It is known especially in recent times that the media serve the public directly as a source, both of information and guidance. It is also a well known fact that the new media has continued to reshape the face of journalism in the world both positively and negatively. There is no doubt that the mass media especially in third world countries like Nigeria, are feeling the impact. Information technology is increasingly affecting our lives in a manner which has become common place. Journalism is also one area which technology has affected. This journalism has been undergoing dramatic changes as it adapts to and takes advantage of digital technologies. New media developments are having a profound effect on all levels of the journalistic enterprise. The pace of these changes is quickening, altering the practice of the profession as never before. These changes, which encompasses a wide range of activities from news gathering to editing and dissemination, are bringing many benefits, but with attendant challenges. Media organizations as any other social institutions have always used technology in the production and distribution process. They have been sensitive to innovations in communication technologies, mainly due to economic reasons. In the last decades of the 20th century, print media outfits were profitable business, but now, all indicators are showing warning lights. Readership is declining steadily especially among young readers who are now more attracted dependent on the Internet for their news. Media houses especially hard copies of newspapers, magazines and the rest, are gradually going into extinction and the resource base of various media houses is gradually dwindling. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) which is the mother umbrella of all the media house is also being affected by this development. Many of its `would be’ subscribers now prefer the internet to read and get their news stories at the confines of their room, offices etc. Readers prefer to click and pay less to get news than patronize hard copies of newspapers, magazines. This research work is geared towards suggesting alternative money making ventures for various media houses and also making suggestions to the government on how best to boost the functionality of the agency.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
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 Deuze, M. (2003). 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 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 Felix U.T. (2011). The migration of newspapers and television outfits to the web has been consequently accompanied with that of its readership and viewership respectively. However, much as this poses a dilemma, it has jolted journalists and media organizations into the realization that being technologically sorry is the only sure means of remaining relevant in an increasingly changing and competitive journalism, and a good number of them are stepping up to the plate Felix U.T. (2011).
The migration of major newspaper outfits in the country to the internet reaffirms this. For instance, The Punch now runs an online press which avails its readers (both local and Diaspora) the opportunity to access news stories, and connect with the press on a social network to access and respond to news feeds through their mobile service Aishat, A.S. (2013). It also features opinion polls that aids in the reception of feedback from its readers. Some other news outfit go further to accord to its readers the liberty to upload reports of current news-worthy events within their vicinity. Vanguard offers to its readers such as service, Daily Sun in addition offers a search engine which enables its readers to rapidly retrieve information on trending events Aishat, A.S. (2013). Funny enough, it also does offers, for its fun-loving readers, a peculiar dating service. All these commendable developments in the online media vividly portray the commitment of the online press and media practitioners towards a sustainable growth and efficacy of online journalism in Nigeria.
This, considered from a futuristic viewpoint indubitably, guarantees a high prospect of survival, longevity, and success of online journalism in Nigeria. Nigeria has 294 radio and Television stations most of which also transmit on the internet for example Wazobia Fm and Cool Fm, which are both independent radio stations, have their audio programmes streamed live Ifeoma, T.A. (2010). Their audiences can dick, download and listen to these programmes (http://wazobiafm.com/). In addition, Cool Fm produces original videos, has a photo Gallery titled “Cool photos”, online games titled “Cool Games”, and maintains presence on Facebook and Twitter. Other features on its website include an opinion poll site titled “Football Polls” and a “Weather Forecast Site (http://www.coolfm.us/.).
Television stations in Nigeria are not left out as a large number of them maintain presence on the web, where they transmit live programmes. Channels Television, a predominantly news television station, in addition to its live transmission, produces original news videos as well as offering links to YouTube videos. It also maintains presence on Facebook and Twitler, gives “Breaking News” through email alerts to subscribers, conducts “opinion polls” and gives Weather Reports,
Online journalism involves the gathering, assessing, creating, presenting and reporting of facts produced via the internet, by journalists for a form of reward Agba, P.C. (2001). The primary product of journalism, which is news, is presented solely or in combination as text, audio, video and some interactive forms, and disseminated through media platforms.
One of the challenges that online journalism faces in Nigeria today is constant power failure. This makes accessibility and connectivity, to the internet for online news, impossible or inconvenient for both journalists and the masses Agba, P.C. (2001).
Another challenge that online journalism faces in Nigeria is the temporary loss in internet connection. This can obstruct a news organization from laying claim to the scoop of information. It can also hinder the masses from having access to the news published online.
The exploitation of the internet by the masses, to obtain or read news articles on newspaper websites without having to pay for the news obtained, is also a challenge to online journalism in Nigeria. This does not favour news websites because very few newspapers will claim to have made money from their websites, which are mostly free to viewers Aishat, A.S. (2013).
Another challenge facing online journalism is that the personnel is growing worse and is lacking in skill. There is lack of expertise and deterioration in trained personnel. This also leads to undermining the efficiency of news reporters and news products by the masses.
Convergence is another challenge facing online journalism in Nigeria. Media convergence is a form of cross-media cooperation, usually involving broadcast, print, photography and internet sites. Convergence journalism also adds more elements and details to a story through the use of more than one outlet to tell the story Ifeoma, T.A. (2010). Convergence reporters must be trained to report in multiple media. There should be numerous skills able to work in a converged media environment.
Another challenge facing online journalism is the inability to balance speed and accuracy by online journalists. This creates a great risk of disseminating inaccurate news, in an attempt to keep news current within minutes of an event’s occurrence.
Other prospects of online journalism are: Government’s negligence in providing internet facilities and appliances, high cost of surfing and limited readership; because a lot of people are still computer illiterate.
The numerous challenges that online journalism faces in Nigeria can be remedied if proper attention is given to them by the government, the masses and even the journalists.
Despite the challenges faced by online journalism in Nigeria, there are still prospects. Only a few publishers had access to printing press, when printing was the only medium available to journalists, but online journalism has given journalists the opportunity to reach their audience simultaneously Ifeoma, T.A. (2010).
According to Christoph Steck, the Director Public Policy and Internet for Telefonica, the internet is facing three main challenges, which are: Accessibility, Open Internet and Digital Confidence. Online journalism in Nigeria will create an information society with massive awareness of rights, liberties and freedom due to its informal style of education through its online publications, thereby increasing the number of internet users in the country and the use of information technology in the country. The number of internet users in Nigeria has also been rising consistently; this is a prospect of online journalism in Nigeria.
Also, online journalism has been made more effective through the emergence of Multimedia Journalism. Multimedia journalism is the collective use of many media types, such as text, audio, sound, images, graphics, animation, video, pictures and photographs to convey information or to tell an interesting story.
Another prospect of online journalism is that it has reduced the rigorous efforts that news reporters go through to get news report to the editor’s desk before the deadline Felix U.T. (2011). It has also created urgency in media reporting.
Other prospects of online journalism in Nigeria are: Computer literacy has been made paramount by the society, wider coverage of events and provision of Nigerian journalists with international exposure.
The challenges and prospects of online journalism given above show that there’s a lot of work to be done but online journalism is also showing a great deal of improvement.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Despite the challenges faced by online journalism in Nigeria, there are still prospects. Only a few publishers had access to printing press, when printing was the only medium available to journalists, but online journalism has given journalists the opportunity to reach their audience simultaneously.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
This study is aimed at achieving the following objectives;
- To examine the benefits of online journalism practice in Nigeria.
- To find out the challenges confronting online journalism practice in Nigeria.
- To examine the prospects of online journalism practice in Nigeria.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTION
- What are the benefits of online journalism practice in Nigeria?
- What are the challenges confronting online journalism practice in Nigeria?
- What are the prospect of online journalism practice in Nigeria?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Online journalism allows for connection and discussion at levels that print does not offer on its own. People can comment on articles and start discussion boards to discuss articles. Before the internet, spontaneous discussion between readers who had never met was impossible. The process of discussing a news item is a big portion of what makes for online journalism. People add to the story and connect with other people who want to discuss the topic.Online journalism creates an opportunity for niche audiences allowing people to have more options as to what to view and read.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study would attempt to explain the influence of online journalism on revenue generation of Nigeria new media a study of punch newspaper
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