Coverage Of Foreign News By Nigerian Newspapers: A Content Analysis Of Vanguard And Daily SUN Newspapers

Project and Seminar Material for Mass Communication

Coverage Of Foreign News By Nigerian Newspapers: A Content Analysis Of Vanguard And Daily SUN Newspapers


Abstract


This work focuses on the coverage of foreign news by Nigerian Newspapers using Vanguard and Daily Sun as case studies. The researcher made use of content analysis, while simple random sampling was used to select 24 editions of the two newspapers which amounted to 48 editions as the sample size, for the period of six months of this study. The findings show that Nigerian newspapers report foreign news frequently but do not give it prominence, that is, most foreign news reported were buried in the inside pages of the newspapers. Also, the Nigerian newspapers report more of negative foreign news which does not have any bearing on development purposes. This work concludes that the concept of imbalance in news flow should be given less attention and be accepted as a characteristic of media system.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of Study

Communication is so vital in our lives that it could be regarded as one of the characteristics of living organisms. It is a necessary condition for education, socialization, understanding, co-operation and even confrontation.(Ekeanyanwu, 2007: 13)

When there is a controversy in information flow among countries of the world, it degenerates to an imbalance in communication, thus, the concept of imbalance in news flow.

The concept of news, journalism and freedom of the press have for many years been a major source of disagreement between developing countries in Africa and the developed countries in the world. Developing countries often feel ill served by the western media claiming that foreign writers distort the story about African growth and development or at times, fail to report it at all. The developed countries on the other hand, see the developing nations as hindering the report of news. Members of the news media in industrialized nations, that is, free press as it exists in the United States of America and Great Britain virtually unknown in Africa and other parts of developing nations.
In the mid ‘70s, there was a cry over the poor coverage of events in the industrialized world by the African Press while the African press also lamented about the industrialized world over the same issue. MacBride (1980: 36) reacted by saying that “the gap between the fully informed and the under informed continues to widen as the imbalance between those imparting and those receiving information becomes accentuated”. As a result, the maintenance of an open flow of information has become a necessity to nations of the world.

A free flow of information across national boundaries helps to create and maintain sense of nationhood, performs developmental task such as improving education, health care delivery, science and technology, political stability and offers intercultural information. It also helps in formation of public opinion as well as act as a form of entertainment. It also acts as a watchdog on government in a country where such is permitted.

The nature of news is always changing because national interest and standard are always changing and as a result, the structure of news for developing nation’s especially African countries must be re-defined to reflect efforts being made by different government in Africa to transform their societies.

The Western definition of news on the other hand, emphasizes on events that are out of the ordinary, exceptional, exciting and sensational like “man bites dog”. This concept of news has influenced western reporters in what they gather and write as news about Africa. To these reporters, news is made in the third world countries only when there are scandals, coup, civil war and uprising.

The developing nations are still battling to challenge this western definition of news by stretching the definition of news to include and emphasize constructive news, embracing stories on social change, economic development, social, cultural, agricultural, technological and industrial progress, news that highlights the cultural side of life and promotes trade and commerce.

The developing nations have also complained about the imbalance in order of global news flow which ensures that 80% of world news comes from the industrialized countries of the world with 10% to 20% concerned about the third world.

One of the results of this dissatisfaction with the situation was the advocation for a New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO), an order with a broader base value necessary for the preservation of world peace. According to Ekeanyanwu (2007: 16) “one of the starting points in the demand for NWICO was the right of nations to participate in a multi-directional flow of information on the basis of equality”

According to Okunna (1993: 93-4) “the demand for NWICO is a demand for the establishment of a free and balanced flow of communication and a rejection of any attempt at cultural domination”.

In 1976 at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) general conference in Nairobi, Kenya, the issue of New World Information and Communication Order was first raised. In 1978, UNESCO accorded recognition to the issue by granting it a compromised consensus.

Sequel to the 1977 meeting, a new international commission on communication problem headed by Sean MacBride, former foreign minister was set up. The commission submitted its reports in 1990. Apart from the commission’s recognition, the committee was surprised that the content of the third world newspapers, radio and television have same biased reportage of foreign events. The developed nations also argued that the bulk of information sent to the developing nations was slanted to suit the powers that be.

In addition, the commission pointed out that there is the tendency for journalists from developing nations to write in a manner in which facts are distorted to perpetuate evil either to divide or to insult.

This study therefore, analyses the coverage of foreign news in Vanguard and Daily Sun newspapers to see whether these two national dailies have the same reportorial bias as was discovered by the international commission on communication problems.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

There has been a great battle between developed countries and developing nations of the world on the issue of poor coverage of news in the area of information explosion. Thus, the need to study communication and the flow of information at the international level has become as expedient as never before.

Therefore, the problem of this study is to ascertain how Nigerian newspapers report foreign news. It is hoped that the outcome of this research will guide the Nigerian newspapers in the coverage of foreign news.


1.3 Purpose of the Study

The principal aim of this research is to find out the extent at which Vanguard and Daily Sun newspapers report foreign news.

The specific purpose of this study is:

  1. To critically examine the extent at which Vanguard and Daily Sun report foreign countries.
  2. To determine the type of news (hard or soft) about foreign countries that are reported by Vanguard and Daily Sun newspapers.
  3. To determine if the public and national interests of Nigeria affect reportage of foreign news.
  4. To find out if Vanguard and Daily Sun Newspapers report foreign news negatively or positively.
  5. To find out the degree at which Vanguard and Daily Sun report development news of foreign countries.

1.4 Significance of Study

The most topical and persistent issue in international communication and politics today, is the issue of global news flow controversy. This is essentially a demand for and a necessity for drastic change in the present pattern of communication flow between and among nations of the world.

  1. This research will help correct the negative views held by the public concerning the coverage of foreign news by Nigerian Newspapers.
  2. This study will help the Nigerian newspapers to adopt a proper strategy in covering news pertaining to foreign countries.
  3. Information provided by this study will contribute to literature which will not only serve as a reference material but may supply hypothetical grounds for further studies.
  4. It will help future mass communication students to study content analysis not minding the cumbersome nature of the study.

1.5 Research Questions

In the course of this study, the researcher will attempt to find answers to the following questions.

  1. To what extent do Vanguard and Daily Sun report foreign news?
  2. What type of news about foreign countries are reported by Nigerian newspapers?
  3. Do Vanguard and Daily Sun reportage of foreign news guided by public or national interests?
  4. Do Nigerian newspapers show negative or positive attitudes in their coverage of foreign news?
  5. To what extent does Vanguard and Daily Sun show interest in the development efforts of foreign countries?

1.6 Limitation of Study

One of the factors limiting this study is the fact that researchers have been concerned about how the Western world media reports Africa and how Africa report itself with little or nothing empirically known about how developing nation’s press (Nigerian in particular) reports Western world. This angle has been overlooked and little or no controversy has been generated.

Time factor is another limitation. The length of time set up for the completion and presentation of this work is not enough. This has affected the progress of this work as regards adhering to the lay down procedure in conducting research work.


1.7 Delimitation of the Study

This research is geared towards the study of the coverage of foreign news by Nigerian newspapers. Two national dailies will be studied namely; Vanguard newspapers and Daily Sun newspapers. This study will cover a period of six months i.e. January 1st, 2008 to June 30th, 2008.


1.8 Operational Definition of Terms

The following terms would be defined for the purpose of clarity and to suit their application in this study.

Newspaper:

Nwosu (2003: 16), defined newspaper as a “wholesome package of news, events, people and places in a given area and published on a pre-determined frequency”

The Oxford Advanced Learners’ Dictionary posits that a “newspaper is a set of large printed sheets of paper containing news, articles, advertisements e.t.c. and published everyday or every week.

Coverage:

This simply means the reporting of news and spot in newspapers. It could also mean the amount or way that something covers an area.

Foreign News:

An accurate account of events involving other countries that is not your own. In a nutshell, it refers to information gathered as news about other countries of the world.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Summary

This study examined the coverage of foreign news by Nigerian newspapers using as a case study Vanguard and Daily Sun newspapers.

Based on the data generated from the 48 editions of the newspapers presented and analyzed, the following conclusions were reached.

  1. Nigerian newspapers report foreign news frequently on the pages of their newspapers.
  2. Majority of foreign news reported by Nigerian newspapers are hard news stories which are guided by national interest.
  3. Nigerian newspapers report more of negative foreign news which are not based on development purposes.
  4. Nigerian newspapers give less prominence to foreign news stories thereby placing it in the inside pages where the stories might not be readily seen and read.
  5. Most foreign news stories published by Nigerian newspapers were sourced from the Western Media which indicated that the international news flow is still one sided, that is from the developed to the developing countries.

5.2 Conclusion

This work concludes that the Nigerian Newspapers in their coverage of foreign news, are guilty of imbalance in news flow either directly of indirectly. Therefore, ‘imbalance’ in news flow as a concept, should be given less attention and be accepted as a characteristic of media system.


5.3 Recommendations

Based on the findings of this study, the following recommendations are suggested as a contribution to raging controversy in order to help end the controversial debate.

The concept of ‘imbalance’ should be accepted as a feature of all media systems since it is evident in all aspects of news reporting.

The acceptance of the fact that there is no deliberate attempt to under-report, distort, misinform, misrepresent and over-report sensational and disaster news, will go a long way to breach the controversy between the developed and developing nations.

Furthermore, the Nigerian newspapers could a well reduce their dependence on Western media for news by sending their correspondence to foreign countries to hunt for news. This will enhance their expertise in journalism profession because the profession itself is not an all-comers affair.


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