Media Framing And National Development

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By Uche Nworah, Ph.D

Media scholars and practitioners may find the Daily Trust newspaper report of Tuesday, 6th February, 2024 (Page 3) useful and troubling at the same time.
The report highlights the challenges that public broadcasting stations face using Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) Kaduna as a case study. Some of the challenges noted could also apply to other public broadcasting stations
in Nigeria, whether state or federal government owned. The challenges could even be extended to privately owned broadcasting stations as all operate within an increasingly harsh economic and competitive environment.
Other points to note in the report is how the reporter and newspaper have interpreted the concepts of national development. They have done this from the prism of regional interest adopting framing theory.
Framing theory is how the media use news and other reports to convince their target audience of the value or importance of any given position they have taken on an issue.
It could also be the position of their funders, owners and critical stakeholders.
Framing includes the prominence, coverage or position given to such reports in a newspaper (front page, middle page, back page, length of report, frequency etc). It may also include where the reports are placed in a broadcast news report – at the beginning, middle or towards the end of the news bulletin, and the time belts such news reports are scheduled in the course of the broadcast day.
Framed news and reports select aspects of a perceived reality and make it more noticeable, with the intention to influence or mobilize the readers and garner support.
Many media houses adopt the fear factor and other emotional devices and methods in news report framing.
In the Daily Trust News report mentioned, the newspaper adopted emotional blackmail in trying to convince its readers which include senior government officials and policy makers of the importance of reviving the ailing FRCN station in Kaduna.
There is a reference to the station’s founders and the role the station played during the Nigeria/Biafra war; “Founded in 1962 by Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto, the
first Premier of the Northern Region, the radio station played a role that led to the success of Nigeria’s civil war of 1967 and has a large listenership across the Hausa￾speaking states and sub-Saharan region in countries like Niger, Chad, Mali, Cameroon”, the report said.

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Mentioning of the name of the Sardauna of Sokoto, a revered political leader in parts of Northern Nigeria, and reference to Nigeria’s civil war, an emotive issue still, were done on purpose to appeal to the emotions and sentiments of Northern elites, who are predominantly readers of the newspaper.

For a country that is still suffering from the aftermath of the atrocities committed during the Nigeria/Biafra war, many may consider the approach and framing style adopted by Daily Trust to push its argument for the federal government to revive FRCN Kaduna in poor taste and poor judgement on the parts of the writer and the newspaper’s editors.

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The report concludes with what one may consider a subtle threat; It quotes a former Director General of FRCN and a one-time Director General of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Alhaji Mohammed Ibrahim, as saying that; “The federal

government and northern leaders will regret it if FRCN Kaduna collapses”.

Continuing, Alhaji Ibrahim was quoted as saying that there is the urgent need for the authorities concerned to find a solution to the bad condition of the radio station that

once served as the darling of the northern region and sub-Saharan Africa. Alhaji Mohammed who is the District Head of Ringim, Jigawa State, said that the major problem of both FRCN Kaduna and FRCN nationally is lack of modern equipment, adding that they need massive re-equipment to claim their former lost glory and to return to the airwaves loud and clear to serve the public for which they

were known for. “The federal government owes it a duty make sure that the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria is sustained to carry out the public service responsibility of educating, informing and enlightening the public and also a partner in the development of broadcasting in Nigeria, in partnership with the National Assembly, in partnership with the states”.

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“I am amazed that some of the governors of the northern states have not responded positively to the problems of FRCN Kaduna at a time when the station is on the verge of collapse. Although some have, but at this time they owe it a duty to come out with one voice to tell the federal government that whatever they have to do, they have to do

it to make sure that FRCN Kaduna and indeed the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria are not left or abandoned to collapse,” Alhaji Mohammed concluded.

At this critical time in our national life in Nigeria, one would have expected that the newspaper editor and the reporter would be a bit more sensitive in their framing style.

National development powered by Development journalism can only thrive in an environment where the media do not promote only sectional parochial interests.

Nworah, a media scholar, teaches at the School of Postgraduate studies, Mass Communications department, Paul University, Awka, Anambra state.

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