1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
One the aims of a newspaper are to understand the popular feeling and give expression to it; another is to arouse among the people certain desirable sentiments; the third is to fearlessly expose popular defects (Mahatma Gandhi, Harijan, 1946). Newspapers attempt to provide the facts and analysis that allows informed citizens to make effective and responsible decision in a complex, information-saturated society. The role of newspapers has evolved in response to the changing needs of their readers and is currently going through softening of news in reaction to other media’s coverage of lifestyle, entertainment and so on. The press in developing countries, therefore, serves a multiplicity of purposes. It is a medium of news, the source of information about world, national and local events and means of establishing mutual understanding. It is an instrument of education, contributing to the development of human resources and capital in promoting economic growth. It is a multiplier in the communication process, spreading widely and rapidly information which will aid national development (Sommerland, 2009). Nash (2012) argues that competition for audience is driving trend toward trivial news, by chasing the passing whims of focus groups and surveys, most newspapers have shrivelled coverage of major political, economic and social issues in favour of soft features, personality profiles, hoe to advice and focus on the process rather than the substance of governance . In the past few years changes have been brought into the look of the newspapers, several new tools have become available in the hands of newspaper designers, page makers and editors. More visual content in newspapers- pictures, graphics, colour photographs and a change in the way display ads are used- can be constructed as a result of the influence of the visual media. Indian newspapers have become visually a lot more appealing, in response to the growing popularity of electronic news channels and infotainment news channels. A newspaper is a vehicle for transmitting news and ideas. The design is an integral part of that process. Every newspaper must be quite clear about its own role, its own priorities between news in depth, comment, interpretation and fun. How news is displayed and news content is created is also an offshoot of this influence of visual media on the print. Big publishing houses dominate in metro cities, medium and small newspapers with their local content are popular in small towns and rural areas. While it is true that the growth of television news has not cut into circulation figures of newspapers, as it was feared a few years ago, we don’t know factors responsible for this growth of the printed word. One obvious reason is the rise seen in literacy rates in many parts of the country. Nevertheless, literacy is a key driver. Second factor is that newspapers have become more affordable compared to other mass commodities. Barring a few newspaper, prices have tumbled to the level of two rupees and so on. The era in which we live is often distinguished by reference to predominance of the media in our society. A variety of words for example, ‘information’, ‘communication’, ‘media’ and ‘digital’ are used interchangeably to label the age in which we live. Such familiarity breeds contempt as we blame the media for many of our social problems. But the term becomes elusive on definition. According to Meyrowitz (cited in Williams, 2009) the ‘most glaring problem for media studies’ is that there is ‘no common understanding of what the subject matter of the field is’. He criticizes the media scholar for their failure to explicitly confront the nature of the media, arguing many have simply adopted ‘the belief that everyone knows what the media are and that one can therefore move immediately to other research questions’. For some time now there has been an upsurge in community media. This is partly due to the need for a more effective and widespread information of the relevant audiences. Again, this is understandable because democracy necessarily requires a measure of information on the part of the citizens in order to meaningfully participate in the process. It is thought that the bourgeoning of community or local publications is a natural development in a democratic dispensation. On a general note, community media are crucial agents in development communication among the rural dwellers where majority of Nigerians reside. Another perspective is that decades of brutal military rule in Nigeria had discouraged the springing up of newspapers and other publications because journalists were often harassed by the military authorities and in many cases media houses were shut down arbitrarily. For instance, in 2008, Newswatch, Nigeria’s leading news magazine was proscribed for six months during the rule of General Ibrahim Babangida. Many other publications were shut down without even the bureaucratic procedure of a proscription order! During that era, government’s tolerance of opposing views was practically null. Even though there is no evidence that the current rulers are more tolerant of opposing views, the democratic government in place seems to be a moderating influence, knowing that the judiciary could intervene in some situations. In Abia State of Nigeria, some notable community newspapers include Aro news publications limited, Announcer newspapers Nigeria Limited, Abia fact newspaper, Abia newspapers and Publishing Corporation, and a host of others. Hence, the importance of this study is to test whether campus ray newspaper fulfil its role as a community medium and also as a tool for development.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Communication is a multi-faceted aspect of community life. It can act as a glue to bind people together, as oil to lubricate social and economic relations, and as a web to mark lines of influence and interaction. Communication is important for the transmission and interaction among community members, as well as for its role in creating society and culture. As John Dewey stated, “Society not only continues to exist by transmission, by communication, but it may fairly be said to exist in transmission, in communication…men [sic] live in a community in virtue of the things they have in common; and communication is the way in which they come to possess things in common” (1915). The existence of commonality among members of a community can have an important impact on achieving shared goals and [something about rural areas]. It is evident that communication is an inherent part of rural capacity building. This should come as no surprise, for, as noted above, communication could be said to be the basis upon which society in all of its facets is built. Capacity building can be defined as activities that increase an individual’s, a population’s or a community’s ability for growth, development, or accomplishment. In much of the literature, it is defined much more specifically as “Activities, resources and support that strengthen the skills and abilities of people and community groups to take effective action and leading roles in the development of their communities”. Westcott (2015) particularly stresses the importance of grass roots communication (“bottom up”) to the capacity development process. This is echoed by Rothenbuhler (2010), who suggests that capacity building must come from within a community, rather than through the outside intervention of “experts” and that this can only happen through discourse between and among community members. Stamm, Emig and Hess (1997) found that local media, especially newspapers and interpersonal channels have the strongest correlation with community involvement: “Communication scholars since Robert Park have argued that in addition to interpersonal channels, local media, such as newspapers, are essential to community.” They consider four mechanisms by which local media use might contribute to community involvement: identifying a problem and letting people know about it; helping to identify groups within a community through which collective action can be taken; helping individuals understand and think about problems within a community, allowing them to form their own views; and emphasizing that actions such as reading the local paper or listening to the local radio station is time spent thinking or learning about local issues.
1.3AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to examine the role of community newspaper in the development of their host community. Other general objectives of the study are:
1. To examine the means and sources of mass media that is available to the people.
2. To examine the problem faced by mass media practitioners in this community.
3. To examine the impact of community newspaper in the development of their host community.
4. To examine the role of community newspaper in the development of their host community.
5. To examine the relationship between community media and community development.
6. To examine what can be done to improve the condition of the said communities.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. What are the means and sources of mass media that is available to the people?
2. What are the problems faced by mass media practitioners in this community?
3. What are the impacts of community newspaper in the development of their host community?
4. What are the roles of community newspaper in the development of their host community?
5. What is the relationship between community media and community development?
6. What can be done to improve the condition of the said communities?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H01: There is no impact of community newspaper in the development of their host community.
H02: There is no significant relationship between community media and community development.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
There are many people that will benefit from this research. Both the young and the old will gain a lot of things from this work. The level of education will not only be improved by mass media among the youths but also among the old ones. This research will be of advantage to everybody in the community because the knowledge of how to provide solution to community’s problems will be acquired. The knowledge of modern education system through the use of computer will be gained by the help of mass media. The research is organized in such a way that will highlight the role played by the mass media in community development.
1.7SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on the role of community newspaper in the development of their host community: case study of campus ray newspaper, ABSU.
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Community: A group of people living in the same proximity (i.e, in space, time or relationship. Community usually refers to a society or unit larger than a house hold that shares common values.
Community development: Community development is a way of strengthening civil society by coming together to take collective actions of communities and their perspective in the developments of social economic and environmental policy. It seeks the empowerment of local communities taken to mean both geographical communities; communities organizing around specific themes or policy initiatives.
Mass media: Mass media refers to channels of communication that involve transmitting information in some way, shape or forms to large numbers. Mass media also refers to print, radio television, and other communication technologies.
Printing press: A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium (such as paper or cloth).