COVERAGE OF FOREIGN NEWS BY NIGERIAN NEWSPAPERS: A CONTENT ANALYSIS OF
THE GUARDIAN AND VANGUARD
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, p. 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 two national newspapers (Vanguard 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, p.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, p.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 and The Guardian 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 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 Research Objectives
The principal aim of this research is to find out the extent to which Vanguard and The Guardian Newspapers report foreign news.
The specific objectives of this study are:
i. To critically examine the extent at which vanguard and The Guardian newspapers report foreign countries.
ii. To determine the type of news (hard or soft) about foreign countries that is reported by vanguard and The Guardian newspapers.
iii. To determine if the public and national interests of Nigeria affect reportage of foreign news.
iv. To find out if Vanguard and the Guardian Newspapers report foreign news negatively or positively.
v. To find out the degree at which vanguard 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 do Vanguard and The Guardian newspapers report foreign news?
ii What type of news about foreign countries are reported by Nigerian newspapers?
iii Is Vanguard and The Guardian newspapers reportage of foreign news guided by public or national interests?
iv Do Nigerian newspapers show negative or positive attitudes in their coverage of foreign news?
v. To what extent do Vanguard and The Guardian newspapers show interest in the development efforts of foreign countries?
1.5 Significance Of 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.
i This research will help correct the negative views held by the public concerning the coverage of foreign news by Nigerian newspapers.
ii This study will help the Nigerian newspapers to adopt a proper strategy in covering news papers to foreign countries.
iii 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.
iv It will help future mass communication student to study content analysis not minding the cumbersome nature of the study.
1.6 Scope Of Study
This research is geared towards the study of the coverage of foreign news by Nigerian newspapers. But for easy research work, two national dailies will be studied namely; Vanguard newspapers and the Guardian newspapers. This study will cover a period of six months i.e. December 20th, 2014 to June 2015.
1.7 Limitation Of Study
One of the factors limiting this study is the fact that researchers have been concerned about how the Western World Media reports Africa and how Africa report itself with little or nothing empirically known about how developing nation’s press (Nigeria in particular) reports Western World. This angle has been overlooked and little or no controversy has been generated.
Time factor is another limitation. The length of time set up for the completion and presentation of this work is not enough. This has affected the progress of this work as regards adhering to the lay down procedure in conducting research work.
1.8 Operational Definition Of Terms
The following terms would be defined for the purpose of clarity and to suit the application in this study.
Newspaper: Nwosu (2003, p.16.) defined newspaper as a “wholesome package of news, events, people and places in a given area and published on a pre-determined frequency”.
The Oxford Advanced learners’ Dictionary posits that a “ newspaper is a set of large printed sheets of paper containing news, articles, advertisements etc and published everyday or every week”.
Coverage: This simply means the reporting of news and sports in newspapers. It could also mean the amount or way that something covers an area.
Foreign News: An accurate account of events involving other countries that is not your own. In a nutshell, it refers to information gathered as news about other countries of the world.
Imbalanced Communication: The imbalance in news circulation is a complex and varied phenomenon. Alike quantitative and qualitative, it may occur at different levels and in different forms.
a. Between developed and developing countries in so far as the information flow is governed by the existence or non-existence of appropriate infrastructures.
(b) Between countries having different political and socio-economic systems.
(c) Between third world countries themselves.
(d) Between what is conventionally called “good” news and “bad” news, i.e. news of catastrophes. Failures, conflicts, set-backs, follies and excesses.
e. Between topical news of current events and information dealing in greater depth with issues important in the daily lives of people and nations.
Western World: The third world nations desire to control communication runs counter to the concept of free-flow of information; and obviously this desire distresses the western nations whose tradition has been free press. Thus the concept of censorship is unacceptable to them in any form.
Third World Countries: This is often used to roughly describe the developing countries. This set of countries initiated the evolution of ideas concerning the dependence of their media, the imbalance in news flows and global communication patterns and the negative effects of the imbalance.