Introduction to Print Media

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The Nigerian University system has gone through several curricula mutations from the colonial times till the present. It has moved away from the universal but individualistic approach of the sixties through a more Nigerian or African-oriented but individualist approach in the seventies to a centralised, unified system in the nineties under the aegis of the National Universities Commission (NUC). Thus. when the NUC came out with its minimum standards document for the various programmes in all Nigerian Universities, it was both hailed and deprecated. There was clearly no unanimity on what the common position should be on the issue as many took their positions for various reasons. Hitherto, for some strange reasons. it was common for some departments to reject legitimate transfer requests from students of other universities because the potential recipient department did not know exactly what the other institution was doing in the same discipline. This was, in fact, laughable because the rejecting department was in some cases understaffed and could not even vouch for the quality of its own products. There was a general lack of knowledge among Nigerian Universities about what each was doing. This was not strange considering the fact that information exchange among Nigerian Universities is still at a very low level, in spite of current efforts aimed at ameliorating the situation.

The NUC Minimum Academic Standards document even with its glaring shortcomings in many areas because of the limited consultations at the planning stage, came to address some of the curriculum-related problems in Nigerian Universities. The document has generated a lot of interest among academics who are interested in textbook development, journal publication and the general goal of the advancement of learning. This book is partly a product of that interest, because some of the ideas in the various chapters predate the NUC document. But it provided some impetus in ensuring that texts were readily available in our universities to facilitate learning. Textbook famine is one of the often repeated problems within the Nigerian educational system and it was in an attempt to address this problem that this project was embarked upon.

The original idea was to make the four volumes envisaged in this series a collaborative work among Nigerian and other communication scholars. Unfortunately, this first volume is not as representative as was intended because there were no responses from some of those invited to participate in the project. This lack of response in spite of reminders stalled the project for a while. Then we decided we must go on in spite of this problem. What may have been lost has been compensated for by our deliberate selection of close contributors and our critical perspectives. It is expected that the second volume whose preparation is in progress would be more representative of a wider spectrum of views on the various topics outlined. The non-inclusion of a greater variety of Nigerian voices in this volume in no way affects the quality of the contributions. Each chapter is indeed highly insightful, deliberative and original. The student and teacher would find the arrangement of the materials very useful as each chapter presents a set of objectives followed by thorough discussions and review exercises. Introduction to Print Media consists of ten lucidly written chapters beginning with the editor’s discussion of the problems of communication textbook development. As a fitting opener, the chapter examines the background to textbook development in Nigeria, the causes of textbook famine, the constraints of textbook development, and the future of textbook development in general.

This is followed by a discussion of African news perspectives. Grace Nwagbara discusses the principles of writing for the eye (Chapter 3). In it she discusses the nature of the visual medium, of print and explicates the mechanics of writing as they affect spelling, word-sound confusion, metaphors, idioms, language, foreign words and phrases, punctuation as well as tips on grammar and style. Professor Umoh brings his experience as law teacher and former judge at the Federal High Court to bear on Book Publishing and the Law (Chapter 4). This acts as a companion piece to Des Wilson’s Communication Textbook Development (Chapter 1). Professor Umoh examines the right to publish, legal defences against publications and cites apt cases in Nigerian law. He also examines the rights and freedom of others which have to be protected in law.

In Chapter 5. Professor Emmanuel Akpan handles editorial writing. He discusses the basis for editorial writing, who editorial writers are, the mechanics of editorials, the language of the editorial. the values of editorial and the test “of an editorial. Des Wilson discusses Feature Writing in Chapter 6. He begins by defining a feature and listing the qualifies of a good feature writer. He goes on to discuss kinds of features (listing about fifteen). The rest of the chapter is taken up by procedures for writing a feature from research to manuscript. Stylistic elements and ethical considerations are also clearly treated along with the format for the presentation of a feature article for publication.

Graphics of communication is the subject matter of Chapter7 which is handled by Essien lkpe. In it, Ikpe discusses what graphic communication entails, the use of graphics in communication, the principles, of graphic communication as well as the verbal elements of graphic communication. Ikpe also discusses the principles of selecting and arranging verbal symbols of graphic communication as well as design which is the combination of verbal and visual elements in graphic communication. In Chapter 8 Samuel Idemili treats Newspaper Editing. In it, he discusses the need for editing, the symbols, proofreading. headline writing. news photos, cartoons and types of page make-up. In discussing page make-up, he outlines the nine steps to be taken in an effective page design.

Nkereuwen Udoakah discusses Newspaper and Magazine Development and Production in Chapter 9. Udoakah begins by discussing the problems associated with starting a newspaper or magazine. He goes on to discuss the editorial policy of the newspaper and magazine. From here, he offers tips on how to organise a newspaper or magazine, as well as specific features of newspaper and magazine production. He rounds off with strategies for promoting and advertising new titles. The book itself is rounded off with Critical and Review Writing by Des Wilson. The chapter begins with an analysis of various kinds of critical and review writing and moves on to discussing the steps in critical and review writing which is followed by a presentation of the
format. A sample review is attached to help the student. This chapter ends with a brief look at some stylistic elements of a review.

Generally speaking, this book is intended for the Communication Arts or Studies student as well as students of mass communication or journalism undergoing the four-year Bachelor of Arts or Science degree programme in our universities and for the Higher National Diploma student studying in the Polytechnic or College of Technology. It is intended for use both as teaching text and a basis for critical analyses and theorizing. Whatever it may lack in scope, it has gained in its depth of treatment of the topics. Yet it cannot be without its own shortcomings.

We hope that those who share divergent views from ours will do well to share such views with us.

Des Wilson
Uyo. August 1996

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    1. Communication Textbook Development by Des Wilson.
    2. African News Perspectives by Des Wilson.
    3. Writing for the Eye by G. Nwagbara.
    4. Book Publishing and the Law by P. U. Umoh.
    5. Editorial Writing by E. D. Akpan.
    6. Feature Writing by Des Wilson.
    7. Graphics of Communication by E. H. Ikpe.
    8. Newspaper Editing by S. O. Idemili.
    9. Newspaper and Magazine Development and Production by N. U. Udoakah.
    10. Critical and Review Writing by Des Wilson.

This Book can also be purchased Chapter by Chapter. Click Here to select the Chapter of choice to purchase.

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