IMPACT OF SOCIAL MEDIA ON MODERN JOURNALISM (A STUDY OF JOURNALISTS IN MAKURDI METROPOLIS)

Abstract

The aim of this study was to determine the impact of social media on modern journalism in Makurdi metropolis. To achieve this aim, the survey research method and chi-square were used. Subjects were drawn from journalists in Makurdi metropolis in Benue State, using the purposive sampling technique. Three research questions and one alternative hypothesis guided the study. Research findings showed that social media have enhanced the productivity of journalists in Makurdi metropolis and a great number of journalists use them to source for news among other things. To this end, the researcher recommended that journalists should carry out a research on the available social media tools in order to identify reliable and trustworthy social networking sites and use them to discharge their journalistic duties. The researcher suggested that further studies should be carried out on the role of social media in sustaining democracy, advertising, public relations and public opinion polls.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study

A century and half ago, communication between countries involved physical presence. Once, a reporter had to run as fast as possible back to the newsroom after interviewing and tried to beat the competition to print. With the advent of the digital age the role of the journalist changed. The inception of information communication technology such as the internet has made it possible to find out about events without actually being there. Journalists can report news across the world over the internet.

Throughout history, developments in technology and communication have gone hand-in-hand, and the latest technological developments such as the internet have resulted in the advancement of the science of communication to a new level. The process of human communication has evolved over the years, with many path- breaking inventions and discoveries heralding revolutions. The invention of pictographs or the first written communication in the ancient world brought about written communication. These writings were on stone, and remained immobile. The invention of paper, papyrus and wax, culminating in the invention of the printing press in the 15th century made possible transfer of documents from one place to another, allowing for uniformity of languages over long distances. The latest revolution is the widespread application of electronic technology such as electronic waves and signals to communication, manifesting in the electronic creation and transfer of documents over the World Wide Web (www.wikipediathefreeencyclopedia.com) Social media which are a form of electronic communication have become the highest activity on the internet. They refer to social networking websites developed to specifically

help people share their views and stay in touch with their friends, relatives and well-wishers.According to Wikipedia, social media represents a shift in how people discover, read and share news, information content which brought about the democratization of information, transforming people from content readers into publishers.Social media are also internet sites where people interact freely, sharing and discussing information about each other and their lives, using a multimedia mix of personal words, pictures, videos and audio (Bruce and Douglas; 2008, p.27). In order to broaden our knowledge on the topic of study, a brief history of social media will be discussed below.

In the early 1990s, chat rooms and bulletin boards were forms of social media; in that they helped people connect with others and share interests.A little later,dating sites hooked together those looking for partners, and Classmate.com. let people connect with people they had known in high school and college.In the early 2000s, a site called Friendster was set up where people invited their friends to join and in turn, those friends invited other friends. The site was popular for a while but it suffered from technical difficulties and fake profiles and began losing members.Some of those members went to MySpace,which had actually started in 1999 but became better known in 2003.Its roots are a little muddy because it received financial and logistical support from another company called eUniverse, and most of the early users were eUniverse employees but Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe are given credit for much of the innovations and success of the site which built up to 115 million users worldwide. Members post bios, photos, blogs, videos, and other things that strike their fancy, and some TV programmes to air on MySpace. In 2005, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation (parent of Fox Broadcasting) bought MySpace for 580 million dollars. A competitor to MySpace, Facebook was started in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg while he was a student at Harvard University; it grew up rapidly about 2007. At first Facebook was solely for college and high school students, but Zuckerberg opened it to everyone and like MySpace, it encourages all types of member postings (Lynn Gross, 2010). Apart from the above mentioned social media tools,there are also others. These include; Twitter, YouTube, BlackBerry Messenger, Flickr, WordPress, Blogger, Badoo, Live Journal, Wikipedia, Type Pad, Second Life, Lulu, and many others. All these social media appear in many forms including blogs and microblogs, forums, and message boards, social networks, wikis, virtual worlds, social bookmarking, tagging and news, writing communities, digital storytelling and scrapbooking, data, content, image, video sharing, podcast portals and collective intelligence.

Journalism on the other hand is the deliberate and conscious efforts to gather information, collating and analyzing data for the purpose of informing, educating, and entertaining the people with a view of making an appropriate decision (Qasim Akinreti; 2007). Journalism is also an investigation and reporting events, issues and trends to a large audience. Though there are many variations of journalism, the ideal is to inform the intended audience about topics ranging from government and business organizations to cultural aspects of society such as arts and entertainment. The field of journalism include; editing, photojournalism and documentary.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The impact of social media in today‟s world of communication, especially journalism cannot be overlooked. Since its arrival social media have certainly changed the way journalists work, how stories are developed and disseminated. Social media have had positive impacts, without doubt, but there are also concerns about their impact on productivity and the disruption it could have on journalists‟ working patterns. Social media have created a dependency among those working in the media and many are unable to do without them.

Social media have become journalistic lexicon and it seems sourcing information has overtaken self-promotion as a primary social activity. While journalists are growing more sophisticated in their use of social media, and are for instance, using a great variety of tools to source for news, some journalists are less positive about some of the ways social media affect their journalistic activities, their engagement with their audience, their productivity and the quality of their work. Based on these contrasting views, the question this research seeks to answer is; how have social media affected the journalists in Makurdi metropolis with regards to their journalistic duties?

1.2 Objectives of the Study

The study had the following objectives:

  1. To know if journalists in Makurdi metropolis are exposed to social media networking tools.
  2. To find out the type of social media tools journalists in Makurdi metropolis prefer.
  3. To determine whether social media have enhanced the productivity of journalists in Makurdi metropolis.

1.3 Research Questions

  1. To what extent are journalists in Makurdi metropolis exposed to social media networking tools?
  2. What type of social media tool do journalists in Makurdi metropolis prefer?
  3. How have social media enhanced the productivity of journalists in Makurdi metropolis?

1.4 Research Hypothesis

H1: There is significant difference between journalists in Makurdi metropolis who use social media networking tools and those who do not.

1.5 Scope of the Study

This study is focused on journalists in Makurdi metropolis and not necessarily conclusive for journalists in other parts of Nigeria. Since journalists share common characteristics and skills, data generated from this study and the result obtained thereof, can be applied to all journalists.

1.6 Significance of the Study

This study will be of immeasurable importance to journalists, media organizations, news agencies, editors, lecturers and students in the field of journalism and mass communication as well as other researchers who will want to embark on same study as this.

The study will help journalists to source useful information using social media networking tools as well as provide them with a guide on how to write online stories. It will also help journalists to interact with their audience and identify their information needs. The study will also help journalists who have rarely embraced social media to do so in order to increase their productivity.

1.7 Operational Definition of Significant Terms

  1. Social media: The term social media refers to the Internet-based social networking websites developed to specifically help people share their views and stay in touch with their friends, relatives and well wishers.
  2. Media: media in this study are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media networking tools which journalists use to disseminate information to a large heterogeneous audience.
  3. Journalism: this is the practice of writing, editing, and disseminating information to the public.
  4. Modern journalism: it is a term used to describe the new era in journalism where internet and computers are used in almost every journalistic activity.

 

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