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1.1       Background to the Study

Prior to the introduction of modern means of communication, man has fashioned himself with the appropriate communication approach suitable for his development, that is the traditional means of communication. Through this approach, people in different rural settings were mobilized to participate in the affairs of their locality. However, as the society became large and complex, traditional communication systems could not adequately take care of the communication needs of the people and therefore, the modern media was put in place to reach out to the relatively large heterogeneous and anonymous audience simultaneously. That marked the era of the mass media.

            Although many may argue that technological advancement has outworn traditional media like newspapers, magazines and books, the unknown seems to be that these media are quite unique in terms of credibility and their lasting effect. These media get to reach large audience because they are designed for a heterogeneous audience, and their credibility is unbeatable. Many rely on the mass media for knowledge on certain topics, up-to-date and in-depth reporting. This is especially the case with education and entertainment, and many people get informed by reading an article.

            As part of the perceived role of the mass media, mass media are obligated to present ideas and information that will enlighten and widen the horizon of the citizens to prepare such citizens to take rational decisions. Another important role of the media is that the media provide reasoned independent information to the citizens while carrying out watchdog roles on the government (Asemah, 2011).

            The media have become an important tool of the statecraft in the modern era. It is the 'fourth estate' which helps the state to further its interests, objectives and goals. The media act as an influential and instrumental tool with regards to building confidence or promoting mistrust among people on issues related to national security. Newspapers play a significant role in forming and influencing people's attitudes and behaviour. The constructive use of mass media can assist in educating thereby impacting people with desirable ways of dealing with conflict, knowledge of rights to integrity, healthy eating habits and lifestyles, and create a window of relief through social writing, relationship building, sports, puzzles and other forms of relief, (Sam, 2016).

            According to Maxwell McCombs and Donald L. Shaw (1995), in their theory of the agenda setting, the mass media are not always successful at telling the people what to think, but they are quite successful at telling them what to think about. Some of the basic ideas of agenda setting theory are further expressed by Walter Lippmann, who argues that people do not deal directly with their environment as much as they respond to the pictures in their heads. The real environment, he says, is too complex and too fleeting for direct and immediate understanding. To him, also, people are not well equipped to deal with this complexity and variety- hence things are to be clarified for them by the elite who are better equipped to do so. Therefore, since the media are responsible for what people hold in the head, Asemah (2011) explains that it is the responsibility of the media to pay attention to salient events that happen in the society so that they will reflect social issues. The media, according to him, should make people think about important issues that will bring about national development.

            Again, according to Asemah (2011), through the mass media, people can be educated, as they generally have messages that are meant for instructions and teaching. Thus, the media are capable of shaping individuals’ behaviour for the good of the society. The media equally represent and construct conceptions of what constitutes a successful and valued life; along with what is considered to be deficient, deviant, marginalized or undesirable. In a way, the media exert influence on identity and character formation as well as define who individuals are including other issues which have to do with stigma, self-esteem, social relations, economic and political positions (Wimmer and Dominic, 2005). However this study examines the coverage of education and entertainment by selected national dailies, which have continued to be relevant in the media industry.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

The mass media are very useful in every society, especially at educating and entertaining, and people are increasingly relying on the media so as to be in tune with what is taking place in the society. One of the media organs that perform the education and the entertainment functions is the newspaper. As a mass medium, newspapers cover a wide range of issues and some of those issues are education and entertainment. However, of concern to the study is the extent of coverage given to the above-mentioned issues. Therefore, the question is: how do Guardian and Sun newspapers cover educational and entertainment issues in Nigeria?

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