Abstract: The research investigated the influence of online news on hardcopy newspaper patronage in Nigeria. Reading from online news websites, blogs, and social media are on the increase among students as technology is becoming more advanced to the extent that students can access news online using their smartphones and computer. Therefore, led to the sales of few copies of newspapers due to the fact that people read the news as it breaks not necessarily waiting till another day to read from newspapers. The study was anchored on Technological Determinism Theory. A survey research method was adopted coupled with copies of questionnaires that were administered within the International Institute of Journalism, Uyo with 100 students were drawn as sample size using non-probability method (accidental technique.) frequency and percentage method of data analysis was used to analyze data. From the findings, it was clear that soon there will be fewer hard copies of newspapers in circulation as more readers now prefer online newspapers. It was evident that a larger percentage of the respondents visit online for news regularly especially students who cannot do without surfing the net. It was recommended that media outfits should be diversified in their production by convergent to the new media which is invoked now in order to remain in the race.
1.1 Background to the study
Communication is a basic human need nd for that reason, man has always found a means of satisfying this need. It is believed that no human society can function effectively if there is no exchange of ideas, experiences, etc between and among the people within the society since no man can live in isolation of others.
The earliest forms of trado-media, interpersonal and group forms of communication had the benefit of being easy to use and did not necessarily need complex technologies. The weaknesses of not being able to communicate to large audience led to the development of mass media such as: telegraph, newspapers, magazines, radio, television and to the recent Internet/ ICT/ Social media which has helped in broadening the scope of interpersonal and mass communication.
However, almost all human activities on earth have been revolutionized and witness tremendous change from its conventional process due to the advancement in information and communication technology especially the internet in this 21st century. Hence, one of the human activities greatly influenced in this era are mode of communication, information dissemination and interaction. It has enhanced access to the people and information, it facilities quicker, cheaper and easier means of communication either interpersonal level or mass communication level
Kur (2004) cited in Awake (2002) posits that the dynamic nature of the 2ls century and more centuries to come rest on technological revolution. No wonder, Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian English Professor in 1964 propounded the concept of “Global Village” regarding the entire globe as having the potentials of becoming a “global community” where information and news about anything and anywhere in the world would be readily available for anyone’s consumption in any part of the world, without mincing word, the impact of modern communication technology in achieving this feat cannot be underestimated.
It should be noted that the Internet (international network or inter-network) is behind all other modern communication technology that enables access to the entire people in the globe at a very fast, effective and efficient manner (Wikipedia, 2016).
To access the internet, you are not only need an internet connection, but also need a device to access the internet. The range of devices to connect to the internet is increasing by the day. We access the internet on desktop, laptop computers and now on Smartphone or iPad, tablet, and the internet can now be to a smart TV among other devices.
As of January 2021, there were 4.66 billion active internet users worldwide which is 59.5 percent of the global population. Of this total, 92.6 percent (4.32 billion) accessed the internet via mobile phones (Joseph, 2021).
In 2019, the number of internet users worldwide stood at 3.97 billion, which means that more than half of the global population is currently connected to the world wide web. But while the digital population is visibly growing in many parts of the world, internet access and availability can differ significantly depending on the region. As of the first quarter of 2021, China was ranked first among the countries with the most internet users. China had 854 million internet users, more than double the amount of third-ranked United States with just over 313 million internet users. Nigeria is now in 6th position worldwide with 126.8 million (Joseph, 2021).
The growing number of internet users is one of the factors responsible for media convergence i.e reading, viewing and watching news online practicable. For instance, the number of internet users in Nigeria has further increased to 93.4 million, according to a new report on Internet status in the country. The report obtained by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
Meanwhile, with the growth of the Internet, access to newspaper online became partially possible, this development has in no small way affected hardcopy newspapers and its circulation volumes. It should be recalled that newspaper can be seen as a set of large printed sheets of paper containing news, articles, advertisement etc. and published every day or every week and become stale the next day when new copy emerged. Sequel to the above notion, it could be safely said that online news are the publications of print media (Newspapers) that are made available on the internet which can be easily globally.
Today, almost all print media organizations are now migrated online to post the softcopy of their hard copy news with lots of traffics and adverts, it helps them to reduce cost of production and circulation and helps in competing with broadcast media as they can update it any time as news breaks while it also offers them the opportunity to reedit their copy after publishing which can never be possible in hardcopy.
However, as a result of this development, lots of undergraduates and unemployed graduates have turn online news into business by creating their news blogs, in fact, this phenomenon has made almost everybody a journalist “citizen journalist”.
Similarly, one of the common activities on the internet is news reading or watching either on newspapers website or through bloggers including watching live and podcast news video on video-tube (Youtube), vloggers (video bloggers) on their computer, and smartphone.
In a recent research conducted by Laittos Multimedia and Research Institute-LMRI (2019) revealed that one of the reasons for online news popularity is because it is cheap and convenient comparing to purchase of a copy of newspaper everyday at N200 which become stale after some minute as new events breaks every hours (LMRI, 2019). It is against this background that the research investigates the influence of online news on hardcopy newspaper patronage in Nigeria.
1.2 Problem Statement
At least every year since 2010 a newspaper seize printing and circulating hardcopy particularly in developed nations such as US and UK due to low circulation and emergency of the news online. One of such newspaper is the Independence which was established in 1986 and stop hardcopy printing 20 March 2016, Newsweek magazine ceased print publication in December 31, 2012, issue and transitioned to an all-digital format, called Newsweek Global (Christine and David, 2012). Also, foremost Nigerian tabloid, The Guardian, sacked over 100 staff as a result of the economic hardship in the country (Dokunola, 2016).
Researches from different scholars and institutions in the recent time have shown that there are decline in newspaper buying and reading habits among people in Nigeria. In a research conducted by Laittos Multimedia and Research Institute (2015) shows that out of 50 persons only one buys newspaper not even on a regular basis.
Also, a survey conducted by Afrobarometer in 12 African countries, including Nigeria, in 2003 indicates that only 13 percent of the sampled population professes to read a daily newspaper.
Another survey by the National Population Commission in Nigeria reveals that most Nigerians neither buy nor have access to newspapers, while newspaper readership is generally low in all zones in the count (http://population.gov.ng).
However, a survey by the World Bank in 2002 (quoted in http://population.gov.ng) reveals that media exposure in Africa is often collective with many users crowding round television or sharing a single newspaper. This practice is common in Nigeria, with the prevalence of the free readers’ club where people pay a token to read as many newspapers as they wished or borrowing from kin, workmate and peers.
Similarly, Adeniran, S. (2015) posits in his findings that large copies of newspapers are sold during national trending event such as election, new government policies e.g budget, appointment of top federal government cabinet, unusual such as mass death etc.
However, Wikipedia records that in 2007 there were 6,580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a day. The late 2000s to early 2010s global recession, combined with the rapid growth of web-based alternatives, caused a serious decline in advertising and circulation of newspapers, as many papers closed or sharply retrenched operations. It is against this background that the research investigates the influence of online news on hardcopy newspaper patronage in Nigeria.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
- To examine the extent at which students of International Institute of Journalism, Uyo are using online news.
- To understand some of the factor(s) that is/are responsible for students choice between hardcopy and online news.
1.4 Research Questions
- To what extent do students of International Institute of Journalism, Uyo are using online news?
- What are some of the factor(s) that is/are responsible for students choice between hardcopy and online news?
1.5 Significance of the Study
Media houses/ practitioner: The study affords newspaper organizations the opportunity to work out modalities with a view to know what type of information people are seeking online and how to meet this gratification.
Public: It exposes more people to the existence of online news especially how to determine credible sources. This will turn to boost the awareness and facilitate the patronage of online news especially among undergraduates.
Government/NBC: Government through its various agencies such as NBC, BON among other see more reasons and techniques on how to regulate the online bloggers to prevent hate word and spreading propaganda that can mislead people.
Researcher: Future researchers and students will find the material relevant as it will form bulk literature that exist in the field of mass communication, journalism and digital communication etc that they can lay hands on when carrying out research related or similar to this.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study which examined research investigated the influence of online news on hardcopy newspaper patronage in Nigeria was narrowed in scope to students of International Institute of Journalism, Uyo. Therefore, the geographical scope of this study shall be within Akwa Ibom state.
The institution is selected because of its proximity to the researcher as it will be difficult if not impossible to study all students across the tertiary institutions in Nigerian due to time available for this study, other considerable factors are geographical locations, age, sex and educational background of the respondents were considered before administration of questionnaire.
1.7 Operational Definition of the Terms
The following terms would be defined in relation to the research work.
Online News: These are the news posted on the internet on either newspapers’ websites or bloggers webpage and other social media platforms such as Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram and Twitter etc.
Hardcopy Newspapers: These are the printed copy of the newspaper otherwise called hardcopy which are circulated from place to play through van, tricycle, vendors etc
Newspaper Patronage: The art of buying or reading news either the printed or softcopy online by the students International Institute of Journalism, Uyo.