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Evolution of Nigerian Mass Media: From Iwe-Iroyin to Online News (Summary)

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The mass media in Nigeria has evolved significantly over the years, from the traditional Iwe Iroyin newspapers to the modern digital media of today. Iwe Iroyin, which means “newspaper” in Yoruba, was the first newspaper in Nigeria. It was founded in 1859 by Reverend Henry Townsend, and it was published in both Yoruba and English. Iwe Iroyin was followed by other newspapers, including the Lagos Times and the West African Pilot, Anglo Africa etc.

In the 20th century, radio broadcasting became popular in Nigeria. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) established the first radio station in Nigeria in 1933, and the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) was founded in 1951. Television broadcasting was introduced in Nigeria in 1959, with the establishment of the Western Nigerian Television (WNTV) station.

The 1970s saw the rise of privately-owned newspapers, such as The Punch and The Guardian, which provided an alternative perspective to government-controlled media. In the 1990s, private radio and television stations were also established.

In the 21st century, the internet and digital technology have transformed the mass media landscape in Nigeria. Many traditional newspapers and broadcasters have gone online, and new digital media platforms, such as social media, blogs, and online news sites, have emerged. These platforms have enabled greater freedom of expression and access to information, but they have also raised concerns about fake news and disinformation.

Today, Nigerians have access to a diverse range of media, from traditional newspapers, radio and television stations to online news sites, social media platforms, and blogs. The mass media in Nigeria continues to evolve, driven by technological advances and changing societal needs and expectations.



The history of mass media in Nigeria dates back to the late 19th century, when European missionaries introduced the printing press to the region. The first newspaper in Nigeria, “Iwe Irohin,” was established in 1859 by a Christian missionary named Henry Townsend. This newspaper was published in Yoruba language and mainly focused on religious and educational issues.

During the colonial period, the British government controlled the media through the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation, which was established in 1933. The Nigerian government took over the ownership and control of the media after independence in 1960, with state-run newspapers and television and radio stations becoming the dominant forms of mass media.

During the 1970s and 1980s, private ownership of media outlets began to increase, leading to a more diverse and independent press. However, the government still exerted a significant amount of control over the media through laws and regulations, and media censorship was a ongoing issue.

In the 1990s, the Nigerian press experienced a resurgence in freedom of expression and became more critical of government policies and actions. This period also saw the emergence of private radio and television stations, as well as the growth of the internet and social media.

In the 21st century, the Nigerian media landscape has become increasingly diverse, with a mix of state-controlled and privately owned outlets. However, the government continues to exert control over the media through laws and regulations, and media censorship and harassment of journalists remain issues. Additionally, the rise of social media has led to a proliferation of fake news and misinformation, creating challenges for traditional media outlets.

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Introduction/ History of Mass Media in Africa

The history of mass media in Africa is complex and varied, reflecting the continent’s diverse cultures and experiences. Here is a brief overview of the evolution of mass media in Africa as heighted by (Ambler, 2002).

Early forms of mass communication:

In pre-colonial Africa, communication was primarily oral, with stories, songs, and proverbs being passed down from generation to generation. With the arrival of colonialism, European missionaries and traders introduced written forms of communication, such as newspapers and books, which were used to spread their ideas and beliefs.

Print media:

In the early 20th century, African-owned newspapers began to emerge, serving as a means of political resistance against colonialism. However, these publications were often subject to censorship and persecution by colonial authorities.


In the 1920s and 30s, radio broadcasting began to take hold in Africa. It quickly became the dominant mass medium on the continent, reaching remote areas that were not served by newspapers. Radio was used by both colonial powers and African nationalists to promote their ideas and agendas.


Television broadcasting began in Africa in the 1960s and 70s, and quickly became a popular medium. Initially, most television programming was imported from Europe and North America, but African countries soon began to produce their own content.

Digital Media:

With the advent of the internet and mobile phones, digital media has become increasingly important in Africa. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp have played a key role in mobilizing political protests and connecting people across the continent.

 ‘Today, mass media in Africa is a diverse and dynamic landscape, with a mix of traditional and digital media outlets serving a wide range of audiences’

History of Mass Media in Africa


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