NEWS PREFERENCE IN ENUGU STATE: AN ANALYSIS OF BROADCAST MEDIA AND SOCIAL MEDIA NEWS CONSUMPTION
The technological breakthrough of web 2.0 revolutionized communication channels, increasing information traffic from source to sender and vice versa. Media convergence is one of the many outcomes of this technological revolution whereby traditional media and the internet merge to disseminate information to audience. However, news preferences seem to relegate different audience demographics to particular channels of communication. This study which analyzed the most preferred medium for news consumption in Enugu between the broadcast media and social media was anchored on the Uses and Gratification theory as well as Choice theory. The study was based on survey research method which involved the use of multistage sampling technique to distribute 384 copies of the questionnaire to residents in Enugu state. Data retrieved were analyzed using descriptive technique including percentages, frequencies, and bar chart. The results of the research found that people of Enugu state were largely exposed to broadcast media and social media and these media were used to by the residents of Enugu state to a high extent. Broadcast media was chosen to be more credible than social media. The most preferred news media for the people of Enugu state was the broadcast media for mostly reasons of its news credibility, reliability and currency.
1.1 Background of the study
Mass media play crucial roles in the connection of individuals and its success is enabled through the dissemination of news. While the focus of this research study is the preference of news in Enugu which further now compares the Broadcast media and social media news consumption, Encarta, (2009) cited in Ekwueme and Akpan, (2011) explains that broadcasting is the primary means by which information and entertainment are delivered to the public in virtually every nation around the world.
Similarly, Bolalek, (2013) opines that not only are social media beneficial for creating and maintaining social relationships but also, because of their popularity, social media have become a way to access news. News organizations and journalists now participate in sharing the news via social media.
It is generally said that if a news report provides answers to six questions, then it should be considered a news item. These six questions include five Ws and H: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How? According to Williams, (1899) if ‘A dog bites a man’-that’s a story; but if ‘A man bites a dog’ –that’s a good news. This is true in the real sense but suppose a dog bites the president of a country, it most certainly makes big news. In this context, therefore, the understanding of news becomes an obvious imperative to give clarity to how Journalists and News Anchors gather and process news. National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Code, (2016) defines news as a truthful account of an event that assists the recipient live in a complex, dynamic and humane society.
Despite the criteria stipulated that a news item should possess, the importance of whom the news is gathered for should be in consideration. The mass media audience is heterogeneous and as such respond to media messages differently. This has further led individuals into vying into different sources in search of news they prefer that best suits them. This is in accordance with Olorunnisola, (2009) cited in Ojebuyi, (2013), who states that given the new trend of growing competition occasioned by liberalization of the media and communication industries and emergence of new media, the media audience now have greater freedom and a wide range of alternatives from where to get information about events that affects their lives.
According to NBC, (1996) audience research intervals to ascertain the taste and preference of the audience and it is therefore unwise for broadcasters arrogating to themselves the knowledge of the audience’s taste and preference to media content based on simple assumption.
This study, wishes to explore the channels through which news is consumed by audience and the most preferred channel of news consumption from the various mediums at the audiences reach. The traditional channels of news are the television and radio. In recent times, social media has also come into limelight which houses news and entertainment disseminating platforms like facebook, twitter, instagram, whatsappe.t.c. Ojebuyi, (2013) argues that Radio no doubt, has unparalleled capacity to reach the mass audience at a relatively cheaper cost and within a short time. This is against television which is the most expensive medium of mass communication but has an attractive motion picture inclined potential Esan, (2009). Television has the advantage of using a combination of sight through pictures, hearing, through sound which aids in attracting its audience unlike radio with sounds alone. These are notable attributes as to why some people prefer or are against the traditional radio and television to social media and vice versa.
Opinions differ in this context as (Ha, Yoon, & Zhang, 2013, p. 2) argue that news consumption behavior of Social media users is a salient research topic in online social media studies because the characteristics of Social network sites such as feedback, instantaneousness and connectedness are powerful advantages as a news medium.
Despite the seeming challenges and gallops this social media is beginning to create, one cannot help but to observe that in order for the traditional media to keep up with the new age, it has practiced ‘media convergence’ in some areas of news dissemination. Flew (2017) describes it is a phenomenon involving an interconnection of information and communications technologies, computer networks and media contents. Flatzer, (2013) argues that with the rapid proliferation of internet based services, especially with social media and wireless communication and introduction of web 2.0 sites, the convergence phenomenon has attracted more attention since the 21st century. The digitization of media content and popularization of the internet is encouraged and adopted by the traditional broadcast media to keep up with the pace of the transforming news times.