Coverage Of Development Needs Of Rural Communities By Select Local Newspapers

Project and Seminar Material for Mass Communication

Coverage Of Development Needs Of Rural Communities By Select Local Newspapers


The study looked at the Coverage of Development Needs of Rural Communities by Select Local Newspapers. The content analysis research method was used for this study with population of 120 newspapers. Data were gathered using coding sheet and newspapers published within July through December, 2017. The objectives of the study were to: find out the level of prominence given to coverage of development needs of rural communities in the state by the select local newspapers in Akwa Ibom State; ascertain the depth of the coverage of development needs of rural communities by select local newspaper in Akwa Ibom State; determine the types of development issues covered by the select local newspapers; and find out the direction of reports given to rural issues by the select local newspapers in Akwa Ibom State. While the study was meant to lean on the development media and social responsibility theories of the media, it was found out from the study that: the select local dailies did not give so much prominence to issues of development in rural communities in Akwa Ibom State; the depth of coverage of development needs of rural communities by select local newspapers in Akwa Ibom State is really enormous; infrastructure is the type of development issues covered by the select local newspapers about rural communities in Akwa Ibom State; and the direction of reports given to rural issues by the select local newspapers in Akwa Ibom State is neutral. Data were analysed using tables and simple percentages. Based on the findings, the researcher recommended chiefly that editorial boards of the select local newspapers should endeavour to publish more stories on the cover and back pages of their newspapers as these tend to be first points of attraction. Suggestions for further studies were made by the researcher.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

In many rural communities in Africa and particularly Nigeria, development seems to be the need of the hour. Governments at both national and state levels are constantly making efforts to ensure the rapid and sustained development of communities within their territorial jurisdiction. Development is the desire of the human race, including those from parts of world often described as developed, to improve their conditions. Expectedly, though, scholars perceive development from different perspectives.

According to Nwanne (2006, p. 11), cited in Mboho and Batta (2012, p. 238), “development may be seen as efforts individuals make to move from point “A” to a more desirable point “B”. Another scholar, Amucheazu (1980, p. 4), defines development as a “multidimensional process involving the totality of man in his political, economic, psychological, social relations among others”. On their parts, Melkote and Steves (2001, p. 34) define development as “improving the living conditions of society”. They identify three development approaches as including the modernization perspectives, the critical perspectives and the liberation or monastic perspective. Supporting these views, Rodney (1972, p. 9) conceptualises development in human society as a many-sided process which at the individual level:

Implies increased skill and capacity, greater freedom, creativity, self-discipline, responsibility and material well-being. Some of these are virtually moral categories and are difficult to evaluate… however, what is indisputable is that the achievement of any of those aspects of personal development is very much tied with the state of society as a whole development is about the improvement of the individual in important and useful ways.

Inayatullah (1967) in Soola (2003, p. 13) sees development as “a change toward patterns of society that allow better realization of human values, that allow a society greater control over its environment and over its political destiny, and that enables its individuals to gain increased control over themselves”. Exercise of control over self by a nation or groups of nations is the highpoint of Inayatullah’s definition of development. Furthermore, Inayatullah’s idea tilts towards position of Ekeanyanwu (2015) of an industrialised nation – a nation that is able to produce at least 60% of what it consumes. Also, Todar and Smith (2003) stress that development is a process of economic and social advancement which enables people to realise their potentials, build self-confidence and lead lives of dignity and fulfilment. It is a process aimed at freeing people from the evils of want, ignorance, social injustice and economic exploitation. For clearer understanding of the issue of development, Todar and Smith (2003) identify three objectives of development as follows:

  1. To increase the availability and widen the distribution of basic life sustaining goods such as food, shelter, health and protection.
  2. To raise levels of living in addition to higher incomes, the provision of more jobs, better education and greater attention to cultural and human values, all of which will serve not only enhance material wellbeing but also generate greater individual and national self-esteem.
  3. To expand the range of economic and social choices available to individuals and nations by freeing them from servitude and dependence, not only in relation to other people and nation states but also to the forces of ignorance and the multidimensional approaches of these scholars.

To determine societal or national and even rural development, it is, perhaps, necessary to ascertain the state of development of the individuals that make up the society or nation. Therefore, a country with a large population of illiterate and poor people can be said to have a huge economic development challenge on its hand. A country with poor leadership and low political participation like Nigeria would need to do more in addressing political advancement. There are other indices of development in most rural communities in Akwa Ibom State such as the provision of pipe borne water, electricity, building of clinic and maternities, facilities for waste management, opening up the rural roads, establishing small scale industries and many others. It is important to state here that the media have explored the role of the mass media in development. Senam (2014, p. 300) observes that “there is a strong link between news and development”.

The mass media have a role to play in communicating development messages to the populace. Daramola (2003) has observed that the mass media are contemporary means of circulating information to multitudes of people in a diversified society. Expanding Daramola’s position, one could say that the mass media despite how long they have existed, still maintain relevance among their audience; they continue to grow as the world and need for information grow. It is believed that the media motivate the people as well as ensure participation in the growth and developmental process apart from informing and educating members of the society (Adebayo, 1983).

Apparently, the press has contributed to the growth and development of the society in terms of political, economic, cultural, educational, agricultural and social system by creating a means or channel where by rural residents can gain knowledge for improving their lives and at the same time bringing up issues affecting rural dwellers to the front burner of national discourse.

As such, this study, therefore, seeks to find out how well the local dailies in Akwa Ibom State have fared in their reportage or coverage of development needs of rural communities in the state.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The mass media serve as a nexus between development and the people by providing information about others. The dependency of the society on the mass media for a greater parts of its needs places a responsibility on the mass media to ensure that information that will engender development in every stratum of the society is adequately provided. Adequate information that is development-centred from the mass media draws the attention of key players in the development process such as government and institution to any section of the society neglected in development programmes. Conversely, it seems that in Nigeria and AkwaIbom State in particular, newspapers have over the years underplayed the reportage of development issues as they affect the rural communities. Attention tends to greatly shift to urban areas, political happenings and the lives of public office holders. This seeming loophole in the coverage of rural communities motivated this study to ascertain the extent of coverage local newspapers in AkwaIbom State give to the development needs of the rural areas in the state.
It is with the above in mind that this study examined two Nigerian newspapers (Thisdayand Daily Trust). It seeks to find out further whether issues of development are adequately represented. Information is not something that we can see or touch, but can be acquired, just like knowledge. When people are given the right information, they get the knowledge, skills and ability to discover themselves and their environment. This is how people can be empowered by the use of communication.

1.3 Aim of the Study

The goal of this study is to encourage an adequate participation in the process of social change through the use of the newspaper as a medium of communication, which can be used to actualise the desired development objectives in rural areas.

1.4 Objectives of the Study

The objectives of this study were to:

  1. Evaluate the level of reporting developing issues in selected Nigerian newspapers
  2. To determine whether the regional and ethnic character of the development of journalism in AkwaIbom State still affect their report of development issues.
  3. Examine whether those who report for these newspapers do receive training in reporting development issues
  4. Find out whether these newspapers have editorial policies that are supportive to development journalism

This study is important because it could assist those in the media, including the owners of these media to realize that the media ought to be used for other purposes such as creating awareness and disseminating purposeful information for the good of the society.

It is hoped to assist media managers and policy makers within the cycle to start fashioning a paradigm shift and articulate a new policy in ensuring media contribute to the process of alleviating or if possible eliminating our compounding problems of insecurity, unemployment, ethno-religious difference, among others.
In addition, the study hopes to provoke further research within the area by researchers.

1.5 Significance of the Study

This study is timely and relevant to the existing situation Nigeria finds itself. It is imperative that both the government and the governed should look forward to the development of the society through newspaper journalism. The study would assist practising journalists to refocus attention in development reporting, after understanding its benefit to man and society. It can also provoke further study by researchers in the field, in an attempt to explore other areas in the study.

1.6 Scope of the Study

This research focuses on two national dailies, which were published between January and December, 2017.Despite the fact that there are many existing newspapers in the country.

It would not be possible to study all these newspapers. Consequently two out of the newspapers were sampled at random.

Out of the newspapers from the Southern part of the country, ‘’Thisday’’ newspaper emerged from the sampling and ‘’Daily Trust’’ from the North. Only newspapers that published consistently daily, with national outlook and circulation were considered during the sampling.

1.7 Assumptions

The basic assumptions that underlie this study are as follows:

  1. Daily Trust and Thisday newspapers do not adequately cover development issues.
  2. The Reporters of these newspapers are not trained in reporting development issues.

The most important thing to note is that, as at the time when this research was conducted, Thisday is owned by a southerner and managed by mostly southerners. It believes in an editorial value of seeing the world from an African perspective. In the other case, Daily Trust is owned and funded by 19 shareholders of Media Trust Nigeria Limited who are professionals in their various fields from the North.

As part of its editorial policy, Daily Trust newspaper’s editorial content is designed in such a way to“ uphold the libertarian principle“ and “display profound regard for social responsibility in their news coverage and editorial comments“. It provides readers with a unique opportunity to reach the northern market in Nigeria.

1.8 Definitions of Terms

1.Feature Article:

Is a special human-interest story or article that is not closely tied to a recent news event. It goes into great detail regarding concepts and deals mainly with the opinion of the writer. It arouses people’s curiosity, sympathy, humour and amazement.

2. Unit of Analysis:

The major entity this research is studying, such as news, feature and editorial.

3. Sample:

A representation of the data in a given population with the same or similar characteristics with the other part of the given population.

4. Editorial:

The position or what a particular newspaper organisation stands for on an issue of public interest. It is a reaction to events and issues of the day and a newspaper’s contribution to such matters.

5. Category:

A category is a group of words with similar meaning or connotations brought together for an easier identification

6. Reportage:

Refers to the total body of media coverage, including pictures of a particular topic or event, including news reporting and analysis. This is typically used in discussions of the media’s general tone or angle or other collective characteristics.

7. Coding:

A unit of the media content on which the measurements are based

8. Encode:

Preparing and sending of information and ideas (Encoder) i.e person sending the message

9. Decode:

Interpreting the information sent after receiving (Decoder) i.e person receiving the message or the instrument interpreting the message

10. Participatory Journalism:

Is a type of journalism that the content create5d is done in collaboration with the people by journalists

11. Investigative Journalism:

Means in-depth reporting of events.

12. Citizen Journalism:

It is a particular form of online and digital journalism conducted by people who are not media professionals. This underscores the link between the practice of journalism and its relation to the political and public sphere.

13. Development Journalism:

A type of journalism that is oriented towards development reporting of news and packaging of relevant information to the public

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Summary

Thus far it has gone, in chapter one the study discussed the historical background of the work and later raised two basic assumptions. In chapter two, key concepts like “development,’’ “communication,’’ “development communication’’ and “development journalism’’ were discussed from different perspectives based on the views of scholars. A link among these concepts was established and relevant literatures were reviewed.

The chapter discussed the methodology of the study. A simple content analysis was used for the study combining it with other techniques of research such as the interview and the simple random sampling technique (survey instrument). This is a multi- methodological approach, aimed at addressing weaknesses of content analysis. The Fourth chapter dealt with the data generated from the study and analysis of these data accordingly, after they were represented in pie charts, using percentage. The techniques and instruments of research methodology mentioned in chapter three were the yardsticks for the measurement. The last Chapter contains the findings of the study and important recommendations.

5.2 Conclusion

The rationale behind development communication is to place communication and media technology in the service of development. As a tool, communication should be used for service. In any strategy or program of development, people are the target. The needs of the people predicate the delivery of development, whether it is in the form of values education, among others.

For any real development to happen there must be an inner change of people to be willing to participate and be involved in matters that affect their very lives. People cannot be manipulated or coerced to develop themselves. The impetus and desire for development must come from within themselves. But how do we get people involved in a newspaper publication? That is why it is believed that education is the key, and then communication is the tool. People need to be educated both formally and informally for them to understand what the whole society is all about.

This systematic process occurs over a certain period of time in which the people are informed, instructed and inspired to participate and be involved.

The failure of the government to understand this process and its concomitant instrument of development communication can be very costly. Since the newspaper being a part of the mass media can also be considered as a forum for public discussion, then participation can easily take place within the its publics.

5.3 Recommendations

The two newspapers should take the following recommendations that emerged from the findings of this research:

  1. That development matters should be covered adequately under various columns such as health, education and agriculture, this is expected to enhance the development of Nigeria;
  2. That in order to achieve this objective, reporters and editors of these newspapers should be trained in reporting and editing development issues respectively, because it is a special field that requires special skills;
  3. The newspapers should advocate for improvement on the lives of the people and encourage peoples’ participation in all development issues. These newspapers should not only concentrate on political reporting;
  4. The practice of `participatory’ and ‘investigative journalism’ should be supported by journalists, who report from the field.

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