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On the establishment of a new information order in Africa: a study of PANA, Nigerian newspapers and journalists

Malam, M.N. (1993). On the establishment of a new information order in Africa: a study of PANA, Nigerian newspapers and journalists. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University, London)


The global information and Communications debate has not only grown in importance but has also carved out a new area of international relations and study, i.e information diplomacy. In the past most attention and studies have been devoted to the imbalance in the flow of news, data and information between Western nations (considered as the most information developed) and the Third World (regarded as less information developed) • However, this study attempts to argue that information imbalance and inequality within and between the Africa and the Western countries is not only an external problem but also an internal (African) one because of socioeconomic inequalities and the problem of national elites.

Chapter I discusses the 'information explosion', the channels of (Western) international news flow and the NWICO debate. It presents the main issues, participants and critique of the
(NWICO) debate.

Chapter II is a discussion of the media in Africa, in comparison with those in the industrialised countries, highlighting on the gaps between them and those of the developed countries.

Chapter III analyses various aspects. of the MacBride Commission its composition, mandate, report and recommendations. The Commission's submissions seemed to fit t~e description given them as 'vague general consensus' which ~1d not offend any major participants (particularly Western) 1n the debate. Sharing similar goals with the NWICO, it is suggested that Third World national agencies and News Exchange Mechanisms like PANA, were not established on a sound footing because of the former's (NWICO's) loopholes.

Chapter IV introduces the methodology used in the study. These include field interviews, participant observation, secondary materials and content analysis.

Chapter V presents the various types of news agencies, with more detailed attention on PANA. PANA' s editorial and organizational structure are discussed as well as other issues (telecommunication, financial, etc) relating to the agency, particularly in the context of its (PANA'S) goals to establish a new information order in Africa.

Chapters VI and VII are content analyses of the news chemistry of PANA and some selected Nigerian newspapers respectively. A number of similarities especially with regard to core news values and character were discovered in the news bulletins of the two sets of African media. Separately and jointly the news values of these two media are not found to provide
'alternative' news or information which focus on non-dominant news centres, topics and actors.

Chapter VIII presents data testing the awareness of PANA among Nigerian Journalists. It suggests that the respondents' awareness of PANA's services is low, meaning that even if the
agency's stories are an alternative to the existing information order, its impact (among Nigerian journalists) in reporting Africa is yet to be felt.

In chapter IX imbalances and bias in the news of PANA and the studied newspapers, favouring power holding groups in society, are explained using various levels of explanation. These include political and economic inequalities within and between Africa and the West, allocative, managerial and editorial control patterns, the global spread of Western news production practices, media organizational structures (which are hierarchical) and the socialization and training of journalists into routine media practices and values. It is argued that media (in particular PANA and the newspapers) output also contribute to the maintenance of the status quo.

Finally, Chapter X is a general conclusion chapter. Apart from summarizing the main findings in the study, it argues that though developing countries attempt to produce their own news and lessen their dependence on foreign (Western) agencies, the problems of imbalance and bias still manifest themselves in their news. It contends that the main problem seems to be the synchronization of African media to the news production values and practices of Western countries as a consequence of their integration into the global capitalist system.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Departments: Doctoral Theses
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