ICTS And The Mass Media In Nigeria! Newspaper Business Perspective
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have brought about new trends in newspaper industry. Their impact on this industry has improved, news gathering; processing, newspaper production and management. Satellite and the Internet are seriously playing roles in the newspaper industry. Journalists gather stories from any part of the world and either fax them or send them bye-mail to their editors in the head office. Pages can be planned and sent to the head office where they are simply plugged into the main newspaper being planned at the head office. This Day newspaper, a daily newspaper published in Nigeria, is produced at the same time in Nigeria and South Africa. An average, newspaper house in Nigeria has computerized its production system such that individual reporters in out-stations have a direct link, with the editorial process in the head, office through a networking process.
Desktop Publishing (DTP) which is a computer facilitated process permits the typesetting of manuscripts or stories, editing, page planning 1 and make-up, proof reading, scanning of photographs and illustrations into a page, printing of documents, among others, without passing through the rigors associated with the old system of newspaper publishing prior to the computer technology era . The page maker which is a computer programme for planning pages, has eased the page planning process. Okoye (2,000,190-191) summarizes the advantages of page maker in newspaper production as follows:
- The page maker serves as a good tool for layout and typography and has the ability to create multiple master page in sections for a variety of layout to be created for separate pages.
- It has a scripting feature that can be used to create standard document such as newsletters, business cards and brochures.
- It is easy to operate or work with.
- Frames for boxing or placements of stories, photographs or adverts could easily be created in the page maker.
- The page maker has the ability to automatically reformat layouts or dummies on screens to fit new page sizes or column guides, or accommodate additional stories on a page.
- With the page maker, editing on a page is made easy.
- It has a colour handling option which affords the page planner the opportunity to see a collection of colours to choose from while the page planning process is going on.
- The page maker has the ability to specify a wide variety of font sizes depending on the choice of the page planner.
Today, digital publishing is the vogue of the moment. Newspaper makes use of digital technology, which provides high fidelity photographs, illustrations and stories on newspaper pages. The computer technology has also facilitated improvement of aesthetic quality of newspapers. The Internet ushered in one of the major revolutions in the newspaper industry. Newspapers have websites where they reproduce news contained in the published edition. When this practice began, newspaper websites contained watered-down versions of the printed edition and eventually became avenues for wasting the finances and resources of the organization because they could not generate revenue on their own (Dominick: 2002), But with the sophistication of online newspaper business, newspaper” websites generate revenue through advertising and other activities that attract audience such as “searchable archives, links to other sites, chat room, e-mail services, online shopping, online polls, interaction restaurant and movie guides, a calendar of local events, and searchable classified ads” (Dominick, 2002:95). The facilities are contained on a newspaper portal i.e. the first screen, or newspaper page while surfing the net. The practice is common in developed nations and gradually becoming popular in a few developing nations.
The World Wide Web has made it possible for newspapers to engage in breaking news, just like the broadcast media. This is a common practice in the developed societies where audience patronage of online versions of newspaper is common. Before the advent and eventual sophistication of the World Wide Web, newspapers could not compete with television for1 instance, in breaking the news as it happens. This is because there was no room to update what has already been published in the morning or evening edition (for papers that have two daily editions). But this has been changed with the advent of World Wide Web. As Hanson (2005:143) observes:
Now morning newspapers like the Washington
Post can publish an electronic afternoon
edition not subject to the disadvantages of
traditional afternoon paper. And when a
breaking story calls for continual updating, a
paper’s website can provide those updates as
The online newspaper technology is giving the broadcast media serious competition for the time of audience. It makes available for newspapers, some of the advantages enjoyed by the broadcast media such as breaking the news as it happens and generally making news’ more timely than the one in the printed edition. The impact of ICTs on the newspaper business are numerous. Some of these advantages are yet to be enjoyed in developing nations for certain factors some of which are relatively low technological achievements, economic factors, literacy level, and low internet awareness, among others. With the way things are going, improvements are being recorded and more newspapers are making use of ICTs in their operations. The newspaper manager should understand the place of ICTs in keeping the newspaper business so as to know how to utilize them in achieving organizational goals.
Operating a newspaper business in an ICT era entails that management decisions would be ICT-facilitated or ICT -based, and a lot of directing, coordination, controlling, delegation of duties and other management functions would be made easy, less complex and laborious by ICTs. It does not mean that ICTs win take over the place of managers or management in a newspaper establishment, it entails that the various advantages of ICTs on newspaper operation should be effectively utilized by management in ensuring the success of the newspaper business. It also means that in an ICT era, other competing media such as radio and television have some advantages they are enjoying based on these ICTs. Newspaper managers should not be left behind in an ICT era when other media managers are applying ICTs to enhance business growth and profitability. There is need to take decisions that would also see the newspaper improving its competitive strength with ICTs.
For instance, digital broadcasting brought about by the advent of satellite technology has improved quality of broadcast messages and also expanded the reach of stations operating this type of broadcasting. Also, the Internet ushered in web radio stations and simulcast transmitting message on radio and on websites at the same time. This has reduced the transient nature of radio messages by providing \opportunity for the audience to get the messages they missed on radio, from the websites of radio stations. Radio messages are stored on websites for some days.
In order to meet these challenges, newspapers today are also using the internet to expand reach and get to more audience. Today, there are online newspapers. Most newspapers now have websites where the messages in print are relayed. This is proving to be a serious advantage for newspapers in Nigeria for instance, because Nigerians abroad have access to local newspapers, get to know what is happening in their country and contribute through letters-to-the editor, opinions and columns. Also, newspapers now utilize online editions in engaging in a practice which used to be exclusive to broadcast media breaking news. Online editions are updated to break the news as it happens. Some online newspapers even engage in web cast i.e. the transmission of programs by audio and video signals to computers, over the internet while the resulting video is archived or stored on the website (Hanson. 2005). These are innovations which are products of management decision in an ICT era.
Also available for managing a newspaper in an ICT era are computer-assisted decision-aiding technologies which include “on-line management information systems, information retrieval data base systems, and expert system or programmes that provide technical information” (Ikpe 2006:140). These are ICT facilities, which assist management in decision-making based on appropriate or relevant information available when required. Through these facilities management keeps in touch with activities or developments in the organization and could take the appropriate actions to nip problems in the bud when they are spotted.
The point being made here is that newspaper managers in this ICT era should be conversant with the functional application of existing technologies in enhancing business growth and profitability. Management can take decision on the need to engage in digital publishing, provide laptop computers for staff especially editorial staff, computerize operations in every department of the establishment, provide re-charge card allowances for editorials staff, installation of cable or satellite television in offices in a newspaper house, provide internet facility in the office for research, and other purposes, open a website for the newspaper establishment, procure sophisticated production equipment, among others. These are decisions which make a newspaper house part of the information society and information super-high way which have been wrought about by emerging trends in ICT development in today’s world. Management should know when to take decisions to update its facilities based on available fund. Managing a newspaper in an ICT era requires that decisions on how to apply ICTs in enhancing business growth and profitability are taken at the right time.
Dominick, J, R. (2002). The Dynamics of Mass Communication: Media in the Digital Age, seventh edition, New York: McGraw-Hili Higher Education.
Hanson, R., E. (2005). Mass Communication: Living in a Media World, Boston: McGraw Hill.
Ikpe, E., H. (2006). Effectiveness and Challenges of Information and Communication Technologies in Nigerian Organizations, in The Nigerian Journal of Communications, Vol. 4, Numbers 1 and 2, Pp. 139-148.