A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF NEWSPAPER COVERAGE OF RURAL/URBAN PROBLEMS IN IMO STATE

NEWSPAPER COVERAGE OF RURAL/URBAN PROBLEMS IN IMO STATE

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Newspaper coverage reporting of rural and urban problems in Imo state. A contents analysis of the Sun, Vanguard and Daily Champion over a period of one month, to determine their roles in rural development., third-word countries which are mostly found in the continent of Africa have been conspicuously backward in terms of development vis-à-vis their western counterparts where a day hardly passes without the celebration of one scientific or technological feat or another. These indicates of underdevelopment and backwardness that characterize the content include, poverty, illiteracy, disease, intertribal conflict, corruption, absence of infrastructural amenities and general mal-administration.

When one looks at the situation in Nigeria, generally, with particular reference to the state of Imo state in South-Eastern part of the country, it is obvious and regrettable that successive governments in the country as well as the state (with the exception of the first civilian government in Imo state (1979-83) had paid lip service towards ameliorating the plight of especially rural and urban dwellers in these states who constitutes over 70% of the population of about 120 million Nigerians (based on projections from the 1991 national census).

The situation is further exacerbated by the infinitesimally low coverage given to rural and urban problems by our national media.

The national media are expected to give full coverage to events in all sections of the society. The extent of coverage should range from the affluent to the poor, from the urban to the hinterland, but this, however, is not so with our national dailies.

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Indeed, the development of both the rural and urban communities must be given priority attention in the scheme of things. Otherwise, the goal of the national development will be elusive. Be that as it may. It must be pointed out, here, that the goal of community development through an affective newspaper coverage is not without certain constraints.

The constraint include

Shortage of staff;
Limited equipment, transportation facilities, communication gadgets; (c) Limited funds, and

(d) Poor editorial planning

The print media, as has been observed, rarely cover the rural areas in comparison to cities. In fact, very limited time is allotted to these newspaper coverage, which are not enough considering the scope of the activities going on there. Granted that some national media have allotted pages to community news and vents, or even supplements for the local areas where each local government area is focused upon, unfortunately, these are not in-depth. Only peripheral issues are covered. Discussion and serious analysis are missing it all boils down to window dressing.

The news media with a target local can cover such a community effectively. This is because there is time for planning and implementation. But in our case here, the general assessment of the coverage by these media is mediocre. This mediocrity in the manner and extent of reportage of rural and urban problems in the society is due largely to the following loopholes identified in the operations of the news media.

No target area: This is obvious. Targeting an are means picking on specific area within a zone and covering them. These media must regularly highlight development projects, culture, professions, arts and craft, a well as need and deprivations of these areas.
Lack of no-the spot newspaper coverage. Those on the scene of event and incidents tend to write authoritatively about them. So, the reporter must investigate in order to be credible. Where a reporter is kilometers away, the study might go stale by the time he gets there.
Newspaper Coverage is general not specific. The coverage given to issues is often superficial. It does not go into detailed issues.

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As the filler of the communication gap between the government and the rural dwellers on the one hand, and the urban and rural populace on the other hand, the mass media are an important player in this enterprise of community development. This is in view of the fact that information provided by these media is a tool for mobilization, galvanization, sensitization and transformation of the rural communities.

The newspaper, for instance, localizes and interpret state and national news for the consumption of the people. Although there is scarcely any community newspaper in Nigeria today, this void can be filled by national and state newspapers through improved coverage of community activities.

Aware of the ability newspaper coverage to give objective, thorough, sound and fair coverage of community development projects, this research work therefore, is an imperative. Besides, the newspaper coverage so given by the newspapers can help by redirecting change agents on the priority of the local populations to avoid embarking on unrealistic projects.

 

It is against the foregoing background that the researcher embarked on this study – a comparative study of newspaper coverage reporting of rural and urban problems in Imo state. A contents analysis of the Sun, Vanguard and Daily Champion over a period of one month, to determine their roles in rural development.

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