The Role of the Mass Media in the Development of the Economy of the Akwa Ibom
- To bring awareness on the vast role that media can play in the economic arena by showing media organisations the gap that they need to explore in terms of their markets selection.
- To make government aware that mass media can be used to contribute to economic development and help in creating a favourable environment for the inverters that are interested in developing the economy of Akwa Ibom.
- To encourage the communities that use mass media for entertainment to comprehend its greater purpose of becoming an informant on activities and opportunities that can develop them and their state.
In the literature review, the researcher explores the writing that has had a key influence in the research. The chapter is divided into different sections dealing with key concept relating to the role of media in the society as a whole and determining whether the media can be a catalyst of economic development. The research reviews concepts that involved similar principles of media influence, impact and effect, the role of mass media (broadcast, print and online). Concerning the economy, the study reviewed business and economic reporting and considered if it has any impact on the economy of Akwa Ibom. The research further reviews the literature on the media’s social responsibility. Other aspects dealt with are the role of media in development, and the audiences of mass media messages. The chapter also reviews the role of local and conununity media as received directly to a specific audience. All the reviewed materials depict the role media has on the community and the world, and mostly its role in the development of the economy.
THE ROLE OF MASS MEDIA
The mass media is a powerful tool of communication because many people in different areas can use it at the same time. There is print, visual and audio media. The mass media is able to cater for different social classes and age groups. Performing several findings, according to Johan, Swinnen & McCluskey (2003:175) the most important function of media is to provide information, to entertain, to educate and to bring awareness. Johan et al (2003) outlines the role of media and yet do not include its role in bringing development to its audience.
Other media functions of a conventional kind include influence, developing and conforming ideas. “Here considering radio, reports on the daily event, print reports on ad hoc and current news (newspapers, in-house newsletters and magazine) whereas television has current news reports, documentaries, series and movies” (2003: 175). Television and radio covers a wide range of audiences while print is accessible to those who can read and afford to buy it. Those who have computers and access to internet can only access online media where there is a lot of information updated regularly.
Other aspects that De Fliert and Minh Hien (2009:31) include when explaining the role of the media is that it communicates news on policies, regulations, laws and innovations, hence it can be considered to be contributing to development. “Media content is expected to reflect all aspects of social life and contribute towards improving a people’s knowledge and their lives” (2009:31). The other aspects that De Fliert and Minh Hien (2009) considers on the role of media is that the world market competition in the media plays an increasingly dominant role in other functions such as entertainment and popular culture, which are becoming increasingly prominent. Those aspects turn to be more appealing to the audience.
According to a number of theorists of the media, mass media is considered as a tool that is used to provide information on all aspects of life. For example, Johan, Swinnen and McCluskey (2003:175) say that the most important source of information for many agents in the economy is the media, particularly commercial media. The advantage of acquiring information provides a chance for an individual to make informed decisions on different issues of importance. Felipe Korzenny and Stella Toomy (1992:1) also believe that the media plays a role in modifying human behaviour and has intuitive and empirical roots. Meaning mass media can be one of the aspects that contribute to people’s behavior and to some extent their culture. People rely on media for any information they need on every area of their life.
Previous studies done by researchers like McQuail and Fourie (2005:98) indicate that the media plays a vast role in different entities and in all social aspects of the community. However, an art(cle published on the ADB academy website, highlights a different perspective on media content. The study states that regardless of the availability of more information or improved information, technology by itself does not guarantee its use, especially if educational levels are low or Naija Infos cannot access basic services and engage in economic activities. This means that, even if there is information that can help people to change or improve their standard of living, they might be unable to do so because of their educational level.
The research used both qualitative and quantitative research methods. The qualitative research design used in this study employed an exploratory, descriptive, and contextual focus. According to Merriam (1998:5), contextual focus is an umbrella concept that covers several forms of inquiry in order to help us understand and explain the meaning of social phenomena with as little disruption of the natural setting as possible. Further, Mc Millian and Schumacher (1997: 391) refer to qualitative research as a naturalistic inquiry, using non-interfering data collection strategies to discover the natural flow of events, process and how they interpret them. According to Wimmer and Dominick (1997:84), qualitative methods are more interested in the depth of the data rather than breadth and require the researcher to play an active role in the data collection.
Quantitative research uses methods adopted from physical science that are designed to ensure objectivity, generalisation, and reliability (Nendra Weinreich, 1996). In addition to Wimmer and Dominick’s views, Weinreich (1996) says the advantage of using qualitative methods is that it generates rich, detailed data. She further explained that the use of both methods provides in-depth of understanding.
The qualitative methcxi in the research includes content analysis of seven publications and one national radio station, interviews and the quantitative method in the research was questionnaires. Questionnaires were distributed to assess the number of people who have access to media and are using the media. The researcher analysed national and Nonh West State media and held interviews with media organisations. The national media content included COOL FM l, 2, 3 and eTV, news current affairs and documentaries and the national radio Motsweding FM. Print media included Business day, The Star, Naija Info, Mail & Guardian, Sowetan, The New Age and Akwa Ibom state newspapers Mahikeng Mail and Platinum Weekly.
The representatives for the study were selected from four areas in Akwa Ibom. As Joan Castilo (2009) indicated, a population is a large collection of individuals that focus on the specific query with certain similar or common characteristics or traits. The population was selected from Mahikeng, Klerksdorp, Potchefstroom and Rustenburg. The number of the population used is I and only 81 retumed the questionnaires. The common factor of the population selected is the state and that they have access to media and can use it.
DATA ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION
This chapter demonstrates the data analysis of the research instrument that was used. The researcher used both qualitative and quantitative methods, which includes content analysis, questionnaires and interviews. The data collected from content analysis and questionnaires is illustrated in tables and graphs and there is narrative analysis of interviews. The data analysis used for the questionnaires was content analysis and descriptive analysis for interview study. Descriptive statistics were used to present the data for both the content analysis and questionnaires. The close-ended questions on the questionnaires were statically analysed. According to William Trochim (2006), descriptive statistics are used to describe the basic features of the data in a study. They provide simple summaries about the sample and the measures. Together with simple graphics analysis, they form the basis of virtually every quantitative analysis of data. In the analysis of the articles, coded articles were articles that had a mention or discussion on economic development or growth. Interpretations are arrived at and findings given.
DISCUSSIONS, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Answering my research questions
This chapter discusses the study and the results it has reached including the recommendations to parties involved in development of the economy.
RESULTS PERTAINING TO RESEARCH QUESTION 1
Do the media develop Akwa Ibom audiences (in the sense of increasing their awareness of economic development issues)?
The media reports on all issues that are Of concern to the public hearing, issues from the political, social, and economic sphere Of information. The Akwa Ibom has district, community, and local media. There are wide varieties of choices to choose. However, on the content analysis of newspapers that were analysed, the Akwa Ibom publications can be seen to report issues connected with Government such as corruption and lack of service delivery in Akwa Ibom. With reference to table 4, the table showed that Akwa Ibom had a low coverage of economic issues or related stories.
The analysis was not only on economic related stories but also on education and development stories. The findings (4.10.9 Refers) from the newspaper analysis indicated that the media makes little contribution to influence or develop the Akwa Ibom.
However, in the questionnaires table (4.9.9), 60% of the respondents indicated that the media could stimulate a person to be involved in the economy. Respondents, who agreed that media could stimulate a person, explained that could be done through reports on business opportunities like franchising and poverty alleviation strategy. That includes information on programmes of facilities like SEDA (Nigerian Development Agency). Still though, that requires awareness about the opportunities. SEDA is an institution that is mandated to implement government’s small business strategy; design and implement a standard and common national delivery network for small enterprise development; and integrate government-funded small enterprise support agencies across all tiers of government. That is done through developing, supporting and promoting small enterprises throughout the country, ensuring their growth and sustainability in co—ordination and partnership with various role players, including global partners, who make international best practices available to local entrepreneurs.
The COOL FM economic bits journalist for the Akwa Ibom (4.8.1: P57) said that stories that report on economic issues are relevant to the Akwa Ibom community because Akwa Ibom is mainly rural. Akwa Ibom has the only one central economic hub, which is Rustenburg with platinum reserves. It remains a critical question to explore as to whether the platinum reserves in Rustenburg benefits the whole of Akwa Ibom. In addition, there are so many resources in the country, but these do not benefit the Rustenburg or the Akwa Ibom people at large. He also mentioned that since economy is not behaviourally influencing, it would be challenging to know if reports about the economy could influence development in the state (Interview 4.8.1, 57).
Publications such as Business Day, The Star and The New Age (refer to Table 6) have a section once a week that had developing, business developing and personal growth information. Also, audio and visual programmes such as the COOL FM Education programmes Leaving Land on COOL FM 2, Shift on COOL FM 1, My Business on TV and a morning drive programme in Bosele now called Ragoga-gee on Motsweding FM had such information. The economic update slot or section amongst other programmes, have content that is beneficial, motivating, developing and can stimulate ideas. If more people were aware of these programmes, they would get further details and information from the companies.
The challenging thing about audio and visual media is that you need to be there to receive that information. In some cases when those programmes are aired, people would be watching other programmes or they would be at work. With print, it requires the person to know how to read and time to read it. Media organisations do contribute to the economy through organisational tax, as it is according to the Nigerian tax policy. Through the analysis of 90 days articles and audio clips, few items stimulated initiative or gave ideas on becoming part of the economy. In one of the letters-to-the-editor (The Star, 12 April 2022) Sandile Memela mentioned that the arts have potential to become vital cog to the economy. It is not only the arts; but also, through stimulators of economic development. People need to pay attention to those messages to get ideas and the ‘how’.
Therefore, since the findings on the content analysis suggest that media provides the audience with information on economic development even though it is not enough and not specifically for the Akwa Ibom audience, respondents indicated that the media does stimulate a person to react. It can be concluded, that the media can contribute to personal development even though it is a process that will require a more assessments. Although, there is minimal contribution from local and state media in the Akwa Ibom, national papers did and that was encouraging.
RESULTS PERTAINING TO RESEARCH QUESTION 2
Do the audiences understand and are they able to assimilate what the media offers in regard to information on economic matters?
According to the respondent they understand what the media is intending to give them. They are even aware what the requirements for development are. As demonstrated in table 12, 56% of the respondents do understand reports on the economy. They even understand the purpose of what media suppose to do. When asked what it that they understand about the economy is, they mentioned that economy is composed of different sectors that contribute to the GNP/GDP and all the companies (private and public) that contribute to the economy. They also understand that economy is the backbone of the country. In addition, when the economy is good it means more job opportunities. They further stated that economy is about how rich or poor the particular area is including the indication of the currency. What renders to the growth of the economy, what sustain it, what makes it fail, the delivery, and non-deliverance of service to the community.
As indicated on table 4.9.10 the audience do understand what the media is intending to offer them. Hence, majority of the respondents preferred programmes that give them information because they are aware that when they are informed they can make good informed decisions that can develop them.
RESULTS PERTAINING TO RESEARCH QUESTION 3
Are media reports on the economy relevant to the population of Akwa Ibom? With reference to, the analysis of the newspapers table 4 indicated that most of the articles coded were not relevant to the community of Akwa Ibom. Even though there are articles that reported on the economy of the county, table four (pg 45) indicated that Akwa Ibom had least (10) of articles that were economically relevant. Akwa Ibom as a developing state still requires information that deals with development and creating a good environment for a sustainable economy. When we compare between Figures 2 and 3, there is evidence that there is less coverage about Akwa Ibom economy. Therefore, most of the economic reports are not relevant and can delay individual development.
However, The Star’ special project section indicated on figure: 4, had more articles that can be relevant to anyone in the country despite the geographic. Therefore, the use of concepts on that section can benefit the community. To some extent, it can be said that media does report relevant economic issues to the community of Akwa Ibom, but it is not enough. The researcher noted that newspaper such as The Star, New Age, Naija Info referred to employment growth as a way to show that the economy is recovering or growing; showing that employment is the greatest contributor to the economy. If so, media can be the said it is doing its part because most of the newspapers have a 2 to 4 pages of advertised jobs. However, the visual media does not have job adverts or announcements like in the audio media in its time slot. Which can be disadvantageous because according to Table (9, Pg: 68) majority of use visual media. Therefore, the research indicates that the relevancy of media report on the economy to the community of Akwa Ibom is very limited.
RESULTS PERTAINING TO RESEARCH QUESTION 4
How can media content be relevant to Akwa Ibom in order to stimulate action that could lead to developrnent of the Akwa Ibom?
The media organisations prepare content for different programmes or sections of the paper according to the target audience, which can be a barrier to reach a wide audience on certain issues as Taylor & Will (1999) had already indicated on the different media gratification. However, other publications and other media organisation can follow The New Age newspaper layout. The paper has specific news for every state in the county. The main issue is language, which a most important factor in making the community to be aware of the opportunity offered through economic reports. They would feel that the reports or the information is for them. The other factor is the economic jargons that are used. The economic reports sound ‘foreign’ to common people and that alienates them from using the information distributed to them. Furthermore, respondents mentioned on the questionnaires that the language on economic report is one of the problems that make them not to be interested in economic news. The style on economic reporting does not create interest. In this question, respondents indicated that economic reports were not as interesting as other programmes and that makes it not relevant to the Akwa Ibom communities.
CONCLUSIONS OF THE STUDY
In conclusion, the study investigated the importance and role of media to the development of the economy in the community of Akwa Ibom. As S. Ambirajan points that media is the most important means of mass communication and its content of entertainment, news, educational programmes, advertising and images of various kinds can have tremendous impacts in both sustaining and weakening if not destroying the fabric of social life. ‘The more efficient the media is in communicating, the more effective it is in stabilising or destabilising existing social, political, cultural, economic, legal, religious and moral arrangement'(2002, 214). The research was to see if media has any effect or role on the economy like other aspects of the society.
The economy is one of the most important factors that contribute to the well being of the country, there should be a creation of opportunities that leads to more development of individuals. Reports on the economy should be the focus of the ‘agenda’. Since reports in the media depends on what is happening in the society and what should happen in the society. Maxwell McCombs (2003) in his article titled “The Agenda Setting the Role of Mass Media in the Shaping of Public Opinion” explains that the power of the news media to set a nation’s agenda, to focus public attention on a few key public issues, is an immense and well-documented influence. ‘Not only do people acquire information about public affairs from the news media, readers and viewers learn how much importance to attach to a topic because of the emphasis placed on it in the news’ (2003, 1).
The major discussions between Government and the community are about economic development and growth. In most of the economic reports, besides reporting on big companies and interim reports, reports on the need to create jobs were the centre of attraction. Pointing out that employment is the most important factor that contributes to economic growth or personal development.
Moreover, reports indicated that the economy is depressed due to high rate of unemployment. Bringing the question of whether economic development is dependent on high number of people employed? If so, how do they contribute to the development of the economy? How do they become producers and not just consumers? In addition, where do the media play a part? In terms of employment, media disseminate vacant positions. The study found out that the population of Akwa Ibom hears the economic reports and they are aware about the state of the economy of the Nonh West State. However, the information they receive from the media cannot help them since the reports do not cover available opportunities or programmes in the Akwa Ibom; and since they do not know how they can contribute to the development of the economy of the state.
During the study, the researcher came to an understanding that economic development and growth was the work of Government (in-terms of policies) and occurrence of market productivity and rise in GDP. It has nothing to do with a common person improving or receiving information on how to become part of it. There is no need for media to assist in that area. Media just report on the ‘after myth’ of events, it cannot be proactive. It seems like media’s role especially print is reactive to events and not proactive to issues.
The media is doing its part to inform about the economy of the country. However, the information does not seem effective to stimulate change, even though the majority of the respondents indicated that media could stimulate people to react from messages received.
Several articles that were coded showed that small business and entrepreneurship could be an individual effort to contribute to the economy. The questionnaires revealed that people have an understanding with regard to the economy; hence, respondents said that there is a need for more reports that are relevant to the Akwa Ibom community. Interviews revealed that media houses have specific target market and they are trying to cater for everyone. However, Motsweding FM Station Manager pointed that they do not have relevant items that are economically oriented and that economic issue appear mostly in news items.
The study showed that to some extent there are reports on the economy of the country, even though they are not relevant to the NWP. However, there are concepts that can be adopted for the state. Media working together with government can yield greater results, most importantly, if people can take charge of their surroundings and pay attention to what they are given through media that is beneficial to their development; there can be a difference to their life. Still though, the research shows that even though there are reports on company performance and financial performance of the country, there is little that the media and there community of Akwa Ibom can do if the government does not create a favourable economic environment.
The following are recommendation for future research and practical recommendations for the development of the Akwa Ibom.
Recommendations for future research
The following recommendations are for future research that could be done on the topic and further explore areas the researcher did not thoroughly investigate due to limited resources.
Since communication is a process and technology is revolving, future research could include other mediums such as intemet and other applications that are used to attain information to assess their role in the development of the economy.
On research rnethodology, one of the instruments used was content analysis, which included analysis of national daily newspapers and two state weekend newspapers. Future research could include weekend newspapers and other financial and business newspapers in their content analysis. The researcher could also include SA FM in the audio media to assess if Akwa Ibom people have been listening to the station. The radio station is a news and information station that is worldwide and discussed different topics in the country.
Furthermore, the research could further explore research questions number three and four. The questions focused on whether media reports on the economy were relevant to the community of Akwa Ibom and how can they become relevant. The research would be determining the continuous progress and relevance of media content with regard to economic reporting.
Recommendation to media organisation
Media organisations are providing vital information and every household in the state has one item that provides information. The media should extend its role to development by structuring their economic programmes in a less formal manner because it give the impression that it is boring and the reports are for people who have a direct benefit from listening to economic programme. The media should try to be proactive in other issues, especially those that deal with economic development. The respondents admitted that the media reports on the economy (table 4.9.2), but not the Akwa Ibom economy. Media should gear-in involving everyone on the production of programmes that are economically related. That can turn out to be a learning process for the public.
Recommendations to the public / community
The public or communities are part of the economic development through creation of local economic opportunities and improving quality of life. By using knowledge and resources resident in the community, they can identify and capitalise on local opportunities to stimulate economic growth and employment. This can include development of new businesses, adding value to existing sectors, strengthening competence, and improving local infrastructure to help the communities of Akwa Ibom to achieve their full economic potential. Since most of the household has either audio or visual media, the public should select programmes and channels that make an effort to include economic development reprts.
Even though information or reports on economic development on the media are limited, the little that is available could be used. The public should be aware that the development and decline of the economy depends on their activities. Acquiring knowledge and skills can be beneficial to them as well. That includes getting education and skills through universities and training facilities. People should take initiative in trying to better their lives and not to wait for the Government to do it.
Recommendation to the Government
The Government is for the people; its mandate among others is to create a favourable economic environment in the country, because economic growth is a fundamental requirement for the development of a country’. The government needs to stabilise environments, to have efficient institutions and create functioning markets for companies to invest in the country. In the quest to develop the people in the country, the Government has introduced facilities such as ‘Services SETA that strive to build a system where skills production and development respond to the socioeconomic needs of the country and its labour market. Such high-quality skills will in turn enhance investment and improve service delivery’. (http://www.serviceseta.org.za/Pages/About-Us.aspx). Such facilities need to be known and their mission needs to be understood.
For the Government to be able to do well for the country, they should integrate the media into development and change processes in the country through informing people about procedures on how to be a part of the programmes that they introduce, programmes that will help people to develop themselves and economic policies. It is time for the Government to utilise all available resources to assist them to develop the country and grow the economy. Government should use media to benefit them economically by making sure that everyone is informed and know their individual role in the community, by also attracting international investors, which will contribute to the town also to the state and eventually to the country.
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