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.
This is in view that the finding and conclusions derived from this study will go a long way to determine the contributions and impact of the nations mass media particularly newspapers in the area of rural development and at the same time make useful suggestion for he attainment of desire bale results in this aspect.
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 oon 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 State of the 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 succeeded or 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 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
One of the significance of this work is that it highlights the place of the newspapers is the transformation, mobilization, industrialization and education of the rural dwellers with a view of enhancing their quality of life.
This study offers readers the opportunity to access the level of commitment of Nigeria newspapers in furthering the cause of reral development through full objective reporting of community events, activities, achievements, aspirations, efforts as well as problems.
It is indeed significant in that it stressed the need for newspapers to use developmental events from rural areas in positions such as front or back pages, these events are mostly horrors, tragedies or some other negative reports as against self-help development projects.
This practice is against the fairness doctrine of the press and stands out as a problem of rural development. Hence, one of the significance of this project work is that it is geared towars attaining balances reporting through equal coverage and treatment of rural development news vis-à-vis urban news. This in turn help bridge the wide communication gap between the government and the rural populace so as to pave way for participatory governance and grassroot development.
This project work is a guide and mirror to policy makers in terms of designing a suitable editorial policy that will give a newspaper upper hand to give adequate coverage to rural development news.
Besides, it might be one of the needed step for Nigeria to attain national development as it is geared towards, rural development without which there will be no national development.
Furthermore, this project work stands out as a reference material for other researchers working on this field or relate communication and development work.
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
a) Is there any relationship between ownership and coverage of rural development news?
b) To what extent does location of a newspaper affect the coverage of rural development news?
c) Does readership size of a newspaper influence its coverage of rural development news?
d) Is there any relationship between a newspaper house style or location and its placement of rural development news?
e) Do national newspapers cover events and activities in urban areas as much as they do in rural areas?
1.6 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
This research work is based on the following hypothesis. These are:-
H1 Government newspapers give more prominence to rural development news than private owned newspapers.
H0 Government newspapers does not give more prominence to rural development news than private owned newspapers.
H2 Government controlled newspapers carry more of rural development news than private owned newspapers.
H0 Government controlled newspapers does not carry more of rural development news than private owned newspapers.
H3 State based newspapers carry more of rural development news than national newspapers.
H0 State based newspapers does not carry more of rural development news than national newspapers.
H4 That national newspaper most of the times carry non-developmental news of the rural areas e.g drought, diseases outbreak, earthquake etc.
H0 That national newspapers most of the time does not carry non-developmental news of the rural areas.
1.7 CONCEPTUAL AND OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
Conceptually, rural community according to a newsletter published by the Anambra State Development Authority, focus “a rural community as a unified body of inherited cultural affinity and common socio-economic, political interest based on a common poor social amenities of a state”.
Operationally, rural community may be viewed as a set of people with the same historical heritage and cultural affinity, exhibiting an awareness of their uniqueness, location, sharing common socio-economic and political interest but with little or no social amenities and basic infrastructures like tarred roads, equipped school, telephone etc.
Conceptually, the World Bank defines rural development as a strategy designed to improve the economic and social life of a group of people (rural). It involves extending the benefits of development to the poorest among those who seek a livelihood in the rural areas.
Operationally, rural development means the conscious, planned and systematic efforts geared towards the transformation or modernization of the rural areas through the provision of basic amenities and public utilities needed for good living as well as their full integration in the scheme of events.
RURAL DEVELOPMENT NEWS:
Conceptually, according to Ducan broadly (1986), a communication scholar, rural development news is the coverage of events by the mass media of rural communities in order to enhance rapid development of these communities.
Operationally, rural development news takes the form of an accurate and timely account of events aimed at bringing about meaningful economic, industrial, technological, educational, structural and general development in the rural areas including features, pictures , editorials etc.
Conceptually, according to Nwanze (1999:2), see newspaper as “a mechanically reproduced tabloid, published daily or weekly, accessible to anyone who can afford the cove price and contains a variety of news of public interest as well as marked with a continuity of organization.
Operationally, newspaper is a publication that is usually printed daily or weekly which report news of current events happing around the world.
Conceptually, mass media has been perceived essentially as a working group organized around some device for circulating the same message to large numbers of people – Hall (1981).
Operationally, mass media are modern channels of mass communication used to disseminate news and information to very diverse cum large numbers of people simultaneously.
Conceptually, development is the attainment of a meaningful degree of mental alertness and the sophistication of human faculties to the level the individual in society cannot only reason well but also, adopt a logical approach to issues arising from human society.
Operationally, development means the provision of tangible social infrastructure like roads, hospitals, schools, decent pipeborne water etc.
This project work is carried out based on certain assumptions. Some of these assumptions are already stated as part of the hypothesis.
However, this project work is under the assumption that rural development news from rural communities is not getting enough coverage as it should from newspapers (mass media).
In addition, the fact still remains that both private and government owned newspapers do not place rural development news at positions like front or back pages of the newspapers, rather they report more on “negative” news from rural areas so as to capture more of the available markets audience.
1.1 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The scope of this study is limited to four Nigeria newspapers; the Guardian, Daily Star, Daily Champion and Punch newspapers. In the process of this research work, there were some limitations and constrains. The greatest being the challenges of having to combine academic work with this research, considering the short time for this semester as mapped out by the school’s administration.
Apart from the time constraint, it was a great challenge gathering the four newspaper for content analytical study especially in the case of Daily Star in Enugu where very old editions has to be looked for since the paper is no longer producing on a daily basis.
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