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INCULCATING THE VALUE OF NEWS IN NIGERIA MEDIA: A CASE STUDY OF PUNCH NIGERIA LIMITED
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Prior to the introduction of modern means of communication, man has fashioned himself with the appropriate communication approach suitable for his development, that is the traditional means of communication. Through this approach, people in different rural settings were mobilized to participate in the affairs of theirlocality.
However, as the society became large and complex, traditional means of communication could not adequately take care of the communication needs of the people and therefore, the modern media was put in place to reach out to the relatively large, heterogeneous and anonymous audience simultaneously. That marked the era of the mass media.
It is worthy of mention that communication is an important social tool, without it, one could not have influenced the ideas, feelings or actions of others. Through written, verbal and non- verbal signs and symbols, man communicates his feelings and ideas to his fellows. Those who have cultivated the ability to communicate are better than those who cannot express themselves properly. For those who know how to communicate can achieve leadership in the groups theyinvolved.
It is also true that communication links the individual with himself, his environment and other men. The man of our time lives in a diversified media world, the profusion with which they are distributed and the assault of advertising, etc. There are few communities that still may be totally isolated and outside this communication circle. Through the media, man has become accustomed to receivingmessages.
According to the Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, communication which is the process of transferring thoughts, ideas, facts, feelings, etc from one person to another is very important in human existence. Without it, life will be meaningless and human interaction would be impossible .The importance of communication cannot beoveremphasized.
Sybil (1989) observed that communication serves as an instrument of social interaction. It helps us to understand ourselves, to keep in touch with other people, to understand situations. It is a means by which power is acquired, exercised and sustained. It is the medium through which relationships are established, extended and maintained. The Mass media has helped in creating social awareness and also provided people with an easy way of living life. The print media played an important part in the historical events such as, The Renaissance, The American War of Independence, The French Revolution and manymore.
Earlier on the development of the newspaper came around 1600 A.D, but it took this form of mass media more than a century to influence the masses directly. The first printed newspaper was The Relation. Later, in the year 1690, Benjamin Harris printed the first colonial newspaper in Boston. There was an increase in the circulation of newspaper in the nineteenth century. Then came the first African-American paper titled Freedom's Journal, published in the year1827.
The 14th century Guttenberg’s invention of the printing press must have aided the revolution in the printing industry. This invention made it possible to transfer complex information, ideas and concepts from one individual to another, or to a group, faster than ever before due to amazing advances in technology in recent years. This breakthrough altered the way we perceive the universe and manner in which we communicate with one another. As early 1900, print media could be found in the form of newspapers. It provided all the necessary information about the world for the people at remote locations. Even today, newspapers remain an important global source ofinformation.
The history of Print Journalism began in Nigeria with the installation of the printing press at Calabarby the Presbyterian Mission in 1846. As a result of this development, books, pamphlets, short essays and short stories that were produced had their contents focused primarily on religious matters and other cultural interests.
Although, this development did not last long and has often been left out in the chronicles of print development in Nigeria, other missionaries and religiously inclined business conscious men took a cue from the Calabarexperience.
Subsequently, Rev. Henry Townsend, a missionary-journalist, established a printing press in Abeokuta in 1854.Five years afterwards i.e. in 1859, the “IWE IROHIN FUN A WONARA EGBA ATI YORUBA” was founded. The newspaper translated into English Language means “Newspaper in Yoruba for Egbaand the Yoruba people”. It was published fortnightly but later became bilingual in 1860, when the English version was added to the Vernacular edition. “IweIrohin” published news about church activities, particularly, the establishment of new churches, the arrival and departure of missionaries and even the death of religious dignitaries and traditionalrulers.
Its primary objective was to cultivate good and appreciable reading attitude among the people of the area and even beyond. As a result of this, the newspaper expanded its news coverage to cover non-religious events such as those about trade and commerce, exhibitions, sports, health, hygiene, moral educational and others. At last, the newspaper stopped publication in 1867.
It was responsible for the development of indigenous language in Nigeria and was able to carry the people along. This has promoted cultural development among the yorubas. It was this realization that prompted its resuscitation in year 2012 by the Nigerian Unionof Journalists (NUJ) Ogun Chapter in collaboration with MoshoodAbiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta.
This period could be described as the “preliminary period’’ in the evolution of the Nigerian Press, while Hope Waddell’s attempts could be regarded as the beginning of the evolution of the “Commercial Press in Nigeria”.
The Lagos Times was established by Beale Blaizeon November 10, 1880, but unfortunately it stopped publishing in 1883 out of financial constraints. The newspapers that co-existed with it were Lagos Observer, established on February 4, 1882. Others were The Weekly Times by John Payne Jackson, a Liberian born businessman (May 3, 1890) and Lagos Weekly Record founded by John B. Jackson (1890).This newspaper became one of the most popular presses with a long history in Nigeria. It was also reputed for its strong views on politics and independence forAfrica.
In March 10, 1921, Ernest Ikoli came into the scene with the African Messenger. He was said to have been the first man outside Yoruba land to emerge into prominence in Lagos politics. The African Messenger lasted for five years before it metamorphosed into the Nigerian Daily Times, after being bought over by the then Nigerian Printing and Publishing Company in 1926.
The modern Nigerian Press history covers the period of independence in Nigeria and years afterwards. And for the Nigerian press then, it was once nationalistic in nature later very regionalistic. It was preoccupied with the business of enhancing regional autonomies, preserving national independence but mostly promoting sectional, tribal and the very selfish interest of those in leadership positions. These confused and provocative roles of the press at thattimegavetheindependentpressanotherjustifiedandseverelylimitedsuccess.
According to Daramola (2006) the press from 1959 to 1966 took a regional and ethnic posture, due to struggle for power by the nationalists who then formed the bulk of local politicians. Since no press operated independent of the society, the situation ultimately gave rise to regional government establishing regional newspapers: radio and television, meant to champion their interests on national issues. Having been assured of independence onOctober1, 1960 , the press shifted aside its colonial militant advocacy of nationalism to embrace fresh responsibilities as vehicles of internal politics, power struggle and governmentalcontrol.
Furthermore, it was the partisanship of the press operation mostly visible at the regional level that spurred the federal government to establish its own newspapers The Morning Post and The Sunday Post, in addition to Nigerian Daily Times. Allthese newspapers existed to preserve national power and counter possible attacks or encroachment of uncompromising regional forces into national interest ormatters.
Perhaps, it may be reasonable to mention some of the activities of the press during independence In Western Nigeria, The Nigerian Tribune founded by Chief ObafemiAwolowoin 1947 and later controlled by his wife through a major stockholding, was an opposition newspaper, particularly with the emergence of Chief Akintola as the political boss of Western Nigeria. The newspaper, once the mouthpiece of Action Group was replaced byThe Daily Sketch, which later metamorphosed to become the mouthpiece of Akintola’s NNDP.
The Sketch, which was founded in 1964, was used as a weapon in the political rivalry between Nigerian National Democratic Party NNDP and the Action Group. The conviction and imprisonment of Chief Awolowoon a charge of treasonable felony, alongside an Editor of the newspaper nearly crippled The Nigeria Tribune. However, with the release of Awolowo, it began to flourishagain.
Similarly, in Eastern Nigeria, various newspapers were published to serve the same interest. Notable amongst such publications were the Eastern Observer printed in Onitsha; The Nigerian Spokesman and The Eastern Sentinel, all constituting members of Zik’s group of publications. While The Nigerian Outlook , an English daily published in Enugu by the Eastern Nigeria Information Services served as a government and NCNC organ. Its regional partisanship was said to beunquestionable.
In the Northern Region of Nigeria, the story was not different. The Nigerian Citizen, a bi-weekly, subsidized newspaper by the Northern Nigerian Government acted as the principal mouthpiece of the leadership of (NPC).It was published by the Gaskiya Corporation in Zaria and had been a strong advocate of Northern supremacy and NPC’s policies, programsand ideology. There were also minor ethnic media such as the Daily Comet, the Northern Star, all of Kano and the Middle Belt Herald ofJos.
From the foregoing, it can be seen that the emergence of Newspapers in Nigeria was not per see for development purpose in the context that we talk about development journalism today. Indeed the introduction of these newspapers into the reading public was mainly to disseminate information to a large heterogeneous audience. It was not for development purposes, but rather for championing ethnic and regional agenda. However, the newspapers can contribute to development. This will be implementable by prioritizing development objectives and inculcating the same to thepublic.
The objectives will be realizable if the gatekeepers would prioritize development programs and news in their process of selecting what is newsworthy and what is not in the pages of these newspapers. Indeed, gate-keeping is vital in communication planning. It can also be dangerous, since it can lead to an abuse of power by deciding what information to discard and what to letpass.
Nevertheless, gate keeping is often a routine, guided by some set of standard rules. Unfortunately, if the gatekeeper’s selections are biased, the readers’ understanding will therefore be biased. Itisa factthatdevelopment journalismin Nigeria often faces obstacles in the form of low professional journalistic standards, a lack of financial resources and work technical skills,etc.
Also, there is risk of patronage the media may not be able to break free from its political constraints and may be captured by private interests. Nigeria journalism is today being faced with numerous challenges and these challenges are impediments to development journalism among whichare:
(1) The digital age has made it difficult to defining the role of the professional journalist vis- a-vis the citizen journalists (the receiver who is at the same time the producer of news). The pervasiveness of digital technology, which gave birth to online journalism, is a threat that lives in the subliminal of the press-fear of losing their job is a potentialthreat.
(2) Ownership pattern is a pertinent issue. Business moguls who are publishers are not interested in development journalism because they have created a class fashioned after global trend for them. As such, editors andreporters stick to the mission andvision of the publisher to retain their job. Each newspaper has its ownphilosophy.
(3) Lack of modern equipment to reach those who lack the wherewithal to contact the mass media.
(4) The need to beat deadlines is also a major constraint to developmentjournalism.
Journalists’ natural competition to have their by-lines perpetually often robs the poor the chances of making news. The idea of sticking to ``Timeliness and ``prominence`` in this sense connotes maintaining the statusquo.
Based on the foregoing, it is easy to see why the masses of today have lost their confidence in newspapers delivered by the news media. The trend of bad reports that they delivered over the past years have made the masses lose trust in the media. In this regard, this research intends to study the value of news in Nigeria media in relation to development using punch Nigeria as a case study.
1.1 : STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCHPROBLEM
Newspapers when properly conceived can do more than mere reportage of events to become instigators of development. There is the need for a change of direction in terms of reporting, as against the already established way of just disseminating information. The inability of the newspapers to address development issues could be traceable to thisfact.
At the inception, the newspapers in Nigeria were established to serve the interest of their owners, politicians and businessmen but not just for the common man. As a result they end up appealing to only regional and ethnic interest, thereby fuelling all sort ofconflict among the people. This was also anchored by Adebayo (1990), who argues that the press exists to reflect the view of the dominant class. That is the elites in our society and this class of people only serve theirinterest.
However, its major function was that of information dissemination using the appropriate channels of communication. But one point of agreement among the myriad of suggested alternative approaches is the need for development-oriented information to be available and accessible at all levels of the society thus adding value to both society and the media. Thus, one critical factor to be considered is how to translate this information into increased development for the people through the available channels of public communications, including nationaldailies.
It is with the above in mind that this study examined punch Nigeria limited. It seeks to investigate the amount of value that the media communicates by focusing on development news. 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 ofcommunication.
1.2 : AIM OF THESTUDY
The goal of this study is study the value of news reports in Nigeria by assessing the amount and quality of development related information displayed in Punch Nigeria limited.
1.3 : OBJECTIVES OF THESTUDY
The objectives of this study were to:
- Evaluate the level of reporting developing issues in punch Nigeria.
- To determine whether the regional and ethnic character of the development of journalism in Nigeria still affect their report of developmentissues.
- Examine whether those who report for these newspapers do receive training in reporting developmentissues
- Find out whether these newspapers have editorial policies that are supportive to developmentjournalism
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THESTUDY
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 on adding value to news. It can also provoke further study by researchers in the field, in an attempt to explore other areas in thestudy.
1.5 SCOPE OF THESTUDY
This research focuses on punch Nigeria limited. This newspaper brand was chosen randomly by the researcher as it was practically impossible to properly consider all the newspapers in Nigeria under the given time.
1.6 DEFINITION OF TERMS
- 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, humor andamazement.
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 givenpopulation.
4.Editorial: the position or what a particular newspaper organization 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 suchmatters.
5. Category: A category is a group of words with similar meaning or connotations brought together for an easieridentification
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 collectivecharacteristics.
7.Coding: A unit of the media contenton 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 themessage
- Participatory Journalism: is a type of journalism that the content creation is done in collaboration with the people byjournalists
- Investigative Journalism: means in-depth reporting ofevents.
- 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 publicsphere.
- Development Journalism: A type of journalism that is oriented towards development reporting of news and packaging of relevant information to the public