Content Analysis of Agricultural Issues Reported in Two Nigerian Daily Newspapers

Article excerpt

Introduction

Agriculture is becoming increasingly information sensitive (Padre et al., 2003) hence access to information has become a pre-requisite and a valuable resource for agricultural development. In this context, information is needed to exploit opportunities in time, raise awareness about the potential negative impacts of current choices and to get to know about opportunities of other farmers, in order to search for better opportunities and sustainable solutions (LEISA, 2002). Success in enhancing food production, providing income and job opportunities and ensuring that the agricultural sub-sector performs its manifest functions in furtherance of rural and overall national development, depend largely on the communication system adopted to implement various agricultural programs.

Newspapers tend to reach more educated, elitist audiences in many developing countries. This may not seem the quickest way, compared with radio or TV, to reach a mass audience. But newspapers and magazines do have the advantages of being more permanent, carrying more information and often being more authoritative than other media. Writing and issuing a straightforward press release remains the most effective--and economic--tool for mass communication. And the other branches of the mass media tend to feed on what they have read in the press.

Newspapers and magazines can also be used to reach key groups--for example, by carrying materials which teachers can use in their classrooms or suggestions for discussions by development workers in the field. (International Mine Action Standard, 2005).

Newspapers provide up-to-date information on local, state provincial, national, and world issues. They are among the most widely-read periodicals that are available and accessible to the vast majority of people of all ages and walks of life in any community. Every category of reader can find some important, current, and interesting information in newspapers. Today's newspapers use design elements that make information easily accessible to the reader. For example, important stories have large bold headlines, while 'Graphics' appear next to related stories. The most current analysis and criticism of politics, economics, health, sports, psychological and emotional issues, music, theatre, television, the fine arts, and even comics are covered by newspapers. Ola and Ojo (2007) reiterate that, "newspapers are important because they carry current information and they keep the readers informed of events and happenings within and outside their immediate environments. They are useful for education, recreation, entertainment and relaxation." News is written as a way of disseminating information to a large group of people. Reporters and editors are usually conscious of the language they use in news reportage to attract popular readership.

In positioning newspapers within the news environment and establishing their academic and research viability, Cheney et al. (2006) insist that despite the growing presence of news on the Internet, radio, television, and so on, a library's current newspaper collection can continue to play a vital role in the academic community.

Despite the pervasive role of the electronic media in agricultural communication and based on the recommendation of the British Cabinet Office (2002) on the necessity for a rethink of the ways in which advice and information are made available to farmers, it becomes pertinent to focus on the print media as an important source of agro-information to farmers (Padre et al., 2003).

This research work therefore examined the role of two Nigerian newspapers in the dissemination of agricultural information. The foci of the research work are the amount of space allocated to the dissemination of agricultural information and the types of information published.

Methodology

The study was carried out using two daily newspapers (Punch and Guardian) in Nigeria. …