Verbatim Report versus Reporter’s Comment: The Search for Balance in Newspaper Reporting
Joseph S. Aliyu
Professor of Education
Institute of Education, Almadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria


This paper looks at the manner or style in which important areas of our life are presented in news papers. Specifically, 100 news reports were examined closely. The main objective was to assess the degree to which the reporters in 20 of the sampled articles handled their subject—matter. Findings revealed that the major themes with which the reporters or columnists were concerned included: leadership, education, gender, law and order, life and death, patriotism, honour, corruption, transparency and ethnicity. A closer analysis of 10 of the write-ups revealed a wide continuum in terms of balance in authenticity or impact. The survey exposed the fact that final interpretation is a product of such factors as verbatim words, reader-writer negotiated meaning and contextual consideration of the language features. The implication for mass communication literacy is the need for both the writer and the reader to be highly conscious of their sociolinguistic environment while handling English.

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