HEALTH COLUMNS AND NEWSPAPER READERSHIP (A STUDY OF THE PIONEER AND SENSOR NEWSPAPER)
- Background of the Study
Media are the major source of factual information, opinion and analysis. They impact knowledge, influence the understanding of issues by their readers and may also act as advocates for the recipients of news items. Newspapers are less likely to therefore grab attention on low salience stories unless presented in a manner designed to attract attention (Neumann 1992).
This is so because the media in its entities could be said to have audience, depending on the type of outfit involved as explained by Ndoho (2001:5-6).
The Nigeria media audience is large and diverse: 130-140 million people, over 250 hostel ethnic groups: over 250 mutually unintelligible languages made more complex by over 100 dialects, two major antagonistic religions: 70 percent of Nigerians are rural dwellers illiterates by western standards and live in less than N125 per day. Public health for the purpose of this study includes health promotion and primary health care as a major component. Many public health issues may be seen as poor attention grabbers but are not less important for general population. Much of the determinants of personal health status lie within the control of individuals including issues of life-style nutrition, consumption of alcohol and tobacco produces such behavior may be modified through health promotion activities and incorporate the effect on others such as immunization of children. How these issues are presented in the print media can influence the response by individuals and the subsequence effects on their health status. Wright (1990:17) is of the view that it is the entire process of occupation of conducting a news medium including structures, polices, content, writing, editing, publishing and broadcasting that is known for journalism therefore journalist has many responsibilities to the moral ecology of our nation. It is the muscle ligaments and sinew of the democratic society. Those involved in these operations, correspondents, columnists, news hawks, newshounds, paragraphs, stringers, news managers and others qualified gentlemen of the press.
The press plays an important role in building our nation. Then any newspaper that is involved must be rich in its content. Contents found in Nigeria newspaper are not just fabricated. They are derived from authentic sources. Readers need to be informed about current issues in the society. These current issues are related in different aspects mostly when considering the type of audience being function of a newspaper is to carry news. It educates the readers of what is happening in the world including the country, the state, the town or the city, and the locality. Under frequency of publication, newspaper can be classified in to daily and weekly newspaper, because a true newspaper as has been stated earlier should be published at intervals of not more than once a week. Such newspaper should contain health columns in order to help readers make seen of many products, claims and studies that emerge daily through lively, sometime humorous but always rigorous researched stories to separate the truth from the haft-truth, to help people make smarter health care choices for themselves and their families.