally centered on the exploitation of land-intensive natural resources such as agriculture and forestry.


A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade paper such as newsprint.


A vendor, or a supplier, is a newspaper supply chain management term meaning anyone who provides newspapers from the publishers to the general public.


A journalist collects and disseminates information about current events, people, trends, and issues. His or her work is acknowledged as journalism.

1.8 Organization of the Study

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows

Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study.

Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature.

Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study.

Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.

Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to investigate the efficacy of agenda setting and challenges of rural development.

In the preceding chapters, relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the challenges of Agenda setting in Nigeria newspaper and rural development

5.2 Summary

The need for a more effective and widespread information dissemination machinery among the rural dwellers in Nigeria has somewhat encouraged an upsurge in community media. This is understandable, given that the country has returned to democratic rule since 1999. Democracy theoretically encourages mass participation in the political process as against the alienation and emasculation of the people which military rule represented in Nigeria. This presentation finds anchor in is anchored on the agenda setting and the modified agenda building theories which emphasize the role of the mass media in concert with relevant institutions, in determining what the people should think about. Essentially, the community media perform the roles of encouraging the rural dwellers to participate in the political process, give them security tips, help in their mobilization for development, among others. However, they are constrained by political interference, poor funding, illiteracy, low patronage, among others. Despite the daunting challenges confronting community media, their importance to society is widely acknowledged, especially under the democratic dispensation which Nigeria has subscribed to since May 29, 1999.

5.3 Conclusion

This study asserts that the four newspapers under review focused a little on the issue of rural development, though the issue of development was so significant that two of the four newspapers devote their editorial column to discuss the urgency of the need for government to concentrate on rural development. Appreciable numbers of news items on urban development were recorded with international agencies, non-governmental agencies dominate as sponsors for programs on youth and women empowerment. Donations from individuals’ and organizations.

Findings revealed that some of the news items on rural development were advocacy to challenge the government to fulfill their statutory obligation to the people. It was also discovered that few of news items on rural development were complaints from the people. The study concludes that the print media as a matter of social responsibility cover news on development but there was no emphasis and this resulted in print media not being able to set agenda for government and the people despite the agitation from people to see transformation in form of personal growth, good roads, hospital, electrification, skill empowerment and literacy amongst many were still far from realization.

5.4 Recommendations

Considering the magnitude influence and social responsibility of the media to the people, with potent power to convey development and growth in all spheres to needed locations. It was on this premise coupled with the findings of this paper that this study, recommends that the media contents must especially the editorial cover largely on rural development. From data analyzed, Sports had the highest percentage based on the four papers reviewed; each had dedicated papers with lavished photographs on sporting activities. Therefore, this study recommends dedicated pages on rural development coverage as a way of responsibility to the people.

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