Influence Of Graphics Communication On The Newspaper Publication And Patronage
The study examines the influence of graphics in the newspaper publication with focus on the Punch newspaper. Graphics plays a very prominent role in newspaper and in the print media generally. It communicates messages even to the illiterates. Findings show that graphics draw the attention of readers to the most prominent news and issue especially when placed at the front page of a newspaper while it also used to set agenda on what public will debate upon that day. In fact, the headline scanners and graphics scanner always find it easy to know the most important news of the day. Without much emphasis, graphic communicate message than what a thousand words could tell. For the purpose of this paper, the researcher employed the use of survey method. The data collection instrument used is questionnaire in eliciting data from the respondents. Findings show that respondents easily remember news that is accompanied with graphics and graphics enticed and persuaded readers to read or buy newspapers because it beautify and add aesthetic values to the newspaper pages. It is also recommended that print media should always use only important graphics that can tell their stories with ambiguity.
1.0 Background of the Study
The act of photography can be traced back to French Inventor, Joseph Nicephore Nicepee, who was the first photographer to successfully make permanent images in 1826. Thirteen years later, another Frenchman, Louis Jacques Daguerre made photography more practical by fixing light images on silver-coated copper plates. Photography was used to capture news worthy images soon after in the 1830s. English photographer, Roger Fenton, documented British troops during the Crimean War (1853-1856) in Europe, another Photographer, Mathew Brady photographed battle scenes during the American Civil War in 1861-1865 (Brake and Beetham 2009).
The growth of photography and photojournalism can be traced to two major factors that occurred near the end of the 19th century. The first is the technical innovation. This includes the invention of roll film, smaller cameras, faster lens and the perfection of the half tone process of printing photographs as a series of light and dark dots which allowed newspaper publishers to reproduce photographs quickly and inexpensively (Carlebach, Micheal L, 1992).
The other factor was the introduction by George Eastman of small cameras in use at that time. Thus, convenient cameras gave photojournalists the freedom to record news events easily and quickly. The technological advancement enabled them to also take pictures which were previously impossible to take such as night and moving images.
One of the foremost photojournalists was a Frenchman, Henri Cartier – Bresson, who from 1930-2004 worked to document what he called the “decisive moment’. Photojournalists have become visual interpreters, using cameras and knowledge to bring readers a feeling of what an event was really like. Meanwhile, in the past, the photojournalist depended on artists to draw replicas of his photograph, which was later reproduced by an engraver into a Zinc plate. The plate was then printed on a hoe rotary press. Due to the long process, several days passed before these line-drawn renderings of photographs appeared on the front-page of the newspaper (Carlebach, 1992).
The advent of photographs mechanically printed into newspapers opened up the market for press photography. Pictures were mostly taken for their action and content rather than for any aesthetic consideration. Photograph in journalism inform, educate and enlighten readers about current issues and also reflect on the past as well. Photographs in newspapers enhance the credibility of the story. As they depict reality, they also furnish evidence to show the authenticity of a news story or give proof of an event that occurred.
The aesthetic values of a photograph serve as a tool which attract reader’s attention and break the monotony of news content. Thus, photographs enhance and beautify the pages of a newspaper. A photograph in newspaper speaks more than a thousand words. No formal education in required to understand a picture. Photographs are therefore able to break through literacy barrier to effectively communicate a message. It is a universal language. (Elliot S. Parker 1977)
1.1 Introduction of the Study
Before the invention of newspapers in the early 17th century, official government bulletins were circulated at times in some centralized empires. The earliest newspaper began rapidly to replace the practice of hand-written newsheets. The emergence of the new media branch has to be seen in close connection with the simultaneous spread of the printing press from which the publishing press derives its name (Weber, 2006).
At the same time, then, as the printing press in the physical, technological sense was invented, ‘the press’ in the extended sense of the world also entered the historical stage. The phenomenon of publishing was born (Weber, Johannes 2006). One example of this type of merchant was the 16thcentury German financialist, Fugger. He not only received business news from his correspondents, but also sensationalist and gossip news as well. It is evident in the correspondence of Fugger with his network that fiction and fact were both significant parts of early news publication.
‘Avvisi’ or Gazzettes were a mid-16th century venice phenomenon. They were issued on single sheets, folded to form four pages, and issued on a weekly schedule. These publications reached a larger audience than handwritten news had in early Rome. Their format and appearance at regular intervals were two major influences on the newspaper as we know it today. The idea of a weekly, handwritten news sheet went from Italy to Germany and then to Holland. (Joel H. Wiener, papers for the millions: the new journalism in Britain, 1914).
According to Weber and Johannes (2006), the term newspaper became common in the 17th century. However, in Germany, publications that we would today consider to be newspaper publications were appearing as early as the 16th century. They were discernibly newspapers for the following reasons: they were printed, dated, appeared at regular and frequent publication intervals, and included a variety of news items. The first newspaper according to modern definitions was the Strasbourg Relation, in the early 17th century. German newspapers, like Avisis, were organized by the location from which they came.
The media in the Gold Coast first emerged in the nineteenth century with the publication of the Gold Coast Gazette and Commercial Intelligencer in 1822. The paper had several functions: to provide information for civil servants and European merchants; and to help promote literacy rates and rural development amongst the local population-whilst encouraging unity with the Gold Coast government (Africa contemporary Record, 1980).
In the mid nineteenth century, a diverse number of African owned papers appeared which were largely unrestricted by the colonial government. This led to a surge of independent press, which in part, led to the independence of Nigeria. Colonial Governor, Sir Arnold Hodson, introduced the first radio channel, named Radio ZOY, in 1935 (Amidi Nigeria. 1december 2006).
Following the 6 March 1957 declaration of independence by Nigeria from the United Kingdom, there were only about newspapers. President Shehu shagari eventually controlled all the press in Nigeria and saw it as an instrument of state authority, providing propaganda which encouraged national unity and created a hierarchical system of state apparatus to manage the media. The opposition Ikeja Pioneer newspaper, which had operated since the 1930s, was shut down by Shagari after being subject to censorship. After Shagari’s overthrow in a coup, many state outlets changed hands, though still under the control of the ruling party. The National Liberation Council imposed stricter controls on domestic private outlets (Amidi Nigeria. 1 December 2006).
In 1969, the democratically elected civilian government of Kofi Busia that followed the National Liberation Council (NLC) was left with a larger number of media outlets under state control. Busia repealed various acts and dismissed the owner of the state-owned Daily Graphic for opposing Busia who had appealed for African dialogue with the apartheid government in South Africa (Africa Contemporary Record, 1983).
In 1992, Nigeria promulgated a new constitution, and returned to democratic rule on 7 January 1993. Rawlings as part of the National Democratic Congress liberalized the media by repealing previous laws the PNDC signed in. The private media, which had previously been silenced under the regime for the past decade, used the new press freedom laws to voice criticism at Rawlings (Collins, 1983).
1.2 Statement of Problem
Photographs by nature tell a story as they attract human attention. They make communication easier and help to easily assimilate information. The truth still stands that one photograph is worth a thousand words. Possibly, photographs are the basics of high patronage of newspapers.
Therefore, there is no doubt about the fact that graphics especially photographs take two dimensions in newspapers, that is photographs tell the story or complement the story. It is important to realize that for information or photographs to have any substantial impact, influence and relevance on the readers, it depends on the type of photographs used on the front page of the newspaper.
The purchasing audience for the press is the white-collar working class, a growing stratum of society since the early nineties. However, in recent years the economy has slipped into a precarious condition and often newspapers are considered discretionary expenditures by this class. Most government offices, diplomatic missions and expatriate businesses subscribe to one or both state dailies.
Nevertheless, newspapers are a ubiquitous feature of everyday life in urban Nigeria. At neighbourhood markets and most major intersections, crowds gather every morning and afternoon to check out the lead stories with their photographs on the front-page of all the current newspapers that hang across the frames of the wooden kiosks. Top stories from the major newspapers are reported and analyzed on the morning shows of many television and radio stations. People who buy newspapers often look at the graphics communication and then read the story.
This research tries to investigate the role of graphics communication on the patronage and readership of newspapers.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of the study are;
- To find out whether the type of graphics communication affect the patronage of newspapers
- To find out the relevance of the graphics communication to the story.
- To find out the influence of the graphics communication on the patronage of the newspapers.
1.4 Research Questions
- Does the type of graphics communication affect the patronage of newspapers?
- Does the content of the newspaper relate to the photograph?
- Does the photograph on the front-page influence readership and patronage?
1.5 Scope of the Study
This study examines Punch newspaper This newspaper is selected basically due to their large circulation and perceived credibility.
1.6 Limitation of the Study
This study is limited by time and finance.
1.7 Significance of the Study
The study aims at revealing the benefits of photographs to readers. It will also assist media practitioners to know their role in keeping the public informed through their camera.
Students of mass communication and other related field will know the role of photographs in newspaper production. Lastly the findings and recommendations will serve as a guide and reference for future researchers or as a source to photojournalists in training.
1.8 Definition of Terms
It is a medium for disseminating information to the masses which is printed daily to inform, entertain and educate the public.
A picture formed by means of the chemical action of light on light –sensitive material.
The first page of a newspaper that serves as a cover, containing remarkable news.
The importance or relationship between the photograph and the content of the newspaper.
Are the element within the photograph
The importance the photographs have on readers
G) Close-up shot:
A passport size photograph that demonstrates the emotion of the subjects involved.
H) Medium shot:
A camera shot in which the subject is in the middle distance, permitting some of the background to be seen.
I) Overall shot:
A camera shot which shows the entire object or human figure intended to place it in some relation to his surroundings.
Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation
This chapter gives a summary of findings of the study, conclusion and recommendation based on the analysis conducted in the previous chapters.
According to the findings of the study, twenty six (26%) of the respondents said their purchase decision is informed by the type of photograph placed on the front page of a newspaper. Basically the close-up shot type does such magic. Seventy-four percent (74%) responses were contrary to the shared idea. Forty-two percent (42%) of the respondents reported medium shot as the prevalent type drawing their attention to a particular paper’s patronage. Fifty-eight percent (58%) refuted the shared idea. To thirty three (33%), overall shot type of photograph causes them to purchase newspapers, sixty seven (67%) responses were no. As fifty three (53%) respondent said very wide shot pictures attract them to buy newspaper, forty-seven percent (47%) respondents said otherwise.
The findings discovered that, images displayed on the front pages communicate to the reader and somewhat inform their purchases.
Again, thirty-one percent (31%) of the respondents said so far the graphics communication seen on various newspapers correlate with the information content of the material. Fifty-two percent (52%) said the photographs are relevant to the content sometimes. Almost seventeen percent (17%) claimed most of the time the information content of the paper links to the cartoons and photographs shown on the front pages.
From the study, it was revealed that fourteen percent (14%) of the respondents suggested that graphics communication do not influence their readership. “I merely look for news items (captions and headlines etc) but not photos in my quest for reading a newspaper”, said one respondent, the respondents added that in most cases their desire to read may not be influenced by the message communicated by the photograph at the onset page. Eighty-six percent (86%) claimed the visual projections influence their readership. A participant explained his decision is influenced “especially where the photograph is about something or someone I cherish; then I’m curious to know more”. The survey solicited for further evidence to attest to the eighty six percent 86% claim. However, almost all shared unanimous view in line with the latter participant, which was quite intriguing.
There is no gain arguing the potential influence a photograph has on drawing readers to a particular newspaper, essentially when placed at the front page. In Nigeria, it is as if from every ninety (90) readers, eighty six percent (86%) in correspondence are influenced by the photographs portrayed on the various newspapers front pages.
From the above findings the study discovered that a greater percentage of civil servants read newspapers and are attracted by the graphics communication which encourage them to read further. Again, the majority of the respondents buy newspapers because of the close-up shot type of photographs and also, majority of the respondents said the graphics communication have some relevance to the content of the newspaper.
Journalists must adopt using close-up shots of photographs since they clearly demonstrate the emotions of the personalities in the photograph. Journalists are encouraged to continue using attractive photographs on the front page of newspapers as they entice readers to read further.
Journalists must always correlate photographs to the content of newspapers to enhance accuracy.
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