COVERAGE OF FOREIGN NEWS BY NIGERIAN NEWSPAPERS ( A CASE STUDY OF VANGUARD AND DAILY SUN NEWSPAPERS )
This work focuses on the coverage of foreign news by Nigerian Newspapers using Vanguard and Daily Sun as case studies. The researcher made use of content analysis, while simple random sampling was used to select 24 editions of the two newspapers which amounted to 48 editions as the sample size, for the period of six months of this study. The findings show that Nigerian newspapers report foreign news frequently but do not give it prominence, that is, most foreign news reported were buried in the inside pages of the newspapers. Also, the Nigerian newspapers report more of negative foreign news which does not have any bearing on development purposes. This work concludes that the concept of imbalance in news flow should be given less attention and be accepted as a characteristic of media system.
1.1 INTRODUCTION/BACKGROUND OF 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 for education, socialization, understanding, co-operation and even confrontation. (Ekeanyanwu, 2007: 13)
When there is a controversy in information flow among countries of the world, it degenerates to an imbalance in communication, thus, the concept of imbalance in news flow.
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 at 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 industrialized nations, that is, free press as it exists in the United States of America and Great Britain virtually unknown in Africa and other parts of 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 informed and the under informed continues to widen as the imbalance between those imparting and those receiving information becomes accentuated”. 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, health care delivery, science and technology, political stability and offers intercultural information. It also helps in formation of public opinion as well as act as a form of entertainment. It also acts as a watchdog 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 a 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 definition 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: 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: 93-4) “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 nations also argued that the bulk of information sent to the developing nations was slanted to suit the powers that be.
In addition, the commission pointed out that there is the tendency for journalists from developing nations to write in a manner in which facts are distorted to perpetuate evil either to divide or to insult.
This study therefore, analyses the coverage of foreign news in Vanguard and Daily Sun newspapers to see whether these two 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 battle between developed countries and developing nations of the world on the issue of poor coverage of news in the area 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 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The principal aim of this research is to find out the extent at which Vanguard and Daily Sun newspapers report foreign news.
The specific purpose of this study is:
- To critically examine the extent at which Vanguard and Daily Sun report foreign countries.
- To determine the type of news (hard or soft) about foreign countries that are reported by Vanguard and Daily Sun newspapers.
iii. To determine if the public and national interests of Nigeria affect reportage of foreign news.
- To find out if Vanguard and Daily Sun Newspapers report foreign news negatively or positively.
- To find out the degree at which Vanguard and Daily Sun report development news of foreign countries.