The media plays a pivotal role in the society that directly or indirectly affects human live. These roles include: informative, watchdog, participant advocate and mediating role. Despite these functions, some members of the society have been critical towards media messages. The need to know the factors that influence audience preference to media outlets constitute the backbone of this study. This study was done employing quantitative research approach and survey method was chosen. This approach warranted the researcher to speak to representable population. 96 final year JMC students were drawn from a population of about 120. Finding indicated that the students (33, 34.4 %) were mostly exposed to Facebook than to any media outlet. This was follow by WhatsApp (29, 30.2%), TV (29, 30.2%), Print (12, 12.5%) and radio (2, 2.1%). According to the respondents, Facebook has valid contents, information and entertainment contents. Based on the fact that students considered Facebook as a preferred news source and or medium of communication, it is imperative for content providers to redirect and intensify their content efforts by targeting online and Facebook users. News sources offer the opportunity for students to better understand world events. In this light, it has been recommended that they make use of these news sources like TV, Radio and print in order to better get reliable credible education and be informed on current affairs.
1.1 Chapter Introduction
The 21st century which is characterized as the digital age has in many ways met man's need for information and has connected the world in ways many did not think was possible. The invention of the printing machine in the 1800s later led to the creation of the printing press which facilitated the growth of printed materials such as books, leaflets and newspapers which was the birth of the print media. That broadcast media came into existence in the 1920s when the British set up the British Broadcasting Corporation (B.B.C) which led to the rise of both radio and TV broadcasting. Other countries followed suit and by 1980 broadcast media was a major source of information. The advent of the internet in late 1980 was the birth of what is today known as the new media. The internet created other media like the social media with news outlets like Facebook and WhatsApp which expanded the options one had in getting information. This meant that people now have to make choices and preference for the different media sources in order to get information. This research seeks to know which news sources Journalism and Mass communication students of the university of Buea prefer and their perceptions towards these news sources. This essence behind this study is to know how much the new media affects the choices and perceptions of upcoming journalists in determining which news source to get information from.
1.2. Background To The Study
We live in a world where there are different types of media (both foreign and domestic), doing their utmost best endeavor the attention of audience, Media contents are addressed to a larger number of audiences that have different compositions. Media provide us many functions at individual and societal level. Mass media has surveillance, interpretation, linkage, transmission of values and entertainment functions for society (Domonick,1999). The uses and gratifications model also divulges that mass media have cognition, diversion, and social utility and withdrawal functions.
Nowadays, audience are exposed to various media outlets; print, broadcast and the internet. But audience have their own reasons for choosing a given media and media content over others. Media choice indicates the presence of a range of various motives for choosing media for amusement, information, social contact, excitement, involvement, or more generally, the bases for (and degree of) selectivity which is actually exhibited in media choice behavior (McQuail, 1992). This notion is very similar to uses and gratification approaches in that it perceives audience as being active and goal oriented. The audience are largely responsible for choosing which media to meet their needs and how to use the media for the gratification of their needs (Little and Foss, 2008:301).
The American professor and researcher, David T. Z. Mindich, delved into the issue of students' attitude towards daily events after noting the lack of interest on the part of students in daily events at home and abroad. His findings show that only 20% of young Americans read newspapers daily, compared to 70% of the older population. Since the reading habit is formed either when one is in his twenties or never, it is not possible to expect that today's students will change their reading habits in a decade or so, unless they find themselves in an environment where news consumption is special significance. The information is particularly worrying because young people who do not read newspapers also do not watch television news and do not use news sources on the web.
It is asserted that today's university students are flooded with an overwhelming number of forms and sources of accessing the news media, ranging from print publications and television to the internet (Parker & Pank, 2000). University students constitute an important population in which to study news consumption behavior (Diddi & La Rose, 2006), who are often beginning to establish news consumption pattern which they will have for their lifetime (Lamb & Mordas, 2004). Many media and news sources selectively target college students (Barnhurst and Wartella, 1990), the target serves as trend indicator for the future of news channels.
News consumption is no longer the same as pre-internet news when people waited for their morning papers or sat down at an appointed time for the evening news on television. More recently, a growing number of readers, viewers and listeners are going online for their news. Television, newspaper and radio are still here but with the growing competition from interactive online media (Wolfe, 2012).
A study on News seeking behavior among young adults, ages 18 to 25years, found out that participants used a variety of sources to obtain various kinds of news and online news played a minor role in news seeking behavior (Williamson,2010). Instead participants fumbled across interesting news stories that popped up online when doing other things such as checking their emails, participants did not find it particularly important to gather news from a certain source but just to gather the news (Qayyum, 2010).
Pew research in 2016, found out that television use is still dramatically lower among younger adults, suggesting further shake up in the communication and news gathering system. Additionally, college students are not consuming news at the rates of older people and are less likely to read newspapers and watch network news (Bennett, 2000).
According to Katz and Blumber in their Uses and Gratification theory; audience will prefer different media outlets that will gratify their needs and wants. Media preference refers to audience choice of a medium. Government-owned media have the tendency of being subservient and are usually not independent of authoritarian regimes. Privately owned media are more responsive to the public, critical of the government and usually support or accommodate opposing views. As a result, the private media play the role of the watchdog as they are able to investigate corruption allegations, theft and even election fraud (Moehler & Singh, 2011). It is expected that privately owned media should be trusted more than state-owned media but a study conducted in sixteen African countries indicated that only five out of the sixteen countries trusted privately-owned media for their news. According to the study, this is because state-owned media are well established than privately owned media who depend on government subsidies and advertisements to survive (Moehler & Singh,2011). In Cameroon, it has somewhat challenging to determine which medium is largely preferred in getting news and that is what this study seeks to answer. However, it can be said that the preference allocated to a particular media depends on the individual's trust for the media.
1.3 Statement Of The Problem
Studies related to media preferences and perceptions are common and have been researched in America and Slovenia. Since media education and media research are current phenomena in Cameroon, little research has been conducted in the field. Similarly, media preferences and perceptions of audiences have not yet been sufficiently researched in the Cameroonian context.
It is on this back drop that this quantitative study will critically analyze media preferences and perception for news sources among students in the University of Buea, comprising only those from the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication.
1.4 Research Questions
Which news sources do students prefer most?What are their perceptions about the preferred news sources?What duration do students spend in their preferred news source?
1.5 Objectives of the Study
1.5.1 General Objective
To analyze media preferences and perception amongst UB students.
1.5.2 Specific Objectives
To identify the news sources according to student's preference.To determine student's perception according to news sources in Cameroon.To ascertain duration students, spend on their most preferred news source
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