USES AND IMPLICATIONS OF SOCIAL MEDIA ON PRESS OBJECTIVITY

ABSTRACT: The study investigated the uses and implications of social media on press objectivity with a focus on NUJ, Osogbo. The proliferation of information communication technology and the emergence of social media has made it possible to find out about events without actually being there. Journalists can report news across the world over the internet while citizen can also report event without necessarily a graduate of media or journalism. To achieve this study, a critical review of related literature, a conceptual framework was made. The study was also anchored on Technological determinism and Source Credibility. A survey research method was used while data were collected using a questionnaire. The questionnaire was administered to 250 respondents that were drawn using the non-probability method. Out of 250 copies of the questionnaire that were administered, 221 copies were turned and analysed using frequency and percentage with tables. Findings show that the majority of the respondents (58%) use social media lots while it is obvious that substantial numbers of the respondents use Smartphones and other latest devices such as iPad, iPhones and tablets to access the social media and internet. It is evident that many of the respondents (82%) spend a reasonable amount of time on social media doing different things. Also, Whatsapp, Facebook and Instagram are the most preferred social media among the respondents. Respondents (58%) admitted that social media affected press objectivity. Also, the majority of the respondents (65.6%) believe in the information they receive on social media on averagely. Many of the respondents said social media has to a large extent diminishes the popularity of traditional media among the people. The study recommends that media organizations and press bodies should organize seminars and workshops to sensitize and educate journalists on the impact of social media tools and how they can embrace social media to improve their skills and professionalism.


SOCIAL MEDIA ON PRESS OBJECTIVITY

CHAPTER ONE

 INTRODUCTION

1.1      Background to the Study

A century and a half ago, communication between countries involved physical presence. A reporter had to run as fast as possible back to the newsroom after interviewing and tried to beat the competition to print. With the advent of the digital age, the role of the journalist changed.

The inception of information communication technology 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. It can be simply put that advancement in modern technology has revolutionized all facets of communication during the past decades. Access to 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 potential 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.

It is should be emphasised that 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 also 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 which include the use of social media in the media.

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 to 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) defines 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.”

It is imperative to note the profound effect the new technologies (and their 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 of 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 organizations and delivery in media institutions.

1.2     Statement of the Problem

The impact of social media in today’s world of communication, especially journalism cannot be overlooked. 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 the 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 factors 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 whereas, social media lack gatekeepers as anyone can post and share information on it without being sure of the source and as a result poses credibility and objectivity challenge in the media world.

It is against this background that the study examined the implications of social media on press objectivity in order to know how social media have shaped journalism and its implications on press objectivity and credibility.

1.3      Objectives of the Study
i. To examine whether the advent of social media has affected press objectivity.

ii. To determine the extent at which social media diminishes the popularity of traditional media.

1.4 Research Questions
i. To what extent has the advent of social media affected press objectivity?
ii. To what extent has social media diminished the popularity of traditional media among the people?

1.5 Scope of the Study
The study which examines the implications of social media on press objectivity has been narrowed in scope to journalists in Osun State in order to find answers to this research problem. Another factor responsible for selecting journalists in Osun State is due to proximity to the researcher.

1.6      Significance of the Study
The study seeks to establish effective ways of integrating social media platforms into the practice of journalism particularly among journalists in Nigeria with the hope to curb and minimise the challenges and negative implications that social media can bring to journalism practice.

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 the 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 relation to the practice of journalism.

1.7      Operational Definition of Terms
Implications: This means both the positive and negative impact of social media on press objectivity among other things.

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’ the common social media used in among students and youth in Nigeria are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.

Press Objectivity: This means the process of ensuring media in terms of credibility and reliability of reports disseminated in the media.

News Gathering and Dissemination: It is a process by which the journalists in Osun state collect, edit and disseminate information via social media platforms.

Citizen Journalism: Citizen journalism is a global society in which everyone is a journalist or can be, and where everyone has a right (and, increasingly, access to the plug and play technological equipment and know-how) not just to express but also to circulate information and opinions.

Social media: These are digital platforms for social interaction, communication and information that were built on web 2.0 which are now use in the media for various activities such as news gathering, feedback on programme, sharing of media content online etc.


USES AND IMPLICATIONS OF SOCIAL MEDIA ON PRESS OBJECTIVITY


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