Effects On Internet On News Media Professionalism, Mindset And Buzzword

Project and Seminar Material for Mass Communication

Effects On Internet On News Media Professionalism, Mindset And Buzzword


It has been said that the modern world is living in an Information Age where among others information and communication technologies take centre stage in the lives of its actors and actresses (Campbell 2004, p.2). This has been true in recent years when communication has become electronic-based due to the convergence of computers and telecommunications infrastructure (Mohammad, 1997). Key in this convergence is Email and Internet which makes content creators, consumers and distributors bask in an age with information they never imagined only three decades ago. Beginning 1997, the media in Nigeria just like elsewhere in the world has not escaped the technological inventions and perceived gains of the Information Age especially the Email and Internet. Though Email and Internet penetration is still very low (at about 0.5 percent) its electronic and print media industry seems to have Email and Internet as a tool for their profession. Most dynamic has been the Communication and communication and communication and journalism sector which are utilizing the Email and Internet at various levels. Assuming that communication and communication and journalism in Nigeria needs the Email and Internet, the aim of this study is to analyze the use of the Email and Internet in communication and communication and communication and journalism in Nigeria by developing knowledge of its infrastructure, knowledge levels, perceived gains and obstacles of its use as a journalistic tool. Using interviews and respondent questionnaires among managers and journalists respectively, the findings demonstrate that with proper and regular access to the Email and Internet, Communication and communication and communication and journalism in Nigeria seem to feel ‘updated on information’ and ‘technology’. This study aims at identifying the impact of information technology and internet on news media in Nigeria.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

A first step has to be made in terms of the developments on the technological front and the ways in which these developments are making inroads into our understanding of journalism. Computerization in all sectors of society has taken place in particularly Western capitalist democracies – with effects on the way the economy and society operates. Practically all media companies have switched to computer network systems, electronic communication traffic and the ‘paperless office’ are topics of debate in management circles and the convergence of media as well as the fact that the television set, video player and personal computer have found their way into an increasing number of West-European, North-American and Australasian households are signs of the high impact of technology on all aspects of life.

The Internet as it can be considered to be affecting journalism in general and the professional ideology of journalism in particular will be discussed here in two ways: how it has made inroads into newsrooms and desktops of journalists working for all media types in terms of Computer-Assisted Reporting (CAR); and how it has created a new type of journalism: online journalism.

Although it must be said that every country or region has its own specific issues regarding new media developments and journalism, the author assumes that some of the more general points made here can be extrapolated to the developments in more or less similar areas in the world such as Nort America, Australia, Western Europe and Japan.

1.2 Research Questions

The central questions which have been addressed to some extent in these publications can be summarized as:

  1. What kind of business model works for journalism online (i.e. where can we make profit)?
  2. Will traditional news media or even traditional news values disappear because of the Internet?
  3. Should there be journalism at all online?
  4. If the answer to question 3 is “Yes”, what kind of journalism should it be and what kind of skills is required of journalists working for and with the Internet?

1.3 Purpose of Study

This paper aims to offer some thoughts on how to answer this question in three steps. First a brief sketch of the two key developments in journalism and new media technologies in the last decade or so addresses the state of the art in ejournalism: as it impacts upon all journalists through Computer-Assisted Reporting (CAR) and upon a specific ‘group’ of media professionals through the establishment of online journalism. Secondly data from a 1999 survey of online journalists in Nigeria the self-perceptions and the dilemmas of this new group of media professionals are analyzed, with a specific focus on an emerging new ‘mindset’ of news media professionalism in an online environment. Thirdly we will examine how these insights might inform us in addressing some of the ‘buzzwords’ regarding the future developments in ejournalism: annotative reporting (Paul, 1995; Bardoel, 1996), open- source journalism (Moon, 1999) and the concept of hyperadaptivity (Guay, 1995; Nelson, 1999).

1.4 Scope of the Study

This research focuses on the impact of internet on news media. For purpose of this study the scope is limited to the Nigeria News media industry. The study will stretch the effects on internet on News Media professionalism, mindset and buzzword.

However the findings of this research work may be applicable to other countries of the world especially within Africa.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Discussion

Can one talk of a distinctive mindset of online journalists in Nigeria based on the survey findings? Yes. The technical attributes of online journalists are perceived as essential for the occupation. In terms of its organization online journalism in Nigeria is increasingly professionalized and structured separately from its parent medium – if any. The logic behind the kind of journalism as it is practiced online is clearly focused on an interactive relationship with a (widest possible) audience, with less importance attributed to traditional media functions like agenda-setting or advocacy journalism.

The process within which online content – be it original or shovel ware is produced can be considered a separate and even almost completely autonomous one, with little or no exchange and collaboration between the online editors and other sectors of the media. Online journalists are surfing the Net, (re-) writing their stories and handling their email correspondence almost exclusively, which makes their daily work largely ‘medium-driven’ so to speak.

5.2 Conclusion

In Conclusion, the mindset of online journalists, their increasingly wired working environment and the further convergence of media modalities and publishing paradigms may lead to a kind of ejournalism which is not confined to the limitations of the Internet. Indeed it can be argued that the lessons learned on the Web can help us to formulate new definitions of what journalism is or should be and how it may look like. Computer-Assisted Reporting and online journalism are the two most ‘visible’ offshoots of these developments, which disciplines are equally valid across the media spectrum in informing us about the impact of new media technologies on the profession of journalism. It does not only impacts upon the way reporters work, but also the way they think, their professional norms and their presuppositions about notions of format, form, audience and news values. A next step to integrate these first-hand experiences into journalism in general may well be to explore new paradigms in journalism: annotative reporting, open-source journalism and hyperadaptive news.

Further research should look into these possibilities, exploring and formulating new divergent theoretical frameworks within which scholars can address changes and challenges ahead instead of trying to capture ejournalim in the restrictive categories of the past (Dahlgren, 1992; Singer, 1998).

5.3 Recommendation

A final note has to be made regarding the lay-out of newssites, in other words: the graphic context within which the content is embedded. Just as one has can see the different Web publishing paradigms and media modality (print, radio, television) paradigms converging, one should note the convergence of design and content. Examining today’s newssites of established ‘traditional’ media in particular, it is striking to see that most newssites look fairly similar (roughly: logo top-middle, menu-bar left, scrollable newsbriefs middle, banners and so on page-right) and [2] they look not very different from the front pages of print newspapers. A Web designer colleague mentioned recently that to her opinion online newssites are all desperately trying to look ‘serious’, indeed seeming to assume that surfers generally do not trust or ‘read’ news online. Our findings do suggest that journalists working for these Websites have different ideas about their audiences and their role and added value in society.

Other studies suggest people do not seem to have any credibility problems with online news, nor do they mind to read (sometimes); its just that they read and ‘believe’ differently. Starting point for considering any ‘new’ ejournalism should therefore be its challenge to our core assumptions about the mass media, society and its journalisms.

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