The study examines the perception students in the department of English & Literary studies and Religious Studies of online newspaper. The study was anchored on the theory of perception theory which concern with the attitudes of individuals towards online newspaper. The research work was carried out using the survey design method with the population size 222 drawn from the department of English & Literary Studies and Religious Studies, and the sample size of 170 However, 162 of the administered questionnaire was returned by the respondents, the simple random techniques which gives the sample equal chances of being selected was employed and the data from the questionnaire was selected, collated and analyzed. The study showed that students often check the online newspaper for updates of events and people. The study recommends that students should cultivate the habit of frequently checking of news updates and information from the online newspaper at every given time and online newspaper organizations should as a matter of fact verify information posted on the internet.
1.1 Background to the Study
Newspaper is a collection of news, entertainment, education, social events and people with systematic presentation to the consumers. It started with hard copy but now there has been a paradigm shift from hard to soft copies. This change is as a result of technological development and the competition recorded in the media industry, Olley and Chile, 2015). According to Mbachu (2003), the marriage between the newspaper and information and communication technologies (ICTs) has made many, if not all, national newspaper in Nigeria to have online versions. An online newspaper is the online version of a newspaper, either as a stand-alone publication or as the online version of a printed periodical, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_newspaper.
The advent of internet in the activities of human introduced a sophisticated way of doing things and the newspaper industry is favoured. This is because newspaper which is the oldest means of mass communication was losing its value when radio and television were invented. Internet provides opportunity for quickly information disseminated as quick as possible.
Olley and Chile (2015) stated that internet continues to evolve into a major news source. The internet which is the world-wide system in interconnected computers makes use of telecommunication resources. The internet with all its capacities has changed the way human live, learn and work. It allows people to communicate more with people around the world, regardless of location and distance, thus making it a global village. Meyer (2004) writes that online newspapers, because of their editorial content and not in spite of it, are positioned to yield more information than any of the substitutes” and that an internet-based medium can’t easily duplicate their influence.
The way news is source and disseminated is not the same in the last two decades. Many newspapers organizations are taking advantage of internet and computers especially the internet enabled smartphones. Olley and Chile (2015) stated that anyone who has followed the internet industry and the newspaper industry will discover the synergy between the two. The internet has completely changed the face of the printing industry and newspapers have taken the lead. In recent times, people do not wait 24 hours again to get updates from newspaper pages, rather at the opening of internet-enable computers or smartphone updates drops frequently at an amazing rate.
Examples of newspapers in Nigeria that have online versions include, The Guardian, the Sun, The Vanguard, The Daily Trust, This day, The Nation, The leadership among others. Apart from these mentioned newspapers, there are other online newspapers that do not have traditional newspaper or print versions. These newspapers spring up specifically for online version as such, perception of people is that there are faceless. They are Sahara Reporters, Scannews, Naija news. Some of the state owned newspapers also have joined the online versions.
The revolution in the newspaper industry by the internet has brought misleading online contents. Since the online newspaper is the prototype of the tabloid version of which the contents of both are the same. Unfortunately, many online newspapers in Nigeria have no hard copy version. All they do is to publish contents online and allow the readers to feed from the contents. Some of these contents cannot be easily verified from hard copy. The hard copy version is presented legally while the online is viewed as porous because of the inability of legal entity to censor the internet and its abundant windows of information sharing. Silveman (2015), avers that tabloidization is determine to professional journalism.
A tabloid is a newspaper with a compact page size smaller than broadsheet. A tabloid is defined as "roughly 17 by 11 inches (432 by 279 mm)" and commonly "half the size of a broadsheet", although there is no standard size for this newspaper format. The term tabloid journalism refers to an emphasis on such topics as sensational crime stories, astrology, celebrity gossip and television, and is not a reference to newspapers printed in this format, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabloid_(newspaper_format)
The online contents of news are becoming more soft than hard. Since, many people are bombarded with influx of information online. Online newspaper has resort to catch the attention of reader with soft news which often times come with ‘clickbait’. Silverman (2015), opined that instead of newspaper online become serious for truth, online news is now often driven by the quest for views and symptom of this change is a proliferation of click bait headlines. The click bait headlines encourage readers to follow the link to the main websites where the story is detail. Sadly enough, some headline online are misleading and this result to mismatch of headline and contents. These types of headlines are major contributors to the spread of fake news on the internet.
One purpose of online publication of news is to catch the interest of online readers or visitors to news stories. The readers frequent the site of these newspapers with the aim of satisfying their curiosity for news. According to Ijeh (2008), readership of online newspaper is purposed to have greatly enhanced information sourcing and sharing activities in several ways. A number of gains accrued to online newspaper in the information sharing efforts. It is easy to access, store. Share and retrieve valuable information quickly, enough than the tabloid.
According to Metzger and Stanner (2003) study on students’ perception towards the information credibility of the web use shows that students tend to depend on the web for information rather than seeking information from the library. The perception is as a result of the credibility they have for online newspaper which is transferred from the traditional newspaper.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The internet can be judged as the greatest communication invention of man in modern times. This is mostly as a result of the convergence of power which has also been used to bring other traditional media to a common place,(Olley and Chile, 2015). In Nigeria, newspaper industry has been affected by the internet and the gathering, processing and dissemination of news and other contents and the reading pattern of newspaper online is amazingly changing.
Baran, (2004), pointed out that technology has led to newspapers all over the world reinventing themselves and becoming more user-friendly, more causal, more lifestyle-oriented and more in touch with youth. The entire globe is rapidly accepting and accessing the internet for information published by newspaper house. The changing face of the newspaper industry because of the value added by the internet could not have been what we have today, if not for the convergence between the newspaper and the modern technologies adopted in the industry, (Olley and chile, 2015).
Despite this tremendous revolution in newspaper operations, the cost of purchasing internet accessing device is relatively high. Nkemdilim (2015) argued that the high cost of procuring gadgets, poor internet connectivity, and airtime, absence of internet literacy and poor electricity supply discouraged readership to the point that many students in selected universities in Nigeria spend less than 40 % of the time browsing the internet to read online news.
Apart from accessibility to internet newspaper, another serious issue among the students of the universities still do not fancy the reading of online newspaper as a result of their biase notion of the internet as a place where any faceless individual can post whatever he likes for public consumption, (Olley and chile, 2015). Oyero (2007) added that the lack of gate keeping mechanism that allows for editing, verification of facts and establishing accuracy before web information is posted trusting stories online becomes difficult.
This study will close the gap with regard to the frequency of students’ readership of online newspaper, the contents that students frequently read on online newspaper, the perception of undergraduate students towards online newspaper and the factors encourage undergraduate students’ readership of online newspaper.
Base on the above, the study seeks to determine the perception of undergraduate students towards online newspaper.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective is to determine students’ perception of online newspaper. However, specifically, the study seeks among other things to:
- Determine the frequency of students’ readership of online newspaper.
- Examine the contents that students frequently read on online newspaper.
- To ascertain the perception of undergraduate students towards online newspaper.
- Evaluate the factors that encourage undergraduate students’ readership of online newspaper.
1.4 Research Questions
The study will be guided with the following research questions.
- What is the frequency of students’ readership of online newspaper?
- What are the contents that students frequently read on online newspaper?
- What is the perception of undergraduate students towards online newspaper?
- What factors encourage undergraduate students’ readership of online newspaper?
1.5 Significance of the Study
There has been need to research on this topic because of the new dimension of newspaper reporting using the internet. Many scholars has rule out newspaper competitive advantage over radio and television. So this study will reveal the gap that exists as well as providing the resolutions adopted in recent time to close the gap using the online newspaper.
The study will determine the frequency of students’ readership of online newspaper; examine the contents that students frequently read on online newspaper; ascertain the perception of undergraduate students towards online newspaper and evaluate the factors that encourage undergraduate students’ readership of online newspaper.
The findings from this study will provide scholars with knowledge for further research. Also, it will be guiding principles to students and lecturers of mass communication and other related field of study.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study covers students of Delta State University, Abraka. The coverage will be restricted to two departments in the Faculty of the Arts and the departments are English and Literary Studies and Religious Studies. The scope covers 2017/2018 academic session.
1.7 Definition of Terms
Click Bait: This is a headline that appears on social media platforms or on other websites, having the host website link that direct readers to the host website for them to have full details of the news.
Hard Copy Newspaper: This is a periodic mass media that publish news in tabloid or Broadsheet format for citizen to be abreast with the happenings in the society. Hard copy newspaper is a package of timely records of events and persons for public consumption.
Internet: Internet is the connectivity of various computers and smartphones in other to share information. Internet is a means of turning the world into a small village through inter connectivity of electronic devices.
Online: Application of website in the internet that allows connection of computers or smartphones working together in sharing of information for human satisfaction.
Online Newspaper: This is the version of newspaper publication that appears on the internet. Online newspaper is a web newspaper that exists on the World Wide Web.
Perception: This is a build-up instinct of a perception towards a particular thing. Perception is functional selective that is to say our cognitive world are organized and meaningful.
Student: This is a school age bracket in university which is 18 to 30 years. A person admitted into high school or university to learn.