Technological advancement has led to growth of online news consumption among audiences across the world. Even in developing nations, media content consumers now use smart phones to access their favorite news channels online. Newspaper business in Nigeria is also reflecting this development with the growth of web-only newspapers and online versions of regular hard copies of publications. Today in Nigeria, web-only newspapers such as Premium Times and The Cable are among the leading news sources in Nigeria’s media industry.
A web-only newspaper does not have hard copy. It exists only online. But some online newspapers could have a print version. A replica edition is also a form of online publication which has a print version. Even where a newspaper organization decides to publish both the hard copy and online version, there is also a decision to make on whether to have online or replica edition of the electronic version. The organization can also have both online and replica editions, together with the hard copy edition. So what is the difference between online and replica edition of electronic newspapers?
A newspaper could have an online edition which looks different from the replica edition of that same newspaper. This is because while the replica edition published electronically (e-edition) has the same content and pages with the print edition, the online edition may contain most of the stories in the print edition but the pages the stories appear in, are often different. One of the basic differences is that online editions do not have page numbers and the pages are not divided into columns. Their stories are also longer than the stories in replica and print editions because in an online newspaper, a story, speech or information which was edited in the replica or print edition is often published entirely in the online edition. Some online newspapers even contain video links, pictures and audio clips; their stories are updated by the minute, making it possible for breaking news to be reflected in them. But replica editions are not updated as frequently as online editions, meaning that the online edition is always more current. There seems to be little separation between the characteristics of online and replica editions of newspapers in Nigeria, though what most organizations have is online editions.
Online newspaper stories are longer in length because the number of stories that can be contained in one edition of a newspaper (newshole) is not limited. Online newspapers are interactive in nature because they have chat rooms, bulletin boards and e-mail addresses people use in providing immediate feedback. It is pertinent to note that the: replica editions may be more credible than the online editions because of the rigorous and more thorough gate-keeping associated with the replica editions. Though newspaper establishments have online editors, there seems to be less rigid editing in online editions especially in terms of story length and content. The unlimited news space makes online newspapers a bit less serious than replica editions of print copies. However, online editions also enjoy readership among audience members. What is more common in Nigeria is publication of electronic online editions of newspapers. Newspapers rarely have replica editions.
Summary of basic difference
- Online editions do not have page numbers and the pages are not divided into columns but replica edition have page numbers.
- Stories in online versions of a newspaper are also longer than the stories in their replica and print editions
- Online versions have unlimited newshole
- Online versions are more current than replica editions
- Online versions are updated faster than replica editions
- Replica editions are regarded as more credible than online editions
- There seems to be less rigid editing in online editions especially in terms of story length and content.
- Replica editions have more rigorous and more thorough gatekeeping process