MASS COMMUNICATION THROUGH RADIO, TELEVISION AND SOCIAL MEDIA NEWS REPORTING

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31 MASS COMMUNICATION THROUGH RADIO, TELEVISION AND SOCIAL MEDIA NEWS

REPORTING

S.A. SHAIBU (Ph.D)

Department of Mass Communication Bingham University

ABSTRACT

This paper delves into News reporting on Radio, Television and Social Media with a view of coming up with different ways in which reporting in the different media can promote Mass Communication.

INTRODUCTION

Today, the whole world has been turned into a global village in line with McLuhan’s prediction and the media of Mass Communication is now awash with different approaches in saturating the world with diverse news items. What is news? There are as many definitions as there are authors or authorities on News. This research will want to see News as information that is new.

Tony Iredia (2016) echoes the definition of news by Defleur and Dennis cited in Iwokwagh (2005:7):

News is a current and fresh knowledge about an event or subject which has been gathered, processed and disseminated via the medium to a significant number of interested people.

Some authorities see news as something new, fresh and timely while some see news as information that is “hot, burning and sensational”. A great many see news as something “relayed new or fresh or timely (Iredia 2016). In whatever prism we see news and with whatever eye, or horizon or myopia we see news, the fact remains that whatever we see as news must be prepared or written, edited and relayed to the consumers via Newspapers, Radio, Television or the social media. It should however be pointed out that with new technology and technological innovations, with computer, internet comes the new media in different formats that comes under the bigger generic name of the social media. The social media is rated as the fastest media after radio and television that held the ace of the monopoly of immediacy and quickness to the consuming public – the listeners, viewers.

News gathering are done via different methods – interviews, discussion, internet, radio, television and social media monitoring, press releases, on spot – reporting, eye-witness accounts, etc. All these wide horizons of news with a battery of academic works on them, such as the works of Fedler, F. Bender, J. Davenport, L and Drager, M. (2011) Reporting for the media, OUP Pate U (2002) Introduction to Conflict Reporting, Lagos, Frankard published, Shrivastara, K. (2003) News Reporting and Editing, Moemeka, A. (2000) A Reporter Handbook: An Introduction to Effective Journalism, USA Moris Pub, Nwabueze, C (2009) Reporting: principles, approaches, special beat, Owerri top shelve publisher. Ganiyu, M (2004) The Reporter’s Companion: A Complete Guide to News Reporting and writing, Ibadan emges books etc. All these have their different stamps of authority on News Reporting in Nigeria. But we must ask a germane question. What is the job of a reporter? What do they do?

Again, Iredia (2016) attempts an answer:

A news reporter is like a researcher who

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32 Shaibu (2015) catalogues the processes of this news gathering as shown.

1. Get the data or the raw materials for news. 2. Sief the raw material/data gathered. 3. Collate the substance from the chaff.

4. Actualize Mac Dougal’s postulation – “nothing is news, no matter how important or when it happens until it is reported”.

Iredias (2006) definition here comes handy in our journey towards news reporting definition: media coverage of an event so as to get

its details for news can be described as news reporting.

News reporting according to Shaibu (2005) et al:

can be from regular special areas of interest and expertise, geographical or locational beats or from professional beats such as sports, ceremonial political desks, economic beats/desks, farm centres, hospitals, schools, National Assemblies, Courts, festivals, markets, etc.

Also reporting presence can be from where the physical presence of reporters are not feasible, some proactive news organisations use broadcast stringers, freelance or artist etc. But these valued sources of reporting must be conversant with the areas they are reporting from, and must know the language or the registers of the special area being reported upon. As postulated by Scanlan (2011) quoted in Iredia (2016:28):

“The best beat reporter I have known are well organized, determined with a clear sense of mission and a wide range of sources. They are constantly reading about the beat and striving to learn new things. They are well-versed in the language, issues and events that matter. They are judged by the breadth of their knowledge and their successes at

communicating the important stories on their beats”.

Again, here it must be stated that the theory of 5 Ws & H of media practice is relevant in reporting news. These What?

Where? Who? When? Why? And How?

These five questions are questions that have universal application when analyzing all areas of mass communication from programmes production to news generally and news – reporting in particular. Adjunct to all these is the “grand norm” of mass communication practice echoed by Shaibu (2016, 2015) and indeed all the scholarly contributions on the subject matter. A mass – communicator must know “a little about everything and everything about something or all subject matter”.

News reporting has no boundaries and many items that could be reported on could be left unattended to. Effective news reporting and coverage demand that we should beam the “satellites” of our coverages on 36 states of Nigeria and Abuja, over 700 Local Governments and the uncountable wards, hamlets, towns and cities at any given time. For effective results for this herculean task, commensurate employment for commensurate service may never address in a life time, the doable option is “citizens journalism”. As postuated by Uwakue (2015:52) citizens journalism described as:

journalism by the people

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33 The caveat here is broadcast organisations resolve and will-power to pay for this information. Note that even the Nigeria Police pay Informants. If the broadcast organisations do not pay, they will be inundated with sending their Reporters with vehicles and attendant burning of fuel and payment of hotel bills, transport and other inconvenient allowances. It is along this line of reasoning that artiste fees, royalty fees, intellectual property fees, etc must be paid to appropriate and designated owners as at when due for us to have quality information, news, data etc to work with. If this is professionally approached, it will mean the death or near – death of roving reporting, mostly seen by some professionals Shaibu (2016) “aimless pursuit of the unknown” as sound – bites can be made to be compulsory appendages to citizen’s journalism.

Citizen’s journalism uses one stone to kill many birds in actualizing mass communication mobilization, reconscientization, reorientation of the people towards getting all sides to an issue. The cumulative result is, in line with Nwabueze’s input for Investigative Journalism (2009:91) that states:

It makes a story more factual, more intriguing, more revealing, more complete, more credible, more controversial, more far-reaching, more informative, more persuasive, among other notes it provides. The whole business of mass communication and media practice and journalism is the total scanning of our environment at any given time with the ultimate aim of telling an authentic story. Total communication therefore means a retrospective and periscopic view at our environment with a focus on agriculture, health, mineral, manpower, science and technology, economic and social potentials or resources towards waking them up from their moribund state to the state of progress and development.

It is when all these are properly put in perspective that the “watch dog” role of the media, articulately captured in section 22 of 1999 Constitution can be actualized. It is then, the Agenda – Setter can be properly positioned to set appropriate agenda for the progress and development of our country.

It is then that the informer will be properly educated by exposure and experience to better inform the mass of our people that are presently perishing for lack of information knowledge. It is along this line of reasoning that Akpan (2009:127) is apt:

The mass media are the nerve centres of information flow in the society. This places the media in a position where they affect relations among the different sub-systems in the society. Media influence including the effect on the process of governance, maybe direct or indirect, unintended or intended. This is achieved through the media’s discharge of institutional or social functions.

Without casting aspersion on our present obsessions for the “lucrative” beats of emphasizing the transient issues of politics in our clime, the sole business of effective reporting in particular and media focus in general are:

1. State what Government is saying. 2. State what the people are saying.

3. State international best practices in a globalized world.

4. Postulate a new direction based on superior argument – not propaganda.

This is in line with the agenda setting theory of mass communication as propagated by Mc Combs and Shaw as early as in 1972.

The media practitioner as the watchman of any society cannot afford to be sleeping on duty for socio-political and economic charlatans to steal the show and derail the masses of our people and the prophetic destiny of our Nation. The clarion – call is a wake – up signal for all Media Practitioners to be effective gatekeepers of information dissemination in our land. News reporting cannot be seen to be complete until it passes through 6 stages of processing. Shaibu (2016) delineates these stages as:

1. News gathering stage. 2. News production stage. 3. News presentation stage. 4. News consumption stage. 5. News digestion stage. 6. News reflection stage.

And of course, all these must come from a news angle – which is exclusively the prerogative of the reporter – as well as the need to follow the pattern of all creative enterprise – and must have an introduction, a body and a conclusion for the work to be meaningful. The job of News reporting is not without hurdles.

Shaibu (2016) in his journalism practice in Nigeria stated the gold and landmines that dot the way of the practitioner. These include:

1. Killings. 2. Assassinations. 3. Threats, acid bathing. 4. Beatings.

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34 6. Hostile environment of media practice.

7. Lack of access to information inspite of constitutional provisions and foi Act. 8. Weak capacity building or in – house training exposures.

9. Inadequate resources.

10. Inadequate staffing based on poor manning levels that have no bearing with professionalism. 11. Inadequate professional equipment.

12. Ownership distortions and references that justifies “he who pays the piper dictates the tune”. 13. Defective gatekeeping.

14. Corruption – rooted in poor salaries that are not paid as at when due that perpetually make the practitioners slaves of the brown envelop syndrome.

An example of best practice reporting that we can gleen from is the reporting of Richard Quest of CNN (Cable Network News). Here and from this reporting impresario we can affirm that:

1. Content is vital.

2. The voice, no matter the quality can best be utilized to maximum advantage by any reporter. 3. Passion and dexterity of the reporter are vital.

4. A neck or nose to smell reportable materials. 5. A passionate quest to pursue reportable materials. 6. Etc.

These are all assets that a Reporter must have or aspire to have in the total areas of radio, television and social media reporting – that have their different approaches to presentations of the materials that are gathered.

In Shaibu (2005) update of what he calls “reporting sans frontiers” in Nigeria the following are possible areas for reporting.

1. Business reporting. 2. Agricultural reporting. 3. Reporting on environment. 4. Educational reporting. 5. ICT and info tech reporting. 6. Judicial, court, legal reporting. 7. Reporting on corruption. 8. Crime and criminality reporting. 9. Drugs and Drug Addiction reporting.

10. Children, Youthful/Adolescent behavior reporting. 11. Fashion reporting.

12. Design reporting

13. Domestic issues and Domestic violence reporting. 14. War reporting.

15. Terror and terrorism reporting. 16. Political reporting.

17. Political violence reporting. 18. Human Rights reporting.

19. Employment, unemployment reporting. 20. Schools, tertiary reporting.

21. Historical reporting. 22. Reporting on our Heroes. 23. Commercial reporting.

24. Markets and marketing reporting. 25. Election reporting.

26. Election violence reporting. 27. Social mobilization reporting. 28. News reporting.

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35 34. Reports on science and technology.

35. Peace and reconciliation reporting. 36. Regional conflict reporting. 37. Foreign Affair reporting.

38. Gender and Gender issue reporting. 39. Student and Student Affair reporting. 40. Narrow-Identity Interest reporting. 41. Maternal mortality reporting. 42. Poverty and affluence reporting. 43. Poverty and Poverty Indexes reporting. 44. Food and Nutrition reporting.

45. Engineering and Technical Equipment Reporting. 46. Correspondents Reports.

47. Telephone Reporting. 48. Actuality Reports. 49. Straight Reports. 50. Investigative Reporting. 51. Follow Up Reports. 52. Disaster Reporting. 53. Accidents Reporting. 54. Industrial Unrest Reports. 55. Etc.

And the scope keeps growing with new development and challenges. Reports on specialized area of any profession can be an issue that attracts professionals, initiates, non-initiates and new-comers to a particular issue or profession. All these can fall under specialized Reporting. For an example. specialized programmes and news can be built around:

1. Studio manager. 2. Reporters. 3. Producers.

4. Broadcast marketers. 5. Broadcast microphones. 6. Broadcast consoles.

7. Broadcast Disc players and recorders. 8. Reel-to-reel machines.

9. Broadcast Digital Recorders. 10. Broadcast outside Broadcasting/van. 11. Broadcast Acoustics/sounds material. 12. Broadcast visuals/sound effects. 13. The Broadcast chain.

14. Broadcast Transmitter and Signals. 15. Digital Broadcasting.

16. Etc.

Even, the visualized future of diverse broadcast segmentations into purely News, sports, drama, feature, documentaries – only specialized broadcast stations must attract diverse reports, reporting techniques, styles and formats to meet the ever-rising tastes of listeners (radio), viewers (television) and audience of the social media. The reality of present reporting practice in Nigeria that needs some working on are many and diverse as most of the reports on our radio and television are replete with:

1. Abuse of English. 2. Grammatical flaws. 3. Provincial accents. 4. Lack of content.

5. Lack of chronological order.

6. Lack of introduction, body and conclusion. 7. Lack of obedience of the 5Ws and H of reporting. 8. Mispronunciation.

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36 10. Preponderance of transliterations into English that mars comprehension.

11. Etc.

The way out of all these can be gleened in: 1. Emulation of best practices in reporting.

2. Use of the best text or reference books or guides in reporting communication. 3. Following the rules of effective communication.

4. Reporting right. 5. Etc.

REFERENCES

1. Akpan, U. (2009). The Mass Media in Public Policy Formulation. Nigeria Journal of Communication Research 1(1) January December.

2. Elise K. Parsigian (1992) Mass Media Writing, Lawrence Erlbaum Associate Hill-Dale NJ. 3. Francis Nel () Writing for the Mass Media.

4. Ganiyu, M. (2004). The Reporter’s Companion: A complete guide to news reporting and writing. Ibadan: Emgee Books.

5. Iredia Tory (2016) Broadcast News Reporting, Syndon Press, Abuja.

6. Iwokwagh, N (2005) The Politics of Nigerias’ Fourth Republic & Government Own Broadcast Media:The Issue of News Manipulation, Aboks publisher.

7. James G. Storal (2014) Writing for the Mass Media, Associates Press Stylebook.

8. Kayode, Idebi (2008) Fundamental of Radio Production, Impact motion pictures and Media Concept Press, Ibadan.

9. Moemeka, A. (2000). A Reporters Handbook: An introduction to effective journalism USA: Moris publication.

10. Nwabueze, C. (2009). Reporting: Principles, approaches, special beats, Owerri: Top Shelves Publisher. 11. Shaibu S.A (2005) Total experience in Broadcasting. Awomo Publishers, Lagos.

12. Shaibu S.A (2005) Total Experience in Broadcasting, Awomo Publishers Lagos.

13. Tony Amadi, Alilade Atoyebi (2001) Radio Nigeria Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, Spectrum Books, Lagos.

14. Uwakwe, O. (2015). Journalism by the People of Nigeria: the new media responsibility. International Journal of Communication, Nsukka No 17, pp 52 – 59.

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