Impact of New Media on Journalism
The man objective of the present study was to examine the impact of new media on journalism practice in Nigeria.
The specific objectives of the study were to:
- Explore how local journalists in Nigeria use new media for sourcing, processing, sharing and getting feedback on the local news.
- Determine the extent to which local journalists in Nigeria use new media for enriching the local news content, and;
- Establish emerging journalistic practices in Nigeria which are linked to the use of new media.
The present chapter provides a review of literature and empirical studies on new media use by journalists in general and Nigeria in particular. The opening sections dwell on new media history, theories and models relevant to the problem, whereas the subsequent section provides the conceptual framework which guided the study. The last two sections review empirical evidence related to the research problem to contextualise the study.
New Media History
Early forms of new media were first introduced in the US and later in Europe in the 1960s and 1970s (Boyd-Barrett, 2000). The World Wide Web (www – hereafter the Web), which is one of the popular forms of online resources, began to be embraced by the general public in the 1993-94 period. Manovich (2003) argues that although causally unrelated, conceptually it makes sense that the Cold War and the design of the Web took place at exactly the same time, with Marshall McLuhan, who is mentioned as one of the early philosophers to develop ground-breaking theories linked to new media, playing an instrumental role.
Until the 1980s, media still relied primarily upon print and analogue broadcast models, such as those of television and radio. The last two and half decades have seen the rapid transformation into media which are predicated upon the use of digital technologies, such as the Internet and video games. The use of digital computers
transformed the remaining ‘old’ media, as suggested by the advent of digital television and online publications. Even traditional media forms such as the printing press had been transformed through the application of technologies such as image manipulation through software such as Adobe Photoshop and desktop publishing tools. Until the advent of the Web, newsrooms that used online resources were dependent on dedicated commercial services (such as Nexis-Lexis) that were not part of larger networks. Instead, their online networks were self-contained and not connected to other systems (Garrison, 2000).
Theoretical perspectives and communication models integrating directly the use of new media are slow to emerge in journalism and mass communication literature. The newness of interactive networked information media must be viewed as a contributing factor. In this study, three theories have been applied to explain new media use or effect generally. The foundation model for this study was the Uses and Gratifications Theory (UGT). As the study sought to explore how journalists use new media in their daily routine, it was important to consider uses and gratifications from the outset to inform how and why journalists engage with its diverse resources either for enhancing their coverage or otherwise.
Furthermore, two other theories – the Dependency Theory and Diffusion Theory – were applied to supplement the study’s foundation model. Whereas the Dependency Theory helped in pointing at the degree of the journalists’ dependency on different forms of new media technologies in Nigeria, the Diffusion Theory, which focuses on the study of the introduction and spread of new technological innovations, was a useful guide in understanding how new media have evolved over the years. A number of similar studies (see for example, Singer, 1998; Balcytiene et al., 2009; and Hermans et al., 2009) conducted outside Nigeria applied one or a combination of these theories due to their relevance to new media research. Here under, are detailed explanations of the application of each theory.
Uses and Gratifications Theory
This approach helps to understand why people actively seek specific media outlets and content for gratification purposes. The theory discusses how users proactively search for media that does not only meet a given need, but also enhances knowledge,
social interactions and diversion. It assumes that members of the audience are not passive as they take an active role in interpreting and integrating media into their own lives. The theory also holds that audiences are responsible for choosing media to meet their needs, suggesting that people use the media to fulfil specific gratifications. Under this theory, the media compete for viewers’ gratification.
Katz and Gurevitch (1973), who developed the theory in 1974 from ideas conceptualised by Herta Herzog in her classical studies in the 1940s, advance the following key assumptions: the audience is active and their choice of media use is goal oriented; the media compete with other resources for need satisfaction; and that people have enough self-awareness of their media use, interests, and motives. As Hermans (2009) elucidates, the approach allows for investigation of motivational access and online skills, choice of applications and diversity, or lack of these among journalists.
Journalists, therefore, like other user groups, are expected to use media strategically and employ new media for different purposes. For instance, they can select Internet applications based on how well each option helps them to fulfil specific tasks or goals. This implies that the degree of new media use is related to the benefits or ‘professional gratifications’ that journalists expect to get, or have experienced before.
The new media use by journalists depends on the perceived usefulness in their daily journalistic activities. When a new technology enters the daily routines of an organisation and is used for the same purposes as older technologies, journalists are likely to prefer the technology which better fits the particular needs of journalistic practice (Hermans et al., 2009). Internet users, for instance, do not just visit one site.
They actively switch from site to another as they follow links of their own interests. This active environment makes new media, the Internet in particular, a better way to fulfil user needs than any of other medium because it provides users with a broader range of needs on the gratifications-opportunities dimension (Dimmick, Chen, and Li, 2004). In other words, new media can fulfil information needs more quickly and easily than traditional media.
In fact, developers of the UGT Model categorised four basic needs of users when they turn to media: diversion, personal relationships, personal identity and surveillance. Diversion, in this study, refers to the need to escape from professional (or journalistic) life and relax. Under personal relationships, an analysis was made on how journalists use new media to fulfil their need for companionship and to form relationship with others (to be part of a social group). Personal identity helped to explain how journalists find out about themselves and others through new media, and surveillance refers to a journalist finding out what is going on around.
Media Dependence Theory
This theory posits that media influence is determined by the interrelations between the media, its audience, and society (Ruggiero, 2000). The journalist’s desire for information from the media was the primary variable in explaining why media messages have cognitive affective or variable effects. Media dependency is high when a journalist’s goal satisfaction relies on information from the media system. Fortunati et al. (2009) augments the dependency model by including the gratifications sought by the audience as an interactive component with media dependency. For Fortunati and colleagues, the combination of gratifications sought and socially determined dependency produced media effects. Based on their arguments, dependency on a new medium or a message results when journalists either intentionally seek out information or ritualistically use specific communication media channels or messages.
This chapter is a description of the methods that was used in collection and analysis of data. It discussed the research design, population of the study, sampling techniques, sample size, instrument for data collection, validation of research instrument, reliability of research instrument and method of analysis and presentation of data.
Ohaja (2003:11) sees research design on the structuring of investigation timed at identifying variable and the relationship to one another. This is useful in research work because it helps the researcher to build and develop what is known as mutual image and the relationship of New Media in journalism practice in Abeokuta.
The research will adopt survey research method which will be based on a personally administered questionnaire. The researcher chose this method because survey research works on the premises that help the researcher to select sampling techniques, instrument or data collected and allows the researcher to go into the field and select a sample size which is used conclusively on the entire population. In addition Sobowale (2001:45), describes the survey design method as the most flexible means of obtaining infraction. Wilbur and Dominick (2003:103) enumerated the advantages of the survey method to include, reduce cost, case of collection of data from a variety of people and recourse to already existing data. It is accepted that the obtained responses can provide answer to the research question necessary for addressing the journalists’ perception of New Media influence in the media practice.
Population of the study
The population define the scope within which the research findings are applicable. Nworgu (1991-68) posits that, the population is designed to expose the result if the investigation, which can be generated to achieve a common phenomenon. The population of practicing journalists in Abeokuta obtained from the office of the chairman of Nigeria Union of journalists at press center, Abeokuta was one hundred and seventy-six (176). It is the population of journalists that is essential for this study.
DATA PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
Data presentation and analysis
In this study, the researcher distributed a total of 122 copies of a 13 items questionnaire to the respondent, our of 122copies of the questionnaire, 116 copies representing 95% of the total number were returned and found useable, while the remaining 6 copies were either badly filled or unreturned, which is 5% of the total number of distributed questionnaire copies. The study therefore, made use of the valid 116 copies of questionnaire, to represent 100 percent.
SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Technology advancement in information and communication has great influence on the gathering processing and dissemination of news and information. Thus, the global trend has revolutionized the media industry and every media correspondent striving hard to meet up with the pace at which it is moving.
This is why media establishments are now discarding the old system of giving out news and information, thereby paving way for the news invention that has affected the operation of the media houses positively.
However, the study has investigated influences of New Media on journalism (a study of Abeokuta based practicing journalists) a sample of 122 was selected for the study based on purposive sampling; for journalists in the mass media establishment in Abeokuta (ogun TV, vanguard newspaper, Rockcity FM radio etc.). The journalists were purposefully sampled based on their availability. Other of the 122 copies of their questionnaire distributed, 116 copies were found useable for data analysis, having analyzed the general data, the overall findings revealed that significant proportion of Abeokuta based practicing journalist were aware of New Media. Also the study reveals that 52.5% of journalists in Abeokuta have access to New Media.
Other findings indicated that 48.3% respondents (journalist) lacked formal training in the use of New Media which 43.9% of the journalism have been trained formally. The implication is that mass media owners may not have considered it wise to send their staff to special workshops, seminars and conferences regarding that they lacked the necessary technological tools, Nwodu (2004:81).
Another finding indicated that New Media used has positive impact on news and communication or information reportage, this was supported statistically, where 69.8% of journalists affirmed that New Media have positive impact on news and information reportage, 22.4% answer no while 7.8% could not say anything.
In accordance with the test conducted in chapter four the following conclusion were reached;
That Abeokuta based practicing journalists are aware of information and communication technologies. A good number of practicing journalists in Abeokuta have access to New Media. Noticeable number of practicing journalists have not received formal training on the use of New Media. Information and communication technologies have positive impact on news and information reportage. Media owners barely expose their newsmen to information and communication technologies.
Considering the findings made from the study, it was discovered that there were short comings on the part of the media practitioners, owners and the media industries. To this end, the following recommendations are made;
- The media organization should provide their staff with adequate and state of the art tools for gathering and reporting news, such provision would enable them meet the requirements of the news taste, brought about by science, technology, education and development in the world culturally, politically and socially.
- Workshops, seminars and conference should also be organized by the media organization to the use of New Media. This capacity building strategy will help to improve the efficiency and capacity the journalists in the New Media era.
- Various governments should encourage media establishments for staff training. This will help to check mate the control of the production and utilization of these information processing and telecommunication systems which are at the present, in the hands of industrialized nations and in some instances of few trans-national companies (Mac Bride et al 1980-95).
- The various governments in developing countries should assist their journalisst to obtain proper training in the New Media as well as make the technologies easily accessible to the journalists. This remains the only way to project the cultural values of developing nations and by extensions, save such values from total domination by alien cultures via New Media.
- Finally, undergraduates in the mass communication and other disciplines should be encouraged, as part of their information, to engage themselves in the use and manipulation of the new information and communication technologies, to get the acquainted with the tools for the purpose of familiarity and efficiency.
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