AUDIENCE ACTIVE PARTICIPATION IN ONLINE NEWS PLATFORM

120

AUDIENCE ACTIVE PARTICIPATION IN ONLINE NEWS PLATFORM A STUDY OF TIDE  NEWSPAPER
ABSTRACT
This study investigated audience  active  participation in online news platform using The Tide Newspaper of  Port  Harcourt,  Rivers  State,  Nigeria,  as  a case study. The study used a sample of 110 members of staff of The Tide drawn through the stratified random sampling. Data was collected from respondents by means  of a  questionnaire which was responded to on a scale of “Yes”, “No”, and “Not Aware”. The validation of the instrument was arrived at using the  pre-test  and  post-test  method.  Three  research  questions were presented and answered by means of simple percentage. The study found that  online newspaper  readership:  impacts   the   newsgathering  stage  of  newspaper  production  in  Nigeria in  that  reporters  in  newspaper  organizations  that  publish  both  print  and  online   versions   are not only cognizant  of  online  news  readers  in  the  course  of  newsgathering,  but  also  make  use of user-generated contents (UGC)  from  online  news  readers  as  sources  of  information; does not impact  the  news editing  stage  of  newspaper  production  in  Nigeria  as  editors  neither require reporters to file reports  in  ways  that  make  such  reports  suitable  for  online  reading  nor do they shorten or re-write stories to be  published  online  having regard  to  the  universally accepted difference between online and  print  newspaper  readers;  does  not  impact  the  number of hard copies printed daily by Nigerian newspapers as the  reduction  of the  number  of print  copies that goes into daily  circulation  has  not  been  found  to  be  attributable  to  online readership of newspaper; and does  not  impact  operating  revenue  of  Nigerian  newspapers  in  that it has not been found to directly  affect  advertising  revenue  or  sale  of  newspaper  print copies. The study recommended that Nigerian  newspaper  organizations  should  take  full advantage of the internet technologies in all phases  of  newspaper  production  as  well  as  develop a business model that will compensate for the free readership of  online  news  on newspaper websites. Suggestions for further studies were made.
TABLE OF CONTENT
Page
Certification ii
Dedication iii
Acknowledgment iv
Abstract v
Table of Content vi
List of Tables vii
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
Background of the study ———- 1
Statement of problem ———- 3
Objectives of the study ———- 4
Research questions ———- 4
Significance of the study ———- 5
Scope of the study ———- 5
Limitation of the study ———- 5
Definition of terms ———- 6
CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW
Introduction ———- 7
Theoretical framework ———- 7
Review of concepts ———- 8
The concept of online newspaper in Nigeria ———- 9
Online newspaper readership in Nigeria ———- 11
The Tide Newspaper ———- 13
a. The Tide online ———- 14
Newspaper production process in Nigeria ———- 15
Impact of online newspaper readership on newspaper production 17
a. Positive impacts ———- 17
b. Negative impacts ———- 18
Review of studies ———- 22
a. Online newspaper readership and newsgathering/editorial process —–
b. Online newspaper readership and print demand 27
c. Online newspaper readership and newspaper production revenue 30
Summary of the review ———- 31
CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.1 Introduction ———- 32
3.2 Study design ———- 32
3.3 Area of study ———- 33
3.4 Population of study ———- 33
3.5 Sample and sampling technique ———- 33
3.6 Description of data gathering instrument ———- 35
3.7 Validity and reliability of data gathering instrument ——– 36
3.8 Method of data presentation and analysis ———- 37
CHAPTER FOUR: DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS
Introduction
Data presentation
Discussion of findings
CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Introduction
Summary of findings
Conclusion
Recommendations
Suggestions for further studies
LIST OF TABLES
References
Appendices Appendix A Appendix B
 
 
 
 
 

1.1 Background of the study

CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION

 
 
Universally, and overtime, newspapers have continued to play  indispensable  roles  in modern society. By conveying local, regional, national and international news to readers,  newspapers are vehicles of information and channels of communication across societal strata (Bankole & Babalola,  2011).  They  help  in  forming,  developing  and  shaping  public  opinion  as well as act as mirror of society (John, 2013, paras. 2, 61).
Besides acting as a medium of education and entertainment to readers  as  well  as promotion of  businesses, newspapers  also  spearhead  the  fight  for socio-  political  justice. From  mounting  irrepressible  opposition  against  colonialism  in  the  1920s-1960s   to  exposing the Watergate Scandal in the United States  that  led  to  the  resignation  of  President  Richard Nixon in 1974 (Rodman, 2006, p. 86,88); from reporting the economic fraud that led to the conviction of Tafa Balogun as Inspector General of  Nigeria  Police  in  2005,  to  exposing  the house refurbishment scam that led to the resignation of Mrs. Patricia Eteh as Speaker  of the Nigerian House of Representatives in  2007  (Alawode,  2008),  and  unmasking  the  $6.8billion fuel subsidy scam in 2012,  it  is  obvious  that across  the  world, newspapers  act  as  the watchdog of the society (Adisa,  2009,  p.13).  Indeed,  the  mass  media  fulfills  the  vital  role  of the fourth estate of the realm and defender of public interest (Underwood, 2008, p. 1).
Given these central roles of newspapers in modern societies, there have  been unprecedented  investments  in  the  print   media   industry  in  Nigeria.  Thus,  from  the  publication of the first newspaper- Iwe Orihon–  in  1859  at  Abeokuta  by Reverend  Henry  Townsend  to the emergence of a strong and vibrant indigenous press in Nigeria  from  1914  to  1960  and beyond, both government and private individuals have invested  in  newspaper  publication  in  Nigeria. Sobowale (1985, p. 30) notes that one of the factors that spurred the rapid growth of
 
the press in Nigeria included not only increased literacy levels among Nigerians, but also the consciousness of  intellectuals  whose  interest  in  socio-political  and   economic   matters  fuelled the quest to contribute to national discourse through the mass media.
Owolabi and O’neil (2013, p. 250) found that between 1880 and 1937 there were 51
 
newspapers; between 1937 and 1960, 39 newspapers were established and between 1960 and 2008, 168 newspapers and 48 magazines were in  circulation  in  Nigeria.  The  period  between 1971 and 1984 saw the expansion of government  and  private  press  such  that  more  licences were granted to private individuals: The Punch (1973),  ThisDay  (1975);  The  National Concord (1980), The Guardian (1983), and Vanguard (1984) (Maringues, 2001).
New printing technologies also encouraged a  surge  in  production.  As  times  went  by, these newspapers posted large profit margins and wide daily national  circulation  going  into hundreds of thousands of copies. In fact, The Tide which was established in 1971 recorded a circulation of thousands of copies per  day  while  Daily  Times  in  1980  had  a  daily  circulation of 500,000. But since then, times have changed.
Since the turn of  the  21s  tcentury,  newspapers  across  the  country  have  recorded  a sharp decline in  revenue  and  drop  in  production  and  circulation.  According  to  a  2010  study by the Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN), the  daily  sales  figures of  all  the  newspapers in Nigeria were less than 300,000 copies. This meant that only one out of  470 Nigerians buy newspapers daily, and according to Popoola (2010) this implies that all the newspapers in Nigeria combined had a  daily  circulation  less  than Daily  Times’  500,000  in  1980 when Nigeria’s population was far less than what  it  is  today.  Abdulraheem et  al (2012,  p.2) opines that the foregoing is supported by mounting stockpiles  of  unsold  copies  of newspapers in the circulation departments of print  media  organisations  in  Nigeria.  Ige  (2013) even urged Nigerian newspapers to go into “total newspapering” which goes beyond the
 
traditional      functions      of   the     print     media     as    a    survival   strategy,    while     James   (2013) recommended “entrepreneurial strategies” to remain in business.
While scholars and practitioners in the  print  media  industry  point  to  global  economic crises in recent times (which reduced the purchasing powers of readers) as one of the  reasons behind the  universal  decline  in  newspaper  circulation  across  the  United  States,  Europe,  Asia and  Africa,  they  however  unanimously  agree  that  the  availability  of  the  news  on  the   internet in recent times is the  primary  cause  of  the  decline  (Norris,  2000;  Domingo  &  Heinonem, 2008; Barthelemey et al, 2011; Nnagbo, 2011; Samman et al, 2011).
The  availability of  news on  the  Internet has  engineered  online  readership  of newspapers  across  Nigeria  with  print   media   organisations   responding   by   lowering production, reducing  the  number  of  hard  copies  that goes  into daily  circulation  and  going online to  remain  relevant  in  the  scheme  of  things.  This  is  because  of  the  numerous  features and benefits of online newspapers over the print editions: it is cheap,  convenient,  portable, interactive, spontaneous and on-the-go (Quandt et al, 2006; Talabi, 2011). Online newspaper readership has affected  the  newspaper  revenue  in  terms  of  revenue  from  advertising  and  sale of print copies (Kirchhoff, 2010) as  well  as  impacted  on  all  stages  of  the  newspaper production routines and processes (Rogel et al., 2015).
In pursuance of the  foregoing  therefore, this study  seeks  to  examine the  impact  of online newspaper readership on newspaper production process in Nigeria, with  particular emphasis on The Tide Newspaper of Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

1. 2 Statement of the problem:

 
In a remarkable statistics, Ekeng (2010) informs us that while The  Punch,  the  most popular Nigerian newspaper, sells merely 34, 264  copies  per  day,  Daily  Sun  and  The Guardian sell 25, 632 and 25, 222 copies respectively per day. In sharp contrast however,
 
Oseni and  Ehis  (2013)  disclosed that  online  newspapers  in  Nigeria  record  large  readership with Nigeria Newsdesk and DailyPost garnering a whooping 443,923  and  182,480  online readers respectively per day. This undoubtedly has had its tolls on  newspaper  production  in Nigeria. One is however left wondering what the  position is  in  relation  to  The  Tide Newspaper, Port Harcourt.
While Usen (2010) studied the  impact  of  internet  browsing  on  journalism  practice  in The Tide Newspaper, there is however no publicly-available scholarly work that  has  directly studied the impact of online newspaper  readership  on  newspaper  production  process  in Nigeria, with The Tide Newspaper as a focal point. This work therefore  seeks  to  fill  that scholarly void by examining  how  online  newspaper  readership  impacts  on  newspaper production process in Nigeria, with The Tide Newspaper as a case study.

1. 3 Objectives of the study

The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of  audience  active  participation in online news platform a study of mass communication students FPTB

. In specific terms, the  study aims to:

  1. Determine the impact of online newspaper readership on  newsgathering  and editing in The Tide;
  2. Examine the impact of online newspaper readership  on  the  number  of  hard copies of The Tide printed daily; and
  3. Determine the impact of online newspaper readership on operating revenue in

 
The Tide.
 

1.       4 Research questions

 
This study will be undertaken to answer the following research questions:
 

  1. Does online newspaper readership impact  newsgathering  and  editing  in  The Tide?
  2. Does online newspaper readership impact the number of  print  copies  in  The Tide? and
  3. Does online newspaper readership impact operating revenue in The Tide?

 

            Significance of the study

 
The study will be useful to the management of The Tide Newspaper in accessing the readership base of  their  production.  The  Rivers  State  Government  that  has  controlling  interest in The Tide Newspaper as well  as  investors  in  the  print  media  industry  will  also find  it  valuable. And, given the fact that the work adds to a stock of materials on  the  subject  while bringing a new perspective to the subject, it will be vital to media scholars and researchers.

            Scope of the study

                        This study is  specifically  designed  to  examine audience  active  participation in online news

with  The  Tide  as  a  reference point.  It therefore excludes  such  other  variables  as  human   resources,   business   environment, government  policies  and  competition  that do  have  impacts  on  newspaper  production generally.

            Limitations of the study

 
The time earmarked for the study is relatively  short  as  the  researcher  has  to  jumble  it with tedious final year academic works. Also,  since  this topic  is  novel,  the  research  will  be  faced  with  challenges  in  accessing  publicly-available  materials  that directly  deal  with  the subject of study.
 

            Definition of terms

 
Within the context of this study, the following terms are defined thus:
 
Online Newspaper: a newspaper that exists on the Internet either separately, or as an online version of a printed periodical.
Newspaper Readership: the number of people who read or are thought to read a particular newspaper.
Online Newspaper Readership: the number of people who read or are thought to read a particular newspaper on the internet.
Newspaper Production: a  collection  of  processes  leading  to  the  printing  and  or  publication of a newspaper.
The Tide Newspaper: a Port Harcourt-based daily tabloid  established  in  1971  and owned by the Rivers State Government.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here