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Media framing and national development

Media framing and national development

Media scholars and practitioners may find the Daily Trust newspaper report of February 6, 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-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 are 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 other 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 them more noticeable, with the intention of influencing or mobilising the readers and garnering 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 policymakers, 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, and Cameroon,” the report said.

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 the 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.

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 an 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.

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Alhaji Mohammed, who is the District Head of Ringim, Jigawa State, said that the major problem of both FRCN Kaduna and FRCN nationally is a 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. “The federal government owes it a duty to 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 is also a partner in the development of broadcasting in Nigeria, in partnership with the National Assembly and the states.”.

“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, 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 styles. 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. [email protected] https://www.facebook.com/DrUcheNworah