PROJECT TOPIC- AN APPRAISAL OF THE APPLICATION OF ICTs IN THE NIGERIAN MASS MEDIA: A STUDY OF NTA AND THE GUARDIAN NEWSPAPERS
This study was on “The Application of ICTs in the Nigerian Mass Media: A Study of NTA and The Guardian Newspapers”. The researcher sought to find out the current level of ICTs use in the Nigerian mass media, using the NTA and The Guardian newspapers as a case study. The work made attempt to identify the factors responsible, the likely implications, as well as some measures for an improved adoption and enhanced application of ICTs in the two media. The survey research method was used. The questionnaire and semi-structured interviews served as instrument of data collection. A total of 400 respondents were selected from the population; 200 from the head offices of the NTA and The Guardian Newspapers on equal proportion, (i.,e. 100 apiece), and another200 from those members of the public who have access to the two media under review; 100 from the North [Gwagwalada area of Abuja (50) and Bida L.G.A. in Niger state (50)]; another 100 from the South [Surulere area of Lagos state (50) and Enugu North L.G.A. of Enugu state (50)]. The stratified and simple random sampling techniques were used. The data generated were analyzed using simple descriptive and statistical tools such as simple percentages, tabular presentations and frequency distributions. The study was anchored on the Diffusion of Innovation theory. At the end of the study, the findings revealed that, although the Nigerian mass media (NTA and The Guardian newspapers) have adopted the new ICTs to an extent, yet, the level of adoption and application still falls far below expectations, especially when compared with what is obtainable in the western world. The findings attributed the under utilization of ICTs in the two media to lack of infrastructure e.g. electricity, few trained or skilled ICTs personnel, poor knowledge of ICTs at all levels, from suppliers to users, financial constraints, corruption, poor planning and lack of political/ideological will. The study further revealed that the under utilization of ICTs in NTA and The Guardian newspapers has greatly hampered the quality and quantity of their programmes and contents respectively. Based on these findings, recommendations were made. One, government should intervene by providing enabling environment and basic social amenities e.g. electricity, that would assist in the smooth operation of the new technologies and discourage the re-occurring brain drain in the country. On their part, the media organizations should invest in ICTs development and acquisition, and maintain a regular training and retraining of their staff in computer literacy and on the use of the latest ICTs in the media world, among others.
1.1 Background of the Study
The advent of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) has brought tremendous innovations in all spheres of human endeavours. The media of mass communication – radio, television, newspapers, magazines, etc, have definitely not been spared from the great revolution. The satellite in particular has made news most instantaneous and simultaneous, especially for the broadcast media. The new technologies have therefore made the job of media practitioners very effective, interesting, easy, cheaper, faster, more reliable and perhaps most profitable.
Writing about this development in the media industry, Maida (1996), cited in Idemili and Sambe (2007:181) states that: The invention of some electromagnetic technologies such as micro-circuiting, micro-graphics, holographic memory, micro-electronics, optic-fibre-satellites, video discs, telex, view data, digital broadcast systems, facsimiles, videophones, computers and micro processors, etc., has no doubt revolutionized information gathering, processing, storage, retrieval and transmission; making information available ever more widely, rapidly and less expensive. Today, television broadcasting for instance has undergone a lot of transformations, from the era of monochrome to colour television broadcasting; from low quality VHS cameras to Dvcam, Videophones, Electronic News Gathering (ENG) and Satellite News Gathering (SNG) gadgets, among others. The new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have improved TV productions and presentations. Gone were the days of linear editing. Editing is now done digitally with the aid of the computer. This is known as non-linear editing. This ensures effective editing and high quality post-productions.
Also, there are modern sophisticated studio facilities such as Digital Lights, Special Effect Machines, Character Generators, Teleprompters, Digital Studio Cameras of various sizes, Digital Playback Machines, etc. The radio too, is not left out in the revolution. The radio industry is introducing High Definition radios.
The HD radio in the words of Akpan (2009) is “a digital service that greatly improves signals/sounds quality of terrestrial local stations. With HD radio, an FM station now sounds as good as a compact disc, while an AM station sounds as good as a current FM station, aesthetic free and without atmospheric interference”. In the print industry, the production and distribution of newspapers today is greatly facilitated by the new technologies that offer efficiency, speed, quality and reliability.
Many big newspapers in the advanced world now engage in satellite publications – a situation whereby a newspaper edition is published simultaneously in different cities across the country and beyond. Dominick (1993) cited in Ufuohu (2007:240) gave examples of such newspapers to include – The International Herald Tribune, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Financial Times of London, The Economist, the Wallstreet Journal, among others. In Nigeria however, satellite publication is still relatively new in the country and yet to be popularized in the nation‟s print media. According to Okorie (2008:170), “Thisday is the only Nigerian newspaper that produces simultaneously in Nigeria and South Africa at the moment, and still not consistent”. Thus, we still have early editions and late editions as Ufuohu (2007:2007) rightly explains:
If one buys a newspaper with national circulation in the West, Edo, or even Delta state and one buys another copy of the same newspaper same day, as soon as one crosses the Niger Bridge into the East, one would discover differences in the contents, one is early edition, the other is late edition.
Writing further on the problem of distribution and circulation of journalism products in Nigeria, Ende (2003:42) reveals that: Many of our so-called national dailies are read in arrears, as some others (prominently Vanguard and The Punch) repackage old news and send it up north in current dates under the euphemism of northern edition, while in fact, the news is read a day or two in southern editions of the tabloids… Presently, editions of This day and The Guardian reach Markurdi, a day late – a town of just 820 kilometres from Lagos and 323 kilometres from Abuja.
With the satellite technology, such problem in newspaper production and distribution is completely erased. Also, many Nigerian television stations are yet to adopt the non-linear editing which is digital. They still rely on linear editing which is very clumsy. Again, many electronic media in the country are yet to adopt the use of Electronic News Gathering (ENG) gadgets, which enable the crew to broadcast, live from the scene of an event directly to the station. In the same vein, they have not adopted the use of Satellite News Gathering (SNG) gadgets.
The SNG with its specially equipped technologies uplinks the signals live from the venue of an event to a communication satellite and back to the mother station which makes it possible for those with the receivers to receive the signals live across the world. The only similar thing many TV stations in the country have is the outside Broadcasting Van (OB.Van).
Similarly, many FM and TV station in the country are yet to be fully equipped with the state–of–the–art facilities. The few available studios are stocked with obsolete equipment resulting in constant breakdown. Again, the modern lithographic machines and printing machines have gone digital, thereby, eliminating time waste. The machines print faster, collate, count and do other necessary findings. Colour separation is also done on digital equipment as against the previous analogue ones.
Thus, making print journalism less clumsy and more interesting. With the ICTs, photography has ascended to heights that were not previously imagined. In the past, the darkroom was used in developing pictures for news stories or broadcast journalism; today, photo-cropping is done electronically with the use of computers. Also, there are now digital cameras in various sizes, which replace the analogue ones. There are inbuilt digital cameras in mobile phones in today‟s society. The Nigerian mass media are catching up gradually with these explosive information and communication technologies.
For instance, the NTA, MBI, AIT Channels, Silverbird and a few other TV stations in the country have gone satellite. Some of them have adopted a system similar to CNN and BBC World in their news broadcast. With the aid of the new equipment, two newscasters from two different locations far apart could be brought on screen simultaneously (split screen) and discuss with each other briefly before one is faded out. Though the method is not as perfect as that of the advanced media organizations, but it is commendable.
However, apart from the NTA, AIT, MBI, Channels, Silverbird, and a few others, many TV stations in Nigeria still operate with low quality equipment; thus, the quality of their broadcast is still very poor. Also, there are still some television stations in the country that use only one camera, and most times, VHS camera to record programmes such as discussions and interviews. This is evident in the rapid turning of the camera from one discussant to another or from the interviewer to the interlocutor.
Enahoro (2002:66) describes it this way: at present, if one visits a television studio in Nigeria, he will only see a Panasonic camera Mounted on a Philip tripod with a Beltec microphone on an Aiwa amplifier link with Thompson cable and a Sony headphone. Again, most TV stations in the country still rely on physical delivery of stories from their correspondents in distant places instead of sending them through the Internet, the cell phone or the satellite.
This makes many stories to be stale. For instance, during the January 27, 2002 Ikeja bomb blast, it was reported that most of the television stations in Lagos were still running dry commentaries of the mishap three hours after the event as Egbuchalam (2005) in Terngu and Ende Ternenge (2007:281) recounts: On the night of the Lagos bomb blast, a viewer in Lagos while contributing to a phone–in programme on a private TV station queried the anchorman why his station was telecasting the bomb blast of three hours ago without any actuality pictures. The reply was that their cameramen were already at the Ikeja cantonment scene and would bring back the film later.
A comparison of the above statement with the BBC World live reports on the September 11, terrorists‟ attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York, and the burial of Pope John Paul II in Rome, Italy, leaves much to be desired.
Preliminary investigations reveal that many radio stations in the country especially the state-owned stations are yet to be equipped with the state–of–the–art facilities. Many of them do not have computers fitted with MP3 software and CD writes. Many still operate studio equipment manually instead of using the console. Again, many of their transmitters are obsolete thereby resulting in constant breakdown. Unlike the FRCN and the big private FM stations such as Ray Power 100.5, Cool FM, Rhythm FM and Radio Continental, many state–owned radio stations do not broadcast correspondents‟ reports directly from the venue of an event.
PROJECT TOPIC- AN APPRAISAL OF THE APPLICATION OF ICTs IN THE NIGERIAN MASS MEDIA: A STUDY OF NTA AND THE GUARDIAN NEWSPAPERS
They do not broadcast for 24 hours. The reason perhaps is that they do not posses the technology to do so. There are still some state radio stations stuffed with cartridge machines, reel–to–reel machines, turntables and cassette players. While in the real digital modern studio, one expects to see CDs, VCDs, DVDs, computers fitted with MP3 software and CD writes. Preliminary investigations also revealed that in the print media, many Nigerian newspapers have introduced online news services courtesy of the web technology.
The online services make it possible to access the newspapers worldwide. Newspapers like The Sun, Thisday, The Vanguard, The Guardian, The Daily Independent, The Newswatch and Tell magazines are all connected to the internet. They make available to subscribers summaries of full text versions of their contents. However, the absence of satellite technologies that enable simultaneous publication of newspapers in different cities still poses a great problem to newspaper distribution and circulation in the country.
The above observations show that despite the relative growth in the use of some of the new ICTs in the Nigerian mass media, most of the available technologies are still grossly under utilized. Consequently, the researcher intends to critically evaluate the level of adoption and application of the new technologies in Nigerian mass media with special focus on NTA and The Guardian newspaper.
The two giant media in the country were consciously selected to ensure equal representation of the print and electronic media, as well as private and public ownership.
1.2 Statement of Problem
The emergence of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) has brought a tremendous change in the media industry all over the world. The media in various countries especially in the Western World are seriously adopting and utilizing the numerous opportunities provided by the new ICTs for greater efficiency, better quality, faster production, and delivery of more reliable and cost effective service. However, preliminary investigations show that most print and electronic media in Nigeria and Africa are yet to fully catch up with the trend. According to the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), only “very few countries in Africa have embarked on the ICT policy formulation process, while in many, the mechanism still falls short of the required standard” (ECA, May,1999).
The mass media in Nigeria are also faced with the problem of adopting foreign technologies to suit local needs. Again, there are still serious lapses in infrastructure especially in the areas of electricity and telecommunications, as well as in the training of media personnel to handle some of these new sophisticated operational tools. Thus, Mbachu (2003) cited in Ogah (2007:197) observes that: The newly emerging trends regarding Technology and the mass media globally indicates that the mass media in Nigerian will increasingly be left behind unless the country breaks the chain of economic stagnations and achieves a higher level of development that will guarantee its citizens a higher standard of living that will be a strong stimulus for production and consumption of the new technologies.
Meanwhile, it suffices to state categorically at this juncture, that the problem of this study is not to ascertain the relevance of ICTs in the modern mass media. Of course, it is a known fact that the new ICTs are very relevant in the media. Rather, the issue of serious concern is to empirically determine the extent to which these relevant technologies are utilized in the two media under investigation (NTA and The Guardian Newspapers). This is particularly important as prior investigations show that there is already a dichotomy in information diffusion, resulting into a digital divide between the “information haves” or “digital highway users” who can afford to acquire and use multiple sophisticated media technologies, and the “information have-nots”, who may not be able to afford and operate the computer or pay the bill for internet service connection and subscription. Hence, a study of this nature became imperative, because if the subject is ignored or overlooked, the existing knowledge gap resulting from absence/use of the new media technologies would continue to widen, leading to a widespread ignorance, illiteracy, poverty, wars, hunger, diseases and wants.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The overall objective of this study was to appraise the application of ICTs in the Nigerian mass media. However, the specific objectives include:
1. To ascertain the level of application of ICTs in NTA and The Guardian newspapers.
2. To identify the factors responsible for that level of ICTs application in NTA and The Guardian newspapers.
3. To assess the implication of the present level of ICTs application in NTA and The Guardian newspapers.
4. To recommend ways of improving the adoption and enhanced application of ICTs in NTA and The Guardian newspapers.
1.4 Significance of the Study
The following are the contributions of this study in terms of knowledge and benefits to the readers.