AN ANALYSIS OF SPORTS REPORTING IN SELECTED NIGERIAN NEWSPAPERS
The first printing press invented in 1448 by Johannes Gutenberg made skillful use of the knowledge of writing and the invention of alphabet. Handwritten manuscripts continued to be produced and the different graphic modes of communication continued to influence each other. Gutenberg made use of metals he had learned as a craftsman, he was the first to make type from an alloy of lead, tin and antimony, which was critical for producing durable type that produced high quality blocks and proved to be more suitable for printing than the clay, wooden or bronze types used in East Asia.
Printing was also seen as a factor in the establishment of a community. Scientist could easily communicate their discoveries through the establishment of widely disseminated scholarly journals, helping to bring on the scientific revolution. Authorship became more meaningful and profitable and this allowed the exact citing of references of “an author, the work (title), a piece of information” (Giesecke, 1989:325). With this invention of printing press also came the birth of print Journalism. It was suddenly important to know who was said or written what and what the precise formulation and time of composition was.
What can be regarded as newspaper was first seen in seaports, the early communication centers, where news was available from ship stage and post from sailors and people coming to markets. Mboho (1988) believes that:
“As trading centers the ports were most likely to provide sources of advertisement….there the publisher might augment his income by doing public printing or find financial support by aligning with one of the political factors”.
On the contrary, the first officially recognized newspaper in Nigeria “Iwe Irohin Fun Awon Ara Egba Ati Yoruba” was first published in Yoruba language was towards human interest and morality without much interest in profit making. Since 1859 when Rev. Henry Townsend published Iwe Irohin, the Nigerian newspaper industry has grown from the colonial era to the period the newspaper as a medium of mass communication has somehow came of age. Today, more and more people are becoming enlightened. Hence, the need to know what is happening around their environment increases because man cannot exist in a vacuum. We need information to survive. The process of reading is gradually changing from oral reading to silent, private reading.
Akpan (1987:16) agrees and elaborate thus:
“Information, the raw materials for communication, gives us energy just as water and food gives us energy, information does the same too, information is an essential living ingredient”
Today, the newspaper is seen as a commercial venture where profit making is necessary. The free market system creates competition among newspapers. Each newspaper strives so hard to maximize its circulation by injecting matters that can boost readership of its newspaper. On the part of the reader, selectively has came into play. Newspaper management can also attract the readers by the beautifully designed layout, good type faces and good reporting. Most newspapers dedicate certain pages to particular subject. Hence there is editorial, features, religion, cartons, personality profiles, news stories, sports etc. Any reader with a particular interest turns immediately to the page for the subject without rambbling over the entire copy. In Nigeria, the Guardian, Vanguard, Thisday, Punch, Daily Independent, Daily Sun etc are some of the national newspaper in circulation. Newspaper columns have aided easy reading of newspapers.
Today, the sports columns have so much attract lot of readers due to the rise in sports fellowership in Nigeria.
The more Nigerians are sports loving people. The more it creates room for sports reporters to write on current sports activities. This is because sports activities happening around our environment are more likely to interest people either local, or international. In this way, newspapers draw a large readership from people of different ages, educational and social backgrounds. The general acceptance of the importance of sports has made it to become a vehicle for promoting national unity and projecting the country as image.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
One major area of interest in newspaper coverage in sports. There are several sporting activities like swimming, table tennis, football, boxing, lawn tennis, wrestling, racing etc. and the reporters are expected to cover them fairly and adequately. But readers tend to believe that there is mere emphasis of football in our dailies over the other sports. The readers also believe that women’s competition in sports has been frowned upon. There is gender discrimination and no equal opportunity for women to participate in sports at all levels. Women are also seen as weaker sex in terms of sports activities.
The reporters can gather and disseminate information to their consumers with the least bias towards any sports activities. Newspaper work is departmentalized into desks and each is expected to take care of its area of interest in serving the general public good, in terms of fortunes for the organization and satisfaction to its consumers.
This bothered the researcher to question; whether football was actually given more coverage in our dailies when compared to all other sporting activities. Whether women’s competition in sports was portrayed at all levels? To what extent do they give an update for local and International sports?
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
This study had as its objectives to find out.
To determine the frequency of coverage given to local and international sports by the newspaper under this study. To determine the prominence given to football coverage in relation to other sports. To determine the gender bias in the coverage of sports in Nigerian Newspapers. RESEARCH QUESTION What is the frequency of coverage given to local and international sports by the newspapers? What prominence is given to football coverage in relation to other sports? Do Nigerian newspapers have gender bias in their sports coverage?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
As the topic suggests, this work is to determine the analysis of sports reporting in select Nigerian newspapers. A work of this nature is important to journalists, researchers, sports administrators, sports fans and the government. Since government and sponsors invest heavily on sports men and women with much encouragement.
The public expects the media; newspapers inclusive to help in bringing their preferences to public attention now that there is an increased interest in sports. Therefore to attract the over increasing sports followers their quest for good sports coverage must be met. The sports column should be rich and juicy.
The period January – April 2007 was chosen for the study because no major sports competition or event in the mould of world cup of any single sports took place at that time. However, the events which took place were the various sports leagues, friendly competitions as well as other issues proceeding future competitions. It was the belief of the researcher that choosing a period whose some sports had major competitions going on would have tended to unduly crave more attention from reporters.
1.6 DELIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Virtually all newspapers in Nigeria report sports. However, this study restricts itself to only two (2) newspapers; the Daily Independent and Vanguard.
This study cover four (4) months from January 2007 to April 2007.
1.7 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The main problem encountered by the researcher during the course of this study was time. It took the researcher several days to secure relevant and ready materials for the research.
Lack of necessary funds needed hampered more during the research process. Lack of understanding of sources of the importance of the research was also a problem, their response towards assisting the researcher sort for materials was not encouraging. Therefore, all the problems enumerated above did not invalidate the work of the researcher.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
The following terms are defined according to their usage in the study.
International – connected with or involving two or more countries.
Local – belonging to or connected with a particular place or area.
Gender – the fact of being male or female
Reporting – presenting and writing objective news for television, radio or newspapers.