This research was carried out by the ‘above-mentioned’ communication scholars, using content analysis, and was centered on the unending/ever-present imbalance in communication flow between the ‘first world’ (developed countries) and the ‘third world’ (developing countries).

The primary objectives of this research were: to find evidence of whether the structure of news flow has changed since the 1980s, or whether the same problems persist; to use the comparison of news coverage of the American presidential elections and the Ghanaian presidential elections, both at about the same period in 2008, as a practical test case of news flows; to test the strength of Galtung’s theory of “Structural Imperialism” as an explanation of the current process of news flows; and to renew research and theoretical discussion of issues in the New World information and communication order ,also to seek solutions for these persisting problems.

As regards this topic, some findings have been confirmed, which are that: international news is ‘western-dominated’ since the news sources of developing countries are western news agencies and wire services (cables); news coverage of the south focus on negative reports- catastrophes, illiteracy, corruption, violence, among others- ignoring their significant progress since independence. Examples of such programs that promote this perspective are- “Inside Africa” on CNN and “The African Journal” of Reuters which portray the south especially Africa as “retarded” and her people, “vicious”. Pascal Eze, a Nigerian Journalist, calls this the “PIDIC perspective”-Poverty, Instability, Disease, Illiteracy and Corruption; also, international news covers elites superficially rather than efforts of ordinary citizens; and international news coverage is centered on events rather than on factors leading to and causing events.

Based on these confirmed findings and in relation to Nigerian newspapers, there is the continued dominance of international news agencies, due to the imbalance in information flow. Some measures were taken to avert it (the imbalance) which was – a series of debates, resolutions, meetings and manifestos calling for a new international information and communication order which, in summary, is “a free and equitable balance in the flow and content of information, a right to national self-determination of domestic communication policies and, at the international level, a two-way information flow reflecting more accurately, the aspirations and activities of less developed countries”. For this purpose, committees were set-up, such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s 16-man committee. Also, efforts were made to allow journalists, especially editors of developing countries, some degree of control over editorial contents. But even with all these attempts, the balance in international news flow is yet to be restored.

Then, there was the advent of new technologies which brought about significant changes in the character of global news flows, especially with the coming of global satellite television networks and multimedia systems. But despite its advent, the structure of global news flows is still very much flawed, as the advent only improved the quality and quantity of the news, leaving the imbalance unimproved.

And so, for the furtherance of the research, the scholars moved on to study three Nigerian newspapers based on their prominence in the country- the Punch, the Guardian and the Nation-to know how much international news agencies dominate Nigerian Newspapers which is one of the primary objectives of this research. This was done by comparing the news coverage of the 2008 presidential elections in America and Ghana by the aforementioned Nigerian newspapers.

According to their findings – 1100 news items were carried on both elections; 1015 representing 92.27 per cent of these were on the US presidential elections; only 85 representing 7.72 per cent were on the Ghana presidential elections. The three newspapers gave more coverage to the US elections in this respect – ‘the Guardian’ gave 90.99 per cent coverage to the US elections as against 9.01 per cent to the Ghana elections; ‘the Punch’ gave 94.52 per cent as against 5.48 percent to Ghana presidential elections; and ‘the Nation’ gave 91.98 per cent to the US and only 8.02 per cent coverage to the Ghana presidential elections.

And as for their sources- of the 1100 news items carried by the three newspapers on both elections, 850 representing 77.27 per cent were from foreign sources, while 250 representing 22.73 per cent originated from local sources,

With the findings of this study, it is obvious that the major suppliers of news still remain the international news agencies of Reuters, AP, AFP and the global satellite TV news networks with stories occasionally from the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). This further supports Galtung’s second hypothesis that “news flow is vertical from developed countries of the Northern hemisphere to the less developed countries of the Southern hemisphere”. It also confirms Parker’s 1996 study which revealed that the most international news originates from the developed world, particularly the US.

Though the study was limited to newspapers among other media of communication, the study has paved ways for subsequent studies, as regards this issue, based on its findings.

The study then recommends that leaders of developing nations should place high on their agenda, the need to develop communication policies; there should be a rebirth of the discourse on the ‘stillborn’ New world information and communication order; also journalists of developing countries should cultivate what Merrill terms “Third World self assurance” (2008, p.182) rather than accuse developed countries of communication imperialism when they are guilty of playing down important developmental news in favour of less important but sensational ones; among others.

Akeredolu Oyinloluwa

1 comment

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    soremekun oluwatoowo

    this piece is beautifully written.the words are well structured..
    the writer is an insightful individual..the print media is waiting for you..thumbs up!

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