A Critical Survey of Public Perception on Broadcast Media Coverage of Environmental Health Issues in Akwa Ibom State.
1.1 Background of the Study
Environmental health is the science and art of preventing illness and disease as well as promoting health by identifying and evaluating environmental sources and hazardous agents, as well as limiting exposures to hazardous physical, chemical, and biological agents in the air, water, soil, food, and other environmental media or settings that may harm human health (neha.org). Environmental health is a branch of public health that focuses on the relationships between people and their environment, promotes human health and well-being, and fosters healthy and safe communities, according to the American Public Health Association, as cited in the American Journal of Public Health(2011). Environmental health, according to Babalola, Babalola, and Okhale (2010), is primarily about two things: environmental risks, their consequences on health, and variability in susceptibility to exposures among populations.
Environmental Health Issues can be said to be factors that impede or cause damage to health due to environmental changes or hazard. A number of specific environmental issues can impede human health and wellness. These issues include chemical pollution, air pollution, climate change, disease-causing microbes, lack of access to health care, poor infrastructure, and poor water quality and many more. Environmental Health is important because it helps to improve health in the communities and in the society at large (Babalola, Babalola, & Okhale, 2010).
According to McQuail & Windahl (1993), the environment remains the most important heritage of mankind, responsible for the sustenance of life and life forms on our planet. Which means we always need to keep our environment clean, healthy and green as green environment translates to healthy living and prosperity while a problematic populated environment will lead at some point in time to destruction of human life and forms.
The concept of environmental health issues have been of great concern to both internationally and nationally. Countries have sought ways to curb the prevalence of these problem by creating awareness to the citizens and one of the ways to do this is through the use of broadcasting media. The broadcasting media is one of the agents of socialization and an important tool of communication in any democratic polity (Peters, 1999).
Broadcast Media are tools that can show the true picture for the audience to visualize about the several environmental issues like sanitation and hygiene practices, global warming, waste management, safe water, climate change, deforestation, air pollution, afforestation. Which are of utmost importance to our ecology. It is therefore imperative that all stakeholders in the society must continually fight for the preservation of the environment and proper management of our ecosystem in the interest of our society.
Broadcasting is the distribution of audio or video content to a large number of people by any technological mass communication medium, but most often the electromagnetic spectrum (Peters, 1999). Broadcast media refers to the electronic and simultaneous transmission of information containing signals, print messages, and audio or video content to a large number of recipients via television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and digital media such as the Internet, emails, and texts via television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Issues concerning environmental health affects every aspect of life. Thousands of lives are lost year in year out to environmental health issues in Nigeria, such as cholera, diarrhoea, malaria, typhoid and other diseases caused by environmental hazards. The agricultural sector is also affected. In (2010 Shapiro) reported that some international agencies and NGOs such as UNDP and Amnesty International (AI) tried to obtain health and livelihood information related to the oil industry‟s activities. They discovered that respiratory illnesses constitute the region’s third most important health concern, however these problems may not be solely due to the oil sector.
According to Tesema (2012), the media is the public’s primary source of information. It must set the agenda on environmental concerns and make the environment a priority, not just to raise awareness, but also to save people’s lives. According to a review of documents related to environmental evaluation and annual environmental reports, raising awareness about these issues is not widely recognized across all media institutions (mass media, institutional media, and traditional media) and developmental activities across different economic sectors and societies. Concerns have been raised among policy-makers, researchers and Akwa Ibom citizens regarding the widespread environmental ills and health issues that has occurred in Akwa Ibom state in recent decades as shown in the media. However, years of environmental education and media coverage on pollution harm and health risks have not only provided information about environmental health issues to the public, but have also strengthened people’s concern ( Dominick, 2009).
Are the factors causing environmental hazards such as air pollution, climate change, deforestation, using of fertilizers containing nitrogen etc.being properly addressed? Are the policy makers making the appropriate policies that will efficiently tackle these problems? Is the media really doing enough as believed in propagating the information of environmental hazards? This and many more is what this paper effectively address.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The primary objective of this study is to critically survey the public perception on broadcast media coverage of environmental health issues in Akwa Ibom State. Other specific objectives are:
- To identify the various environment health issues affecting the citizens of Akwa Ibom State
- To find out the perception of citizens of Akwa Ibom State on the impact of Media
coverage of Environmental Health Issues in the state.
iii. To measure the perception of citizens of Akwa Ibom State on the effectiveness of Media Coverage of Environmental Health Issues in the State.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions guide this study:
- What are the various identified environmental health issues affecting the citizens
of Akwa Ibom State?
- What is the perception of citizens of Akwa Ibom State on the impact of Media
coverage of Environmental Health Issues in the state?
iii. To measure the perception of citizens of Akwa Ibom State on the effectiveness of
Media Coverage of Environmental Health Issues in the State.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study will be of great benefit to schools and the field of research as it will be an addition to existing literature to other people that would like to carry out research and know more on this topic and related topics. This study will hopefully help the Policy Makers to put policies in place that will effectively help to curtail and control the causes of environmental hazards in our society. Additionally, this study will also help the broadcasting media to know and access their output in their coverage of environmental hazards and enable them effectively work on the perceived areas of shortcoming.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study focuses on identifying the various environment health issues affecting the citizens of Akwa Ibom State due to environmental hazards. This study will further measure the perception of citizens of Akwa Ibom State on the effectiveness of Media Coverage of Environmental Health Issues in the State. Residents of Uyo in Akwa State shall serve as participants for this study.
Effective and extensive research and study using appropriate materials and research tools was carried out only in Onna Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. For this research purpose we will only be using the audio media as our means of communication. The fact that this research was carried out in only Onna LGA serves as a limitation as this research data cannot be used in other parts of Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria as a whole as the environmental hazards and climatic conditions differ and the use of only audio media is also one of the limiting factors of this research.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Environmental Hazard: These are the negative causes or effects of environmental degradation on the environment and the society as a whole.
Media Coverage: This is the extent and area where messages sent through print, audio and visual media reach.
Public Perception: Public perception is the belief of a person or people concerning a particular thing
Babalola, Y. T., Babalola, A. D., Okhale, F.O. (2010). Awareness and accessibility of environmental information in Nigeria: evidence from Delta State. Library Philosophy and Practice (e-journal), University of Nebraska – Lincoln
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Dominick, J. (2009). The dynamics of mass communication. New York: McGraw-Hill
McQuail, D. & Windahl, S. (1993). Communication models for the study of mass communications. Essex: Longman.