EFFECTIVENESS OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN NEWS GATHERING AND DISSEMINATION

ABSTRACT: The research examined the effectiveness of social media in news gathering and dissemination: a study of The proliferation of ICT such as the internet has made it possible to find out about events without actually being there. Journalists can report news across the world over the internet. Throughout history, developments in technology and communication have gone hand-in-hand, and the latest technological developments such as the internet have resulted in the advancement of the science of communication to a new level. The process of human communication has evolved over the years, with many path-breaking inventions and discoveries heralding revolutions. The invention of pictographs or the first written communication in the ancient world brought about written communication. These writings were on stone, and remained immobile. To achieve this aim, a critical review to related literature was made. Relevant theory which was used to mediamophosis and technological determinism. Quantitative research design was used in which cross-sectional survey method was adopted while the data collection instrument was questionnaire. Subjects were drawn from journalists in Lagos metropolis particularly with TVC Lagos, using purposive sampling technique. Findings showed that social media have enhanced the productivity of journalists in Lagos state and a great number of journalists use them to source for news among other things. It was recommended that journalists should be careful in using stories generated via social media because the platform lack gatekeepers.


SOCIAL MEDIA IN NEWS GATHERING

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background to the Study

Advancement in modern technology has revolutionized all facets of communication during the past decades. Access to the people and information practically anywhere and anytime in the world has been quicker, cheaper and easier.

Kur (2004) in Awake (2002) posits that the dynamic nature of the 21st 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 and without mincing word, the impact of modern communication technology in achieving this feat cannot be underestimated.

Internet is a short form of international network or inter-network which is a means of communication which is behind all other modern technology that is capable of reaching the entire people in the globe at a very fast, effective and efficient manner. The Internet is a global network connecting millions of computers. More than 190 countries are linked into exchanges of data, news and opinions. (Wikipedia, 2016).

To access the internet, you not only need an internet connection, but you 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 tablet, and the internet is now on a smart TV among other devices.

However, the emergence of the Internet in this century has brought a new means of gathering and disseminating information which is the integration of social media application to the practice of journalism. It is observed that there is high growth in the number of online news and citizen journalism in Nigeria and beyond which has not only been facilitated by the internet but also by the other information and communication technology such as digital camera, smartphones, laptop etc. The contribution of the internet to every facet of human endeavour does not leave any stone unturned but cut across every little thing that we suggest among which include the use of social media in the media.

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), the telecoms industry regulator, indicated the country has recorded about 14 percent growth in mobile internet subscriptions between January and end of July 2015. According to the data, which shows that Nigeria’s mobile Internet ecosystem is gaining momentum, telecoms networks collectively boosted mobile Internet subscriptions on their networks from 81.8 million in January to 93.4 million in July (NCC, 2016).

The media industry is undergoing a major transformation due to the social media revolution. If Karl Marx is correct that the tool (symbolizing the means and mode of production) determines the type of society (the relations of production) we find ourselves in, then information society theorists have a point in defining the present moment of modern society as one determined by new media technology (Jacobs 2008).

Social media is related with new technology and is used for social interaction by use of highly assessable and scalable communication techniques. Social media is the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue. Tito (2013) cited in Kaplan and Heinlein (2009) define social media as “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, which allows the creation and exchange of user-generated content.”

Tito (2013) further states that social networking sites are applications that enable users to connect by creating  personal information profiles, inviting friends and colleagues to have access to those profiles, and sending e-mails and instant messages between each other. Businesses may also refer to social media as consumer-generated media (CGM). Is the term most commonly used to describe media content generated by viewers and other terms that are often used include consumer  generated media and user-generated content (USG).

A common thread running through all definitions of social media is a blending of technology and social interaction for the co-creation of value (Muema & Mwaura 2012). Some of these platforms are Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and many others which provide online forums and interactive feedback. It is imperative to note the profound effect the new technologies (and its utilization) are having on global culture and cultural industries such as the media in all its manifestations. Social media technology is rapidly evolving the media industry and the practices of mass communications.

Simply making information available is not enough for today’s public. Today’s audiences expect to be able to choose what they read, and most believe they should be able to contribute content and opinions, too. This shift, sometimes called the social media revolution, is not the death of journalism; it’s the birth o f a democratic movement that emphasizes some of  journalism’s key factors: transparency, honesty, and giving a voice to the person who doesn’t have one (Harper 2010). Many media houses in Nigeria report and comment on how the Internet and social media, especially social networks, have begun to seriously affect news organizations and how they operate.

The main purpose of this study is to establish how the social media revolution has changed and will continue to change news organization and delivery in media institutions with a specific reference to the TVC as a case study. The online social-interactive media, more specifically social network sites, blogs, micro-blogs like Twitter, video-sharing sites like You Tube and online discussion forums like Facebook have quickly made themselves essential modern journalism tools for news journalists. The adoption of social media tools to conduct business activities is on the rise and the use of these tools and technologies poses significant challenges and opportunities in the media industry in Nigeria. Social media is truly a global phenomenon.

1.1.2    Historical Overview of TVC

TVC otherwise known as TV Continental News was launched in Nigeria on February 28, 2013 and June 17, 2013 in UK with offices and correspondents across Nigeria and Africa (TVC, 2016). TVC is a 24-hour private television news channel owned by Continental Broadcasting Service Nigeria Ltd., based in Lagos and from its inception the network promoted itself as the “first Pan-African news agency” with plans to open offices in Johannesburg, Nairobi, Accra and Dakar. The channel airs on British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc (BSY) in the UK, Naspers Ltd. (NPN)’s DStv and Startimes in Nigeria, and Multi TV in Ghana (TVC, 2016).

Its current CEO is Nigel Parsons, former head of Al Jazeera English, and its deputy CEO is Lemi Olalemi, former director of programmes at Channels TV. One of the goals of the network is to offer a different perspective to many foreign media stereotypes about Africa. Parsons stated “Without shying away from reporting the conflicts or the corruption, the famines or the wars, the mission of TVC News is also to tell the many positive stories coming out of Africa. Stories – good or bad – will be told ‘through African eyes’.

The network aired its first public broadcasting run on February 28, 2013. It began airing in the UK on BSkyB on June 17, 2013.

1.1.3    Offices and Bureaus 

  1. Offices and correspondents across Nigeria especially Abuja, PortHarcourt, and
  2. Africa such as Ghana, South Africa, Kenya etc 
  3. The channel airs on British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc (BSY) in the UK. Meaning that it operates through UK too with reporters in UK feed Nigeria office.
  4. It has USA based reporters feeding Nigeria arm and UK arms with USA update about Africa (TVC, 2016).

1.2       STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

The impact of social media in today’s world of communication, especially journalism cannot be over-looked. Since its arrival social media have certainly changed the way journalists work, how stories are developed and disseminated.

Internet-based news delivery vehicles are already making their presence felt in the media houses in Nigeria and world in general. A wide array of social media tools are used to transmit news to the audience. Journalism is undergoing a fundamental transformation and one of the key reasons cited for this transformation is the changing nature of technology. We have seen the globalization of news.  The social actors involved in the construction of news have expanded and extended outside of the newsroom resulting in the expansion of the locus of news production. Social feedback, social surveillance, and gate-keeping are things never associated with the press theories long time ago have become widely recognized functions of the local media in the country.

Media convergence and the integration of social media sites in news gathering and delivery present many challenges and  prospects which need to be investigated. Social media sites have and continue to foster new patterns of media consumption and changes in the competitive environment of media organizations. The traditional media lacks interactivity and participatory in news gathering and delivery and the adoption of social networking sites has transformed the media landscape.

It is against this background that the study examines the effectiveness of social media in news gathering and dissemination with a focus on the Television Continental (TVC, Lagos) in order to know how social media have impacted on TVC journalists in Lagos with regards to their journalistic duties.

1.3       OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

The study has the following objectives:

  1. To ascertain the type of social media tool that is often used by TVC Lagos in gathering and disseminating information.
  2. To evaluate how social media have enhanced the news gathering and dissemination of TVC.

1.4       RESEARCH QUESTIONS

  1. What type of social media tool are often used by TVC Lagos in gathering and disseminating information?
  2. How has social media enhanced the news gathering and dissemination of TVC?

1.5       SCOPE OF THE STUDY

The study which investigated the effectiveness of social media in news gathering and dissemination was confined to the Television Continental (TVC, Lagos).  TVC Lagos was selected because is one of the few media outfits in Nigeria that uses social media often for news gathering and dissemination. Another factor for selecting TVC is its proximity to the researcher while inadequate time to study all mass media organizations in Nigeria, lack of funds to travel around and other considerable logistics make TVC a reference point.       

1.6       SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

The study seeks to establish effective ways of integrating social media platforms into the practice of journalism particularly in TVC Lagos. It aims to investigate the impact of social media application on news gathering and dissemination at the Television Continental (TVC, Lagos).

The study will identify the opportunities and challenges the social media networks provide in news gathering and delivery and attempt to suggest the best practices for the effective utilization of the social networking sites to advance growth of business in the media house studied.

Through the study, the media house will recognize the best approaches to use in the integration of the social media networking sites in originating and reporting news content to the targeted consumers.

The study will help journalists to know how to effectively utilise social media tools for news gathering and dissemination as well as provide them with a guide on how to write online stories. Findings will also arm journalists on how to effectively interact and integrate their audience online and identify their information needs while journalists who are yet to employ the platform will see reasons to embrace social media as veritable tools to increase productivity.

The study will fill a new gap as it will add to the body of literature and empirical studies that is available for the students, researchers and institutions that may want to study social media in relations to the practice of journalism.

1.7       OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS

Social Media: Social networking sites are ‘web-based services that allow individuals to construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system; articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection; and view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system.

Effectiveness: This refers to the best way to utilise social media for news gathering and dissemination by the TVC.

News gathering and dissemination: It is a process by which the TVC collect, edit and disseminate information via social media platforms.

TVC: TVC otherwise known as TV Continental News was launched in Nigeria on February 28, 2013 and June 17, 2013 in UK with offices and correspondents across Nigeria and Africa. TVC is a 24-hour private television news channel owned by Continental Broadcasting Service Nigeria Ltd., based in Lagos and from its inception the network promoted itself as the “first Pan-African news agency” with plans to open offices in Johannesburg, Nairobi, Accra and Dakar. The channel airs on British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc (BSY) in the UK, Naspers Ltd. (NPN)’s DStv and Startimes in Nigeria, and Multi TV in Ghana.


EFFECTIVENESS OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN NEWS GATHERING AND DISSEMINATION


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