Making health news: Examining how health influencers drive coverage of maternal and child healthcare issues in Nigerian newspapers
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Adeniran, R. (Raheemat); Oso, L. (Lai). "Making health news: Examining how health influencers drive coverage of maternal and child healthcare issues in Nigerian newspapers". Communication & Society. 33 (4), 2020, 47 - 60
Nigeria is a developing country with varied developmental challenges. It has one of the worst maternal and child healthcare (MCH) indices, globally. The media, as a vital element within the society, has the potential to contribute to improving MCH through appropriate framing and communication of MCH issues. Achieving media inclusion poses a challenge as media contents are often products of varied power relations. Extant studies have established that health is often not primed in Nigerian newspapers where politics and business hold sway. News media contents are also influenced by varied factors which exists both within and outside of news media organisations. Premised on sociology of news as critical perspective, this study examines power relations in newspaper representation of MCH issues in Nigeria. Combining content analysis of MCH-related stories in newspapers with in-depth interview of newspaper health editors, it explores factors and underlying reasons driving coverage of MCH. It finds that government, local and international aid agencies, and civil societies often influence coverage of MCH issues. These groups drive media representation of MCH through established journalistic routine and reporter-source relations, often favouring priming of official news sources and ‘powerful’ elements within the society, as a necessity for maximising limited news media resources. This paper identifies various forms in which these groups manipulates media representation of MCH, urging the media to be more proactive in driving agenda for improved MCH for the citizenry, and not accede to satisfying peculiar interests over public interest.

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