INFLUENCE OF INTERNET ON NEWSPAPER READERSHIP A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF ON-LINE AND HARD-COPY NEWSPAPER READERSHIP IN PORT-HARCOURT METROPOLIS

INTERNET ON NEWSPAPER READERSHIP A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF ON-LINE AND HARD-COPY NEWSPAPER READERSHIP

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CHAPTER :   1-5 Chapters

ABSTRACT

The advent of Internet has brought together those near and far, transcending boundary barriers, in time and space worldwide and this has been made possible via computer. Thus, the latest effect of computer bothers on the use of it to propagate journalism worldwide via the Internet. The timely update of on-line newspaper, its universality, easy accessibility, easy navigation, interactivity features and other unique features of it have brought popularity to Internet newspaper. Due to its unique features readers’ taste is already moving towards on-line newspaper. Though the effect is relatively small as at now, this research tries to explore the influence of Internet on newspaper readership looking at both on-line and hard-copy; with the aim of finding-out who on-line readers are, to know how often newspaper readers visit the Internet and to find out if on-line will replace hard-copy newspaper. Survey method was adopted to generate data from respondents in order to arrive at the research findings. The findings reveal that younger ages read on-line copies more than the older ones though; hard-copy still thrives beyond reasonable doubt. However, print media has on-line competitor. Recommendations were made based on the findings.

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION
1. 1 Background of the Study

Our present forms of popular text-based news media – hardcopy and computer-mediated

presentation – are historically separated by a gulf some two centuries wide, but in current cultural practice they coexist. The Internet is the fastest growing medium in history. The digitalisations, convergence of computer and telephony technologies, which are the linchpin of the Internet, have greatly influenced the way news and information are produced and disseminated. Given the increasing use of the Internet technology, the development of on-line newspapers as a new way of publishing has introduced a new, efficient and fast way of disseminating and accessing news (Khan, 1999). On-line newspapers were considered a revolution in mass media in the 1990s (Thie1, 1998). Their characteristics of hypertext, interactivity, and multimedia necessitated a new model of journalism and reading behaviour (Massey & Levy 1999: 138-151). The new model created design challenges, such as, how should content be organized in the on-line environment, what should the on-line version provide that the printed version has not? Which parts of a newspaper’s traditional format could be carried over to an on-line newspaper and what parts must be let go; in short, how much should an on-line newspaper resemble the print product are some of the challenges of new technology.

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There are various areas of research in print media but readership studies will be considered here; it serves to determine who reads a publication, what items are read, and what gratifications the readers get from their choices. Magazine and newspaper research began in 1920s and for much of its early existence was qualitative in nature (Wimmer & Dominick, 2003: 306) while quantitative research however started in 1950s. Since the late 90s growth in development and readership has been dramatic with most large and medium newspapers in Nigeria now having an on-line presence. According to Nielsen Net-Ratings Survey, cited in Donatello (2002), one in four web users in 2000 read news on-line with many reading it daily or weekly such that it became an important news channel. Their popularity survived the dotcom crash of 2001/2002 and readership increased during Iraq war when desire for as-it-happens news created demand for supplements to television and print media news, particularly among at-work readers and the younger generation (Palser 2003). Despite the dramatic growth, or perhaps because of it, factors affecting the quality of on-line newspapers remain partially understood.

Quality issues surrounding website design, in general, have been studied: issues addressed include website usability and effectiveness (Palmer, 2002; Nielsen, 1999; Nielsen & Tahir (2001), information or content quality (Smith 1997: 70-95), visual and multimedia design (Johnson & Nemetz 1998 cited in Abdulla et al 2002), and website quality dimensions (Zhang & Dran 2000: 1253-1268). In this work the researcher adopts a holistic view comparing print and on-line newspapers – if on-line will replace hard-copy newspaper: defining it as meeting the needs of users, incorporating content quality, multimedia use and interactivity since the ultimate aim of newspaper website quality is to attract and retain readers.

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The Internet and World Wide Web have changed the world and this has not exempted the mass media since the Net and the Web sit at the centre of virtually all the media convergence hence the prediction of Marshall McLuhan’s expression of the global village has come to reality. The life-wire of human co-existence is communication – through which we share meanings, exchange ideas, goods and services feelings, and thoughts, in short, expressions are exchanged and these have gone beyond manual to electronic or appropriately called digital level. In the same vein, Okwechime (2007: 351) views modern communication to have been hinged on the use of technology-driven in the mass media like newspapers, magazines, periodicals, the radio, television, cinema and the Internet – all being powered by the everevolving information and communication technologies (ICTs).

In 2001, John Pavlik (as cited in Ndangam, 2008: 586) compared Internet news to the equivalent of a library that carries more than 4925 daily newspapers from around the world. In the rapidly changing operation of web versions of their hard-copy, more people with access to networked computers turn to the Internet for news. For instance, the number of newspapers in Italy has gone on-line as a means of attracting young and adult audiences who refuse to spend money on the hard-copy. This research work explores the motive of the on-line readers in Nigeria in spite of the fact that this technology is available to minority of 140 million Nigerians.

The use of Internet in communication has revolutionized the whole business of mass communication; though, no new medium can send the old one packing but advancement in technology has definitely and will continue to alter the functions of each medium. Hence, the use of Internet through its dynamism and interactivity is rapidly changing the media industry and the practices of mass communication in Nigeria viz-a-viz its effects on hard-copy.

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