Implications of the Unbundling of Mass Communication in Nigeria
By Okoh Samuel Ejimeh
INFOMEDIA – The unbundling of Mass Communication programme into seven (7) different disciplines by National Universities Commission, (NUC) has created the opportunity for students of communication in Nigerian universities to start thinking of specialisation from their very first day as undergraduates in any of the departments created from the hitherto omnibus Mass Communication programme in Nigerian universities. The seven (7) departments created from Mass Communication are: Media & Journalism Studies, Public Relations, Advertising, Photo Journalism, Film Studies, Radio & TV Broadcast and Development Communication Studies.
Like the other five areas, Advertising and Public Relations are two professions that are long overdue to stand as full disciplines of study because they have evolved over the decades. Less than two decades ago, advertising agencies had full blown creative strength with different departments including Client Service, creative, media, Public Relations and other departments. On the job experience and passing the final stages of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations NIPR & Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria APCON) examinations are the only ways to qualify to be called a professional, (Advertising or Public Relations Practitioner).
Graduates of Mass Communication are expected to spend between two to three years with these agencies before they are regarded as professionals, Advertising and Public Relations professions have developed so much over the years that each department within the advertising agencies can also now stand independently. Examples are media departments now known as Media Independent Agency and creative department known as creative hot shop agency.
Media Independent Agencies now operate with a professional software that with the profile of your target audience, will generate for you their media habit and the accurate media vehicle to reach them. For Creative hot shop agencies, they have a team of copy writers and graphic artists that can merge good copy with visual elements to develop quality advertisement that will make customers buy products.
With the independence of these two professions from Mass Communication programme, students with preference for Advertising and Public Relations will now be groomed in Nigerian universities in line with the above mentioned developments and many more for the marketing communication industry as undergraduate. It is after this they will be awarded their First Degree in either Advertising or Public Relations. The study of the two relevant regulatory bodies – APCON for advertising and NIPR for Public Relations – are now also included in the curriculum that students can now study to enable them know what to expect when they go into practice.
There is great prospect for graduates of these two professions because the budget by advertisers and clients is always on the increase. Nigeria Media Facts Book puts the figure for 2018 at N81b and N79.9b for 2019.
Senior Advertising and Public Relations practitioners have agreed it will take some time for Nigerian universities to get adequate manpower to train communication students in line with this unbundling of Mass Communication programme but the unbundling is a step in the right direction.
The author is of the Department of Mass Communications @ Veritas University, Abuja