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1.1 Background of the Study
Communication is so vital in our lives that it could be regarded as one of the characteristics of living organisms. It is a necessary condition education, socialization, understanding, co-operation and even confrontation. (Ekeanyanwu, 2007:13). Communication has no doubt become a powerful instrument of peace and war, thus aiding and abatting the mutual relationship between countries of the world. And when there is a controversy in information flow among countries of the world, it degenerates to an imbalanced communication.
It could be recalled that over the years, there has been a monumental disagreement between developing and western countries. The developing countries claim the western world report them in a bad light or fail to report about at all, thus the concept of news imbalance. It is in the light of the above that is that this research work was set to find out if Nigerian media are defaulters of the same offence by examining how Nigerian newspapers cover foreign news, using three national newspapers (Vanguard, This Day and The Guardian) as the case study. More importantly, to find out how frequent foreign news are reported, the nature of its presentation, type of foreign news the report e.t.c. and so many other related issue.
The concept of news, journalism and freedom of the press have for many years been a major source of disagreement between developing countries in Africa and the developed countries in the world. Developing countries often feel ill served by the western media claiming that foreign writers distort the story about African growth and development or times, fail to report it at all. The developed countries on the other hand, see the developing nations as hindering the report of news. Members of the news media in industrialize nations, that is, free press as it exists in the United State of America and Great Britain virtually unknown in Africa and other parts of the developing nations.
In the mid ‘70s, there was a cry over the poor coverage of events in the industrialized world by the African press while the African press also lamented about the industrialized world over the same issue. Macbride (1980:36) reacted by saying that “the gap between the fully inform and under informed continues to widen as the imbalance between those imparting and those receiving information becomes accumulated”. As a result, the maintenance of an open flow of information has become a necessity to nations of the world. A free flow of information across national boundaries helps to create and maintain sense of nationhood, performs developmental task such as improving education, healthcare delivery, science and technology, political stability and offers inter cultural information. It also helps in formation of public opinion as well act as a form of entertainment. It also acts as a watch-dog on Government in a country where such is permitted.
The nature of news is always changing because national interest and standard are always changing and as result, the structure of news for developing nation’s especially African countries must be re-defined to reflect efforts being made by different government in Africa to transform their societies. The western definition of news on the other hand, emphasizes on events that are out of the ordinary, exceptional, exciting and sensational like “man bites dog”. This concept of news has influenced western reporters in what they gather and write as news about Africa. To these reporters, news is made in the third world countries only when there are scandals, coup, civil war and uprising.
The developing nations are still battling to challenge this western definition of news by stretching the definitions of news to include and emphasize constructive news, embracing stories on social change, economic development, social-cultural, agricultural, technological and industrial progress, news that highlights the cultural side of life and promotes trade and commerce. The developing nations have also complained about the imbalance in order of global news flow which ensures that 80% of world news comes from the industrialized countries of the world with 10% to 20% concerned about the third world.
One of the results of this dissatisfaction with the situation was the advocation for a New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO), an order with a broader base value necessary for the preservation of world peace. According to Ekeanyanwu (2007, p.16), “one of the starting points in the demand for NWICO was the right of nations to participate in a multi-directional flow of information on the basis of equality”.
According to Okunna (1993:93-94) “The demand for NWICO is a demand for the establishment of a free and balanced flow of communication and a rejection of any attempt at cultural domination”. In 1976 at the United Nations, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), general conference in Nairobi, Kenya, the issue of New World Information and Communication Order was first raised in 1978, UNESCO accorded recognition to the issue by granting it a compromised consensus.
Sequel to the 1977 meeting, a new international commission on communication problem headed by Sean MacBride, former foreign minister was set up. The commission submitted its reports in 1990. Apart from the commission’s recognition, the committee was surprised that the content of the third world newspapers, radio and television have same biased reportage of foreign events. The developed nation also argued that the bulk of information sent to the developing nations was slanted to suit the powers that may be.
In addition, the commission pointed out that there is the tendency for journalist in developing nations to write in a manner in which facts are distorted to perpetuate evil either to divide or insult. This study therefore, analyzed the coverage of foreign news in Vanguard, This Day and the Guardian newspapers to see whether these three national dailies have the same reportorial bias as was discovered by the international commission on communication problems.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
There has been a great challenge between developed countries and developing nations of the world on the issue of poor coverage of news in the era of information explosion. Thus, the need to study communication and the flow of information at the international level has become as expedient as never before. Therefore, the problem of this study is to ascertain how Nigerian newspapers report foreign news. It is hoped that the outcome of this research will guide the Nigerian newspapers in the coverage of foreign news.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The principal aim of this research is to find out the extent to which Vanguard, This Day and The Guardian Newspapers report foreign news.
The specific objectives of this study are:
i.To know the extent vanguard, This Day and The Guardian newspapers report foreign countries news.
ii. To examine the extent public and national interests of Nigeria affect reportage of foreign news.
iii.To find out if Vanguard, This Day and the Guardian Newspapers report foreign news negatively or positively effect on Nigeria economy.
v. To find out the degree at which vanguard, This Day and The Guardian newspapers report development news of foreign countries.
1.4 Research Questions
In the course of this study, the researcher will attempt to find answers to the following questions:
i. To what extent has vanguard, This Day and The Guardian newspapers report foreign countries news?
ii. To what extent has public and national interests of Nigeria affect reportage of foreign news?
iii. Does Vanguard, This Day and the Guardian Newspapers report foreign news has negatively or positively effect on Nigeria economy?
iv. What is the degree at which vanguard, This Day and The Guardian newspapers report development news of foreign countries?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following hypotheses were used to guide this research study:
H01: Vanguard, This Day and The Guardian newspapers does not report foreign countries news.
H02: Public and national interests of Nigeria does not affect reportage of foreign news.
1.6 Significance of the Study
The most topical and persistent issue in international communication and politics today, is the issue of global news flow controversy. This is essentially a demand for and a necessity for drastic change in the present pattern of communication flow between and among nations of the world. This research will help correct the negative views held by the public concerning the coverage of foreign news by Nigerian newspapers. This study will help the Nigerian newspapers to adopt a proper strategy in covering newspapers to foreign countries. Information provided by this study will contribute to literature, which will not only serve as a reference material but may supply hypothetical grounds for further studies. It will help future mass communication student to study content analysis not minding the cumbersome nature of the study.
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