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Newspaper’s Editorial Readership Among Tertiary Institution.

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The mass media in the society is seen as the “eye” and the mouthpiece used to express feelings and at the same time protect the rights of the masses. It serves as the watchdog of the people ensuring that they are kept adequately informed of events and issues within the society. The four basic roles of mass communication identified by Lasswell (1971) are surveillance of environment, correlation of parts of the society in responding to the environment, transmission of social heritage and entertainment function. The media in carrying out its surveillance functions ensures that it keeps watch of events taking place within and outside any particular society and in the same vein keeps the public abreast of happenings within and around them.

The correlation functions include interpreting and analyzing information about the environments and prescribing due conducts in reaction to events in the society.

In transmitting social heritage, the media helps to inculcate knowledge, value and social norms from one generation to another or from members of a particular society to members of other society. The entertainment function entails creating a relaxed mood for the audience and amusing them but at the same time educating the audience.

The newspaper which is part of the mass media is a strong tool used in addressing social issues, interpreting events and ensuring that readers are informed and entertained. Newspapers come in various shapes and sizes depending on the house style of the organisation, different type faces and letterings are used to add colour and help beautify the paper so as to attract more readership. The main items found in newspapers include news stories, features, and editorials, cartoons, puzzles etc.

Most newspapers are divided into sections to help the readers easily locate their interests and such sections are: The features, foreign, women section, sport section, news, Entertainment, political page etc. Ail these are essentially created to educate and persuade readers to keep patronizing the paper.

The editorial section is an important part of a newspaper, it is quite odd to see a good newspaper without an editorial page, and it is like the heart of the media organisation. According to Daramola (1997: 50), “the editorial or opinion department comments on news and newsmakers to bring about desired changes in the society from the editorial page the readers are able to feel the pulse of the editorial board and get to know their views concerning societal issues. The opinions of the editorials should be supported by facts because it is vital to the development of a good newspaper and it sets the tone or direction of the newspaper. It is necessary for an editorial to have a title, a short and incisive one that helps to give an idea of the editorial’s content at first glance; and also presage the tone of the editorial. It is from the title that the readers easily get the tone of the opinion.

For example an issue of the sun newspaper (Vol. 4. No. 1046) carried its editorial title in this manner- “Cocaine in Virgin aircraft.” Also the Guardian carried this title “A new foreign policy thrust?” (Vol. 25 No 10527) with these titles, the reader is able to know what exactly the editorial is commenting on. Editorials perform the basic functions of attacking, teaching, defending and praising Okunna et al (2002: 221).

Every newspaper organisation has an editorial policy which basically sets down the mission of the newspaper with due regards to the ethics and values as dictated by the social economic environment. Also influential to any editorial policy is the political and cultural environment.

Etim (1996:20) says that: “a newspaper should seek to sustain available band political community which will enable the people to live a free and reasonably prosperous life. It must gather and disseminate information truthfully and stand firmly between the people and the authorities of the same system”.

However, like any other newspaper message, editorials are hardly read or are usually glanced at or flipped through by most readers although it is a very vital part of the newspaper. Editorials are fast becoming a standard feature on the editorial pages of Nigerian newspapers and in various magazines as well,‘Vanguard’, Daily Sun’, “The Guardian’, ‘This Day’, ‘Business Day’ and a whole lot more are some of the newspapers that feature regular editorials in Nigeria today.

For most newspapers except for change of pagination the editorial remains in the same position and on the same page. It does not shift according to the desire of the page lay-out person. It acquires a kind of cult status and the regular reader is inexorably drawn to that particular position in the newspaper.

Like news, timeliness is the key word: an editorial becomes stale when it appears too long after the news had taken place as they are supposed to be the collective view of the news organisation on timely events in the news.

Generally today, over 10 years after the emergence of the first newspaper in Nigeria called “Iwe Irohin” in 1859. Nigeria can now boast of over a hundred newspapers nationwide. The readership level of newspapers especially of the editorial that can help them in moulding their opinion and stand on issues have increased if traced back from the inception of newspaper in Nigeria.

This study intends to look at the The paper examined the reading culture among students in tertiary institutions in Nigeria, following the general feeling that reading culture had become a missing link in the Nigeria’s educational development.
The high demand for elimination of illiteracy has in various forms elicited response from the Nigerian Government. This has resulted in the government declaration of Universal Primary Education (UPE) in 1976 and the Universal Basic Education (UBE) in 2003 which has increased the enrolment from 24.8 million in year 2000 to 28.4 million in 2004 (Emovon, 2006). The focus and objectives of education are to develop natural talents to enhance the quality of environment: production of skilled manpower and generation of knowledge necessary for modern economy; inspiring and enabling individuals to develop capacities to the highest level throughout life so that they can grow intellectually and contribute effectively to society: creating learning society necessary for participation in a world undergoing phenomenal change: inculcation of the right attitude and values for fostering a democratic and civilized society, and finally, to increase knowledge and understanding for their own sake and foster their application for the benefit of the economy.…...

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