By Oluwatosin Akinrinde
It is a known fact that the media is saddled with the primary responsibility of portraying issues that are peculiar to a particular set of people within a socio-political terrain. It is of essence to note that the authors of our 1999 constitution understood the necessity for community reporting by inserting a fundamental clause in section 22.
This clause helps to buttress the fact that the media, as the fourth estate of the realm, is essentially charged with the mandate to discuss the challenges that plague the developmental pace of a nation, including the world.
This then subtly reinstates the core functions of the media – to educate, to inform and to entertain. In a bid to ensure the people and the government are abreast with certain pieces of information, the need for community reporting gets to be germane.
Research in the field of journalism reveals that the journalistic terminology “community reporting” should be a locally-oriented cum professional news coverage that deals with city neighborhoods, individual suburbs or small towns, rather than national or world news. This is as a result of the fact that community reporting basically concentrates on news-worthy stories that affect the locals and inhabitants of a particular place. Experts in the field of journalism, however, opine that if a community report tilts towards wider topics, it would most likely concentrate on the possible effect it would have on the local audience being targeted.
However, contextualizing community reporting in Nigeria, one cannot but notice the huge gap in that arm of journalism. In fact, one could opine that there are numerous unreported and underreported issues in various rural communities across Nigeria. This then gives us the temerity to question how much local reporting various media houses in Nigeria embark on. How much of their socio-economic and developmental challenges are being reported?
If our local reports had been able to put successive governments on their toes, no one would question the effectiveness and the quality of our work as journalists.
It is a statement of fact that community reporting may not constitute the juicy aspect of core journalism, especially in Nigeria where many media houses have failed to pay journalists in months. In fact, community reporting lacks the glitz and glamour a budding or seasoned journalist wishes to clinch.
But the media is the mouthpiece of the helpless. And the main goal of effective journalism is to spur national development through well-researched reports.
It is necessary that reporters, saddled with the responsibility to engage in community reporting, should view their beats as sacrosanct. This is owing to the fact that effective community reportage helps attract the attention of the government to the pending developmental issues that clog the developmental wheel of the country at large.
Experts estimate that eighty percent of our estimated population of 180 million live in these rural communities. This indicates that if basic developmental issues are dealt with by thorough community reporting, issues that deal with poverty, insecurity, disease outbreaks among others would be reduced to the barest minimum.