Students Awareness, Accessibility And Patronage Of Online News In Nigeria
The aim of this research paper is to examine students’ awareness, accessibility and patronage of online news. Reading from online newspaper is on the increase as technology is more advanced to the extent that students can access news online using their personal computer, Smartphone, GPRS mobile phone, tablet computer, iPad and others. Survey research method was adopted coupled with 150 copies of questionnaire were administered to the respondents that were selected. Frequency and percentage method of data analysis was used to analyze data. Findings show that soon there will be less printed newspapers in circulation as more readers now prefer online news to print copy. It is also evident that larger percentage of the respondents visit online for news regularly. The research recommends that print media should be more diversify and integrate new media into their operations in this era of media convergence while mass communication, journalism and media disciplines should make digital journalism part of its curriculum.
1.1 Background of the Study
The Internet continues to evolve into a major news source. The internet which is the worldwide system of interconnected computers makes use of telecommunication resources. It is defined by Aina (2003), Hanson (2005) as a network made up of large number of computers throughout the whole world. The computers in the network communicate and share data with one another. The internet with all its capabilities have changed the way we live, learn and work. It permits us to communicate more with people around the world, regardless of location and distance, thus making it a global village. Anyone who has followed the Internet industry over the last decade might have seen an amazing series of events. The transformation brought about by the internet in the area of the mass media is enormous. One of those areas is the newspaper industry. The internet has completely changed the face of the printing industry and newspapers have taken the lead. Today, people do not have to wait for 24 hours for newspapers to update them of happenings around the world as newspapers now have ‘breaking news’ which was an exclusive of the broadcast industry. People do not have to wait until the vendor(s) deliver the newsprint before knowing what is happening in the dailies. On a typical day, more than 50 million Americans obtain news from the Web (Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2006). The Newspaper Association of American (NAA, 2006) reports that 112 million people visited online news sites during the first quarter of 2006. Nearly one-quarter (24%) of Americans say the Internet is their main source of news, while 44% obtain news from online sources at least once a week (Pew Research Center, 2005). This no doubt signifies a tremendous change and transformation in the newspaper readership by the internet courtesy of computers interconnectivity. In spite of the seeming successes of the internet as a news medium, questions have been raised about the credibility of online news (Lasica, 1998 and Online News Association, 2002). These concerns are significant in that journalism is built on the principles of credibility. The public is likely not to pay attention to a medium that they do not trust because trust is a factor in news reporting. Johnson and Kaye (1998) cautions that lack of trust in information obtained from the Internet could keep it from becoming an even more important and influential news source. In what seem to be a global diffusion of innovation and social change, the newspaper industry in Nigeria has also joined the world trend of publishing daily newspapers on the internet. There is no gainsaying the fact that majority of Nigerian newspapers are on the internet presently. The issue which many online newspaper readers have had to grapple with is that of the credibility of the news sources and the identification of the reporters or authors of the internet stories. The internet has not only come to revolutionize the dissemination of information by the mass media but also seriously altered the traditional processes of news gathering and processing. Nigerian newspapers may have gone to the internet partly as a means of reaching out to the outside world and partly as a way of not being left out of the information advantages which the internet has brought to the print industry globally and most importantly as a result of the threats from the broadcast industry. According to Baran (2004, p.121) The marriage between the newspaper industry and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) has made many, if not all, national newspapers in Nigeria to have online versions (Mbachu, 2003). It is believed that their readership is high as Adedina, Adeniyi and Bolaji (2008) aver that more people read online versions of a newspaper than its hard copy in Nigeria. What these indicate is that online newspapers are viable sources of information in our present day Nigeria. The dictum: “Information is power” suggests that information enhances human development. Human development, according to Anorue, Obayi, and Onyebuchi (2012), is a state of human wellbeing that enables people to gain control of their environments. They point out that the sharing of information among humans through communication is a crucial component of the relationship with the human environment for development purposes. Readership of online newspapers is an information sourcing and sharing activity. The phenomenon of online newspapers is believed to have greatly enhanced information sourcing and sharing activities in several ways. A number of benefits accrue to online newspapers in their information sharing efforts. Online newspapers provide easy, widespread, and timely access to information; allow for interactivity among information users; and enable users to store, share and retrieve their content quickly and easily (Ijeh, 2008; McQuail, 2007).
Experts in the nation‘s media and marketing communication industries at a forum organized by the Advertising Agencies‘ Association of Nigeria, (AAAN), in 2010 in Lagos, raised alarm on the future of newspaper in Nigeria. Majority of the participants concluded that unless the print media braced up to the challenges posed by the new media, it might go extinct in the nearest future. This apprehension was no doubt a fall-out of the report which portrayed an alarming slide in the patronage of newspaper. According to the 2010 study carried out by the Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN) across the country, the daily sales figure of all the newspapers was less that 300,000, meaning that only one in every 470 Nigerians buy newspapers daily (Ekeng, 2010). Putting this reality in proper perspective, Popoola (2010) said that all the newspapers in Nigeria today have combined circulation figure that is far less than 500,000 copies per day when compared to 1980 when the population of Nigeria was about half of what it is today. Presently the stockpile of unsold copies of newspapers and magazines in the circulation departments of most print media organizations is a vivid sign of this challenge. Ekeng (2010), disclosed that The Punch as the number one selling national daily only circulates 34, 264 copies, The Sun was ranked third with 25, 632 unit sales. Vanguard got 25, 241, while Guardian and Thisday came 5th and 6th xii respectively, with 25, 222 and 21, 703 daily sales. Daily Trust, the most popular newspaper up North has 11, 672 daily unit sales. Tribune, the oldest surviving newspaper in Nigeria, was another surprise, managing only 8, 314 daily sales. The above mentioned dailies constitute what is known as the top 8 in the standing. The others combined, including Compass, Daily Independent, Leadership, National Life, New Nigerian, Mirror and Westerner, could barely rake up 1,600 daily sales. The question then should be, why the alarming slide in the patronage of newspaper? This is very important as a wrong diagnosis will invariably lead to an inappropriate treatment. Ekeng (2010) noted that circulation decline is a global phenomenon as the newspaper industry in America, Europe and even Asia are also affected. This, he said, is primarily due to the impact of the Internet, which guarantees quick news for free. Topping the list of all the causes is the crashing local economy, which has greatly reduced the purchasing power of most Nigerians. Of recent, fast developing technology has been fuelling an information revolution. The new media, digital broadcasting and the internet are sweeping away the limitations of the analogue world and weakening the grip of government-owned platforms. The nature of the relationship between the broadcaster and its audience is changing. New media in this information age provides an immediate, informative, intelligent, interactive platform for discussion and debate. New media is essentially a cyber-culture with modern computer technology, digital data controlled by software and the latest fast developing communication technology. Most technologies described as “new media” are digital, and often have characteristics of being networkable, dense, compressible, interactive and impartial. Examples are the internet, websites, computer multimedia, games, CD-ROMs and DVDs. Young people are attracted to the easy means of getting information with internet based terminals or hand phones which provide them information of their choice anytime, anywhere. They need not have to wait for any broadcasting schedule to be connected to get the information. Internet blogs, news portals and online news, Facebook, You Tube, podcast and webcast, and even the short messaging system (SMS), are all new media. The modern revolution enables
1.2 Statement of the Problem
It is difficult to think of a more important institution in our democratic society than the news media. This research has been instituted to determine the student awareness of online newspaper patronage among university community. NAN is a wire service which in no small measure has helped in equipping media outfits to judiciously accomplish their primary objective which is to inform, educate and entertain the teeming audience through the comprehensive reports disseminated within and beyond the confines of media outfits existing in its geographical boundary. Its mandate to deliver and disseminate information and news to subscribers first before any other medium is gradually being eroded by the emergence of the new media. Similarly, the agency’s resource base is gradually going down because most of its `would- be’ subscribers are now addicted to the internet for their news. As a result of the prohibitive expenses in stationing journalists around the world to source for news, local news media rely on NAN for such news. The emergence of online journalism has also encouraged amateur reporting. Many media organizations, blogs, websites in a quest to be the first to broadcast news, give some information without confirmation. However, this research will examine student awareness accessibility and patronage of online news in Nigeria.
1.3 Objective of the Study
The main objective of the study is to the extent of student awareness, accessibility and patronage of online news in Nigeria. But to aid the successful completion of the study, the researcher intends to achieve the following specific objective;
- To ascertain the effect of online reporting on news credibility
- To examine the impact of online news reading on the sales volume of traditional newspaper among Nigerian student
- To examine the relationship between online news patronage and sales volume of traditional newspaper
- To examine the role of news outlet in improving the sales volume of traditional newspaper.
1.4 Research Hypotheses
To aid the successful completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher;
- H0: online reportage does not have any significant effect on traditional newspaper patronage in the university community
H1: online reportage does have a significant effect on traditional newspaper patronage in the university community
- H02: there is no significant relationship between online news patronage and the sales volume of traditional newspapers among university community in Ibadan
H2: there is a significant relationship between online news patronage and the sales volume of traditional newspapers among university community in Ibadan
1.5 Significance of the Study
It is believed that at the completion of the study, the findings will be of great importance to the management of news outlet (old media) as the findings will help them in strategy formulation in other to enhance thiers sales volume in the study area, the study will also be of great importance to online news outlet as the findings of the study will help them improve on the quality of online reporting, due to the teaming nature of their consumers, the study will also be useful to researchers and students who intends to embark on a study in a similar topic as the study will serve as a reference point to further studies. Finally, the study will be beneficial to academia’s teachers, lecturers and the general public as the study will add to the pool of existing literature.
1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study
The scope of the studies covers the influence of online news on the traditional newspaper patronage among university community in Ibadan. In the cause of the study, there were some factors which militate against the scope of the study;
a) Availability of Research Material:
The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study
The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.
c) Organizational Privacy:
Limited Access to the selected auditing firm makes it difficult to get all the necessary and required information concerning the activities
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
Patronage is the support, encouragement, privilege, or financial aid that an organization or individual bestows to another
An online newspaper is the online version of a newspaper, either as a stand-alone publication or as the online version of a printed periodical.
Newspapers can cover wide variety of fields such as politics, business, sport and art and often include materials such as opinion columns, weather forecasts, reviews of local services, obituaries, birth notices, crosswords, editorial cartoons, comic strips, and advice columns.
1.9 Organization of the Study
This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows
- Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study.
- Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature.
- Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study.
- Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
- Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study
Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation
It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to ascertain student awareness accessibility and patronage of online news in Nigeria.
In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the influence of online news on awareness, accessibility and patronage.
The internet is a relevant medium of communication in our modern society especially in the media environment vis-à-vis the newspaper owing to the various potentials which the internet displays. This development has also given Nigerian readers a medium of replying to publications in the Newspaper, as the various Newspapers online have established a feedback mechanism on the internet for readers to post their views or reactions. Even with this, many Nigerians still do not fancy the reading of Newspapers online because they believe that the internet is a place where any faceless individual can post whatever he likes for public consumption. Again, there is no maximum utility in the feedback avenues offered by such newspapers for online newspaper readers. However, the reverse is gradually becoming the case, as could be observed in this study, where there is improvement in reader’s beliefs, patronage and the needs for feed backs. Again, there is no maximum utility in the feedback avenues offered by such newspapers for online newspaper readers.
This study set out to find out how much staff and students in the selected universities in Nigeria know about and read Nigerian newspapers online. The study establishes the fact that online newspapers from Nigeria are wellknown and read by staff and students of selected Nigerian universities. However, these online newspapers have not completely displaced the hard copy versions of newspapers in Nigeria as some are still preferred over online versions and/or read side-by-side. In fact, some respondents indicated that they visit online newspapers’ websites only to check headlines but read the full stories in hard copy versions. Another area of interest in this study was to ascertain the factors that affect readership of Nigerian newspapers online. The general quest for information on all aspects of life including information to keep abreast with contemporary events; easy access to online newspapers; research; availability of Internet infrastructure; and curiosity encouraged readership. On the other hand, the high cost of procuring gadgets, poor Internet connectivity, and airtime; absence of internet network service; demands of other engagements and responsibilities; lack of interest in news generally; Internet illiteracy; and poor electricity power supply discouraged readership, to the point that many staff and students of the selected universities in Nigeria spend less than 40% of the browsing time reading online newspapers. The above notwithstanding, readership of online newspapers among staff and students of Nigerian universities recorded very high impact. This is an indication that the level of audience dependency on online versions of Nigerian newspapers is high in spite of the fact that circumstances beyond their control force them to spend short time reading online newspapers.
Arising from the findings of this study, the following recommendations have become necessary:
- Efforts should be made to shore up the credibility of contents of Nigerian newspapers online
- Efforts should be made to update the contents of Nigerian newspapers online to keep them fresh and valuable.
- Nigerian newspapers online should advertise their media more online especially on social network sites where many young people spend most of their browsing time.
- Efforts must be geared up to improve Internet network service provision in Nigeria.
- Efforts must be made to improve on the present dismal state of public electricity power supply in Nigeria.
- Efforts should be made to make internet connectivity available and affordable in Nigeria.
- More newspaper publishers in Nigeria should be encouraged to go online.
- There should be better management of Nigerian online newspaper sites and contents.
- There should be regular research on readership of online versions of Nigerian newspapers.
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