Over the years, successive governments in the
underdeveloped countries have regrettably adopted a
lackadaisical, impractical, apathetic and lip service attitude
towards the transformation of their rural communities whose
inhabitants constitute in some places more than 70% of their
In Nigeria for instance, the situation has reached an alarming
stage, more so when one considers the outright
abandonment of the rural populations to their fate, as
manifested in the various indices of under development that
prevail across the length and breath of the country, despite
the vast human and natural resources it is endowed with.
Granted that some administrations in the past, had one time
or another annunciated policies and programme seemingly
aimed at rural development but has any of such projects ever
been successfully executed in any of such rural communities?
The fact remains obvious that such projects only serve as a
conduit pipe to siphon funds into private pockets.
Zeroing in on the situation in Imo state which incidentally is
the subject of this study, the situation there is quite akin to
what obtains elsewhere in the country, as most
developmental projects are concentrated in the city, to the
exclusion of the rural areas.
It is against the backdrop of the obvious disregard of the
rural communities in the scheme of development projects in
Imo state that this research work has embarked upon to
among others, highlight the role of the media (in the context
of newspapers in the coverage of rural and urban problems
in Imo state.
The choice of the newspaper in this enterprise is informed by
the fact that the mass media as vehicle for information,
agenda setting and mass mobilization, possess a unique
potential in reversing this unpleasant status quo
The Daily Champion, The Sun and Vanguard were thus
chosen to reflect this in balance in the coverage or
rural/urban problems in Imo state.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Title page i
Approval page ii
Table of contents vi
List of tables vii
CHAPTER 1: Introduction 1
Background of the study 1
Statement of the problems 6
Theoretical orientation 8
Objective of the study 9
Significance of the study 12
Research Questions 13
Definitions of Terms 15
CHAPTER 2: Literature Review 19
2.1 Introduction 19
2.2 Theoretical Background 25
2.3 Empirical Aspects 30
2.4 Summary of Literature Review 33
CHAPTER 3: Methodology 38
3.1 Research Method 38
3.2 Target population/universe 39
3.3 Sample Size 41
3.4 Sampling Technique 41
3.5 Sources of Data 42
3.6 Instrument for data Collection 42
3.7 Method of Analyzing Data 43
CHAPTER 4: Data Analyzing & Presentation 44
4.1 Introduction 44
4.2 Data Analysis and Discussion 45
Chapter 5: Summary, conclusion &
5.1 Summary 53
5.2 Conclusion 54
5.3 Recommendation 57
LIST OF TABLES
Table 1: Urban rural problems in Imo State as published by the
three newspapers grouped into contents categories
Table 2: Coverage of urban vis-à-vis rural problems in Imo state
by the three newspapers
Table 3: Content Placement of urban/rural problems in Imo
state by the three newspapers
Table 4: Content emphasis in terms of story length by the three
Table 5: Content emphasis in terms of hard news by the three
Table 6: Content emphasis in terms of features by the three
Table 7: Content emphasis in terms of letters to Editor by the
three news papers
Table 8: Content emphasis in terms of opinions by the three
Table 9: Content emphasis in terms of pictures by the three
BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
From a global perspective, 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
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
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.
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
(a) Shortage of staff;
(b) Limited equipment, transportation facilities,
(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 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
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.
(a) 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
(b) Lack of no-the spot 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.
(c) Coverage is general not specific. The coverage given to issues
is often superficial. It does not go into detailed issues.
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 to give objective, thorough,
sound and fair coverage of community development projects,
this research work therefore, is an imperative. Besides, the
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
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
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEMS
This study is strictly concerned with concerned with
determining the extent of coverage and prominence accorded
development problems by Nigerian newspapers with a view to
identifying the level of commitment of the nation’s press
towards rural transformation and emancipation from economic,
social and political bondage. Among the indices of
underdevelopment are poverty, low standard of living, high cost
of living, illiteracy, poor infrastructural facilities, unemployment
The study sets out to find the reasons for the low coverage of
rural news by Nigeria newspapers.
This research work is also pre-occupied with the task of
ascertaining whether the amount and quality of rural news
carried by the national media are sufficient and capable enough
to bring about the desired positive change in the rural
The problems emanating from the low coverage of rural
community problems by the Nigerian newspaper equally engage
the attention of this study.
This research work is based on two major theories, the
development media theory and the Democratic participant
media theory. Both theories emerge out of the realization that
the original four classical theories viz, the authoritarian,
Libertarian, social responsibility and Soviet-communist theories,
do not apply strictly to developing countries or where they can
be applied, have limited potential benefits because of some
peculiar characteristics of the developing countries.
The development media theory is predicated on the
premise that the state has a right to intervene in or restrict
media operations in the interest of development needs. In this
way, devices of censorship, subsidy and direct control can be
Remarkably, this theory emanated from the Sean McBride
report of the United Nations (UNESCO) International
Commission for the study of communication problems.
The second theory is germane to this work is the
democratic participant media theory. This is the latest addition
to the normative theory and Dennis McQuail stands out as a
major proponent of this theory.
The theory emphasizes the right to relevant information,
the right to feedback, the right to use the means of
communication for interaction in small scale setting of
community, interest group and subculture. Tersely put, it
emphasizes what contemporary development communication
scholar term “Participatory”.
OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The relevance of communication in community
development, especially in a state like Imo can not be overemphasize
in view of the benefits derivable from such an
exercise. The rural areas constitute an integral part of every
country from where the development levels of such countries
are measure. Over the years, there has been a noticeable
neglect of the rural areas. Thus giving rise to urban migration,
which leads to loss of manpower, economic hardship and abject
povert in the hinterland. In contra-distinction, there is the
provision of certain amenities, though not with the best of
intentions, like pipe-borne water, electricity, white collar jobs
health facilities libraries, etc in the cites.
At one time or another, certain programmes had been
introduced to better the lots of rural dwellers, though they
eventually came to naught due to poor implementation and
misappropriation of funds. These include the government
sponsored farmers co-operative societies, operation feed the
nation (OFN) The Green Revolution, the people Bank, Bettter life
for Rural women programme and family support programme.
Though the above programmes were targets at rural
empowerment, city dwellers ended up the major beneficiaries.
Perhaps, the only national programme that has obviously
benefited the rural dwellers is the National programme
Therefore, by content-analysis the coverage of rural and
urban problems in Imo state by three national dailies, this
study aims at finding the extent to which the mass media, in
this context the newspapers, have succeeded or failed in
discharging their community development functions.
In addition, it aims at determining which of the three
newspapers is more oriented towards community development
through the nature of rural news publishes.
Another objective is to rekindle the desire for the coverage
of community development activities by national dailies with a
view to improving the standard of living of rural dwellers in Imo
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study offers the readers the opportunity to assess the
level of commitment of these newspapers in furthering the
cause of community development through adequate coverage of
rural and urban problems.
It also highlights the place of newspapers in the
mobilization, education and sensitization of rural dwellers with
a view to bettering their life.
With this study, newspaper editors will see the need for
the use of community development news as lead stories rather
than as ‘fillers’ in the inside pages.
This work is also a guide to media properties in terms of
designing a suitable editorial policy that will give their
newspapers freedom to give adequate attention to rural
The study, apart from helping government fashion out an
effective rural-oriented communication policy, may also help in
broadening the knowledge of the role, place and
importance of the mass media, especially the newspapers in
To keep the research focused, the following questions are asked.
(a) To what extent does the location of a newspaper affect its
coverage of rural and urban problems?
(b) Is there any relationship between newspaper ownership and
coverage of rural and urban problems?
(c) Is there any correlation between a newspapers editorial policy
and its placement as well as treatment of rural development
(d) Does the readership size of a newspaper influence its
coverage of rural and urban problems?
Gathering the various issues of the three newspapers as well as
scutinizing them was no means task. Besides, the formulation
of an appropriate coding scheme was partially most laborious
The economic down turn in the country with the attendance
hike in transport fares made the gathering of the newspapers as
well as visit to libraries and newspaper houses, an expensive
The aforementioned difficulties notwithstanding, the researcher
took adequate steps to contend with those limitations.
The scope of this study is restricted to three Nigerian daily
newspapers, viz, The Sun, Vanguard and Daily Champion.
The study spans a period of one month and the focus is on
rural and urban problems. The work is not designed to test
literacy level of rural dwellers in terms of their newspaper
DEFINITION OF TERMS
RURAL COMMUNITY: A Pamphlet of the Anambra state
development authority “Focus” defined it as “a unified body of
inherited cultural affinity and common socio-economic and
RURAL DEVELOPMENT: it is the improvement of the lifestyle,
as well as making available those non-existing facilities in a
rural environment, for the good of the inhabitants. These
facilities range from good water, electricity, mortorable roads,
health-care, schools, and recreational facilities to judicial and
other institutions. Thus, it is all embracing.
According to Akonobi (former military Governor, old Anambra
State), Rural Development is strategy designed to improve the
economic and social conditions of a specific group of people’.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT: According to former Tanzanian
president, late Julius Nyerere, community Development is the
“Participation of people in a mutual living experience involving
themselves, their local resources, external agents and outside
URBAN PROBLEMS: These are the developmental projects that
must be carried out to ensure the well-being and improvement
in the standard of living of urban dwellers.
Rural problems: These are the developmental projects, efforts or
enterprises which are lacking in the hinterland, thus making
life unbearable for the inhabitants.
COMPARATIVE STUDY: A comparative study is a type of
scientific enquiry, which attempts to establish causes of or
contributory factors to a problem by comparing two or more
group, some having the problems and some not having it.
NEWSPAPERS: A German scholar, Otto Growth, in 1928
developed a set of five standards that modern scholars generally
hold as acceptable criteria for determining a true newspaper.
i) A newspapers must be published periodically at intervals
not less than once a week.
ii) Mechanical production must be employed
iii) Anyone who can pay the cover price must have access to
iv) It must vary in content and include every thing of public
interest to everyone.
v) Newspapers publication must be timely some continuity of
A newspapers can also be defined as a wholesome package
of news, event and views of a day, in a given area of circulation
According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
English Dictionary, a newspaper is a number of large sheets of
folders paper on which news, articles, advertisements, and
other information are printed.
Newspapers, generally. Can come in the form of Tabloids
REPORTING: The British Broadcasting corporation (BBC)
English Dictionary defines Reporting as the or presenting of
newspapers or radio or television.
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