Coverage of Library Issues in Ghanaian Newspapers, 2001-2006
Kwadzo, Gladys, African Journal of Library, Archives and Information Science
Newspapers, like any other news communication media, aim to inform, educate and entertain. They are usually inexpensive, easily accessible, have diverse social uses, and can be read and reread. They often circulate widely, thereby having potential impact on large numbers of people in a country. Xu (2006) also pointed out that 47.2% of China's huge population consider newspapers as their first source of information, a proportion much higher than for television and radio. Although newspapers' preeminence continues to be challenged by radio, television, periodicals and websites, they still remain popular and influential. Yanovitzky (2002) reported that on average, legislators spent 1.8 hours each day reading daily newspapers and 1.5 hours a day watching television news programmes. Kawamoto (2003) also noted the power of the press through which was unfolded, the Watergate scandal that led to he resignation of President Nixon of the USA in the 1970's. Much of the credit went to the Washington Post newspaper whose investigative prowess exposed the deal and led to important social reforms.
Newspapers usually feature news stories, feature articles, advertisements, letters to the editor, editorials, among others. They usually report general interest events that occur within 24 hour periods, although non-daily newspapers provide news covering a longer period of time. They also serve as primary sources of general information due to their local origin. Due to these features, newspapers have become a principal media for serious reporting and analysis of social issues. Government agencies, commissions as well as individuals have relied heavily on newspapers for the enumeration and characterisation of events. People have investigated what proportions of news as a whole are devoted to specific subject matters of their interest. Some people and businesses advertise their products and services in the newspapers to persuade and to attract customers. But where one wants to promote without directly advertising, one can seek newspaper coverage. Because news papers serve as an important source of information for many including opinion leaders and policy makers, the frequency and prominence of library-related content in newspapers may influence libraries-oriented policies in government and public opinions and attitudes in communities at large.
Libraries play a major role in the educational system and in the development of a strong human resource base in the socio-economic development of a country. They collect, organise, preserve and make available information and knowledge as and when it is needed. Thus, people use libraries to acquire information and knowledge to improve their lives. Ghana continues to implement various educational reforms in order to provide improving access to quality education by its citizens. One of the factors affecting quality education in the country is lack of well-stocked and well-equipped libraries, which some also attribute as one of the primary contributors to the poor reading habits among Ghanaians. Unfortunately, the promotion and development of library systems in Ghana have not been accorded the priority they deserve (Alemna, 2006). The document, Meeting the Challenges of Education in the 21st Century (2002) elaborated on the current state of libraries in Ghana, noting that the libraries in Ghanaian schools are bedeviled with inadequate and obsolete materials, inadequate library buildings and infrastructure, inadequate staffing and inadequate funding. Inadequate funding has negative effects on all aspects of library management, from acquisition of new/current reading materials and equipment, subscription to journals and to staffing.
Alemna (20 06 ) als o noted that the poor recognition of the importance of libraries in the educational and development processes was also getting worse, and library facilities and services were getting poorer. Could this be due to inadequate coverage and reporting of library issues and problems in the most easily accessible social communication media such as newspapers, radio and television? …