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The Impact of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) on Journalism Practice in Nigeria

MASS COMMUNICATION PROJECT TOPICS AND MATERIALS

The Impact of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) on Journalism Practice in Nigeria: A Study of the Nation, Sun and Champion Newspaper

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study is to find out “The Impacts of Information Communication Technologies in Newspaper Production in contemporary Nigeria: A study of Nation, Sun and Champion newspapers staff” As a study on the aspect of impact, the survey method was used to ascertain the impacts of ICT’s in newspaper production. The population of this study was drawn from Nation, Sun and Champion newspapers. Questionnaire was used as the instrument for data collection. From the data collected and analyzed, various findings were made. These findings can be summarized by saying that newspaper industry in Nigeria makes use of information communication technologies in their production process. Newspaper industries in Nigeria have been using ICT’s for a long time: ICT’s make newspaper production easier. The adoption of ICT’s has changed newspaper production process in Nigeria. ICT’s have much impact on news gathering. The adoptions of ICT’s have made the future of newspaper industry in Nigeria bright. To a large extent, the adoptions of ICT’s in newspaper industry have caused unemployment. On of the major constraints to the adoption of ICT’s is finance and with the adoption of ICT’s in Nigeria anybody can be a journalist. Newspapers firms should devote more time training their worker on the uses of ICTs. They should continually follow ICT’s trend and government on its own should encourage the adoption of ICTs in every sector in the country by financially empowering those sectors that cannot afford it.

CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of study

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have changed the entire system of newspaper production in Nigeria. Both the print and broadcast media  are affected in one way or the other by the information revolution. Information is the primary input as well as the final output of Newspaper industry. It collects raw information and converts it into categorized, defined and useful pieces of information.
Therefore it will not be an exaggeration to say that the radical changes brought in the realm of information through Information and Communication  Technologies (ICTs) revolution are bound to affect Newspaper more than any other industry. The adoption and absorption of Information and Communication Technologies are being carried out in newspaper industry by bringing efficiencies in all the functional wings including news gathering, production, editorial and marketing so as to gain competitive advantage (Indo American Print summit 2008:153).
Information and Communication technologies are now used not just by press but increasingly by reporters and editors also in Nigeria. Its benefits are being recognized at every point of the entire supply chain of newspaper production. The impact of Information and Communication technologies on every aspect of Newspaper, on the product, the production process, marketing and distribution in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized.
 
According to Chris (2001:7), technology development and absorption in Newspaper industry improved the printing process and reduced the operating time of editorial desks. The profuse use of online content and facilities has led to dominance of many-to-many model over one-to-many model of information collection. The individual or the department entrusted for the collection of information and news (Journalist) could gather information as per own and others convenience.
The wide range of editing, page making, database, photo imaging, and mixing software provided cutting-edge facilities to newspaper business which could now streamline and integrate intra-wings functions within a newspaper. The use of telefax, websites, online database, web based information sites, and online readers and newsmakers, made the cumbersome job of information collection and reporting easier than ever before.
The facilities of emails, personal blogs, and online discussion forums further have widened the canvas of information as the news of remotest areas could be retained within the deadlines. Information Technology made its presence felt in all quarters of news quarters. It not only impacted the functioning of newspapers and various departments but even gave birth to new avatar, the e- paper. Limitation of print versions, reach and accessibility, cost of newsprint abetted by unfathomable vista of Internet encouraged Newspapers companies Nigeria to launch electronic version of editions. Thus, ICTs made the newspaper available literally with a click of mouse anywhere anytime. However the e-paper  is not a substitute to the print version rather a complement to the same.
There is a complete transformation from the days when reporters used to file report, which had to be cleared and screened by band of sub-editors, followed by final checking of story by editor himself/herself and even an army of trained proof readers. Whereas now the reports are being filed online or on Local Area Network, read, crosschecked and edited electronically, saving time and money.
Mass media evolved because people from all walks of life needed help to understand the world around them. Throughout history, newspapers have excelled at collecting, recording, and distributing information at many different levels and geographic locales. As they evolve in light of technological change, newspapers need to embrace that mission anew. In fact, defining what is news is now more critical than ever. And it is their ability to do this within the context of new technologies that is the key to newspapers’ survival. Writing in a recent New York Times Magazine column, veteran journalist Frankel (2005:38) prognosticates:
The newspapers that prosper in the next century will be the ones that offer the best journalism, that master the subjects about which they write and acquire the talent and expertise to appraise and explain an infinite variety of events. . . . Newspapers can trust the fermenting computer industry to perfect the technologies that will gradually replace their presses and delivery trucks. It’s talent that they will need to survive in the digital age — gifted editors, reporters, and image artists who can find meaning in the approaching information glut.
Today, the use of advanced commercial printing machinery has also enabled newspaper industry to print copies with well-defined properties, capable of producing high precision graphic prints along with other direct mail printing services, the modern digital printing machines are printing 30 thousand and above copies per hour as against 3000 to 4000 copies per hour published by old printing press.
According to Tony (2004:4), the incorporation of digital inkjet  proofing and colour management has enabled newspapers to use distributed printing sites to produce product while minimizing the possibility of colour loss and poor print quality. Decentralized printing distribution has been given a further boost by the introduction of inserting and distribution technologies that help in newspaper customize and produce targeted products.
In the past, traditional newspapers could only tell stories through text and images only, but now the advent of new media technologies allows journalists to tell stories in multiple channels. This increases the credibility of the story. It also allows users (readers), to become active participants in information creation. In other words, it turns users from been passive recipients of information to active participants of information production.
Based on the medium strengths and weakness barometer above it is apparent that online news services are multifunctional and flexible than other traditional forms of news media (Craig, 2005:13). This is also so because online services incorporate all functionalities which are found in traditional news media. It is also so because online news services are able to offer a tripple play (i.e. video, text and audio) which other news media channels can only offer in isolation.

Newspaper Production Process

 
According to Miller (2002:20) and Ellis (2000:30) newspapers production follows this process:

Typesetting

 
The composing room receives the story in an electronic format, with the computer text file already translated with typeset codes. In a typeset file, the characters are of the same “type” style, size, and width as they appear on the pages of the newspaper. The setting of stories into the type that a reader sees went unchanged for several decades until the latter years of the 20th century. Well into the 1800s, type was set by hand, letter by letter.
A typesetter dropped small metal letters into a hand-held tray called a “stick.” The invention of the Linotype machine in 1884 made possible a quicker, more efficient method of typesetting. Invented by German immigrant Ottmar Mergenthaler of Baltimore, Maryland, this large, cumbersome machine worked by casting hot lead into a line of type with the assistance of an operator who typed in the copy on a keyboard. Individual lines of type were then placed by hand onto a page form. When a page was completed, it was then sent to a stereotyping room where a curved metal plate was made from the page form. The page form was then placed on the printing press.
According to Kowet, (2000:48), modern technologies have replaced the Linotype process through a method called phototypesetting. The first step in this process is the transfer of the dummy to the page layout section of the newspaper.
 
There, an operator transfers the instructions on the dummy into a rough page prototype. A printed version may be looked over and adjusted several times by one of the reporters whose story is featured as well as by the copy editor. If another breaking story comes in, this page layout can be altered in a matter of minutes.

Image transference

 
The final version of the page is then approved by the editor on duty sometimes a night editor in the case of a paper that is slated for a morning edition and sent over to a process department. There, the page is taken in its computer format and transferred via laser beams onto film in an image setter apparatus. The operator then takes the film to a processor in another section of the paper, who develops it and adjusts it for its final look. Photographs are scanned into another computer terminal and inserted into the page layout. The pages that are set to be printed together are then taped down onto a device called a “stripper,” and an editor checks them over once more for errors. The strippers are then put into frames on light-sensitive film, and the image of each page is burned onto the film. The film of each page is inserted into a laser reader, a large facsimile machine that scans the page and digitally transfers the images to the printing center of the newspaper.
At the printing center, typically a large plant separate from the newspaper’s editorial offices and centrally located to facilitate citywide distribution, the pages arrive at the laser room and are put through a laser writer, another scanning device that makes a negative image of them. In the negative image of the page, the text is white while the blank spaces are black. The final images of each page are further adjusted. This last-minute adjustment may involve fine-tuning of the colored sections and retouching photographs.

Plate-making

From these negatives, the forms from which the paper will be printed are composed in a plate-making room. The film of the page, usually done two pages at a time, is then placed on a lighted box. Next, an aluminum plate containing a light- sensitive coating is placed on top of the image of the pages. The light box is then switched on, and ultraviolet light develops the image of the pages onto the aluminum plate. The aluminum plate is then bent at the edges so that it will fit into a press, and is fitted onto plate cylinders.

Printing

The aluminum plates of each page next move on to the actual printing press, an enormous machine often two stories high. When the press is running, the noise in the building is deafening and employees must wear earplugs. The most common method of printing newspapers is called web offset. The “web” refers to the large sheets of blank newsprint that are inserted in rolls, sometimes weighing over a ton, into the actual printing press. The reels of newsprint are loaded in at the bottom floor of the press.
The rolls are inserted onto a reel stand, which has three components: the first reel brings a roll of paper up to the press, a second is loaded and ready to replace the first roll when it runs out, and a third reel stays empty and ready to be fed with another when the first reel is almost finished. Each roll of blank  newsprint has double-sided tape at its edges, so that when one roll runs out in the press, another smoothly takes up where the other left off without interrupting the printing process.
The plate cylinders then press the image of the page onto a blanket cylinder, leaving a version of the page’s image on the cylinder’s soft material. When the paper runs through the press, the blanket cylinder presses the image onto it. The chemical reaction of the ink, which contains oil, and the squirting of jets of water into the process result in the actual newspaper page of black or colored images on a white back-ground. Since oil and water do not mix, the areas where ink should adhere to the page are black or colored, and water washes away the parts where ink is not needed. This is why this printing process is referred to as “offset.”
The large sheets of printed newsprint move on to another large piece of machinery called a folder. There, the pages are cut individually and folded in order. This entire printing process can move as fast as 60,000 copies per hour. Quality control technicians and supervisors take random copies and scan them for printing malfunctions in color, order, and readability. Next, a conveyer belt moves the papers into a mail room section of the plant, where they are stacked into  quires, or bundles of 24. The quires then move to another section where a machine wraps them in plastic. The bundles are now ready to be loaded onto delivery  trucks for distribution.
 

1.2 Statement of Problem

 
The processes of using manual in newspaper production over the years  have been of major concern to newspaper industry. Manual production processes of Newspaper not only in Nigeria but the world over takes more time and more workers than the modern process but yet produces less number of copies. This cumbersome process affects the financial base of the industry as more workers and time are required to produce less number of copies which in most cases also fail to meet both the deadlines and the number demanded for. The dependency on  manual production also created tedious jobs for reporters, correspondents, editors, copywriters, as well as distribution department. These problems and others are what this research work seeks to solve.
The adoption of Information Communication Technologies, have altered the manual production process. Technology development and absorption in Newspaper industry has improved the printing process and reduced the operating time of editorial desk. The journalist, correspondent or the editorial department entrusted for the collection of information and news (Journalist) could gather information while in the office without much inconvenience using the modern technology.
Though new technology has introduced some extra costs, it has brought benefits in return. Portable computers mean that reporters working away from the main office can now deliver stories quickly, simply and reliably using a modem, rather than dictating them to a typist or a rewrite desk as in the case of manual production. The ability to submit stories and communicate with editors electronically saves time for most journalists, particularly freelancers, who often delivered their  finished work by hand in the past. Now they can easily work for publications far from office, without worrying about the time and cost of delivering completed work.

1.3 Objectives of Study

 

  1. To know the contribution of ICTs to newspaper production in Nigeria
  2. To verify how effective the application of ICTs have being in newspapering in Nigeria.
  3. To ascertain the problems associated with the adoption of ICTs in newspaper production in
  4. To find out the extent to which ICTs have affected manual production in newspaper industry in
  5. To identify how newspaper organizations have harnessed the potential of ICTs in enhancing newspaper development in

1.4 Research Questions 

  1. What is the status of ICTs on Nigeria Newspaper industry?
  2. What are the impacts of ICTs on newspaper production in Nigeria?
  3. What opportunities exist for the application of ICTs in newspaper production in Nigeria?
  4. Have ICT’s affected the manual production processes in newspaper industry in Nigeria?
  5. What are the challenges of ICTs adoption in newspaper industry in Nigeria?

1.5 Significance of Study 

  1. This study helps to show how ICTs have improved the delivery of news, research and news gathering processes of newspapers industry
  2. The study is significant because it helps to know how the daily reality of ICTs contributes in newspaper production process. Journalist now has a chance to really know and interact with his or her audience that goes way beyond traditional letters to the
  3. Also is significant because it would serve as a point of reference for those seeking additional information on this research topic and other related subject matter.
  4. This study will also add to existing literature on the role of ICTs newspaper in newspaper production.

1.6 Definition of Terms

 
Information Communication Technology:
 
Chowdhury (2000,p.23) writes that ICTs encompass technologies that can process different kinds of information (voice, video, audio, text and data) and facilitate different forms of communications among human agents, among humans and information systems, and among information systems. They are about capturing, storing, processing, sharing, displaying, protecting, and managing information. Duncombe and Heeks (1999,p.128) simplify the definition by describing ICT as an “electronic means of capturing, processing, storing and disseminating information”.
 

Production:

 
To non-economist, production would only mean the making or creating of something tangible. According to Anyanwuocha (2006,p.22), production involves the creation of utility. It is the creation of wealth in the form of goods and the provision of services which are capable of satisfying human wants. It could also be described as any activity involving human effort, leading to the satisfaction of human wants.
 

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