University don tasks media on coverage of rural areas
Mr Monday Goshit, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication, University of Jos, has charged the Nigerian media to ensure effective coverage of rural communities.
Goshit gave the task in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Jos on Wednesday.
“The living conditions in the rural areas are very appalling. The people do not have even the most basic of human needs, but these hardships are not reported because the media hardly reflect these horrible situations,” he said.
He regretted that the rural areas only get a mention when a big shot is visiting them or during emergencies like epidemic or violence.
While noting that the current government is working to change Nigerians’ negative attitudes that had stalled the nation’s growth over the years, he expressed fear that the initiatives may not succeed “unless the rural dwellers are carried along and made to participate”.
“World Bank reports have always indicated that more than 70 per cent of the population live in the rural areas.
“The reports have also confirmed that most of those people live in poverty-stricken conditions.
“We cannot move forward and succeed as a nation if that huge segment of the population is left behind because, ultimately, the success or otherwise of the drive to reduce poverty will be determined by the impact on such rural poor,” he said.
Goshit lauded the Federal Government’s moves to diversify the economy and minimise over-dependence on the oil sector, but wondered how that dream could come to fruition if the rural farmer was not encouraged to produce enough to sustain his family and also export.
“Aside agriculture, the solid minerals sector is also being considered as an alternative foreign exchange earner, but if we do not report developments in the rural areas where most of the mining activities take place, success will be difficult because policy makers will not be properly guided,” he said.
The university don noted that the media was concentrating “too much” on politics and the lives of the elites.
“Politics seem to do dominate most discourse on radio and in the newspapers.
“Journalists chase sensational stories that concern a very few number of persons, while leaving out major issues that affect the lives of people,” he said.
Goshit recalled that most rural communities in Plateau had come down with cholera and other waterborne diseases like gastroenteritis owing to lack of good water and basic sanitation in the villages.
“Unfortunately, we hardly hear of these deprivations. We only hear of the consequences when they reach frightening dimensions and become epidemics,” he said.
The lecturer called for more human interest stories that would reflect other areas of life outside politics, and stressed the need for journalists to report issues like the effects of the lack of roads and bridges, as well as the need for strong markets where farmers could sell their produce.
“There are also farming, hunting and fishing festivals and competitions in some rural communities which should be highlighted to encourage the rural dwellers to have a sense of belonging,” he said.
Goshit said that the nation risk total apathy from the rural dwellers, who had continued to feel that they were only remembered for electoral purposes and quickly forgotten after elections are won.
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