- Background of the Study
With advent of information and communication technology (ICT), the world has moved into a ‘’Global village’’. This has also brought about inevitable changes in the field of education and the struggle for rural development. Mass media (electronic) media and information technology are interwoven carrying out the same role or function in order to ensure effective development of society through public enlightenment. This involves essentially the storage and communication of information. Therefore, it is their ability to serve as a tool to circulate information and to induce a qualitative change in the life of man. According to Rao (2001), electronic media is significant due to its enormous potentials and power in reducing the percentage of illiteracy.
According to Daramola (2003) there is a great level of interaction between the media and rural development and the economy as well as its role in the democratization of information, which leads invariably to the enlightenment of the audience with a view to enhancing its participation in the art of governance.
The mass media is very important in the development of rural areas with the clear fact that most Nigerian rural development are inhibited with mass population of illiterate people who may not understand the programmes and policies of the government with direct or indirect assistance of the mass media especially the electronic media.
The media serve as a major source of information and enlightenment for their audience while the electronic media have the added advantage of immediacy, the press has the advantage in the in- depth analysis of news events, creating for the audience a thorough understanding of the news, and thus widening the horizon of the audience, ( Daramola,2003).
In the view of the forgoing, telecommunication and computers also play a vital role in these activities. Information dissipates faster through telecommunication channels and bridges vast distance in a large nation such as Nigeria. Computers provide a means of processing information faster and efficiently. The computer coupled with other technologies such as the internet and its numerous packages, create a virtual classroom for education and development campaigns in rural areas. However, the transistor radio and cable network have diffused more effectively and widely in Nigerian villages than other forms particularly the radio.
Examining through the gains which rural communities particularly in the under developed countries of the world have derived through electronic media, world development report (1999) succinctly puts it as ‘’ Electronic media or its equivalent facilities and aids the acquisition and absorption knowledge, offering developing countries unprecedented opportunities to enhance educational systems, improve policy formation and execution, and widen the range of opportunities for business and the poor and many others who live in the poorest countries, is their sense of isolation”. The new communication technologies promise to reduce the sense of isolation and open access to knowledge not long ago. From these points we can deduce that electronic media as a catalyst or tool for rural development is evidenced here. Based on this, the researcher wishes to investigate how mass media (electrical media) can act as a catalyst for rural development using selected rural communities in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State as cases study.
The population of each rural community is about 4, 000, the adult among them are mostly subsistence farmers and petty traders. They do not have an organized market so they always carry their products to the neighbourmg villages where the markets functions once in every four days.
They do not have factories or any other establishment that can get people employed, and for this reason, most of the youths migrate to the cities in search of a better life and greener pastures.
This situation leaves the communities void of the youths who are supposed to build them for greater tomorrow.
What really prompted the researcher to embark on this study is that, since the inception of most of these communities till today, things have remained the same. Everything has been static in terms of development. Even the activities of oil and gas operations that could have brought in some sorts of development had to even worsen the situation. And what does development means? According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, “a developed country or area is a place that has a highly organized economy and political system”.
On the other hand, a developed area is an area or a place where the majority of its populace is enlightened and there is good infrastructural facility such as good roads, portable water, electricity, good health care, nice residential houses as well as factories that can offer employment to people and where the people can fend for themselves.
“Information is raw material for development for both the urban and the rural dwellers”. This was said by Yahya Ibrahim Harande, (2008). Thinking about this statement, the researcher wonders why these Communities are not developing even with the huge number of electronic media stations and other media houses we have in Nigeria today, especially in Rivers State, and these radio and television stations give out information on daily bases.
Brooding over this situation, she noticed that most of the radio and television stations and other media houses in Nigeria do not plan their programmes in favour of the rural communities. They focus more on the urban areas. Could it be that these media establishments or owners and their workers do not know that without the development of our rural communities that Nigeria will never become fully developed? Yahya also noted that “The development of countries globally cannot be achieved without the development of the rural communities”.
For this reason, this study solicits with the media mostly the broadcast media because of their far reaching capacity to put more effort in their pursuit to bring development to our communities.
- Statement of the Problem
The broadcast media of radio and television have the capacity to promote rural development, but it seems they have failed to achieve this objective in most rural areas. To unravel why they have failed is a major focus in this study. In a similar manner, corruption has bedeviled media success in rural development and investigating how electronic media have been a working tool in this direction and in the dissemination of government programmes and policies in the rural areas are of interest to this study. Also, illiteracy has hindered socio- economic growth and rural development in Nigeria and what is the electronic media doing to promote literacy, to ensure that culture will not act as a barrier to effective media operations in the rural areas. These are the problems of this study.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The following are the purposes of this study that the researcher wishes to achieve:
- To investigate whether high level of corruption would hinder media operations and rural development.
- To identify the factors that can inhibit the success of media activities in the rural areas.
- To examine whether culture is a strong barrier to media operations in the rural areas.
1.4 Research Questions
Research questions acts as a direction to the researcher through which he or she follows to accomplish the research purpose. Based on this, the following are the research questions posed by this study:
- Would high level of corruption hinder media operation and rural development?
- What are the factors that can inhibit the success of broadcast media activities in the rural areas?
- Is culture a strong barrier to media operation in the rural areas?
- Significance of the Study
This study would be of great importance to those in the rural areas especially in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State through adequate information contained in it that will redirect their consciousness in embracing electronic media activities. Also the practitioners and students of mass communication would see this material very resourceful as it would guide them in strengthening the activities of information dissemination and rich source of literature for further project exercise. This study would be a direction to the authority on how to promote media activities in the rural areas.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study would cover some selected rural communities in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State.
In carrying out this project the project student experienced some constraints, the first among them is inadequate materials that will support the researcher to accomplish a comprehensive research job. In addition, most rural community dwellers are illiterates who do not know how to read and write and would not respond adequately to the questions that would be put forward to them. Hence they will greatly affect the pace of this study.
Time and financial constraints are also a great avoidance that would affect the pace of this study. The researcher wishes to state clearly that she would combine her academic engagements with the research study and this would be too cumbersome. In addition, finance is another problem the researcher would face as project exercise involves financial commitment during the process of souring for the materials and data collection.
1.7 Definition of Terms
- Electronic media: This is the use of electronic equipment in the dissemination of information.
- Development: This is the process by which a country or society living standard increases.
- Global Village: This refer to as the embracing of all group of persons living on the earth surface as one irrespective of culture, religious, social, or political status.