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1.1 Background to the Study
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 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.
Most editors do not connect to the reading public through their publications which in most cases lacks depth and quality content that serves the majority. In the last two decades, the world has witnessed increase in the population of active middle age people. This increase has brought about new social life which is global in scope. The Internet brought this social state. Most of the newly empowered middle class have access to the Internet and seriously have developed a mind set. Why should I buy a newspaper for information when the same is available on my blackberry free of charge? Moreover, the Internet gives me access to different sources for the same information—all for free.
The role of the Internet and Information Technology in online journalism cannot be over-emphasized. Information technology has and is playing a veritable role in changing the face of journalism practice in the world and Nigeria is not left out. The increasing impact of technology through the new media in publishing and dissemination of information has given room for an increase in both professional and amateur journalism in Nigeria media organizations.
Today, the Nigeria media is not limited to the radio, television and the print alone, the upsurge in technology via the internet has created new platforms for the dissemination of news and information within minutes. With the click of a button, news and information can be posted on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, blog and websites, intimating the world of any development instantly. These new technologies makes use of video, audio and picture. They have transformed the shape and face of media organizations in the country.
Journalism has been undergoing dramatic changes as it adapts to and takes advantage of digital technologies and the new media, and they are having profound effect on all levels of the journalistic enterprise. The pace of these changes is quickening now, altering the practice of the journalism profession as never before. These changes encompass a wide range of activities from news gathering to dissemination and are bringing many benefits, but with attendant challenges. At a Journalism Conference in Dublin Trench (1996:2) identified “several ways in which information technology touches on the practice of journalism, all of which have affected how journalists do their job”. He posited that technology has led to the following direct input by reporters and from external agencies into the editorial system. The way reporters gather and disseminate news is changing. Internet is emerging as a medium of mass communication. That brings in fresh competition to other media, even forcing changes in content. The emergence of communication technology has made it necessary for media establishments to make their presence felt on the net and technology has facilitated the creation of websites with social networking sites to complement them, while some smarter media organizations are also making use of blogs, to make their presence more pronounced.
Technology has made it possible for people to read an entire newspaper online. It has given way to a new form of freedom to information dissemination. For example , the ‘Good Governance Tour’ in the South East by the former Information Minister, Mr. Labaran Maku and the National Conference were highly commended by Nigerians and these commendations were made possible through the social media networks. Globally, the rise of digital media platforms presents enormous opportunities to better inform citizens world over and it has also given everyone a fair chance of becoming a writer and a commentator.
Nonetheless, these opportunities have brought in new barriers to the free flow of information, such as filtering, blocking of contents, digital surveillance and restrictive digital media laws.
Similarly, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), which is a wire service media organization, is also facing its challenges with the emergence of the new media.
Media organizations which are supposed to subscribe to NAN now have other means of getting news, information. This development is consequently affecting the existence as well as the resources of the agency.
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