A research work for the Nigerian Federation Of Catholic Students (NFCS) Journal￼
WILL ONLINE JOURNALISM DISPLACE THE TRADITIONAL MEDIA IN NIGERIA WITH TIME?
Njoku Chima Emmanuel
￼Department of Mass Communications, Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Ikwo, Ebonyi State. (FUNAI)
Abstract: time was when the dissemination of information was solely dependent on the traditional media in Nigeria. As time went by, the craze for the internet started gaining momentum and with about 86,219,965 people accessing the internet, accounting for 46.1% of the country’s 186,987,563 population, it becomes obvious that a new frontier has been created to pass news and information across to the Nation’s public. This new frontier is today known as the online media or new media. It has increased the broadcast of information and also increased the audience reach and coverage of media houses. These days however, this newest media is posing a challenge to the once glorified and sole means of broadcast and publishing. Nigeria accounts 2% of the world’s 3,424,971,237 internet users.
This work is aimed at studying the displacement effect of online journalism on the traditional media in Nigeria. Will online journalism displace the traditional media in Nigeria with time? Can the traditional media withstand this freshman? Is this freshman a rival or an extension of the traditional media? Is this freshman on a rescue mission or has it come to plunder? We shall see.
In Nigeria as well as the world, communication is an ineradicable part of all society irrespective of bloc divides. A world without communication is like a paused motion picture- you neither move forward no backward. A society devoid of communication is like an ocean diver with an empty oxygen tank- it will suffocate. It is impossible to have a communication-free world or society; you just cannot help it. Communication is like the air we breathe. Frown your face; it passes a message, smile, it passes a message, stick out your middle finger; it communicates. In fact, all your actions, spoken words and writings are all forms of communication. Generally speaking, it is one of the elements of nature that can neither be destroyed nor built.
WHAT IS ONLINE JOURNALISM?
Making use of Wikipedia definition, “Digital journalism also known as online journalism is a contemporary form of journalism where editorial content is distributed via the internet as opposed to publishing via print or broadcast. What constitutes ‘digital journalism’ is debated by scholars. However, the primary product of journalism, which is news and features on current affairs, is presented solely or in combination as text, audio, Video and some interactive forms and disseminated through digital platforms (Wikipedia)
In communication, there are levels which include: intra-personal, inter-personal, group and mass communication. There are also elements of communication- the sender, the message, the channel, the receiver, and feedback. In light of this therefore, journalism which is mainly about news gathering and reporting plays a pivotal role in keeping the audience up to date with happenings in the world around them.
Traditional media then comprises of the print media (newspapers, magazines, journals, handbills etc) and broadcast media (television stations and radio stations). It is a form of disseminating news and information to a wide, variated and scattered audience. This media aid journalism and journalism entails the activity of searching and writing news reports and making it available for the awareness of the masses through these media.
The evolution of technology has gone a long way in advancing the practice of online journalism in Nigeria. Many radio stations, TV stations and print media have embraced the opportunity provided by the internet to increase their audience base. The online presence of the traditional media in Nigeria is rapidly increasing thereby giving online journalism in Nigeria a very bright future. In the old times, journalists had to travel far to source for news and still travel back to the media house before a news item can be edited, manipulated and dressed up to conform to the ethical standards of news composition. These days however, with the internet, journalists only need to have internet access to post their news items or send it via e-mail to the station for further work to be done on it. They do not need to return to the office before any tangible work can be done.
Newspapers Online websites Television stations Online websites Radio stations Online websites
Guardian newspapers www.ngrguardiannews.com Channels TV www.channelstv.com/
Radio Nigeria www.radionigeria.gov.ng
The sun newspapers www.sunnewsonline.com Silverbird TV www.silverbirdtv.com Hot 99.5 fm Owerri www.hotfm.ng/owerri
Vanguard newspapers www.vanguardngr.com
Hot 98.3 fm Abuja www.hotfm.ng/abuja
This day newspapers www.thisdaylive.com Rhythm unplugged www.rhythmunplugged.com/
Punch newspapers www.punch.ng Cool fm 95.9 www.coolfm.ng/
The nation newspaper www.thenationonlineng.net Wazobia fm 95.1 www.wazobiafm.com/lagos951/
New telegraph www.newtelegraphonline.com
WILL ONLINE JOURNALISM DISPLCE THE TRADITIONAL MEDIA IN NIGERIA WITH TIME?
S/N Name Television Radio Newspaper Online
1 Paul Linda Ikeji’s blog
2 Valentine Facebook
3 Denis Naijaloaded.com
4 Raphael Guardian
5 Chimchetam This Day Newspaper
6 Sixtu Dream F.M
7 Comfort Naijanews
8 Tobi Facebook
9 Kelechukwu Facebook
10 Cynthia Linda Ikeji’s Blog
11 Chidimma Online newspapers
12 Gloria Online sources
13 Nnamdi Crystabel Online newspapers
14 Nworie Sunday Dream F.M
15 Anthony Online sources
16 Chinemerem Salt F.M
17 Michael Online sources
18 Uchechi Salt F.M
19 Chidera Online sources
20 JohnMartins Online sources
21 Gideon NTA
22 Okafor ikemefuna Online sources
23 Chukwudi Online sources
24 Kingsley Online sources
25 Emmanuel Online sources
This is a question that needs proper attention before any definite answer can be given. With the ongoing trend of more people accessing the internet, the favoritism shown towards the internet by the young population in Nigeria, including many adults and the large amount of time spent online by many people, the traditional media can be said to be in life support in the evolving hospital of journalism. The internet and its addictive and engrossing features have the larger population as ardent visitors. These visitors can access anything they want, get any information they desire and at anytime they want. Social media sites such as facebook, twitter, instagram and so on play host to pages of many Nigerian media houses.
(Chukwu, 2014, p. 1) States that
Ever since the inception of the internet and the proliferation of its services, there has been an unremitting decline in the use of other media. This has initiated and sustained a global trend of unrelenting resort to the internet as a means of news and information dissemination. A trend of this nature has consequently had a baneful effect on the print media and paradoxically, a positive one on online journalism and e-news. This evolution in the media practice is also unequivocally evident in the developing countries of Africa such as Nigeria where the onset of online journalism is gradually putting the demand of newspapers on the ware.
￼ Most Nigerian students for instance find it quite hard to purchase newspapers, watch television or listen to radio. Instead, they find themselves rather at ease with surfing the internet for news stories. Twenty five Students were interviewed in a private survey conducted at the Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Ikwo, Ebonyi State. In the survey, students were asked to state their most preferred source of news. The table below shows the students’ choices
Out of the twenty five students interviewed, 19 chose online sources as their preferred medium for getting information with reasons ranging from easy access, burden-free, not requiring the audience to be sedentary, wide range of news without restriction to only selected news items by media houses and so on. 4 chose radio stations, while newspaper and television got one each.
It can be deduced from the above data that the preference for online news is very massive thereby making the internet a very fertile ground for news dissemination. What else does this mean? It also means that since the majority of Nigerian youths who are also the leaders of tomorrow are online, the media which is an agent of socialization can take advantage of the internet to educate the Nation’s populace and direct their mindset. The government, journalists in particular and media houses in general should use this very fertile medium as a vehicle for the transmission of culture, values, norms, skills and to solve societal problems.
Year Internet users** Penetration (% of pop) Total population Non-users (internetless) 1Y user change 1y user change Population change
2016* 86,219,965 46.1% 186,987,563 100,767,598 5% 4,124,967 2.63%
2015* 82,094,998 45.1% 182,201,962 100.106,964 8.4% 6,348,247 2.66%
2014 75,746,751 42.7% 177,475,986 101,729,235 15.3% 10,076,474 2.7%
2013 65,670,276 38% 172,816,517 107,146,241 19% 10,487,424 2.72%
2012 55,182.852 32.8% 168,204,403 113,057,551 18.5% 8,622,851 2.73%
2011 46,560,001 28.4% 163,770,669 117,210,668 21.7% 8,298,063 2.73%
2010 38,261,938 24% 159,424,742 121,162,804 23.3% 7,220,509 2.72%
2009 31,041,429 20% 155,207,145 124,165,716 29.5% 7,074,482 2.71%
2008 23,966,942 15.9% 151,115,683 127,148,736 140.6% 14,004,723 2.69%
2007 9,962,224 6.5% 147,152,502 137190,278 25.4% 2,015,189 2.68%
2006 7,947,035 5.5% 143,318,011 135,370,976 60.4% 2,992,013 2.66%
2005 4,955,023 3.5% 139,611,303 134,656,280 183.2% 3,205,447 2.63%
2004 1,749,576 1.3% 136,033,321 134,283,745 136.2% 1,009,007 2.6%
2003 740,569 0.6% 132,581,484 131,840,915 78.8% 326,383 2.58%
2002 414,185 0.3% 129,246,283 128,832,098 265.6% 300,896 2.56%
2001 113,289 0.1% 126,014,935 125,901,646 43.9% 34,549 2.55%
2000 78,740 0.1% 122,876,723 122,797,983 60.1% 29,565 2.55%
Source: (Stats, 2016)
According to scholars, there are two theories relating to the displacement effect of the traditional media by the new media (online media). (Paul S.N. Lee, Louis Leung, 2006, p. 2) rightly states that “the major focuses of the displacement effects of the emerging media studies usually involve time and functional displacement”. Citing Robinson (1981), they went further to say “that those who spent more time watching television spent less time listening to the radio and non-media activities”. The function displacing according to (Jiang Ling and Zhang Yue, 2015, p. 589) “refers to the fact that a new medium can provide better and more effective functions compared to the current media, and once the function of a medium is displaced by another medium, the former can probably be abandoned by the audiences and cease its existence in the media market”. On the other hand,
however, the real situation is that all functions provided by a medium for the audiences cannot be totally displaced by another new medium, thus, the function displaced between media is often reflected as time displacing, namely, people are more inclined to use new media with better function so that the time spent on other media declines, thus contributing to time displacing. Compared with current media, the new media can provide people with new and better experience on media usage. To get better media experience, the audience shift the time spent on the traditional media to the new media. As a c,onsequence, one approach of investigating the competition relationship between the new and old media is to focus on the change of time spent on the traditional media after the audiences are exposed to the new media. If the time spent on the traditional media after the audiences are exposed to the new media decreases, it means the new media have a displacing effect on the traditional media, namely, the new media takes advantage of traditional ones in the process of competing for audience attention. (Jiang Ling) et al
This displacement argument can be well settled when likened to an everyday occurrence in our society. For instance, in an office where a new staff is employed to carry out duties in partnership with an older staff, and the latter gets favored more than the former, then there is trouble for the former. This analogy is buttressed by (Paul S. N., Lee) et al where they said that “in the studies of the displacement effects of the internet, the consumption of news and information is a major area of concern. The typical features of the internet are interactivity, multifarious sources, hyperlinks, and instantaneity. The online audience is able to search for their own choice of in-depth information at their ownpace”
Some very clear factors have led to this displacement argument. These factors are the powers which the new media exercise over the traditional media. They are the advantages of the new media over the traditional media. They include:
Interactivity: this is one of the limitations of traditional media. Here, the new media is boundless on its interactive feature and have taken a most conspicuous advantage of it to draw the audience online. Journalism speaks for the people, but sometimes, the people will also want to speak for themselves, thus embracing the opportunity provided by the internet to air their views. (Anton, 2014) says that “journalism projects the voice of the people. It is an outlet to address key issues and spark needed conversations and debates. The advancement of technology has brought about new avenues and techniques allowing journalism to become increasingly more interactive.” Furthermore, he says that “the way in which journalism has become more interactive extend to the rise of social media networks, smart phones (providing the essential tools for any citizen journalist) and online publications which can serve as a public forum.” This feature brings the journalist and the audience together, where questions can be asked and answers given on real time basis.
Faster news: this means that events are posted as they are happening without going through the hassles of organizing equipments and arranging news items for broadcast. Most of these news are raw, unedited news which have not gone through the editorial table. Also, there is faster feedback in online journalism and as such, the journalist gets an evaluative yardstick for measuring the effectiveness of his message. This is important because for effective communication to take place there must be a feedback, which is much faster in online journalism than it is in the traditional media.
Shift-time: Again, the internet is shift-time which is a very important feature of the new media. This is especially good in the area of research where the audience can always refer to any news item whenever they like. Although the print media exhibits this kind of feature, that of the online media is vaster. Other advantages of online journalism include a coverage area on a global scale, multi-media features, information archiving, and unlimited internet space, frequent news updates not limited to time unlike the traditional media and so on. There are also some disadvantages which include news authenticity, difficulty in getting to some rural areas, lack of proper web journalists, re-direction to other sites, digital illiteracy of the larger audience and smaller screen space.￼
It can be inferred from here therefore that the new media (online journalism) has a displacing effect, dependent on time and function. Since the birth of the new media, audience focuses have shifted drastically from the traditional media to the new media and this shift has been steady. This has increased the time spent on the new media. However, since all the functions provided by one medium cannot be totally displaced, we can then rightly say that online journalism can displace the traditional media in some of its functions but cannot completely displace it with time.“As the saying goes, when one door closes, journalists should construct new doors that serve the interest of the public. If journalism in Nigeria is threatened by new technologies, it must be because editors and journalist are averse to change. When new media threaten and undermine traditional ways of doing journalism, journalists must respond positively by creating other credible channels of news and current affairs reporting that will satisfy the news needs of their audiences” (Obijiofor, 2016)
Like (Ersoy) would say, “Perhaps, some web publications will do a better job of creating profitable relationships with customers than print publications, especially those that do a good job in identifying audiences who are on the web. Print publications may lose customers to web publications if they don’t find ways to deliver news and information and services to those web-savvy customers in print as well as on the web”. To this end, the traditional media should try as much as possible to include interesting and captivating items in their broadcast and publications so as to attract more audience to their selves.
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Wikipedia. (n.d.). Digital journalism. Retrieved February 22, 2016, from http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/digital_journalism