AN EVALUATION OF THE INFLUENCE OF ONLINE NEWSPAPERS ON THEIR PRINT VERSIONS’ READERSHIP AND REVENUE AMONGST POSTGRADUATE STUDENTS IN SOUTH-EAST, NIGERIA

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ABSTRACT
This study investigated the influence of online newspapers on their print versions’ readership and revenue amongst Postgraduate students in South-East Nigeria The qualitative and quantitative methods employed focused on the research questions. Tables, figures and simple percentage counts were employed in making the research data easily understandable. The in-depth interview was employed in gathering data from Online Editors of The Punch, The Guardian, Vanguard, The Sun, The Nation, ThisDay and Business Day newspapers. Findings revealed that 542 (60%) of the online newspaper readers were motivated by the use of pictures, ease of reading. The t-test result for the first hypothesis on readership motivation showed that of the entire paired sample tests, the only one that was accepted was the one on ‘cheapness’ of either the online or offline newspapers as represented by (.882) significance against others as represented by (.000) significance. The Chi-square tests revealed that the perception of The Sun, The Punch, The Nation, ThisDay, Business Day and Vanguard newspapers with respect to timely, authoritative, popular and currency ratings of their usage did not depend on their online or print attributes because the test values are greater than the table values. The Punch’s online and offline (print) newspaper readers agreed that there were difficulties in accessing both online and offline newspapers as represented by 489 (55%), and 321 (36%) respectively. Online newspapers have both positive, 255(29%) and negative, 381 (43%) influences on their print versions’ readership and revenue. Online Editors are aware of the Paywall billing system but said they have not employed it in running their online services. The study recommends that; offline newspapers should package attractive and contemporary editorial content; offline newspaper operators should build relationship with their readers through events sponsorship, marketing promotions, public relations, and advertising; newspaper organizations should train and retrain journalists on computer – assisted reporting and online journalism; newspaper organizations should reorganize their operations in the areas of data base infrastructure and web-focused sales to remain relevant.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title Page
List of Tables
List of Figures
Table of Contents
Abstract

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1       Background to the Study
1.2.      Statement of the Problem
1.3       Broad of Objective of the Study
1.4       Objectives of the Study
1.5       Research Questions
1.6       Research Hypotheses
1.7       Significance of the Study
1.8       Scope of the Study
1.9.      Profiles of the Guardian, The Punch, Vanguard, The Nation, The Sun,
            Business Day and ThisDay Newspapers
1.10     Operational Definition of Terms
References

CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW
Conceptual Review
2.1       General Theoretical Issues on the Power of the Electronic Media
2.2       Theoretical Views on the Nature, Relevance and Vibrancy of Newspapers
2.3       New Media and Their Awesomeness
2.4       An Overview of the Concept of Online News and Moving Audience Online                                                                                                                                             
2.5       Features of Online News Sites
Empirical Review
2.6       Medium-centred Perspectives: The Displacement and Replacement Effect of New Media
2.7       Users-centred Perspectives: The Complementary Effect of New Media
2.8       An Examination of the ‘Paywall’ Billing System and Online Newspapers’ Survival
2.9       A Theoretically-Based Examination of Audience Motivation
2.10     Related Empirical Studies
2.11     Theoretical Framework
2.11.1  The Uses and Gratifications Theory
2.11.2  Media System Dependency Theory
References

CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY
3.1. Research Design
3.2. Population of the Study
3.3. Sample of the Study
3.4. Sampling Technique
3.5. Instrument for Data Collection
3.6. Validation and Reliability of the Measuring Instruments
3.7. Method of Data Analysis
References

CHAPTER FOUR: DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS
4.1       Data Presentation
4.1.1    Data Presentation from the Questionnaire
4.2       Data Analysis
4.2.1    Research Question One
4.2.2    Research Question Two
4.2.3    Research Question Three
4.2.4    Research Question Four
4.2.5    Research Question Five
4. 2.6   Test of Research Hypothesis 1
4. 2.7   Test of Research Hypothesis 2
References

CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.1       Summary
5.2       Conclusion
5.3       Recommendations
5.4       Suggestions for Further Studies
References
BIBLIOGRAPHY
APPENDICES

CHAPTER ONE


INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background to the Study

Newspaper, which came after the introduction of book as a medium of communication in

1580-135BC essentially represents one of the earliest attempts at mass communication. Since

Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 15th Century, the journalism profession

has, no doubt, witnessed and experienced tremendous progress mostly powered by incredible

advances in communication technologies (Agba, 2002,: p. iv). “The newspaper remained the

prominent medium for many Centuries before the advent of the electronic media (radio) in

the early 20th Century. And it was not until the 1950s that we began to rely increasingly on

television and radio for news, even though they provide little more than the headlines”

(Agba, 2002,:p. 120).

Okunna (1993: 56) thinks that “the press has developed through the acutely practical

manoeuvres of the early journalists…to a press, which has embraced the full effects and

vitality of both the print and electronic media”. It is no surprise therefore that the nagging

problems  that  have  dogged  every  step  of  the  print  media  industry  have  been  seen  as

challenges that trail any concern known for great strides.

Reflecting on the coming of the electronic media, their challenge to the print media in

focus, Ohaja (2005) notes inter alia:


When the electronic media were introduced, they had an edge over newspapers because they were presenting the same condensed reports as the latter but at a faster pace and in form that clearly matched reality. Television, especially moving and talking pictures of scenes featuring almost simultaneously with the event itself. Feature writing became the print media’s lifeline to prevent them from becoming obsolete and irrelevant to the public….(p. 16)

In view of the above challenges, Wilson (1997: p. 152) argues that “it is not true that the new technologies replace the old ones. They may replace some of their functions or create new functions or supplement the old one, but cannot replace them”.

But the late Canadian Professor of English, Marshal McLuhan, with the benefit of hindsight in 1980 quoted in (Griffin, 1991:p. 295) submitted that “… we live in a unique revolutionary communication age, a balance point in history where the power of the printed word is over…. The age of print had its obituary tapped out by the telegraph”. The thinking

of the late Professor is among a handful of revelations that is the kernel of the current mind-blowing advances in information communication technologies that Ukonu (2004) referred to as the fourth revolution to be known by mankind.

Since the predictions of McLuhan there has been an unequalled surge in the introduction of new and better information tools, which, are increasingly complementing and replacing older traditional tools of mass information. New media delivery systems, new information processing, storage and retrieval systems have become the vogue.

Currently, newspapers make use of the World Wide Web (www) among other services of the net. They create and maintain web servers in which they publish contents of their papers for users of the Net to access. Newspapers using the web are connected to the internet via Local Area Network (LAN) that is directly connected to the Net via an Internet Service Provider’s (ISP) facilities. In this way the electronic pages of newspapers are brought to the doorsteps of people in Nigeria and foreign countries as long as these people are connected to the Net.


The flooding of newspapers online may not be unconnected with some possible secondary reasons- including enthusiasm for new technology and the general sense that one wishes to be part of the new wave at the moment. The fundamental reasons may be economic. The people who own newspapers have, by and large decided that the internet provides opportunities and challenges to which they need to respond.

Some of the opportunities as a matter of fact may be obvious. The offline newspapers (the hard copies) are in part a process of manipulating symbols and in part a straightforward industrial production process. May be once the journalists and the advertising people have delivered the made-up, final copy, the newspaper undergoes a series of transformations that constitute the physical production and distribution of the commodity.

As usual printers and printing presses produce thousands and millions of copies of more or less identical copies of the newspaper. Dispatchers load the newspaper on trucks and drivers distribute them to wholesalers and then retailers as the case may be. They in turn either deliver it to the user, or put it on display next to the sweets and the cigarettes. All of these cost money for wages and equipment.

Online newspaper on the other hand does not incur any of these costs so to speak. True, it requires some space on the server, but this is not a comparable expense to the printing processes and trucks needed for the physical product. The consumers themselves pay costs of distribution, buying the PCs and paying the telecommunications charges. The online newspapers, according to Sparks (1996) offer the proprietors the prospect of substantial cost reductions.

Online newspapers also confer what some journalists have come to perceive as an important competitive feature in newsgathering as compared with working offline. Physical newspaper, Sparks (2000: p. 272), says may produce several editions, but in general they only have one or at most two main publication points in any 24-hour period. The need to.....

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