Rural communities in Nigeria have largely been relegated to the periphery of the regular mainstream socio-economic and political development conversations. Their voices remain muted and their core political and socio-economic concerns largely excluded from the core resource planning and allocation. Newspaper offers a platform for remedying this situation as it is widely regarded as the ideal media for developmental communication (Butner, 2003), particularly for rural populations. This study set out to examine the role of Community journalism and challenges of rural reporting in Nigeria. Afemai newspaper, a community radio station located in Afemai , Edo state was selected for a case study with the purpose of demonstrating the role of community journalism in rural development of Afemai. This study was qualitative in orientation and data were as gathered through focus group discussions, key informant interviews and direct observation in addition to consulting secondary data from various sources. The findings of this study are that Afemai newspaper is indeed being harnessed for the social, economic, cultural and political development of the inhabitants of Afemai in such areas as mobilization of resources and collective action, preservation and promotion of progressive facets of local culture, civic education, behaviour modification, business and social networking, as well as promotion of fraternity and harmony in the community. Existing community media houses on their part should develop effective sustainability systems to enable them thrive. Such would include better community participation and support, volunteerism, partnership with devolved government units, and creative fundraising initiatives.
1.1 Background of the Study
Community journalism is a staggering concept viewed from the perspective of its application in the Nigeria’s context. Looking at the issue from the standpoint of community radio, historical development of broadcasting in Nigeria reveals that community/local/ rural radio was never taken into consideration as an integral part of it up till now, the situation has persisted, because no where in Nigeria is the phenomenon of community radio currently being felt. So far the location of broadcasting stations has remained in the same pattern established by successive Nigeria government in the concentration of infrastructure which favours the urban centre to the neglect of rural areas.
Until April 21, 2009, when a clarion call was made on the inevitability and desirability of community broadcasting in Nigeria through a one- day policy dialogue on the matter in Abuja by stakeholders, broadcasting in Nigeria was urban conceived and urban delivered in all its ramification. As opposed to other countries in Africa where community broadcasting has been embraced, Nigeria in just a toddler in rural broadcasting. Apart from some campus radio stations been run by some higher institutions in the country which have some nuances of community broadcasting, there is virtually nothing concrete on ground beyond rhetorics and policy framework. Ajijola quoted in Moemeka (2008,p.7) puts the number of community radio stations in some countries in Africa as follows; Mali, 120, Senegal 44, Burkina Faso 27, Niger Republic 24, Republic of Benin 22 and Ghana 8. Furthermore, Quarmyne cited by Konkwo (2010,p.98) states that South Africa has 92 community radio stations while Mozambique boasts of 25.
In Ghana for instance, the role of community radio has been clearly stated in their 1995 legislation. According to Alumuku (2006,p.17) Ghana’s legislation “stipulates that community broadcasting should be non- sectarian, non-partisan and not-for-profit but add that commercial advertising is permissible on community broadcasting stations for the purposes of sustainability …” He added: the legislation points out that at least 70% of programmes on all community broadcasting stations should be in local languages and 80% of the programmes should be produced by the station itself. At least 20% of programmes should be of national interest, which could include relays of national broadcast news from the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC).
In Zambia, the National Broadcasting (Licensing) Regulations Act of 1993 from a legal back up for establishment of community radio. It is an independent authority with the powers to licence, regulate and allocate frequencies as an essential element to liberalization process (Alumuku, 2008).
Equally in South Africa, the promulgation of the Independence Broadcasting Authority (IBA) Act of 1993 as pontificated by Alumuku (2008, p 17) “paved the way for the licensing of community radio stations and the government’s white paper on broadcasting published in June 2001 outlined the government’s first ever policy on community radio.”While the blames of ex-communicating the rural populace in Nigeria through community broadcasting lies squarely on government, some experts believe that journalism educators and mass communication researchers should also be held responsible for their negligence in promoting community broadcasting. Konkwo (2010) and Claussen (2008).While Konkwo (2010) specifically accused Africa Journalism educators for partly been responsible what he described as “cheerless situation” Claussen (2008) bemoaned the fact that journalism educators and mass communication researchers in Africa are almost ignoring community radio (which is) increasingly important worldwide.
The mass media are technologically driven. Technology has changed the tide of news reporting in our society. Ate (2008, p. 73) confirms this assertion with particular emphasis on satellite: As the society becomes more complex by the day, media practitioners need to technologically position themselves in a vantage position to effectively perform their social responsibility function to members of the public. In those days, somebody could accept the definition of news as an account of what has happened. And for any event to be defined as new, it must be reported. But today, with the technology of satellite, the process of news gathering and dissemination has been re-shaped. People can watch events anywhere in the world as they are happening. He further argued that technology is an aspect of culture and that the nature of society depends largely on the type of technology it acquired.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Community journalism play a special role in giving a voice to rural and/or marginalized and poor communities and those without access to mainstream media, and often deliver content that is part of a development agenda. The financial sustainability of rural reporting is often a major challenge to community journalism. In Nigeria and indeed other third world countries, the people living in rural areas are neglected in terms of information dissemination and development process. This has created attractions to urban areas. There is high rate of ignorance in the rural areas, beyond the poor physical development of such areas. The problem necessitating this study is therefore: what are the challenges of rural reporting in Nigeria
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of this are to:
i. Examine the role of community journalism in rural development.
ii. Examine the effectiveness of these channels of communication.
iii. Examine the attitude and perception of rural dwellers to community journalism.
iv. Examine the challenges of rural reporting in Nigeria.
1.4 Research Questions
Based on the objectives of the study, the following questions were addressed in the study.
i. What is the role of community journalism in rural development?
ii. How effective are these channels of communication?
iii. What are the attitude and perception of rural dwellers to community journalism?
iv. What are the challenges of rural reporting in Nigeria?
1.5 Significance of the Study
There is no doubt about the fact that work like this will be beneficiary to some set of people and entity. Meanwhile, this work will benefit the following people, the rural dwellers, government and future researchers. The rural dwellers will see community journalism as an effective tool in their domain as a weapon in their struggle for good health status, enhanced working and living conditions, political and human rights etc. Government at all levels will see reasons for improving the wellbeing of rural inorder to attain national development. Researchers who will be exploring on this or related Research will find the work interesting and as a reference point.
1.6 The Scope of the Study
This research work is term to examine the community journalism and the challenges of rural reporting in Nigeria a study of Afemai Newspaper.