REPORTERS RESPONSIBILITIES AND THE URBAN – RURAL NEWS IMBALANCES IN NIGERIAN NEWSPAPERS

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REPORTERS RESPONSIBILITIES AND THE URBAN – RURAL NEWS IMBALANCES IN NIGERIAN NEWSPAPERS

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Two powers which make modern society different from the previous one are the power of industrial technology and mass media of communication, of which the newspaper is a part when Dexter (1964) made this statement, little did he know that the mass media of communication will create some problems for modern society.

However, this news and information from the mass media has never flowed in a balanced way. It has always been lopsided – this imbalance in information flow has been one pertinent issue both in international and national communication in the global scale, the information imbalance has reached the stage, according to Nwosu (1986) when “a demand for adrastic change I the present pattern of information flow between and among nations should gather momentum.

The third world nations are complaining that “not only is every little said about them but also that every little said about them but unfavourable’. (Masmond,1979). Such information about the third world is usually about disaster, crime, coup detect tribal war. Etc.

This unequally distributed and badly used information /news made some see the reason to demand for the new world information and communication order (NWICO). So far, so much effort and resources are being spent in the call for NWICO. The demand of the third world of which Nigeria is a part, for a balanced flow of information, is perhaps best delineated and forcefully argued in the so-called NWICO (mgbemena & Onwura, 1980).

Moreover, the western nations go to any length to defend their nations. Stephenson (1990), for instance, argued that “the attention given to disruptive news in the third world is characteristic of all, media system, particularly those of the third world it self.

In re – affirming what Stephenson said, meil (1990) says that if western journalism is quality of bias, sop is journalism all over the world. He said apply that “certainly much global coverage can be said to contain basis –but all reporting can be so indicated”. However, are the allegations of the western nations right? It is a fact that Nigeria is an outspoken nation among the third world nations demanding or this new balance and free flow of information between two parties.

The result of some researchers and expressed opinions did not exonerate Nigeria from the imbalance flow of information, which it accuses the western media of. After all, imbalance flow of information has the same ill consequences, whether it is at international or inter – national levels. Imbalance within a nation is equally unacceptable as imbalance between nations (Agba,1997) one may ask, what is the situation of Nigerian journalism? Is it guilty of imbalance flow of information among and between different sectors of the country.

1.2 THE ROLE OF NEWSPAPERS IN RURAL DEVELOPMENT

The print media of which newspapers is an outstanding parti-plays an important role in rural development. According to general system theory, which has an important influence on system level analysis of mass media effect, “social system’s usually change their structures to higher level of complexity (development) (cawallader, 1968). This process of elaboration according to general system theory “is a result of information exchange element of social systems” (DEUTCHE,1968).

Besides scramn (1972) described newspapers as a channel for informing, motivating, persuading, instructing and providing a means of a collective participation in development. Lasswell(12972) has identified it’s other basic functions to include the surveillance of the environment, correlating parts of the environment and the transmitting cultural breakage. “rural development, according to Okorie (1986) is predicted upon understanding the rural people, rural environment, and interaction of rural system brought about by “change agencies” incidentally the newspaper is among the change agencies.

It is obvious and beyond doubt that newspaper doubt that newspapers are important to national development and variably to rural development it all depends on the way the newspapers discharge their functions. Unfortunately, the situation in Nigeria is not commendable. Although Nigeria is imbued with a passion for rapid national development and has embraced the notion that the mass media must be used and guided to promote national development, the newspaper (mass media) is still found wanting in this regard.

Lerner posted that mass media (newspapers) have a relationship with national development. He attached great importance to newspapers in nation –building process. It has been said that media development is “tied closely with a country’s development” (schramn, 1964). However, our situation in Nigeria is pathetic. Our information officers, including newspapers managers, editor and reporters have not done well enough is sensitizing the people toward rural development, which constitute the center for national development programmes. A traditional view is that the resolution of social problems in rural areas is related to inputs of information. If a system sufficiently saturated with information. According to this view, “a general understanding will invariably lead to development of the system (Rogers, 1975).

With respect to Nigeria suleiman (1983) has noted that reading the Nigerian newspaper one will almost get the impression that outside the various states capitals and some local governments headquarters (urban areas) there are no more human habitations in the country”. This is because the tendencies of the expense of the newspapers have always been to report the urban areas at the expense of the rural areas. This tendency has not helped to foster rural/national development in any way, because according to the population census figure of 1979 over 70 percent of Nigerians are rural dwellers. Oton (1978) observed that everywhere in the rural areas, development programme are going on that are never chronicled.

It is also alleged that Nigerian reporters, being urban-based tend to perceive the news different from the rural areas to urban cities. Often times news reports about rural areas to urban cities. Often times news reports about rural areas seem to concentrate on disasters, failures, disputes and the negative features. All of these are antithesis to rural and national development. The urban centrality of news has gotten to the stage when one has no choice but agree with Omu (1981) who pitied the realities for doing so much and getting so little from the Nigerian mass media (newspapers).

It is bad enough that the rural area seldom gets mentioned in the newspaper, but worst Dave (1970) said “people in the rural area are neither little nor invisible and are doing newsworthy things besides committing crimes. It is as if the Nigerian reporters/editors forget that the content of communication of any given time reflects the value pattern of society (schramn, 1964). By removing almost in entirety rural news room the newspapers, it is as if the newsmen are telling the public that the rural areas are not important in national development.

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REPORTERS RESPONSIBILITIES AND THE URBAN – RURAL NEWS IMBALANCES IN NIGERIAN NEWSPAPERS