News media derive their content from many sources. One of the veritable sources of news is the news agencies. The difference is that media houses subscribe for the news with money. It is not free. News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) is founded for the same purpose to service the Nigerian mass media.
At the end of this unit, you should be able to:
- trace the origin of News Agency of Nigeria
- discuss the functions of NAN and the services rendered by the agency.
3.0 MAIN CONTENT
3.1 Origin of NAN
A new development in the history of the mass media in Nigeria took place in 1976 with the establishment of an independent wire service-the NAN by the Federal Government.
NAN came into existence through the News Agency of Nigeria Decree No. 19 of 1976, which made NAN’s function straight and plain. Before the birth of NAN, the Nigerian mass media – print and electronic, were heavily subscribing to foreign news agencies based in the developed world. Without exception, all Nigerian newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations depended on these foreign wire services for their international news, including news on events taking place in sister African countries.
They were subscribing to the British News Agency, Reuters based in London, United Press International (UPI) and the Associated Press (AP) based in New York and Washington in the United States of America , Agency France Press (AFP), the French News Agency based in PARIS, AND TASS, the Russian News Agency based in Moscow.
Reuters of London had played a key role in the dissemination of international news in Nigeria for many years and trained some Nigerian journalist in the art of world newsgathering even after Nigeria had attained sovereign nationhood. Reuters was loved for its in-depth news reporting and analysis before the emergence of NAN. Reuters ran into trouble in Nigeria in the wake of military and counter military coups, especially the July 29, 1975 coup d’état which brought General Murtala Mohammed to power and the February 13, 1973 abortive coup which led to his death.
Reuters was accused of biased reporting of events in Nigeria to the world. The Nigerian authorities openly accused it of mischief and prejudiced journalism against Nigeria, which was unpleasant to the country and its image at home and abroad. It was therefore sacked from Nigeria; it therefore ceased its operation in Nigeria.
Because of this incident, the Federal Military Government set up its own indigenous news agency to avoid the temptation of the Nigeria media seeking the services of Reuters again.
3.2 Functions of NAN
Like its counterparts in London and Paris (Reuters and AFP), NAN was set up for the pre-press of gathering international, regional, local and other news, news material and material and features, and distributing same to its subscribers.
NAN’s subscribers include radio and stations in Nigeria, private and government-owned newspapers, magazines and journals. It also sells news to foreign news agencies. The decree, which set up the agency, vests the monopoly of collecting news in Nigeria for sale to NAN. The Federal Military Government headed by Lt General Olusegun Obasanjo having decreed the setting up of NAN gave October, 1978 as the time for its commencement of full operations.
Although the establishment of NAN has been attributed to Federal Military Government at the time in question, this was because it piloted the machinery that gave it a practical face. The idea to set up a News Agency of Nigeria similar to Ghana News Agency was conceived earlier before the military came to power in Nigeria.
3.3 Services Rendered by NAN
The News Agency of Nigeria categorised its services into 10 at that time. They are news services, bulletins, press review, news-in-depth, impact service, cultural service and daily news digest. It is necessary here to analyze these 10 services of NAN in details.
- News service: This refers to home and foreign news reports supplied by NAN.
- Bulletins: They include profiles, fillers, interviews, features and updates.
- Press review: This involves, among other major news items in the press and on Radio and Television.
- News-in-depth: This is designed to present subscribers with what is called news behind the news; that is, an in-depth information on events.
- Impact services: This, designed to be of tremendous service to foreign writers and critics of the political and socio economic development in Nigeria enlightens them on the true position of things in Nigeria. Its main focus will be on reactions at home and abroad to the policies, programmes and projects of the Federal Government.
- Economic service: This service of NAN focuses attention on stock market reports, foreign exchange reports, commodity prices trading volume, investment notes and briefs on financial, economic and business interests.
- Sports services: This covers sports news.
- Football service: This focuses attention on football news as well as pools forecasts and results.
- Cultural service: This focuses attention on reports on cultural events and the projection of the cultural heritage of the various peoples of Nigeria.
- Daily news digest: This deals with summary of the major national and international news of the day, including diary of coming events.
3.4 Management of NAN
The News Agency of Nigeria has correspondents and offices in all the states of the federation from where it distributes its news to subscribers based in those states.
The agency has a Board of Directors made up of experienced people in Mass Communication. NAN’s chief executive is its General Manager who is assisted by the editor-in-chief and other top officials.
At present, NAN has spread its functions and services to most of the media houses in Nigeria and can be found in all the 36 states of Nigeria, including Abuja, the new federal capital. It also has offices and correspondents in many parts of the world. NAN’s head offices at Iganmu in Lagos shares compound with the National Theatre.
From our discussion, it is apparent that NAN was a child of necessity. Its establishment introduced a new dimension to newsgathering and dissemination in Nigeria. The function of selling news to subscribers reduced the stress caused by scarcity of news in media houses. Like other news agencies in the world, NAN has come to stay.
From the foregoing, we have traced the history of NAN and established the functions of services rendered by the agency.
6.0 TUTOR-MARKED ASSIGNMENT
- When and where was NAN established?
- Discuss four functions of NAN.