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THE CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS OF ONLINE JOURNALISM IN NIGERIA

THE CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS OF ONLINE JOURNALISM IN NIGERIA

INTRODUCTION

Online Journalism refers to the practice of journalism using the Internet as a medium for reaching the target audience. It is the gathering, organizing, and disseminating news stories in text, pictures, audio, and video to the audience which also gives room for interaction and immediate feedback using the internet. Online journalism makes use of different platforms which include Blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. The advent of online journalism comes with prospects and challenges. For the purpose of this work, we will try to look into the prospects and challenges of online journalism with the view of shedding light on the subject.

So what dynamics actuated this process? In this chapter, I trace the evolution and idiosyncratic features of online journalism in Nigeria, explore its variegated manifestations, capture the relational and professional tensions that have erupted between Web-only, mostly diasporan, citizen journalists and more traditional homeland journalists, and show how all this has altered journalistic practice in Nigeria.

I also discuss the tensile relationship between citizen online journalists and the Nigerian government, a relationship that has led to the high-profile arrest of diasporan citizen journalists who traveled to Nigeria from their base in the West for routine business. Finally, I explore how the emergent genre of citizen social journalism (i.e., microblogging on Facebook and Twitter by ordinary 446 citizens about news events) helped shape the 2011 general elections in Nigeria and enriched homeland traditional journalistic practice.

This contribution is important because the extant literature on the consequences of the Internet on traditional journalistic practices is almost exclusively preoccupied with the experiences of the more advanced parts of the world; it does not capture the singularities of peripheral, transitional nations like Nigeria where the tension between traditional and online journalists is assuming unique forms, where citizen online journalism imposes on itself the simultaneous task of fighting corrupt governments and serving as a counterfoil to an equally corrupt mainstream media formation… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)

Statement of the Research Problem

The challenges and Prospects of Online journalism have been said to be a serious problem facing the Nigerian online reporter. Some of these problems are:

  • Inadequate policy to guard the  reporters  towards  online research
  • There is no adequate technology to enhance their job… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)

Research Objective

The researcher’s objective is to conduct in-depth research on the Challenges and Prospects of Online journalism with an insight to determine its implication to the values of investigative reporting in the Nigeria Mass media:

  • To determine the basic problems of online investigation… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)

ONLINE JOURNALISM

LITERATURE REVIEW

Journalism could be said to be nonfiction writing (news) which relies on identifiable sources. online Journalism might be defined as finding important news someone does not want the public to know. Journalists, as Article 19 suggested, have professional and ethical responsibilities to look beyond what they have been told by those in authority. Investigative Journalists can, as a result, be seen as custodians of the public conscience. According to Ettema and Glasser, this does not mean that investigative journalists should decide how everyone else should behave;

“They are not the guardians of some superior moral knowledge. Rather these journalists have the means to report and disseminate stories that can engage the public’s sense of right and wrong. These journalists are, in other words, custodians of exactly what we imagine our consciences to be: a morally engaged voice”. (Ettema/Glasser: 1998. P 4)

Investigative journalism combines basic journalism reporting skills with more advanced research methods. The original research was seen as the distinguishing feature of investigative reporting:

“It is not a summary or piecing together of others’ findings and data, but original research carried out by reporters using often the rawest of material. It can be extensive interviewing, or matching and comparing facts and figures. In many cases, the fruits, and originality, come in discovering patterns and connections in the information that no one has observed before”. (Randall: 1996. pp78/79)

Randall wrote that investigative reports often resulted from a “suspicion of wrongdoing”. An investigative reporter would be required to engage in a prolonged inquiry, compiling a research dossier, from which a story or stories might be written. Such inquiries would require reporters and editors to manage time and resources so that results might be maximized, he said.

ONLINE JOURNALISM

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING ON THE NET

Interviews, documents, surveillance, and surveys are the tools of the investigative reporter. The reporter learns which to use at a certain time, like a golfer who knows which club to use under different conditions as he or she progresses through a course. The best investigators during the course of their investigation may draw on all of the tools at one time or another. (Gaines: 1998. p17)

The Internet offers investigative journalists new tools for reporting; qualified access to global communities of interests which may provide alternate sources to those in authority. In doing so, it presents opportunities and problems for investigative reporters. Meanwhile, it impacts on production processes with radio, television, and text journalism practices converging through digitization on the internet; towards a new hybrid profession, e-journalism. With faster computers, newer compressed programs, and wider bandwidths, internet publications will rapidly offer more sophisticated, interactive variants of the older media… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)

JOURNALISM: DISTRIBUTION

The Internet allows the polished digitized product to be published globally; wherever computers are linked to the telecommunications grid. Deadlines can become meaningless as a material can be filed quickly and maintained on the web indefinitely.

Censorship has been made more difficult as web publishers proliferate. Journalist organizations such as the British based Association of Investigative Journalists established websites to create an outlet for reports mainstream conventional media might seem reluctant to publish:

“The decline in investigative journalism, and individual outlets for such serious reporting, is a pernicious form of implied censorship; the presence of light entertainment or consumer journalism in place of, say, a program such as World in Action means that the issues that would otherwise have been presented to the public in such programming are effectively barred from public consumption. Part of our task is to challenge such censorship in all its forms”… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)

JOURNALISM: INTERACTION

Communications were revolutionized in 1876 when Alexander Graham Bell received a patent for the telephone. With this new medium, two ways, immediate communication over long distances was possible for the first time. The telephone changed the way people conducted business, relayed important information, and, as the technology became more affordable, socialized with one another. As teenagers once aggravated their parents by hours talking on the telephone, today they can fulfill the same urges on the Internet -in chat rooms and on the Net. (Moschovitis et al: 1999 pp. 6)

The net offers audiences more variable interactions than those previously offered by edited newspapers’ letter pages or the theatrical radio talkback programs. Moderated bulletin boards or email discussion groups can allow informed interaction with an informed audience. Foreign correspondents regularly participate in lists including Asia (historians, researchers, Orient lists) and Listserv SEASIA (journalists, Asia scholars).

Such lists can provide contact with identified, credible sources with access to significant background material. In recent years, issues including Taiwan’s elections, Nato’s bombing of a Chinese embassy, and the Asian economic downturn have all been the subject of erudite discussion on these lists… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

Introduction

This study is designed to find out the problem and prospect of online investigative journalism in Nigeria. This goal cannot be achieved unless the research work is orderly, imaginative, logical, and accurate. Hence, this chapter is associated with the research method used in carrying out the work. The pertinent point here is that; it helps to know which method is appropriate for the project.

Research Design

It is an accepted fact that research design is the basic plan that guides data collection and the analysis phase of any research work. The design of research can be regarded as the frame-work which specifies the type of information to be gathered including the source of data and the procedure used in collecting them. Therefore, on the basis of this study, the research design used for collecting the required information is the survey analysis on the basis of a self-administrated questionnaire, interview, and personal observation… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)

Area of the Study

The geographical location of this research work is within the media institutions in Osun State, Nigeria. The institutions comprise of about four thousand five hundred Staff. But based on this study, one hundred and fifty Staff was selected for this study using the simple and systematic random sampling method… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)

The population of the Study

The population of the study can be said to be animate or inanimate things in which a study is focused. It could be class, school, libraries, towns, local government area, states, nations, or persons the research is interested in getting information for the study (Nnayelugo: 2001)… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)

ONLINE JOURNALISM

RESEARCH FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION

Introduction

The response rate of this study is 80 and the administered questionnaires needed were properly answered. The results of this study are presented in tables and percentages which will correctly provide clarity in understanding. Chi-square is the important statistical equipment used in testing the significance of the result using a 98% level of confidence with 0.05% of error probability level.

For this study, 400 questionnaires would have been distributed to respondents; but based on time and money limit, I distributed 100 questionnaires to respondents. 80 were returned 20 were discarded for several reasons including incomplete data or unnecessary information. This distribution, however, was spread over the media houses of Osun State.

Interpretation of Data

Table 4.2.1

The response rate of the respondents

No  of  Questionnaire Distributed No  of  Questionnaire Returned & Usable The percentage rate of Return
80 80 100%

The above table depicts that responders administered a total of 100 (one hundred) questionnaires out of which 80 or 80% were duly completed and returned while the rate of 20 or 11.11% was not returned.

Table 4.2.2

The response rate of the sex distribution of the respondents

Sex Frequency Percentage
Male 33 39.37
Female 47 60.63
Total 80 100

From the above table, 33 on 39.37% constituted the male respondents while 47 or 60.63% were the female respondent population.

Discussion

My own experience with Help Me Investigate suggests that these two roles remain important bases for journalism as a profession: in crowdsourced journalism, ‘writing the story up’ did not particularly appeal to people (the story was in their minds already) – only journalists wanted to do that. And it took an established media outlet to get an official reaction.

This is not to suggest that only journalists can “have an impact” as was mentioned at the conference – there are plenty of examples of groundswells of opinion online instigating media coverage: Memogate is perhaps the best-known example. But this does not mean we need journalists – it means that we need publishers and broadcasters… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)

SUMMARY, CONCLUSION, AND RECOMMENDATION

Summary

Time remains a critical factor in the creation of quality journalism. Reporters can be expected to continue to strive to beat deadlines and competitors, allowing a little margin for reflection. The web, however, presents journalists with new opportunities to offer more than mere reviews of official media releases. In Australia, political correspondents would if they chose to do so, be able to look beyond the in house intrigues seen to dominate national affairs. They might not find it necessary to bludgeon ignorant politicians in cockpit interviews… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)

Conclusion

Journalists are presumed to play a critical role in the democratic process. Yet politics can become a scripted event where spectacle can overwhelm substance. Spin merchants may seek to create a series of television-friendly vignettes, where critical questions are discouraged and performances are enhanced. Journalists can then become seen as minor players in the same unfolding drama they are attempting to critique… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)

Recommendation

Should journalism practitioners explore new methods of news gathering; ones which are beyond the reach of the spin merchants seeking to dominate reportage? The Internet may provide alternatives here for pressed reporters. The computers and modems which they increasingly use to file their stories from the field might just as easily be used for newsgathering.

Online investigative reporting could then offer a more substantial solution to contrived press release realities. The Internet is already shaping the ways journalists communicate, construct their stories, publish their material, and interact with their audiences… (Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)

ONLINE JOURNALISM

REFERENCES

De Fleur, Margaret. Computer-Assisted Investigative Reporting. 1997. Erlbaum Associates. New Jersey.

Ettema, James, Glasser, Theodore. Custodians of Conscience: Investigative Journalism and Public Virtue. Columbia University Press. New York. 1998.

Gaines, William Investigative Reporting for Print and Broadcast Nelson-Hall Chicago. 1998.

Hastings, Max. “Introduction”, Hudson, Roger. (ed) William Russell: Special Correspondent of The Times. Folio Society. London. 1995. Kingston, Margot. Off the Rails: The Pauline Hanson trip. Allen&Unwin. Sydney, 1999.

Knight, Alan and Nakano, Yoshiko, Reporting Hong Kong: the Foreign Press and the Handover. Curzon. London. 1999.

Moschovitis et al. A History of the Internet. ABC-CLO Books Santa Barbara. 1999.

Randall, David The Universal Journalist. Pluto Press. London. 1996. Simons, Margaret. Fit to Print: Inside the Canberra Press Gallery.UNSW Press. Sydney. 1999.

Walraff, Gunther. The Undesirable Journalist, Pluto Press, London,1977.

Weinberg, Steve. The Reporter’s Handbook: An investigators’ Guide to Documents and Techniques. St Martin’s Press. New York. 1996.

Winkler, Matthew, and Wilson, David, The Bloomberg Way: a guide for reporters and editors. Bloomberg News. 1998. (Online Journalism)(Online Journalism)(Online Journalism)(Online Journalism)(Online Journalism)(Online Journalism)(Online Journalism)(Online Journalism)(Online Journalism)(Online Journalism)(Online Journalism)

Drudge, Matt. 2.6.1998.”Anyone with a Modem can report on the world.” National Press Club Address, Washington. http://www.frontpagemag.com/archives/drudge/drudge.htm (Online Journalism)(Online Journalism)(Online Journalism)(Online Journalism)(Online Journalism)(Online Journalism)(Online Journalism)

Hong Kong Journalists Association. “HKJA launches campaign for open government” Hong Kong. 8.2.98. (Online Journalism)(Online Journalism)(Online Journalism)(Online Journalism)(Online Journalism)(Online Journalism)

(Scroll down for the link to get the Complete Chapter One to Five Project Material)

ONLINE JOURNALISM

(Get the Complete Chapter One To Five Project Material)

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