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AUDIENCE PERCEPTION OF NIGERIAN NEWSPAPERS ON THE INTERNET

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AUDIENCE PERCEPTION OF NIGERIAN NEWSPAPERS ON THE INTERNET CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION 1.1 Background of the Study

The Internet continues to evolve into a major news source. The internet is the worldwide system of interconnected computers which make use of telecommunication resources. It is defined by Ani (2010)  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. The internet permits us to communicate more with people around the world, regardless of their location. The Internet according to wikipedia.com (2007) actually began in the early 1960s as a twinkle in the eye of the U.S. Department of Defense, which saw it as a means of supercomputer communication for researchers and military facilities across the United States. Until its commercial explosion in the 1990s, the Internet remained a relatively obscure network of linked computers used mostly by academics, military researchers, and scientists around the world to send and receive electronic mail, transfer files, and find or retrieve information from databases.
Anyone who has followed the Internet industry over the last decade might have seen an amazing series of events. Moving from a medium with almost no presence in the marketing environment to one that has become the center of attraction. The Internet experienced a boom that unfortunately became a bust. What some people thought would be the “all and all” of communications has now become a puzzle waiting to be solved, as many people have yet to discover what role the Internet will assume in their communications program(Ashong,2017).

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 the newspapers have taken the lead. Today, people do not have to wait for 24 hours for newspapers to update them of happenings around their 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(Edegoh,2015).

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). In addition, more news sites are becoming profitable, and news organizations are investing more money in online journalism.

However, questions have been raised about the credibility of online news (Edegoh, 2015). These concerns are significant in that journalism is built on credibility (France, 1999). If the public does not believe or trust the press, they are less likely to pay attention to it (Edegoh, 2012).

Igwe(2013) suggest that lack of trust in information obtained from the Internet could keep it from becoming an even more important and influential news source.

A number of studies have examined audience perceptions of the credibility of Internet information. However, less scholarly attention has been paid to journalists’ perceptions of online news credibility, even though most journalists regularly use Internet information in their work. According to one study, nearly two-thirds (64%) of journalists sometimes or often use news from the Web in their reporting (EURO RSCG Magnet & Columbia University Survey of the Media, 2005). Furthermore, more than 90% of journalists say that the Internet has had a substantial impact on how they perform their jobs (Babalola, 2002).

Amankwah (2010) believe that the Internet has prompted a shift in the role of journalists in the communication process. Journalists in the new millennium are no longer deciding what information the public should know but instead are helping audiences make sense of it. Similarly, a report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism (2004) contends that the increasing availability of news and information from both legitimate and illegitimate sources “makes the demand for the journalist as referee, watchdog, and interpreter all the greater.”

This study examines how print and online daily newspaper readers perceive Nigerian newspapers on the internet, in terms of the credibility of online news information, as well as the influence of several factors—most notably the professional role conceptions of journalists—on those perceptions. Daily newspapers were chosen because they have the largest patronage of readership. (Amankwah,2010).
Lately, the internet has been perceived as the greatest threat to the newspaper. According to Babalola(2002): television forced the newspaper to change the way they did business and served their readers, now online computer networks pose the greatest challenge to this medium. Online job hunting and auto sales services are already cutting into the classified advertising profit of newspapers.

The introduction of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to the development of online newspapers certainly is being seen in certain quarters as a dangerous phenomena. The convergence between the internet and newspapers could be seen as the best thing to happen in the industry. The entire world is fast embracing information and communication technologies in all spheres of life and the newspaper industry cannot be left out in this transformation. The changing face of the newspaper industry could not have been what we have today if not for the convergence between the newspaper and the modern technologies adopted in the industry. On the issue of convergence, Babalola (2002) notes that: This convergence has led to newspapers all over the world to reinvent them and become more user-friendly, more casual, more lifestyle-oriented, and more in touch with youth…

The newspaper industry in Nigeria has 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. This obviously has created a credibility problem for news stories on the internet and the newspapers are not also left out. According to Babalola (2002), there is difficulty of accessing the veracity of much information. The above assertion by Babalola is aptly supported by Edegoh (2015) noting that because there is no gate keeping mechanism that allows for editing, verifying facts and establishing accuracy before web information is posted becomes difficult.

1.2 Statement of Problems

The internet can be judged as the greatest communication inventions of man in modern times. This is mostly as a result of the convergence power which it has, and which has also been used to bring other traditional media to a common plane(Edegoh,2015). One of those traditional media which has been greatly transformed in recent times is the newspaper. In Nigeria, the face of the newspaper can be said to be changing greatly. The Nigerian newspapers can now be read on the internet just like the London Times, New York Times, Le Monde of France and others.

This development has also given Nigerian readers (audience) a medium of replying to publications in the newspaper as the various newspapers online have established a feedback medium on the internet for readers to post their views or reactions(Cooper,2009). Despite the aforementioned achievements of the Nigerian newspaper industry aided by the internet, many Nigerians still do not fancy the reading of newspapers online as a result of their biased notion of the internet as a place where any faceless individual can post whatever he likes for public consumption. To this school of thought, the newspaper hard copy is the only authentic news source. There is also the feeling, thought or belief that the reading of Nigerian newspaper online is greatly affecting the hard copy sales of these newspapers as many Nigerian who have internet access prefer to read them online instead of buying copies as it used to be. There is also the problem of Nigerian newspapers not being able to measure up with other newspapers online in terms of news update. The aforementioned are the reasons why this study on the perception of Nigerian audience on Nigerian Newspapers published on the internet becomes imperative or necessary.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The study in broad terms is aimed at:

1.                  Determining whether the  Nigerian newspapers online are of the same standard with their Western counterpart.

2.                  Finding out the extent to which Nigerians are exposed to online newspaper publications.

3.                  Determining if the online publication of Nigerian newspapers is actually affecting the actual sales of the hardcopies.

4.                  Finding out the effectiveness of the internet as a feedback medium to published stories in Nigerian newspapers on the internet.

1.4 Significance of the Study

The researcher is aware of the relevance of the internet on our modern society, especially on the media environment viz-a-viz the newspaper owing to the various obvious potentials which the internet displays. Thus, the researcher embarked on this study because the outcome will add cognitive value and expand the knowledge of readers, media practitioners (especially newspaper organizations), Mass Communication students and all those who intend to find out the perception of Nigerians to newspapers published in Nigeria on the internet.

Above all, this work will be beneficial to newspaper readers and other scholars who in one way or the other desire to carry out further research in this regard.

1.5 Research Questions

The following research questions will serve as guide in this study.

1.                  Are Nigerian online newspapers of the same standard with their Western counterparts?

2.                  To what extent are Nigerians exposed to online newspaper publications.

3.                  Does the online publication of Nigerian newspapers have any effect on the actual sales of the hardcopies?

4.                  What is the level of effectiveness of the internet as a feedback medium to published stories in Nigerian newspapers on the internet?

1.6 Scope of the Study

The scope of the study will determining whether Nigerian newspapers online are of the same standard with their Western counterpart. The study will also find out the extent to which Nigerians are exposed to online newspaper publications. The study will further determine  if the online publication of Nigerian newspapers is actually affecting the actual sales of the hardcopies. Lastly, the study will Find out the effectiveness of the internet as a feedback medium to published stories in Nigerian newspapers on the internet. Hence this study will be delimited to residents of Owerri, Imo State.

1.7 Limitation of the Study

The study is being designed to investigate the newspaper readers’ perception of Nigerian newspaper on the internet.

Therefore, as a research that has to do with perception, there is every tendency that respondents may not want to give out accurate information due to the abstract nature of the issue of perception.

Time will however pose as another limitation of this study especially when viewed against the backdrop of the dynamism of man, which makes it difficult to carry out a behavioural research.

In light of the prevailing economic situation in the country, adequate funds may not be available for the easy completion of this research.

1.8 Definition of Terms Audience:

A group or selected number of people, who watch, read or listen to the same thing.

Perception:

Is meant to be a process by which we become aware of change in our environment through the senses. Perception about a thing or an issue leads to opinion formation or change about that thing or issue.

Internet:

This is a worldwide collection of computer networks, a network of networks – sharing digital information via a common set of networking and software protocol.

Preference:

It is a power, right to express one’s choice, or to choose from a wide range of new media advertising channels based on one’s need and interest.

Newspaper:

This according to McQuail (2005:562) refers to a print media from appearance regularly (usually not less than once a week), containing (at least) reliable reports of recent or ongoing events of general interest and offered for public sale


This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research



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