The Influence of Online Journalism on Revenue Generation of Nigeria New Media
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
This study is aimed at achieving the following objectives;
- To examine the benefits of online journalism practice in Nigeria.
- To find out the challenges confronting online journalism practice in Nigeria.
- To examine the prospects of online journalism practice in Nigeria.
Information Technology Trends
Alongside the traditional mass media as sources of information and education are the new media, offshoot of information technology. New Media is a broad term in media studies that emerged in the later part of the 20th century. It holds out a possibility of on-demand access to content anytime, anywhere, on any digital device, as well as interactive user feedback, creative participation and community formation around the media content. Another important promise of new media is the “democratization” of the creation, publishing, distribution and consumption of media content.
In a fast paced world where information can be found with the click of a button, newspapers are finding it hard to compete. Since the early 1990s, the image of a new revolution has been haunting. Variously called the Information Revolution or the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) revolution, it assumes a classic shift in production processes and relations, the emergence of a new knowledge-based economy and a quantum leap from an industrial society into an information society. Also, the Internet, a major force behind information technology, is argued by Song, Shao and Wu (2010:5) to represent the most significant change in the media market during the past decades. The Internet is becoming the dominant force in the information world, transforming the ways in which information is aggregated, stored, searched, and retrieved. In addition, Campbell, Martin, and Fabos (2009:8) noted that the Internet is facilitating the convergence of media forms, the process whereby old and new media are available via the integration of personal computers and high-speed satellite based phone or cable links.
Virtually all Nigerian newspapers have been adapting themselves to this new media age. The traditional medium for publishing content is paper, and now newspapers have tried certain new medium such as online newspaper edition and mobile phone newspapers. As at today, 60 Nigerian newspapers are online.
Sounding this warning in 2005 the media mogul, Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of News Corporation, in a speech delivered to an audience of newspaper editors, noted that the “dynamic revolution taking place in the news industry today revolves around the fact that ‘technology-savvy young people are becoming increasingly likely to turn to the web as their news medium of choice.”
According to Amodu (2007), cited in Anaeto and Anaeto (2010), the unprecedented success of the Internet in most aspects of human endeavour, particularly e-commerce, has precipitated the incorporation of the same into the communication process. Also explaining the usefulness of the Internet in communication, Negroponte (1995) in Anaeto and Anaeto (2010) states that the fact that the Internet has the power to cut across social and geographic distance and help find new ways of facilitating the flow of information and knowledge makes it an especially attractive medium of communication.
Media organizations as any other social institutions have always used technology in the production and distribution process. They have been sensitive to innovations in communication technologies, mainly due to economic reasons. In the last decades of the 20th century, print media outfits were profitable business, but all indicators showed warning lights. Readership was declining steadily especially among young readers more attracted by audiovisual products, and their advertising share was disputed by the increasingly fragmented television market (Santinoli, Heinonen, Boczkowski).
Mario Santinoli argues that a foreseen economic crisis was the actual impulse for technological innovation in media organizations. Page composition and pre-print process were first to be digitalized and the responsibility for the design was fully concentrated in the newsroom, making media companies to get rid of many workers in the printing workshop. When news writing was also
computerized, this trend was even stronger, many parts of the technical production process were simplified and automated in the computer system.
The risk of overloading the journalist with technically oriented tasks is one drawbacks of computerization (Bromley, 1997:345).
(Christopher, 1988) points out other risks of the digitalization of newsroom of media outfits to include the over-flood of wire dispatches, isolation of the journalist, more time devoted to production process than content itself (news gathering, editing) diminished content quality. Furthermore, technological innovations have created new organizational problems due to the lack of effective leadership skilled staff or appropriate resources for the new hardware and software. Soriano (2004:130) also reported that digitalization of print media layout was seen as diminishing flexibility and creativity, as easy to use templates substituted the handcraft work. Computer assisted news gathering based on online databases and in the 1990s, the internet was a promise for better investigative journalism, but in the end, it aggravated the increasing passive reporting trend, lacking a direct contact with the source (Christopher, 1998)
This study is aimed at examining the influence of online journalism on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). NAN is a wire service organization whose mandate is to deliver or disseminate information, news to subscribers first before any other news media. This mandate is gradually being eroded as many online newspapers, blogs and sites are springing up to beat the agency’s mandate. The study will examine how online journalism has affected the operations of NAN and the study will therefore, make use of survey research method in gathering data. The study will also be based on primary data sources of questionnaire and focused group.
Tuckman (1972:173) stated that through questionnaire and interviews, survey research makes it possible to measure what a person knows (knowledge or information), what a person likes and dislikes (values and preferences) and what a person thinks (attitude and beliefs).
NAN is a government establishment that has its offices in the 36 states of the federation. The population of the study will be drawn from the six (6) geo-political zones of the country, including the Federal Capital Territory. The editorial department of the agency made up of practicing journalists was evaluated and views about online journalism was expressed by reporters and editors in the agency.
The population of this study covered over 800 journalists currently working in the editorial department of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) offices in the six geo-political zones of South East made up of Enugu, Ebonyi, Abia, Imo, Anambra, South South – Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Edo, Cross River, Bayelsa, South West –
Lagos, Oyo, Ondo, Osun, Ekiti, Ogun, North Central – Kogi, Benue, Kwara, Plataeu, Niger, North East – Adamawa, Taraba, Bauchi, Borno, Yobe, Gombe as well as North West states of Kaduna, Kebbi, Kastina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kano, Jigawa and the FCT.
DATA ANALYSIS AND PRESENTATION
In this chapter, a statistical data collected from respondents were collated, classified and presented in the simplest form to make the key feature of the study easily grasped and interpreted.
SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Chapter one of this research, discussed the general introduction, which includes the rationale and theoretical frame work, statement of the problem, purpose of study, research questions, significance of study, limitations of study and operational definitions of terms.
The background of study stresses the fact that the emergence and development of the new media especially the internet has led to the creation of a form of journalism that is today christened online journalism. The online journalism has changed the scope of journalism in Nigerian media organizations.
Even though the present day online form of journalism has not only made dissemination of communication easier, it has also affected the revenue generation and relevance as well as the employment of many stakeholders in the media industry.
This study would bring to the fore the operating practice of online journalism in Nigeria media, through pointing out the areas of impact and areas of lapses. The study also will contribute significantly to cross cultural knowledge on how online journalism has altered the posture of traditional journalism.
The findings showed that the data gathered via the various responses of respondents on the questions administered on the impact of online journalism as it obtains in Nigeria media institution indicates that a significant impact of media advancement has been recorded in Nigeria as a result of the emergence of and embracing of online journalism by Nigeria media organizations. The findings showed that online journalism has negatively affected the revenue generation of many media houses especially the print media who are major subscribers of NAN.
While ICTs may have influenced the practice of journalism substantially, they have in strong ways, raise several challenges to the management of newspapers in Nigeria, where the economic downturn, poor social infrastructures and the death of media technology experts are putting strain on managers.
Although, all hope is not lost as some have wriggle their ways out of the daunting challenges and remain afloat and profitable, while serving the public interest, to the best of their abilities. The frequency of change of some of the information technologies put constant pressure on management, added to the harsh economic conditions, which tend to vitiate the progress been made.
Conclusion and Recommendation
It is a fair saying that online journalism have impacted positively on readers making it easier for them to access information without much stress, efforts or resources. This has indeed created a gap on the day to day resource base of media organizations in Nigeria especially the print media organizations who are major subscribers of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). People now research specific articles, biography, information about a person, event through portal sites. This is also affecting the agenda- setting theory where is said that the media fashions the minds of the people on what to think, say and how to say it. News readers’ now get information on personal concern. As a consequence, the role of gatekeeper is transferred from journalist to readers. Even though online journalism had improved the feedback pattern between the reader and the journalist, it did not give enough opportunity for the journalist to express opinions.
Journalists have no power to convey their point-of-view about social issues to the public. Information providers just report what they heard and what they saw as soon as possible, without further verifications for timeliness. That is why a pessimist blames Online-Journalism as the ‘Only Out-Line Journalism’. The point is some people are not able to filter and verify the truth. Thus, we need special agent for verifying the accuracy and credibility of information.
Online-Journalism is also a business, so it needs money to maintain. Another thing needed for successful online journalism is public participation. To make people participate in sharing opinion, correcting mistakes, writing articles, reward is necessary, not just money, but also achievement, fame, fun in various form of reward.
Online journalism has some has positive potentialities, but also has some problems to be solved. The Internet challenges traditional news organizations in several ways. Newspapers may lose classified advertising to websites, which are often targeted by interest instead of geography. These organizations lose their viewers and circulation to the Internet.
The Internet has also given rise to more participation by people who are not normally journalists, such as with Indy Media (Max Perez). Bloggers write on web logs or blogs. Traditional journalists often do not consider bloggers to automatically be journalists. This has more to do with standards and professional practices than the medium. But, as of 2005, blogging has generally gained at least more attention and has led to some effects on mainstream journalism.
Findings show that media organizations must fashion out ways to replace and boost their resources which the internet has taken over. Media organizations as well as journalists as a matter of necessity should strive to be relevant in the information world or very soon, would gradually go into extinction.
Having examined the influence of online journalism in relation to the Nigeria media, using the News Agency of Nigeria as the case of study, the findings of this study indicate the penetration of a new mindset regarding information and communication technology.
To further extensively deal with the subject of online journalism, the following suggestions and recommendations are made
Although online journalism has encouraged free information flow, these information should be gagged to discourage rumours capable of causing mayhem.
Media organizations should set up online news sites to decisively maintain their information roles.
Media houses should seek the support of professional editors and varied reach in terms of readers.
The press in Nigeria is in a unique position as the forum of debate and reflector of public opinion. It is important that their presence online also reflects and assumes a unique role and one of the most significant ways in which it can do this is to ensure that it incorporates interactivity as one of its online journalism practice.
The online staff of Nigeria media establishment should take into consideration the features and characteristics that distinguish the various medium like the print, electronic.
Media houses should incorporate chatting boards on their online news website, which will encourage public opinion, through this process various opinion about national issues can be mentioned by the public.
Ideally the job of an online journalist especially in relation to civic journalism should not end at uploading information to the reader. It should include developing roles for their existing and intended readers as active participants in discussions and deliberations as well as in problem solving that will have significant bearing on the process of democratization.
A good number of the administrative challenges can be overcome if government provides the needed social infrastructures, which the media need to operate. In this sense, government should improve on the power supply situation so that ICT facilities can function under the right environment. Newspaper access codes should be well protected to prevent hackers from tempering with online stories.
Newspapers that are yet to establish satellite production facilities outside their primary domain should do that urgently, to curtail the declining level of distribution and readership of such newspapers. (British Journal of Arts and Social Sciences)
Regular training should be organized for practitioners to keep them abreast of developments on the field.
Media houses should protect their online copies and ensure that readers pay for subscription to curtail the high level of declining revenue from hard copy sales.
It is also recommended that media organizations should constantly update their news portal to encourage easy access and satisfy the interest of readers or subscribers.
Media organizations on their own must fashion out ways to boost their resources to survive the dynamism of the information world.
The government at all levels must as a matter of urgency upgrade, restructure the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in a way that it will meet the information needs of its subscribers.
Suggestions for Further Studies
In spite of the bourgeoning of communication research into the diverse and varied aspect of online journalism, there is still an obvious lack of sufficient literature and documented research. The fact that most of the literature that does exist approaches the issues from a near European point of view serves to make this deficiency of literature and documented research especially apparent within the Nigeria media online journalism context.
It is the researchers hope that this study will in some way contribute to knowledge base of literature and research from which communication scholars can perhaps draw. Most certainly, there is also the need to explore in detail the effect of online journalism within the contest of Nigeria media organizations by exposing more trends and peculiarities and creating the necessary data for further crossnational comparison on online journalism impacts on media establishments.
It is an incontrovertible fact that the emergence of the internet has changed the world in many ways and online journalism practice has affected news gathering and reporting. The new information and communication technologies have challenged the practical and theoretical assumptions about global press system and journalistic practices.
Online journalism has affected news reportage both positively and negatively in the Nigeria media.
Ever since the advent of online journalism in Nigeria media vis-à-vis the internet, it has had tremendous impact on the Nigeria media. There has been situations where `classified information’ concealed from the public by national governments have been published on line in defiance of government bans.
Whichever way the pendulum swings in the next few years, the fact remains that online journalism is breaking new ground by the day, revolutionizing the traditional concept that the public has always had about news sourcing and reporting. This has also been the case in the Nigeria media.
Finally, `Yes online journalism helps us to get information in a twinkle of an eye, yes, it helps us shop within the confines of our room, yes, we get world class information on our palms but these excesses should be stream-lined if not, we will suffer for our own advancement.
Limitations of Study
The subject of online journalism in Nigeria media is both broad and diverse but this research work is limited to online journalism as it affects the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
This research work is also constrained by time as the researcher had limited time to embark on a proper research in order to come out with an intelligent and excellent work.
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