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Keywords:THE ROLE OF COMMUNITY NEWSPAPERS IN POLITICAL AWARENESS
1.1 Background to the Study
The important role media plays in fostering an environment of good governance and political awareness needs hardly be emphasized. As the watchdog and interpreter of public issues and events, the media has a special role in every society. In our information-based society the media has a disproportionately visible and influential role.
Democracy cannot exist in the absence of the press. This is because democracy is based on popular will and popular opinion depends on the public’s awareness and knowledge. It is the mass media that brings up, promotes and propagates public awareness.
The main responsibility of the press is to provide comprehensive, analytical and factual news and opinion to the people on everyday issues and events of popular concern. To fulfill its duty and responsibility, the press must work according to the fundamental principles of professional ethics, as well as norms and values of journalism.
Democracy can neither be sustainable nor strong without a free press. On the other hand, press freedom will not be possible without democracy. Therefore, the mass media and journalists must be committed to democracy. For this, the press must be perpetually involved in the establishment and promotion of a democratic culture.
The press must remain ever vigilant to protect and enforce people’s freedom of thought and expression and citizens’ right to all information relating to the various aspects of their life and future.
The fact that access to information is a citizen’s right must be taken to heart, and information must be presented in a simple and palatable manner. Right to information is inherent in democratic functioning and a pre-condition for good governance and the realization of all other human rights, including education and health care. The main objectives should be the promotion of transparency and accountability in governance so as to minimize corruption and inefficiency in public office and to ensure the public’s participation in governance and decision making.
Media must be credible and trustworthy. Trust is the most valuable asset for any media. Once lost, it cannot be earned back. It is for this reason that all media must uphold their principles to provide accurate and factual news and other programmes.
Press must understand the difference between politics in general and party politics. Media should not be a vehicle, or used as an advocate for any political party or ideology.
Public and political issues should be clearly understood, analyzed and presented in an impartial manner.
During elections / political campaigns, equal time slots or opportunity must be allocated to each of the legitimate political parties and candidates.
In the course of elections, messages that encourage goodwill and harmony among all the ethnic groups, religions, genders, cultures, languages, regions and communities should be broadcast.
Media plays the role of watch-dog in reporting corruption, complacency and negligence. In a changing, competitive landscape, compliance to good governance has never been taken so seriously, as people demand more transparency from both the government and private sectors. Responsible practices from government, universal principles on human rights and the fight against corruption have assumed great importance.
A flourishing media sector enables people to make informed decisions, becoming more effective participants in society’s development.
In a developing country like Nepal, the relatively low level of literacy, the variations in topography and limited access to electricity all make radio the most suitable medium to satisfy the information needs of the masses.
A robust, independent and pluralistic media environment is crucial for good governance and the overall development of the country. Freedom of expression, free flow of information and fair reporting without government and commercial influences are accelerators of development.
1.2 Statement of the Study
Newspaper in Nigeria began with community newspaper called Iwe Iroyin fun Awon Egba established in Abeokuta by Henry Townsend. Ever since the arrival of newspapers in Nigeria it has been playing a very vital role from criticizing colonial dictators to the attainment of independence, till the military took over power shortly after independence and with the enthronement of democracy, press has play different roles at one time or the other.
However, this work is investigating on the community newspaper and political awareness with Boripe Local Government as a case study.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
1. The objective of this study is to know the contribution of mass media on political awareness in rural area.
2. To highlight the challenges facing mass media in educating electorates on their political right and power.
3. To examine how mass media political programmes have impacted on voting behaviour of electorates.
4. To study the best media to use in converging political messages to electorate particularly rural dwellers.
5. To know how mass media political crusade have been able to change the apathy orientation of women.
1.4 Research Questions
In this study, an attempt will be sufficiently made to answer the following questions.
1. Does newspaper educate and Sensitize electorates on political activities?
2. To what extent does newspaper influence the voting patterns of electorate?
3. What are the problems facing electorates in participating in politics?
4. Does colonial antecedent influences electorates’ participation in politics?
5. Does newspaper actually mobilize electorates enough towards political participation?
6. Does electorates’ participation in politics depend on their exposure to newspaper?
1.5 Significance of the Study
It is expected that at the end of this study, it will update knowledge within the framework of the study. Particularly, it will assist people’s views on the usefulness of mass media in political development, mobilization and awareness
Media practitioners will also gain from the research findings as it will expose them to what responsibilities media are to play in society.
It will also serve as reference materials for future researchers who may want to expand or explore on study relating to this work.
This study will draw the attention of government to empower electorates especially women to participate in politics
Through the use of radio, television, films and motion pictures and print media journalists will in their packaging of news reports and events development a sound political knowledge for the electorate.
1.6 Scope of the Study
Although, the primary objective of the project is to examine the impact of community newspaper on political awareness of people in Boripe local government, this cannot be effectively talked without considering the demographic factor of Boripe Government local, ranging from the number of political wards, population, and many others. The work is limited in scope since it is difficult if not impossible to study the entire 774 local government in Nigeria.
1.7 Limitation of the Study
It is not an overstatement that a work of this nature cannot be carried out without some hard experience, however below are some of the constrains to this work.
There are many limitations ranging form not knowing where to start, not knowing who to consult or approach for materials not knowing what next to write in various segment of this study and not actually knowing who to put me through in achieving my work and others are:
1. Stress from other academic activities is one of the limitations to the research work
2. Financial constraint to travel to different places.
3. Duration for the research work is relatively short
3. Material that is available on this topic is relatively small as the concept is new or people are not written from that angle.
Finally, back pains, dizziness as well as the researcher’s respondent’s inability to return questionnaires that was given to them adequately.
1.8 Definition of Terms
In this study, certain key words will be explained below:
Role: The degree to which somebody/ something is involved in a situation or an activity and the effect that they have on it.
Newspaper: This is a printed publication of loose folded sheets containing news, advertisements, correspondence.
Mobilizing: To make people ready to pursue a particular cause.
Politics: The activities involved in getting and using power in public life and being able to influence decision that affect a country or a society.
Election: – is the process through which voters choose their representatives and express their preferences for the way that they will be governed.
Ballot: -Is a kind of voting method by which voters makes use of ballot proper in marking the name of their choice of candidate, which is dropped in a ballot box, that is counted manually.
Keywords: THE ROLE OF COMMUNITY NEWSPAPERS IN POLITICAL AWARENESS
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