Mass Media Coverage Of Rural Development News. A Content Analytical Study Of The Guardian, Daily Champion, Punch And Daily Star Newspapers
Suffice it to say that a lot of research has been made in the area of the role of mass media in national development as well as rural development.
The incontrovertible point has been that there can be no meaningful national development without rural development as an off shoot and most integral part of a country, the need for priority in rural transformation cannot be over emphasized.
He mass media as a vehicle for information gathering and dissemination has a major role to play in the area of rural development.
In the light of the above, the researcher choose the topic mass media coverage of rural development news. A content analytical study of the Guardian, Daily Champion, Weekly Star and Punch newspapers.
1.1 Background of the Study
To achieve national development, rural development is a necessary step that cannot be jettisoned. The hope of developing Nigeria and all other developing countries in order to have a better tomorrow lies in the development of our rural areas.
The mass media fill the communication gap between the government and the rural dwellers on one end and the urban and rural populace on the other end.
With this, the mass media especially community responsible oriented ones, succeed in making the rural dwellers active participants of the government as they become aware of programmes and policies of the government by working towards being benefactors of these policies and programmes.
Moreso, high coverage or publication of rural development news by mass media especially the newspapers, without any doubt help in speeding up meaningful development in rural communities which will in turn boost the standard of the people.
With improved standard of living of the rural dwellers, the problem of rural-urban migration would be aborted. When this happen, there will be gross development in the country, a situation that will give room for proper utilization both mineral and human intellectual resources in their different places of existence.
Observation shows that not much has been done by the government in order to improve the quality of life of rural dwellers when compare to that of the urban populace. This means that much emphasis has been on urban development.
The mass medial has a vital role to play in rural development through the quality, quality and high level of rural development it covers and disseminate to the public.
Therefore, it becomes important that the rural areas be given more opportunities in the scheme of information being the food basket of the nation.
In order to achieve diversification of the economy, development of the rural areas is inevitable. An equitable distribution of wealth and provision of social amenities will help reduce the rate of rural-urban migration.
It is against this background that the researcher, embarked on this study – Mass media coverage of rural development news. A content analytical study of the Guardian, Daily Star, Daily Champion and Punch newspapers.
1.2 Research Problem
This study is geared towards the Nigeria mass media and the extent to which they cover rural development news, with a view of determining the level of commitment of the nation’s press towards rural transformation and emancipation from the shackles of poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, diseases and low standard of living.
In the absence of community newspaper like the “community concord” purely devoted to the coverage of rural activities, this research work is tasked to ascertain whether the amount and quality or rural news carried by urban mass media especially newspapers are sufficient and capable enough to bring the much desirable development in the rural areas.
Using four newspapers as a point of reference, the study is set to find out the reasons for the low coverage of rural news by Nigeria newspapers with reference to such factors as the location of the newspaper and ownership.
The researcher choose the Guardian, Daily Champion and Punch newspapers because they are elitist and widely read and daily Star newspaper because it is a government owned newspaper.
These problems brought about by the extremely small coverage of rural development news by the Nigerian newspapers is a major concern of this research work.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
There has been concentration of development effort in the urban areas of our country at the expense of the rural areas which had always brought about the problems of rural-urban migration because of inadequate or total lack of basic social amenities in the rural areas.
- In view of the aforementioned, rural development and diversification of the nation’s economy is topmost in the priority list of government. This is why there have been various grassroots development programmes from both past and present government like Development for Food Road and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI), The Better life for Rural Women Programme, The Family Support Programme, Poverty Alleviation Programmes etc.
- On rural development as a major concern in Nigeria, a media practioner, Nwuneli Onura once said that “a country like Nigeria probably now realized that building sky scrapper and modern express ways and purchasing vast numbers of cars among other things are unholy aspect of development that do not necessarily change the basic attitude of a significant percentage of the population towards life”.
- De-emphasizing the importance of communication in social development process, Nwuneli affirmed that “while social changes in desirable social development programmes can easily run into problems if they are not effectively communicated to the people.
- By content analytical study of the coverage of rural development news by three national newspapers, this research work have the purpose of finding the extent to which the mass media notably the newspaper has succeededor failed in carrying out it’s rural development functions through the quality and quantity of rural news it carries.
- One of the objectives of rekindling and reinforcing the desire for the coverage of rural development news by national dailies is to bear in mind that there are no or very few clearly marked community newspaper that are fully dedicated to the coverage of rural activities and selfless services with a view to bringing about rapid development in all ramifications in the grassroots as it concerns the rural communities.
1.4 Research Questions
- What is the direction of newspapers’ coverage of rural developments in Nigeria?
- How often (frequency) do newspapers cover rural developments?
- What is the depth of newspapers’ coverage of rural developments in Nigeria?
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 shouldlook forward to thedevelopment 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 the guardian, daily champion, punch and daily star, which were published between January and December, 2019.Despite the fact that there are many existing newspapers in the country.
It would not be possible to study all these newspapers. Consequently four out of the newspapers were sampled at random.
The study was carried out in Ikono L.G.A. Akwa Ibom state, to observe the level of events reporting by newspapers in the community.
Conclusion and Recommendations
It is generally acknowledged that rural development contributes so much in reducing unemployment and economic growth of any nation. Nigeria has an enormous agriculturalpotential and successive governments at various levels have pursued several policy frameworks and programmes to turn the fortunes of the nation’s agricultural sector around.
Based on the findings of this research, rural developments are poorly and rarely reported in Nigerian newspapers. To make matters worse, no prominence was given when such news is reported. By implication, rural developments were not considered to be important by the Nigerian newspapers and consequently, did not receive due attention from them.
Therefore, Nigerian newspapers are yet to give rural development the desired attention bearing in mind its potential in the development of a world class economy.
Undoubtedly, a research entails an investigation geared toward increasing knowledge and providing ideas to solve identified problems. Hence, the researcher proffers the following recommendations:
Media organizations in the country should assign special beat reporters to cover rural development news. Where this is already in place, efforts must be made by such reporters to increase their level of rural development news reportage.
Since issues are seen as important as the media made it to be based on the emphasis, placement and frames, therefore, Nigerian media should accord all this to rural developments coverage.
It is not enough reporting mostly what government says it is doing, media workers should also endeavour to find out the views and experiences of the farmers.
There is need for stakeholders to establish community newspapers to be located close to the farmers. The objectives of such community newspapers should be tomake available, information which is useful, proper and relevant to rural development based communities. This will make these community newspapers alternative media to urban type of journalism and bridge the widening information gap between the rural and urban centres.
More than any other sector of the economy, the press should highlight agricultural activities in the country in their daily reportage. If with oil resources, majority of Nigerians still live in poverty and squalor, then government must be advised through the media to boost the agricultural industry.
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