Content and columns of the contemporary Yorùbá newspaper

Yorübá newspaper

This section examines the columns and sections of the newspapers devoted to news coverage, editorials, entertainment, politics, sports, culture, interviews and letters to the editor. The essence of this section is to determine and establish whether the Yorübá newspapers devote substantial space to worthwhile items, or whether they are propelled by profit motives to devote more space to advertisements. One way by which this was conducted was by listing the major segments that are contained in the newspapers and then counting the frequency with which they occur.

For the Yorübá journalists, finding enough news is not a problem; the difficulty, however, lies in selecting from a vast and unending torrent of news at their disposal, considering that many of them publish weekly. Apart from the news agencies, such as the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the Associated Press (AP), Yorübá newspapers source news from reporters, correspondents, news broadcasts and private individuals who volunteer information. In the process, the editors of the newspapers become inundated with newsworthy material.

Two-thirds of the news in a Yorübá newspaper consists of information and subjects of local interest - politics, religion, comics, entertainment, sports and community events. Apart from these, the Yorübá newspaper contains feature stories, serials, reports from foreign countries, and interviews with prominent members of society and experts on a particular profession, which can be both entertaining and insightful (Osunnuga 2015). In fact, nothing beats the Yorübá newspaper for in-depth coverage and the ability to trigger public discussion among the local populace, especially those with limited or no competence in English.

From its corpus, this study notes that, in most of the Yorübá newspapers, domestic news is predominant, occupying up to 80%-90% of editorial space. Ajoró and íróyin pay more attention to foreign news (about 40% on average), but even for such papers, domestic news prevails. Topics vary among Yorübá newspapers, but despite this variation, this study reveals many common topic categories and a nearly universal hierarchy in topical relevance. National, regional and local politics are usually most frequent, followed by social and economic affairs, sports, crime, accidents and human interest stories. Only Aláróyé pays more attention to soft topics, such as history, education or science, mostly in feature articles and special editions.

In general, national news gets more attention than regional or local news, especially in Aláróyé, Iróyín Yorübá and Ajoró. The main actors are the political elites,

primarily the president, government ministers and members of the legislatures at the national, state and local levels. The government or political party in power tends to receive more coverage than the opposition, although there may be variation depending on the political stance of the paper. Apart from government functionaries, large national organizations and the various institutions of the state are in focus. These include the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the police and the judiciary.

In addition, Yoruba newspapers give attention to unions or large groups and movements, such as the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), Boko Haram and staff unions, such as the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). Of these various institutions or groups, it is again the leading elites that get the most attention: presidents or chairpersons, secretaries, or spokespersons. Similarly, in matters of social affairs, the professional elites, such as doctors, engineers, lawyers or professors, are the primary focus of the newspaper. The Yoruba newspaper gives coverage to other nationally well-known people, such as athletes, artists, musicians, Yoruba movie stars and writers. Throughout these various layers of social structure, ordinary people usually fall outside the picture and may only collectively be involved as participants in political action, the victims of catastrophes or as victims or perpetrators of crimes.

Topics and analysis of domestic news in Yoruba newspapers often are reproductions of the dominant power structures of the society. The less quoted members of society are those who have less to say; however, this does not mean that they do not have much to tell. The nature of events predominantly covered in Yoruba newspapers is highly predictable from the topic and categories mentioned above: political actions of government, parliament or the political parties, first, and the activities of organizations and institutions, next. Most of these activities are verbal: decision-making, new laws, parliamentary debates, speeches and reports, among others. Apart from these routine political, economic and social events and their discursive expression or enactment, negativity is also an important aspect in Yoruba newspaper reporting. Events related to what is considered and portrayed as social disorder, such as conflict, scandal, problems, opposition, accidents and crimes, typically receive extensive attention and coverage.

The primary function of the Yoruba newspaper is to disseminate information in simple language. The information circulated cuts across various interests; it borders on news, politics, entertainment and business. All the newspapers under consideration devote an average of three pages to news coverage. While they do not separate local news from foreign news - with the exception of Ajoro, which has a column for iroyin ile bkeere (foreign news) - the newspapers cover local news (iroyin. ibile), national news (Iroyin orile ede) and world news (iroyin agbdye). It appears as if all the newspapers follow the same paradigm because they all adopt the heading ‘iroyin’ for this segment, except for Ajoro, which in its first ten editions used the caption ‘trdyin Nla’, but later changed it to ‘Iroyin’, like its counterparts. However, Aldlaye is unique in its news coverage in that it devotes a page to news items that are specific to the Yoruba people. It calls the section Iroyin Oodua (Oddua news). Each item relates, and is addressed, to the Yoruba people. This again reinforces the fact that Yoruba newspapers are established to promote and pursue the Yoruba cause.

Apart from news, politics is given wide coverage in the newspapers under several columns, such as: ‘Oselu Alagbada’ (Civilian Government) in Ajprb, ‘Oselu Gbode’ (Era of Politics) in trbyin Yortibd and ‘Oro Oselu’ (Political Discourse) in Asoye, tsokan and tsipayd. Other Yoruba newspapers also devote substantial articles to politics, however, they do not categorise them under a particular section; they are subsumed in the general news sections of their papers. Those that fall under this category' are Aldroye, Akede Odiiduwa, Aldriyd Obdua, Kayegbo and Kdyemo.

Entertainment receives a large portion of coverage in the Yoruba newspapers because one of the most popular columns in any Yoruba newspaper is the entertainment column. Yoruba newspapers use this section to provide information about movies, films, songs, radio, television and other entertaining activities. They write about local foods and cultural events. A few of the newspapers write about astrology' and horoscopes under this section. For instance, in Aldroye, various entertainment news pieces are embedded under broad captions, such as: ‘Gbeborun’ (Gossip), ‘Faaji famia’ (Unlimited Enjoyment) and Asa ati Ise’ (Art and Culture). In Akede Oduduwd and Irbyin Yoruba, entertainment is referred to as ‘Faaji Rcpctc’ and Ariya Rcpcte’, respectively, with both meaning ‘Unlimited Enjoyment’. In Yoruba Roni and Aldlaye, it is simply tagged Amuluudun’ (Entertainment). In Ajorb, entertainment comes under two broad captions: ‘Amuluudun’ and Alayonuso’ (Entertainment and Gossips), while Akede Africa calls its entertainment segment ‘Nifaaji’ (In Enjoyment). Other newspapers under study do not have specific captions for entertainment but they do contain entertainment news. The Yoruba newspaper employs a good sense of humour while trying to make others laugh (Olunlade 2005). The newspapers present their entertainment stories with a funny twist, even when such stories might be annoying to readers.

Apart from entertainment, Yoruba newspapers have columns and sections for presenting editorial views. Editorials by Yoruba newspapers are similar to those of the English papers in that they are always an opinion piece written by a writer or a group of writers at the newspaper. Editorials differ from most news pieces because they advocate a particular point of view, policy or other subjective argument. They may' contain assertions that are controversial or opinion-based and, in some case, they can be biased. The editorial genre in newspapers is defined in contrast to hard news. Instead of claiming objectivity, the act of giving opinions is foregrounded. In doing this, editorials give a voice to the individual newspapers by employing different textual and rhetorical styles to present their opinions. They are often argumentative and persuasive, as they aim to convince readers to see the world from their own perspective. Editorial writing often features modal auxiliaries that carry' with them a sense of strong authority, such as ‘6 ye’ (It is necessary) and ‘a gbodo” (We must), as well as generic statements that give the impression of definite knowledge of a topic. Another common strategy employed in editorials is the creation of ‘us versus them’ categories in which the newspaper and its perceived community' are contrasted with an opposing force. In all, editorial language aims to give voice to the ideas supported by the newspaper.

In most of the Yorübá newspapers, editorials are found on the second or third pages under captions, such as: ‘Oro Olóótú’ in irbyin Torübá, Akéde Odüduwá, Írírí Ayé Alároyé and K’áyémo. In Atalayé, the editorial is referred to as ‘Aláyé Olóótú’, while it is called ‘Oro Enu Olóótú’ in Magasííní Ajoró. isokan calls it ‘Aláyé Tiwa’ (Our Explanation). In these editorial sections, opinions are explicit and dominant, and formulated from the point of view of the newspaper or its editor. An examination of the editorials shows that these opinions are usually defended by a series of arguments, giving the writing an argumentative structure. This argumentation is not only defensive but also persuasive. The editorial, above all other objectives, is intended to influence the opinion formation of the reader about a current news event.

In each of the Yorúbá newspapers’ editorials, the content makes it clear that it is an opinion of the editorial board. For example, part of a May 2000 editorial in the Isokan newspaper dwells on the newspaper’s concerns and worries about the delay in signing the 2000 federal budget into law. Here is an example:

  • (1) Fun apeere, gege bi aba tiwa, a ro Aare Obasanjo lati maa tetefi aba eto isuna owo sowo si ile-lgbimo Asofin fun ayewo. Lonleede Amerika, gege bi apeere, lati inu osu kef a odun ni Aare tiwon ti n fi aba eto isuna sowo si ile-lgbimo Asofin. Sise beeyoo fun awon asofin naa nt anfaani latifar a bale se se won finnijinni pelu suuru. Bo seye ko ri lorileede yii naa niyen ... Ireti tiwa nipe iriri ti odunyii ti to eko fun totun-tosi, fun anfaani ojo iwaju.
  • (Isokan, 1 May 2000, 2)

For example, as our own suggestion, we urge President Obasanjo to always send the budget to the National Assembly in good time for consideration. In America, for instance, their president usually sends the bill to the Congress in June. This will afford the Congress plenty of time to scrutinise the bill. That is what should obtain here in this country. ... We hope that this year’s experience should serve as a lesson to both parties for the benefit of the future.

From the above, the use of the possessive adjective, ‘tiwa’ (Our), and first-personplural pronoun, ‘a’ (we), are suggestive, and they clearly show that the piece is not a news item but the opinion of the newspaper’s editorial team. The editor wants readers to share the views presented.

While editorials are not necessarily news items, Yoruba newspapers sometimes use them to teach morality, thereby becoming didactic in their opinions. When commenting on the travails of James Ibori, a former governor of Delta State, Nigeria, who was jailed in the United Kingdom in 2012 for corruption and money laundering, the ICdyemo newspaper, in its editorial titled ‘Опіко rere’ (Good Name), says:

(2) Arowa K’áyémo si awon ti won wa ñipo isakoso ijoba ni pe ko di igba ti eeyan ba ko gbogbo owo ilu sapo kaye toyeni, tabi tani won sin owo mo lojo to ku. Ko sohun taa feru ko jo taa legbe ronin. ... Eyin tee wa nipo lonii, e kekoo lara Ibori tori ohun a ba feru kojo kii bani kale. Boba aye o ri o, torun nwo gbogbo wa.

{ICdyemo, 6 March 2012, 3)

Kayemo’s advice to present public officeholders is that they do not need to enrich themselves with public funds because there is no person that will be buried with money. There is nothing we coveted that will be buried with us. ... Those of you who hold offices today, learn from Ibori because whatever we acquire fraudulently will not last. If no one sees you, the God of heaven is watching all of us.

The above is intended to convey information and to teach morals, hence, the newspaper resorts to the second-person point of view when it uses the phrases, ‘Eyin tee wa nipo’ and ‘e kekoo lara’. This is a systematic instruction, as if a directive is being given to public officeholders, in particular, and the readers, in general, on how to conduct themselves when public funds are entrusted to them. The message appeals directly to the readers and emphasizes that whoever, among the readers, finds themselves in power should remember this advice.

Letters to the editor, popularly referred to as ‘Lcta onkawe’ in Magasmi Ajoro and ‘erongba awon dnkawe’ in Yoruba Ronu, are another feature of the Yoruba newspapers. Typically, these letters take up half a page and include contributions from individuals, political activists, human rights activists, students, workers, public officers and other members of society. Although the letters tend to reflect the concerns of more educated readers, their content is often spiced with local variations of national issues, such as public spending, road maintenance and maintenance of infrastructure. The letter pages sometimes include public expressions of gratitude for individuals and government agencies who responded favourably to the needs of the people. One striking feature of the letter to the editor is rejoinders from individuals and corporate bodies whose names or activities are mentioned or portrayed in negative terms by the newspapers. The aggrieved party uses the ‘Leta onkawe’ section to write a rejoinder to disclaim or correct any impression the newspaper might have wrongly reported previously. In one such letter, a concerned person writes the following:

(3) Olootu,

Mo kiyin tesoteso, wi pe ajinde arayooje o (amin). Mo fe atunse lori ADIGU.NJALE SO.Sf.VI ILU Slfi().A (Iwe Iroyin Ajoro ojo Aje 4 Feb 2002). Mo fe mu dayin loju pe, Sekona kii se leba Osogbo rara, Ede ni o ni Sekona Hu si ni pelu. Fun idi eyi mo fe atunse lori oro wipe Sekona kii se eba Osogbo, agbegbe Ede ni o wa. Awon eniyan kan tabi meji wipe awon ara Osogbo ti gbe owo fun Ajoro lati gba Hu Sekona lowo awon ara Ede ni. E se pupo o. Emi ni, Yinusa Adejare Akofe.

(Magasiini Ajoro, 28 April 2002, 14)

Editor,

I salute you with respect and wish you good health (Amen). I want a correction on the story ARMED ROBBERS WREAK HAVOC LN SEKONA TOWN (Ajoró newspaper, Monday, 4 Feb 2002). I want to inform you that Sekona is not beside Osogbo at all; it belongs to the Ede region and is a town on its own. For this reason, I want you to correct the story' by' stating that Sekona is not beside Osogbo, but Ede. A few people have alleged that Ajoró has been bribed by the Osogbo people for the story in a bid to take away Sekona from Ede. Thanks a lot. I am Yinusa Adejare Akofe.

The above is an example of a reader’s letter to the editor that borders on what the letter writer regards as misleading information. While the writer is not objecting to the main story that armed robbers wreaked havoc on Sekona, his concern is that the town in question does not belong to Osogbo but to the Edc region. The writer is not only emphatic in his assertion that ‘Sekona kíí se leba Osogbo rárá, Edc ni ó ni Sekona’ (‘Sekona is not beside Osogbo at all; it belongs to the Ede region’), he also insinuates that the Osogbo people might have bribed the newspaper that published the story'. The writer, in arguing his point, employs the negative marker kii (not), a common strategy often employed to negate an opposing viewpoint with a view to removing misunderstanding.

From the corpus, this study observes that some of the Yoruba newspapers have a ‘life counselling’ column. This is a section where readers send letters about their personal troubles, asking professional consultants for solutions. While the readers who write letters for life counselling are not a valid crosssection of the Yorúbá, theirs are voluntary' opinions on various problems given in some detail. Sometimes, such letters deal with health, love and other humaninterest issues for which the writers seek explanations, suggestions or answers. Below' is an example:

(4a) Moje gmg gdun meedggbgn, mo si ni afesgna kan ti o je gmggdun mejidinlogbgn. Mo nífee gmokunrinyii pupo sugbgn ohun kan ti o n ba mi leru tara re ni wipe o maa n binu, Igba pupo lo je pe ti o ba binu, o maa n soro pupo fun mi latí bee, ni tori pe kii tete gba ebe, igba pupg ni inu si maa nbi emifunrami nigba ti mo ba be ti ko gba. Opo igba ni awon gre re rna nba wa parí ija. Aanti Alaban ejgwg grgyii toju su mi, ki ni ki n se?

Ayoola., Orita Challenge Ibadan

(Ajgró, 28 April 2002, 13)

I am 25 years old and my fiancé is 28. I love this guy a lot, but my only fear is that he is always angry. On many occasions that he was angry; I found him difficult to appease because he doesn’t take apology easily, and this easily upsets me when he does not take my' apologies. Several times his friend would have to intervene to settle our rifts. Dear Counsellor, please, I am tired of this issue. What should 1 do?

Ayoola, Orita Challenge, Ibadan

The above is a typical letter in which the writer, Ayoola, seeks advice from a professional counsellor on what to do about her fiance’s anger which, according to her, makes her fear going further in the relationship. The counsellor, in her response, addresses Ayoola’s query in the following words:

(4b) Ayoola,

№ ka so otito, iwo funrare ni lati ni suuru die si, maa ranti nigba gbogbo pe oko lori aya. Ko si ohun ti о wu ki о le maa bi afesona re ninu, о gbodo maaJi suuru baa son, kii se pe ki iwo naa binu ki ara ita wa maa bayin pari ija lai ti ко de He arayin. Ti e ba wa ко de He arayin nko? Maa ranti nigba gbogbo pe ‘onisuuru nifun wara kiniun’ layp o.

(Ajori, 28 April 2002, 13)

Ayoola,

To be honest, you also have to exercise more patience. Always remember that a husband is the head of a wife. Whatever makes your fiance angry, you need to deal with him with patience, not by being angry at the same time, to the extent that you allow a third party to intervene when you are not even married yet. What if you were married? Always remember that ‘it is a patient person who milks a lion’. Peace to you.

The counsellor’s advice contains words and statements that are cohesive and meaningful. While the counsellor does not suggest a particular course of action to be taken, she uses expressions that convey the need for patience by the client. The use of three declarative sentences - ‘Iwo funrare ni lati ni suuru die si’, ‘O gbodo maa fi sufirfi baa soro” and ‘kii se pe ki iwo naa binti’ - in quick succession, provides a mental-visual image for the client to envision a way of living a blissful married life. This provides something for the client to ponder, a picture to pull her through the relationship. The counsellor leaves the client with a final piece of advice, ‘Onisuuru ni fun wara kinitin’ (‘It is a patient person who milks a lion’). This is a metaphor because, by stating that milking a lion requires a lot of patience, the counsellor conveys the understanding that patience and endurance are also necessary to sustain a relationship. In essence, the metaphor employed in the above counsel provides the client with a perspective of self-responsibility in making her relationship succeed.

Sometimes, when the letters are not forthcoming from readers, the columnists prod readers with series of questions to determine why there have not been responses from them. The essence of this prodding is to evaluate the columns with a view to determining if they met readers’ expectations and if adjustments are needed. The feedback is essential to the writers if communication and entertainment - the writers’ objectives - are to be accomplished. In one instance, a regular columnist begins thus:

(5) Eyin Ololufe ‘Mama Ke’, e ku igbadun o, se ко si nnkan o, eyin ololufe migbogbo tori pe о to ojo meta ti mo ti ri letayin gba o, se ti He iwe ifiwe ranse ti о maa n lo tikotiko lo fa ni? Bi mo ba ti seyin Iona kan tabi omiran, ejowo ki e fowo wonu. ... Ka wa ni ko ri bee, eJi letayin sowo si mi, eje ka jojinukonu, ka jo foju agba wo o. N o maa reti letayin o.

{Yoruba Ronu, 1 November 1999, 10)

Lovers of the ‘Mama ke’ column, hope all is well with my dear fans because it has been a while since I received your letters. Could it be because of the dysfunctional postal delivery system? If I have offended you in any way, please forgive me. ... If I did not offend you, kindly send in your letters. Let us come and reason together. I will be expecting your letters.

The introduction in (5) shows that the writer relies on the readers for the relevance and continuity of the column. It also gives credence to the column by suggesting that the letters treated in the column are not fictitious. The words used are interpersonal and show a corresponding relationship between the writer and the readers. The above excerpts are just a few examples of the content and columns of Yoruba newspapers. Others include poetry, personality profiles, history, interviews, advertisements and sports.

Conclusion

This chapter has examined the profile of contemporary Yoruba newspapers as well as their content and columns. Similarly, the literary structure of the Yoruba newspapers and how their writers translate their thoughts into various sections of the publication have been explored. Though the sales of the newspapers have declined in recent years due to an economic downturn in Nigeria, Yoruba newspapers are still establishing themselves and have the potential to blossom if their structure continues to be improved and their content continues to reflect the interests of readers. Above all, this chapter has argued that the structure and organisation of English language newspapers are not completely different from those utilized by Yoruba newspapers, thus establishing the contemporaneity of the Yoruba newspaper.

References

Olunlade, TA. 2005. Ilo Litireso Alohun Yoruba Ninu twe trdyin Yoruba Lati 1859 De 1960. He Ifc: Unpublished PhD Thesis, Obafemi Awolowo University.

Osunnuga, O. 2000. “Language Style of Yoruba Newspapers: A Case of Alaroye.” MA diss., University of Ibadan, Nigeria.

Osunnuga, O. 2015. “Stylistic Techniques in Selected Contemporary Yoruba Newspapers: 1999-2012.” PhD diss., University of Lagos, Nigeria.

 
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