The media is often referred to as the fourth Estate because of its watchdog role in the society. Performing this role means the media must demand and ensure accountability from the various arms of government and those in leadership positions. This is why many have argued that to check the growing trend of poverty devastating
The media is often referred to as the fourth Estate because of its watchdog role in the society. Performing this role means the media must demand and ensure accountability from the various arms of government and those in leadership positions. This is why many have argued that to check the growing trend of poverty devastating many developing countries would require a proactive and committed effort of the media.
Understanding this, and wanting the media to be that change agent in eradicating poverty, the International Press Centre, (IPC) Lagos, last week, organised a workshop to draw the attention of the media to the critical role they have to play in checking poverty. But the forum also sought to equip participants with techniques needed for reporting and setting agenda that would help curb the growing trend of poverty in the society.
Speaking at the workshop on the Techniques for Effectively Reporting Poverty, Dr. Abigail Ogwezzy-Ndisika, Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, who noted that it is indisputable that the media is crucial to social development, maintained that the information provided by the media help people form opinions about issues such as poverty besides providing basis for policy formulation, decision-making and social action.
This, to her, is why effective media coverage of poverty issues can raise the level and quality of public debate on poverty reduction, with implications for positive change in public policy for synergic outcomes.
Alluding to a research conducted by the IPC on reporting of poverty, Ogwezzy-Ndisika stated that the report from the research revealed that the reportage of poverty issues was generally low on local rural issues/areas, though there was more reportage on local areas of urban settlements.
According to her, “Out of a total of 627 reports across the newspapers, reports with scope on local rural were 143 representing 23 per cent of all reports on poverty issues/subject. Reports with scope on urban rural was 315 representing 50.2 per cent of all reports on poverty issues/subject. Reports that centered on local peri-urban and national scope mainly accounted for the remaining 26.8 per cent.”
She observed that because most of the reports on poverty are event oriented they often led to sensationalism and trivialization of poverty in the news media, as headlines are written to catch attention, stories disconnected from their complex social history and environment. “In fact, yesterday appears unconnected to today, hence people are unable to see trends,” she noted.
The university don listed factors affecting effective reporting of poverty issues to include: poor library/poor access to credible data; one journalist covering various issues; poor funding for research; commercialization of news/political economy of the media -survival of the media; editor’s news judgment/political interest of media managers; framing of poverty; sourcing/publishing news could sometimes be stressful and unattractive because the economy of the press in Nigeria and lack of motivation because of irregular salary.
After providing insight on techniques for gathering information, she commented on writing the story stating that the aim of stories on poverty should be to increase public understanding of the issue through informing and educating the people.
“So, avoid the use of technical words – if used give their meaning without necessarily interfering with the smooth flow of the message i.e. the journalist must simplify complex information. Achieving this requires explaining technical words or concepts is by relating them to concrete things and everyday experiences of the reader; using description to help readers understand technical issues; Also, literary devices, analogy, scene setting, anecdotes, metaphors and similes are useful in relating abstract technical issues to the experiences of the audience.
“Another way is to humanize the story; journalists should write with a human face. Poverty issues are about human beings! So, reporting such issues should therefore highlight the relevance, importance and impact on the people.”
Curled from The Guardian News Website