The relationship between communication, readership and development cannot be overemphasized because development agents not only read, they also communicate such knowledge to the people. Newspaper is one of the media for such knowledge communication. This study x-rayed the effects of online publishing for the period 1997 to 2013 on the sales and revenues (profitability), employment, capital investment as well as productive and technical efficiency of The Punch and Thisday newspapers in Nigeria. The study analyzed annual averages including the median averages before and after online publishing, testing and validating the values using t-test and the two-tailed Wilcoxon signed–ranked test to ascertain the significance of the changes in the observed variables before and after online publishing process. The study also utilized trend analysis for revenue analysis and Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) for productive and technical efficiency analysis. With secondary data through on-site visits, interviews, and mails from the two newspaper houses, the study found that online publishing has significant effects on sales and revenues (profitability), capital investments as well as productive (operational) efficiency of the two Nigerian newspapers. Conversely, online publishing has negative effects on employment and technical efficiency. The study recommends a reduction in cover prices of newspapers which can be possible with intervention in the reduction ofproduction costs and training sessions for media practitioners as well as the introduction of Digital Subscription Model (DSM) by these newspapers, for their online version.
1.1 Background of the Study
Newspapers, especially in the less developed countries of the world, serve as the mouthpiece of the masses. Rogers (2004) observes that newspapers are some of the strongest links between the leaders of a nation and the people, complementarily enhancing effective communication between them, to ensure the people’s participation in governance. They bridge the gap between the leaders and followers, allowing for joint actions and inactions in policy making and implementations for peaceful coexistence, and consequently, economic growth and development. Newspapers enable the people to know and keep records of government activities over a period of time. The people also voice their opinions through newspaper publications, through which the leaders get to know what the people want and expect them to do for the development of the country at large. To this effect, damage to the newspaper industry, is damage to the relationship between the masses and their leaders (Tsav, 2011).
Prior to the emergence of newspapers in the early 17th century, news stories and indeed all the activities of the governments across the globe were not formally recorded in decipherable ways. Only a few unofficial bulletins, which were handwritten newssheets, were circulated at long intervals among the most famous empires. This was not good for the participation of the masses in the process of governance. Onyia (2011) records that, before the introduction of newspapers, the people were left in the dark, as to what was happening within the realm of leadership, as against the widely preached participation of the masses in the process of governance, which brings about collective and even development, but since its introduction, development experts have continued to disseminate their development messages through the newspapers. With the birth of newspapers in the 17th century, which impressively replaced the handwritten newssheets and were made available for the people, people began to participate in governance and this later ignited development communication, which is highly needed for national growth and economic development. Newspapers help to keep records of a country’s activities and such records help with the knowledge of where the country used to be, where it is and where it is likely to be in a foreseeable future (Alfred, 2005).
The introduction of newspapers was a welcome development because of its job of gathering and disseminating information and keeping records of the activities of the government. Anietie (2012) posits that, the importance of keeping accurate records is fundamental to the growth of any man, group, institutions and/or a nation at large, without which growth and development becomes hard to achieve. An up-to-date database is the most useful resource in planning for growth and development. Records tell about the success of past campaigns, the improvement in present campaigns and the helps of to predict the future. It helps in monitoring a nation’s growth rate and most important of all, record keeping is one of the most resourceful advisers on development matters.
Bridge (2011) opined that, in most developing countries, newspapers are arguably the easiest and best way of keeping records of the day-to-day activities of the offices, especially those of the governments. This is as a result of the lack of safe and reliable electronic databases which help us to keep information in electronic form. This explains why almost every office in the developing countries often has a drawer or even a store where hardcopies newspapers are carefully kept for future references (Anietie 2012).
Across the world, the business of newspaper publishing seems to have so far been relatively successful and this success can only be attributed to the patronage the industry has always received from the readers. Generally, the survival of any company/industry depends, to a large extent, on the demand and/or patronage placed on such company/industry by the people and newspaper industry is not an exception (Emmanuel, 2001; Rogers, 2004; Sheminenge, 2007).
In line with this progress, Samuelson (2005) suggested that the patronage enjoyed by newspapers since its introduction in the 17th century encouraged the introduction of magazines in 1731, with the publication of The Gentleman’s Magazine. The first editor of the magazine was Edward Cave under the penname Silvanus Urban. This led to a decline in newspaper production and distribution, firstly in England and then in many other European countries where newspapers were in existence. This was the first and one of the greatest threats to the patronage enjoyed by the newspaper industry across Europe and other English speaking countries. Despite this, newspapers regained their ground and have continued to exist over the years.
Another blaring threat to the survival of newspapers in some countries of the world is illiteracy. This incidence has continued to hamper the success of newspapers in many countries of the world. UNESCO (2012) has lamented the problems associated with world illiteracy, reporting of the group known as the E9, which is made up of the countries with the largest illiterate population. They include Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, Nigeria, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and Pakistan. Most worrisome is the fact that these countries make up 50% of the world population. The UNESCO (2012) reports that, only 61% of Nigerians are literate (that is, can read or write with understanding). This means that newspaper patronage only comes from this few. This ugly incidence is experienced in so many other countries of the world and this has always posed a threat to the survival of newspaper industry (Tsav, 2011).
Bridge (2011) laments that, in the 20th century, most military governments in different countries of the world also posed one of the most serious threats to the survival of newspapers. Newspaper publishing companies were directly forced by the then military rulers to either remain pro-government even when the governments were not performing well or shut down their businesses. Being pro-government in such situation attracts hatred from the masses and this leads to low patronage, which in turn could lead to liquidation. The consequences of such liquidation are appalling and unthinkable to development communication experts across the world.
Non-professionalism, resulting from poor quality of workers being recruited into the newspaper industry, also affects the income and consequently the survival of the industry. When the quality of newspaper articles, news stories and advertisements are poor, the buyers will definitely be bored while readying the newspaper and this could lead to poor patronage from the buyers and readers. The readers will likely turn to other media (television, radio, magazines, among others) whose works are properly done and who can satisfy them with quality articles, news stories and advertisements.
In Nigeria, violence, thefts, vandalism and terrorism have posed a great threat to the survival of newspapers. Recently, a terrorist sect, the Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for an explosion that took place in the offices of ThisDay and The Sun newspapers in the northern part of Nigerian, forcing the two offices to shut down over a period of time. This sort of incidence could force newspapers to start writing well about such a heart-hardened terrorist group which has claimed so many lives and destroyed many properties worth millions of Naira in the country. Writing well about them does not just give a bad image to the newspapers, but also leads to poor patronage, because no right-thinking individual will like to buy a copy of newspaper praising a terrorist group that has killed all the members of his family.
The factors described above have all affected the outputs and consequently the survival of Nigerian newspapers in one way or the other. And then, in 1995, UNESCO introduced online publishing when it brought in the Regional Information Society Network for Africa (RINAF) (then called Regional Informatics Network for Africa) as a framework to support African cooperation to promote academic and public sector computer networking. But the Internet became a reality in Nigeria in the late 1990s; with Obafemi Awolowo University being the first institution in Nigeria to have its own VSAT internet link (Kusa, 2010).
The practice of online publishing also known as electronic publishing or web/internet publishing has become very common everywhere, including Nigeria, though not without its own challenges because not very many Nigerians and inhabitants of developing and less-developed economies have access to the internet just as not very many of them are literate enough to shuffle the web. Online publishing has changed the process and speed of news gathering, editing and publications processes. But experience has shown that many online publishers, sometimes put their publications online and then, keep on editing the piece as time goes on, with readers already having access to the publication. This comes as news updates. Ajimobi (2011) records that, in online publishing, there is no “final” product as errors can be corrected after publication, and quiet unlike it is in print publication.
Because editing can be done after publication in online practices, online news publication requires constant upkeep and redresses in the name of updates. Links need to be tested regularly in order to avoid what Information Technologists call “linkrot”. Sheminenge (2007), Ajimobi (2011) and Bridge (2011) are of the opinion that, because online publishing is a fairly new field, there are no set standards deemed a quality layout format. This can be seen as both an advantage and a disadvantage. As an advantage, we can understand this to mean that there’s more room for experimentation and improvement. However, as a disadvantage, publishers do not know exactly what readers like and dislike, what keeps them there and what chases them away. So, while your content might be great, your layout could chase the readers away, and vice versa. Online publishing, according to Tsav, (2011), is still a volatile situation without any standards to rely on.
Minot (2014) records that, irrespective of the fact that online publishing came with speedier news gathering and publication, timeliness, free publications for readers and others, it has its disadvantages as well. These disadvantages, he noted, include the fact that breakdown of the website can lead to a massive loss of all the publication, unlike printed copies of newspapers where news stories last for as long as we can keep them. Another similar disadvantage is that internet hackers can illegally gain access to a system, and re-write the news contents and giving the intended readers a different storyline and consequently damaging the publishers’ reputation/public relations activities. Online publications are also out of reach to the poor who either do not have access to a computer set or the internet. But printed newspapers give poor ones the chance for at least a glance over the pages. For example, those who do not have the money to by newspapers often go to newsstands and read news stories free.
Due to these shortcomings of online publishing, some publishers now chose to practice both online publishing and print journalism. In the meantime, some newspaper publishers who have gone online have been extremely cautious, with one foot in the hardcopy printing and the other in the online publishing because no one seems to know exactly where the industry is heading to (Tsav, 2011). All Nigerian newspapers belong to the group that practice both online publishing and print journalism at the same time, with none entirely practicing online publishing so far.
Online publishing may have some effects on the revenues of Nigerian newspapers if its introduction has led to a change in the sales and/or revenue of the newspapers. In other words, online publishing may have some effects on the income, if it has affected the number of copies sold per day, and the advertising rates, slots or space, which is one of the main sources of income to the newspapers.
On the contrary, the introduction of online newspaper publishing may not have any effects on the revenues of these newspapers if their revenues keep growing. It may also have no effects on the revenues of newspapers in Nigeria because not quite a good number of Nigerians have access to internet, just as not very many are literate enough to shuffle the web.
1.2 Statement of the Research Problem
In recent years, most Nigerian newspapers have embarked on online publishing. Anietie (2012) recounts that, Nigerian newspaper publishing companies embraced the practice of online publishing following the recent improvements and mainstreaming of technological devices in the country. They do not just place news and advertisements on their individual websites; they also share the links to such online publications on their Tweeter handles, YouTube and Facebook pages. In Nigeria, the Digital Subscription Model (DSM), which ensures that online readers pay a reasonable amount of money in order to have access to online publications, has not been introduced, making online publications free for those who have access to the internet.
Matthew (2006), Mahmud (2009) and Mark (2010) posit that almost in all incidences, the way and manner development messages are communicated is often more important that the message itself. No matter how important and accurate a message is, if poorly and/or wrongly communicated, its content would be lost and its need jeopardized, and this would consequently hamper our development efforts. In effect, the way a message is communicated is as important as the content of the message itself, if not, in essence, more important. This explains why government and its leaders very often attach unquantifiable significance to the processes of conveying their policies. This is because if the development messages are not well communicated, the policies would lose its widely expected support (Mahmud, 2009).
In journalism, whenever they discuss the difference between communication development and development communication. It is so often said that the two are inseparable and therefore cannot survive without each other. The former talks about the improvement in the ways we communicate while the later talks about the use of communication to bring about development, and most importantly, the two are inseparable in the field of development studies.
Good communication improves readership, readership improves knowledge and knowledge brings about development (Mahmud, 2009 and Lekan, 2011). And lately, there has been a global debate on whether or not the practice of online publishing has any effects on readership of newspapers, especially in the less developed countries, considering their literacy levels. Newspapers are popularly known to development agents as viable instruments for the education of the masses, and are undoubtedly good instruments for the improvement and conveying of development communication messages by development agents (Tsav, 2011; Onyia (2011) and Bridge, 2005). As humans, we have to read if we are to develop. Thus, the more educated a man, the more development-friendly he is and vise versa (David, 2009). In the light of this, a drop in the readership level of the people as a result of the introduction of online publishing means a drop in the likelihood of the people to either develop or be developed and a rise in the readership level of the people as a result of the introduction of online publishing means a rise in the likelihood of the people to either develop or be developed.
If online publishing negatively affects the readership level of the people, it will definitely affect the sales outputs of newspapers in Nigeria, and will also affect the revenues of the publishing houses and hamper their survival. Bridge (2011) records that, between 2009 and 2011, the United States has seen a number of major metropolitan dailies shut down or drastically pruned because of diminishing sales. These include The Rochy Mountain News and The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, two of US most widely read newspapers, and just as close to 75 provincial newspapers in the UK have closed shops within the time frame as well.
Tsav (2011) also laments that in the past five to six years, some notable Nigerian newspapers have been sold out by their original owners, with the new owners vehemently battling for survival. Could this be as a result of the emergence of online publishing? Lekan (2011) prayed that the revenues of Nigerian newspapers and consequently their income may not have been affected by online publishing, because if it does, many newspaper publishing companies in Nigeria will soon shut down and a large number of offices will be left with few and unsafe means of keeping records which will undoubtedly hamper economic development in the country.
A study by Sobowale and Adim (2009) revealed that, considering the production and distribution costs of newspapers as well as the salary frames of Nigerian newspapers in relation to their advert rates, a newspaper publisher must record daily sales of, at least, two hundred thousand (200,000) hard copies in order to survive the trends of online publishing.
These previous findings have necessitated a thorough analysis of the effect of online publishing in Nigeria, on the sales, revenues, efficiencies and employment of major newspapers using top newspapers like ThisDay and The Punch newspapers. Has the introduction of newspaper online publishing in 2005 affected the sales and revenues of these newspapers outfits? Has online publishing affected employment and capital investment levels of these newspapers? Similarly, has online publishing affected the technical and productive efficiency of these newspapers? These are some of the questions this study seeks to provide answers to.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this study is:
- To determine the effects of online publishing on the sales and revenue (profitability) of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria.
Other specific objectives are:
- To determine the effects of online publishing on the employment levels of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria.
- To determine the effects of online publishing on the capital investment of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria.
- To determine the effects of online publishing on the technical and productive efficiency of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria.
1.4 Research Questions
- What are the effects of online publishing on the sales and revenues (profitability) of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria?
- What are the effects of online publishing on the employment levels of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria?
- What are the effects of online publishing on the capital investment of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria?
- What are the effects of online publishing on the technical and productive efficiency of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following null hypotheses guided the study:
Ho1: Online publishing has no significant effects on the sales and revenues (profitability) of
The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria.
Ho2: Online publishing has no significant positive effects on the employment levels of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria.
Ho3: Online publishing has no significant effects on the capital investment of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria.
Ho4: Online publishing has no significant effects on the technical and productive efficiency of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria.
1.6 Significance of the Study
The study will be of great benefit to newspaper publishers, as they will come to know whether or not online publishing affects their business, how it affects them and also the possible solution to the challenges. This research report will also benefit researchers, who will use it for reference purposes in future studies. In the same vein, the study will help policy makers, both in the media industry and other government parastatals do a better job by making them realize and/or understand some of the best strategies and directives to employ in their policy-making so as to avoid regrettable liquidation of the newspaper enterprises.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This work is only concerned with the task of identifying the effects of online publishing on the revenues of Nigerian newspapers, specifically ThisDay and The Punch Newspapers using Nigeria as area of study. The study spans from 1997 to 2013. Because these two newspapers began full scale online publishing in January 2005, the researcher therefore wants to compare the total sales of these newspapers eight years (8 years) before the introduction of online publishing and eight years (8 years) after the introduction of online publishing. This brings the researcher to what is called before and after effects.
The Punch and ThisDay newspapers were chosen because preliminary studies had revealed that The Punch Newspaper is the highest selling newspaper in Nigeria with an average sale of eighty thousand (80,000) copies per day, whereas ThisDay newspaper is the least selling newspapers in Nigeria with an average sale of sixteen thousand, (16,000) copies per day. The researcher chose Nigeria as the area of study instead just a state so as to have a broad and bigger data that would help him establish flawless finding and enable him generalize.
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
This chapter looks into the views and opinions of other authors and researchers whose works were written prior to this study, to see what they have recorded regarding the effects of online publishing on the revenues of newspapers. It is divided into three sections; conceptual literature, theoretical framework and empirical studies.
The section on conceptual literature examines effects, online publishing, employment, survival, and newspaper and the society. Theoretical framework examines the Agenda-Setting Theory of the press, uses and gratification theory, social responsibility theory of the media and the magic-bullet or hypodermic theory of the press and the theory of underdevelopment. The empirical studies examine earlier research works carried out on online publishing as they relate to nature of today’s journalism. The literature reviewed is summarized and the gaps identified. The relevance of the present study and the gaps it seeks to fill are made clear.
2.2 Conceptual Literature
Under this section, the researcher discussed some concepts in the research topic. The concepts are: effects, online publishing, employment, and newspaper and the society.
2.2.1 The Concept of Effects
Effects mean utterances, consequences or changes that occur when something is done or when something happens and can either be negative or positive (Alfred, 2005). In the light of this, when we talk about the effect of online publishing on the revenues of The Punch and ThisDay Nigerian newspapers, we are therefore talking about the utterances, consequences or changes that occur to the revenues of the newspapers as a result of the introduction of online publishing by these newspapers in January, 2005.
2.2.2 The Concept of Online Publishing
Online publishing which is also referred to as e-publishing or electronic publishing has to do with the digital publication of e-books, digital magazines and the development of digital libraries and catalogues. Electronic publishing has become common in Nigeria, especially in scientific publishing where it has been argued that peer-reviewed scientific journals are in the process of being replaced by electronic publishing (Sheminenge, 2007). It is also becoming common to distribute books, magazines, and newspapers to consumers through tablet reading devices, a market that is growing by millions each year, generated by online vendors such as Apple’s iTunes bookstore, Amazon’s bookstore for Kindle, and books in the Android Market (David, 2009).
Ezinwa, (2006) posits that, distribution of publications through the internet is nowadays faster and easier. It is strongly associated with electronic publishing, there are many non network electronic publications such as Encyclopedias on compact disks (CD) as well as technical and reference publications relied on by mobile users and others without reliable and high speed access to a network. Electronic publishing is also being used in the field of test-preparation in developed as well as in developing economies for student education (thus partly replacing conventional books) because it enables content and analytics combined – for the benefit of students.
David, (2009) recounts that, online publishing is increasingly becoming more popular as says go by because it has been able to provide quick gratification for readers, especially with books that customers might not be able to find in standard book retailers. Studies shows that even as the term electronic publishing is primarily used today to refer to the current ways and processes of online and web-based publishing, the term has a history of being used to describe the development of new forms of production, distribution, and user interaction in regard to computer-based production of text and other interactive media. The electronic publishing process follows a traditional publishing process that differs from traditional publishing in two ways. Firstly, it does not include using an offset printing press to print the final product. Secondly, it minimizes the physical distribution of product.
In the meantime, the normal roles of typesetters and book designers have changed. Designers now know the variety of reading devices available, and the ways in which consumers read. However, new software are becoming available for designers to publish content in this standard without having the knowledge of programming, such as Adobe Systems’ Digital Publishing Suite and Apple’s e-Books. The most common file format is e-pub. It is a free and open standard available in many publishing programmes (Ezinwa, 2006).
Many bloggers believe that marketing our publications online, requires a lot of energy and hard work as well. Although there are very low costs of distribution in online publishing, one must register his/her publication with as many search engines as possible. Thought it cost very low amount of money, if it is not done, no one will be able to find our sites. This process needs to be given regular attention. After the registration, the sites that have agreed to link to our site often need to be regularly contacted to make sure that link will remain on their site. In the light of this, while marketing and distribution might be cheaper for the online publication, it is not without its own costs especially in terms of labor and time (David, 2009).
Just like every other form of news disseminations, online publishing is not in any way immune to challenges. In this present time, not everyone is ready to sit down at a computer screen or any digital device and read for any great deal of time, especially in the less developed countries where economies make no room for good education and training. Similarly, there are still no set standards deemed good enough, a layout or format for online publishing. This, to an extent is a challenge in the sense that it is still hard to determine what attracts readers and what detests them in terms of layouts or formats.
2.2.3 The Concept of Employment
Employment is a term used to describe the relationship between employer and employee. It means the hiring of staff for a payable and/or non-payable role in an organization, often refer to as contract. It could also be said to mean the agreement between the employer and employee that the employee will provide certain services on the job, and in the employer’s designated workplace, to facilitate the accomplishment of the employer’s organizational goals and mission (Sam, 2001).
2.2.4 Newspaper and the Society
Preliminary studies have shown that as newspapers affect our society with their publications, so do our societal structures and value system affect, direct and dictate newspapers publications. There is a popular saying in the world of journalism that, the more hostile the newspaper publications in a country, the more hostile the government policies of the country. The recent media experience in the newspaper publications of the revelations of Edward Snowden, the American who recently exposed the secret works of the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States of America shook America’s international relations with countries like Germany, China and England whose President’s phones, according to Snowden’s publications, had been hacked by the NSA, proving the fact that the more hostile the newspaper publications, the more hostile the society.
Literature also has it that it is largely in the least developed nations that thousands of journalists are persecuted, murdered, beaten, arrested and imprisoned, therefore rejecting the widely preached principles of freedom of speech. The experience in Egypt seemed to prove it here. Three Aljazeera journalists have been held in custody for over a hundred and seventy days for covering the 2013 uprising in the country that led to the ousting of the only democratically elected Egyptian President, Mohammed Mosi and consequently the election of Mohammed El-Sisi as the news president.
Even though Nigeria has had a relatively fair history of press freedom in Africa, there has been series of rifts between the government and the journalism practitioners. In 1995, Ken Saro-Wiwa, was executed for treason by the then military president of Nigeria, Sani Abacha. This resulted to the expulsion of Nigeria from the Commonwealth of Nations among other sanctions from abroad. Even under the current civilian government, journalists have continued to come under fire. In 2006, Gbenga Aruleba and Rotimi Durojaiye of African Independent Television (AIT) were arrested for sedition and were later charged (Tell, 2011).
Dailypost, (2014) records that, the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration recently clamped down of some media outlets claiming that those newspapers had some information that had something to do with national security. This lead to the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) asking the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Mr. Frank La Rue to urgently issue urgent appeal and measures to stop the government of President Goodluck Jonathan from continuing harassment and intimidation of several media houses and newspapers.
There is now a convincing body of evidence that demonstrates that a free press is a central condition for the development and maintenance of transparent and honest government for sustainable economic growth. The establishment of a strong, free and independent press sector is a necessary precondition to all real and durable progress in economic, social and political development and stability (Larry, 2006).
There is the saying that an ill-informed man is an ill-equipped man and well-informed man is a well-equipped man. Put differently, some people say that information is power. The importance of information to man and the society at large can be pictured in the statements above. Newspapers keep the people informed about the local, national and international activities. They give in detail the statements of speeches made by the rulers at public meetings on the radio of television. Standard newspapers criticize the policies and statements of the government or of the political parties in a fair way.
At one point or the other, newspaper articles describe the economic policies of the governments and countries of the world. For example they describe its import and export policies, its plans for future economic development, and the prices of different things fixed by it, and so on. Our newspapers have always reported in detail the economic policies of our different governments in the fields of agriculture, industry, commerce and others. They have also described the problems of labours, farmers and other working people and suggested their solutions. This information equips the people with the knowledge of what their past was, what their presence is and what the future will be like (Larry, 2006).
Newspapers give a true and correct picture of society. They describe the activities of the people in different fields like education industry; law, medicine, science, and so on. They tell us about the activities of students and teachers, businessmen, industrialists, lawyers, doctors, scientists and all categories of working people. They convey information regarding the different crimes taking place every day. Newspapers tell about the political, economic and social changes in different countries. They give descriptions of changes government and revolutions in different parts of the world.
Onyia, (2011) believes that newspapers can play a very vital role of highlighting and pinpointing the social, economic and moral evils in Nigeria and the world at large. Newspapers can be helpful in eradicating these evils from the society. They can also start propaganda against the economic evils like short-weights and measures, smuggling. Thus the newspapers can help greatly in the nation- building activities. Newspapers provide some material for every type of interest. They give us stories, the crossword puzzles, the post page, the expert’s comments on certain affairs of national and international importance. Some pages are meant for women and children as well. Newspapers also provide us information about various matters and things through advertisements. They can help the advertisers to boost up their sale and the consumers to consume the new goods.
In other words, newspapers provide a wholesome intellectual food, trade contacts and also job opportunities for the people in the society. People pay homage to their dead relatives through the obituary notes in the newspapers. In short, newspapers contain all what is needed and desired by every person relating to any field of life. They play manifold character in almost all fields of life and are becoming more important day by day. Newspaper is one of the initial communication tools of the society. Ever since the emergence of newspapers, they were published to convey the latest happening in different parts worldwide. Today newspapers employ correspondents to collect news from all over the place and also from agencies. They write about any and every event happening at all corners of the world. They act as the Punch of the society, helping in developing public opinion. It acts as a mirror of the society and informs everything in minute detail, thus helps in forming a collective opinion (Rogers, 2004).
In this contemporary time, the role of newspapers in our society is very significant in the promotion of trade, commerce, and business. Corporate houses and business houses promote their products by putting or giving roomy ads on papers. Advertisements like the classified advertisements, significant community announcements and communal notices also make up the chief content and substance of newspapers. Sporting, educational as well as campus news, cultural activities, dance drama, and fine arts are a few of the indispensable features of every primary newspaper. The readers get the knowledge of any and every activity happening in and around the area. They read about the opinion and reviews, the editorials and feature articles to know about the incident in detail.
The modern day paper also has a column, the letter to the editor section, in which the reader can write about his grievances or appreciation about any report or incident in the society. The newspaper also informs about the political activities, the new laws or the sports and activities happening in the society. Apparently after reading these paragraphs it seems that the role of newspaper is to convey information and help in developing public opinion only. In reality, it is not limited to this extent. A modern day paper has done miraculous activity in recent years and shown that even in the age of internet and news portal, the radio and television, newspaper can still change the life, the thoughts and minds of the people. They can still help in creating a common opinion and work as a corporate social responsible tool and fight for justice if needed. They can change the government or help in punishing a criminal by simply acquiring public support and demanding justice (Rogers, 2004).
Similarly, it is widely believed that newspapers also keep us informed of the political situation of the world. By reading newspapers, we can know what is happening in our country as well as in the world at large. They contribute a great deal to the development of our knowledge. Through valuable and subtle critical and commentary articles on culture, social civilization, new life style we learn a lot of interesting things. Thanks to newspapers, our mind and point of view are consolidated and enriched. When reading them we can train our reasoning power. Through newspapers reading, we can find out what we need to know such as: a job in the situations vacant column, an object we want to buy in the advertising page, a missing relative in the finding missing relative column and condolence news in the agony column. We can improve our English language by reading newspapers written in English just the same way it applies to every other language. Newspapers are the mouthpiece of the nation and the unseen advisers of the common people.
2.2.5 Communication, Readership and Development
The relationship between communication, readership and development cannot be overemphasized. As development agents, to achieve development, not only do we have to read, we also have to communicate such knowledge to the people, educating them on the need for them to accept and support our projects. Most of the social development efforts by development agents fail, not because they are not well-planned, well-structured or well-funded, but because of poor readership and communication of such development messages (Thijs and Arvid 2012).
In many occasions, the way and manner messages are communicated is often more important that the message itself. No matter how important and accurate a message is, if poorly and/or wrongly communicated, its content would be lost and its need jeopardized (Matthew2006; Mahmud, 2009 and Mark, 2010). In the light of this, the way a message is communicated is as important as the content of the message itself, if not, in essence, more important. This explains why government and its leaders very often attach more significance to the processes of conveying their policies than the policies themselves, for if the masses are not well communicated with, the policies would lose its widely expected support (Mahmud, 2009)
In journalism, whenever they discuss the difference between communication development and development communication. It is so often said that the two are inseparable and therefore cannot survive without each other. The former talks about the improvement in the ways we communicate while the later talks about the use of communication to bring about development, and most importantly, the two are inseparable in the field of development studies. Good communication improves readership, readership improves knowledge and knowledge brings about development (Mahmud, 2009 and Lekan, 2011).
The practice of online publishing has adverse effects on readership levels of the youths and it affects newspaper patronage (Mathew2006). Newspapers, when read, are popularly known to development agents as viable instruments for the education of the masses, and are undoubtedly good instruments for the improvement and conveying of development communication messages by development agents (Tsav, 2011; Onyia (2011) and Bridge, 2005). As humans, we have to read if we are to develop. Thus, the more educated a man, the more development-friendly he is and vise versa (David, 2009). In the light of this, a drop in the readership level of the people as a result of the introduction of online publishing means a drop in the likelihood of the people to either develop or be developed and a rise in the readership level of the people as a result of the introduction of online publishing means a rise in the likelihood of the people to either develop or be developed.
2.2.6 Online Publishing and the Newspaper Industry
For decades, the Nigerian newspaper industry has been booming, serving readers with the happening within and outside the country. From the time of IweIrohin (the first newspaper to be published in Nigeria) published by Rev. Henry Townsend in 1859 to this present day, publishers of newspapers have made gains and progresses in their enterprises, though not without some challenges. In the past decade, many Nigerian newspapers started introducing online publishing into their jobs of gathering and disseminating information to the entire reading publics. News stories, articles and feature stories are now made available for online readers free (Rogers, 2004). What are the changes brought about by this trend?
Peter (2011) opines that the introduction of online publishing has changed the process and style of newspaper publishing in Nigeria and the world at large. A lot has changed in the process of news gathering, editing, publications, distribution and others. The mode of operation of Nigerian press has changed significantly because of the introduction of online publishing in the country. Sheminenge, (2007) opines that some people now resort to online reading instead of having to pick up hard copies of newspapers from news vendors. However, in most cases, computer illiteracy and the lack of access to the internet have ensured that many people still prefer hard copies to online publications.
With online publishing fast growing in Nigeria, many authors now worry about the fate of media objectivity in the country. Alfred (2005) however, says that, online publishing does not affect media objectivity in Nigeria. He believes that in journalism, objectivity is upheld whether or not the news stories are published online or in hardcopies. The objectivity of newspapers in Nigeria seems not to have changed even though critiques accuse publishers of writing to please the readers and not to inform or educate them.
News accessibility has become easier for most readers across the world. With a click of the mouse of a computer system or a keypad of other digital devices, one gets access to millions of news headlines sitting his house, office or anywhere comfortable for him. It is no longer a must for one to take to the street looking for vendors or newspaper stands before he has the access to newspaper publications. The accessibility has improved for a very significant number of readers.
Generally, online publishing has brought about an increase in the readership levels of the countries of the world, especially the developing ones Google (2009); Creeber and Martin (2009); Ajimobi (2011) and Thijs, and Arvid (2012). This, according to experts has come as a result of the mainstreaming of technological devices that always accompany online publishing. However, there have been accusations that online publishing do expose readers to unnecessary shortcuts and abbreviations of words, which in turn hamper their knowledge of languages good usages Google (2009).
Ambrose, (2013) recorded that, few months before the introduction of online publishing in 2005, Nigerian newspapers, especially The Punch newspaper were doing so well, recording more and more sales as the days went by, only to have its sales cut short a little later. As it stands, it still remains difficult to make reasonable amount of money from online publishing. Most online publications right now are free to readers. Online publishers simply charge for advert spaces on the websites. Though some publishers are currently attempting to require subscriptions before access is given to readers especially in the developed countries of the world, the income is still insignificant. That is not to say that such effort to make enough money from the practice of online publishing has failed. To be fair, online publishing is still a new trend in some countries and people who are using it are still in the stages of trial (Peter, 2011).
Ajimobi (2011) regrets that, the introduction of online publishing has ensured that all the newspapers in Nigeria today have a combined circulation figure that is far less than that of only Daily Times of Nigeria in 1980 (when the population of Nigeria was about half of what it is today). Painful, it may sound, but that is what online publishing has caused to the newspaper industry in Nigeria, a country that has many citizens who, either do not have access to the internet or are illiterate enough that they cannot surf the internet.
The author also believes that the drastic reduction in newspapers circulation is global in scope, pointing out that, some powerhouse newspapers in the name of The New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune are also facing the same challenge of plummeting circulation figures. He said that most of the newly empowered middle class have access to the internet and wondered why any right-thinking individual should buy a newspaper for information when the same information is available on the internet free of charge? Internet, he said, also gives more access to different sources for the same information—all for free.
Thijs, and Arvid (2012) posit that, with the technologies and the digital devices that had come with internet, the technical/productive efficiency of newspaper publishing enterprises has improved. He argued that publishers now have the technicalities needed for the improvement of the technical/productive efficiency of their products. Creeber and Martin (2009) agree with this notion when they said that even as the internet has crippled some notable newspaper outlets, the few surviving ones have improved technically and are now efficient in their business of gathering and disseminating news stories.
Uju (2008) recollects that in those days, fresh graduates had to buy newspapers for advertisements on employment opportunities. These newspapers, she remembered, were few of the only means of getting information on employment opportunities. But with the introduction of the internet, fresh graduates now have careersnigeria.com, kerewa.com Jobberman.com, nairaland.com, naijahotjobs.com, facebook.com and so many social website, to look up for job advertisements. These are free job listing websites where a job seeker will not only find vacancies, but also tips on writing CV, interview tips.
Prior to the emergence of online publishing, newspapers intentionally created scarcity of news stories, articles and adverts which made their readers seek and struggle for newspapers and increased their readiness to pay high amounts for these newspapers. But all that has changed. Google (2009) quoted in Ajimobi (2011) stated that, the large profit margins newspapers enjoyed in the past were built on an artificial scarcity: Limited choice for advertisers as well as readers. With the Internet, that scarcity has been taken away and replaced by abundance. Nothing in the nearest future, Google declared, will be able to restore newspapers’ revenues to what they were before the emergence of online publishing. It is not a question of analog dollars versus digital dimes, but rather a realistic assessment of how to make money in a world of abundant competitors and consumer choice.
With the coming of the new media, people who have long been on the receiving end of one-way mass communication are now increasingly likely to become producers and transmitters. From Indymedia to the future BBC, the distinction between information producers and consumers will become increasingly difficult to draw (Creeber and Martin, 2009; Bennett, 2003).
2.2.7 Online Publishing and Print Journalism: Which One Ensures Survival of The Press?
Different media practitioners from different parts of the world have continued to voice their opinion as to whether of the newspaper industry will survive the fast changing world by entirely taking up online publishing and dropping print journalism or sticking to print journalism and dropping online publishing or practice both at the same time. Dominic (2013) recounts that, so far, there is no consensus on the best strategy for survival. Some chose to drop the practice of online publishing while others believe the wisest move is embracing the Internet and its online publishing.
Funnily enough, even those who chose online publishing over print journalism have so far not been able to tell the world how newspapers would survive online considering the fact that the revenues from online editions have not been as much as the previous print income from circulation and advertising sales, and many newspapers struggle to maintain their previous levels of reporting amidst eroding profits. Newspapers get only about one-tenth to one-twentieth the revenue for a web reader that they do for a print reader (Phillip, 2009).
Mark (2010) states that, the newspaper of the future may bear little resemblance to the older newspapers of print journalism before the coming of the internet. It may become a hybrid, part-print and part-internet, or perhaps eventually, as has happened with several newspapers, including the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Christian Science Monitor and others. In the meantime, the transition from the printed page to whatever comes next will likely to come with more challenges, both for the newspaper industry and for its consumers. Paul (2009) also believes that, for the foreseeable future, our business will continue to be a mix of print and online journalism, stressing that the world is becoming more digitalized and technology has brought changes to newspapers.
Tell (2011) records that, the World Association of Newspapers, at its annual convention held in May, 2009, in Barcelona, Spain, had titled the convention’s subject “Newspapers Focus on Print and Advertising Revenues in Difficult Times”. Journalists and advertisers were asked to come up with the best options and solutions to the fast dwindling newspaper circulation in the world. After the convention, the association failed to come up with any result and could only call for regulators to block a proposed Google–Yahoo advertising partnership, calling it a threat to newspaper industry revenues worldwide. The WAN painted a stark picture of the threat posed to newspapers by the search engine giants. Perhaps never in the history of newspaper publishing has a single, commercial entity threatened to exert this much control over the destiny of the press (David, 2009).
Dominic (2013) regrets that, with profits falling, many newspapers have cut back on their most expensive reporting projects such as investigative journalism and the likes. Some investigative projects often take months, with their payoff higher that spontaneous news reporting. In the past, larger newspapers often devoted a portion of their editorial budget to such efforts, but with the current significant drop in circulation, such reports are being cut down by many newspapers. Nevertheless, Anietie (2012) is of the opinion that, apart from investigative reports, some observers are troubled by the lack reliability and accountability of anonymous bloggers, many with uncertain credentials and points of view, saying whatever they could, just to make money online.
In an interview with the researcher, Obasi (2014) states that, with news stories free online, the income of newspapers houses is now very low compared to the experience in the last two to three decades, when newspaper hardcopies were circulated in larger scale. He also recorded that, it was the fear of such massive drop in income that had rocked the newspaper is the west that made Nigerian newspaper publishers to stay away from online publishing even though some of them development their websites in the 1990s. At most newspapers, web advertising accounts for only 10–15% of revenues (Bridge, 2011). This is not a good development in the industry as many publishing companies no longer make the kind of income that could sustain them in the market. Some observers have compared the dilemma to that faced by the music industry. Free distribution of content through the internet has caused a total collapse of the business model.
Thomas (2009) warns that those newspaper publishers who cries over low income should, as a matter of fact quit business right away, as the internet and its online publishing shows great prospects of taking over the market in the nearest future. He also states that the threat from online publishing is not just to the companies that publish newspapers, but also the news itself, because the increasing use of the internet’s search function, primarily through large engines such as Google, has also changed the habits of readers, making them seek particular writers, blogs or sources of information through targeted searches, instead of perusing general interest publications, such as newspapers, therefore rendering the agglomeration of newspapers increasingly irrelevant.
A study by Thijs, and Arvid (2012) shows that, consumers are increasingly embracing online newspapers in the past decade, with the number of unique monthly visitors to U.S. newspaper websites increased by 18.2% to 71 million, and the number of page views increased by 10%. The study also shows that despite these increases, online newspaper customer loyalty remains difficult to obtain; only 35% of online consumers have one favorite news site (State of the Media 2010). One of the challenges for customer loyalty and success in the online newspaper market is the need to differentiate; simply putting offline content online is not enough, that is, companies must provide interactive features, such as two-way communication, searchable databases, real-time data transmission, hyper-linking, and multimedia content.
Interactivity is vital for online newspaper success because it stimulates user loyalty and sets online newspapers apart from other mass media (Song and Zinkhan 2008). With Internet technology, publishers can communicate digitally through news feeds, blogs, and online versions of traditional newspapers. Online newspapers rely on hypertext markup language to deliver information in a dynamic, nonhierarchical format, which facilitates customized media messages. On top of these elements come multimedia features, such as audio and video downloads, and other functions to communicate bilaterally (Daud, 2008).
Latchem, Henderson and Williamson (1993), quoted in Thijs, and Arvid (2012) record that interactive systems enable users to work in their own time and at their own pace, choose preferred navigational pathways and delivery systems, and develop models and schemata. This dimension thus refers not only to download speed but also to the user’s ability to search and navigate through a wealth of information and receive prompt responses. Low responsiveness reduces perceived interactivity by hindering communication flows and leading users to turn their attention elsewhere.
Taylor, (2014) recounts that, with the invention of the telegraph, radio and television, print newspapers have faced challenges over the decades, yet publishers have always adapted and persevered. However, the Internet is proving to be a far more dangerous foe to the traditional newspaper model. Faced with such an adversary, small and large newspapers alike may have no choice but to abandon their traditional methods for a more innovative approach. He also said that advertising revenue accounts for 80 percent of newspaper income. But unfortunately for newspapers, corporate advertisers are relying more heavily on cheaper and more dynamic online advertising space. Likewise, print classified ad sections are being out-competed by websites specializing in classified ads, social networking and help-wanted listings. As a result of this trend and a weakening economy, revenues from daily newspaper advertising dropped 44 percent from 2005 to 2009, and that the only advertising medium to experience an increase in advertising revenue during 2009 was, in fact, the internet.
Before the coming of internet, the ability to disseminate information was restricted to those with printing presses or broadcast mechanisms, but the internet has enabled thousands of individual commentators to communicate directly with others through blogs or instant message services. Even open journalism projects like Wikipedia have contributed to the reordering of the media landscape, as readers are no longer restricted to established print organs for information (David, 2009). Critics of the newspaper as a medium also argue that while today’s newspapers may appear visually different from their predecessors a century ago, in many respects, they have changed little and have failed to keep pace with changes in society. The technology revolution has meant that readers accustomed to waiting for a daily newspaper can now receive up-to-the minute updates from web portals, bloggers and new services such as Facebook, Twitter and others.
The decline in circulation of newspapers in Malaysia may also be attributed to issues on credibility as some think that the mainstream newspapers are too government friendly and serve as the propaganda tools. There is therefore a credibility problem with regard to what is written in mainstream media. According to Daud, (2008), the level of believability among the people seems to be less.
In the initial stage, the emergence of the new media made conventional media owners worry about losing their influence and consequently, their profitability. The fear was not only that the new media were fast, colourful and borderless, but also that they affect the mind and psychology of readers who opt for alternative media (Daud, 2008). With this scenario, it is therefore not surprising for the new media to gain popularity and acceptance in civil society. People are now free, and have the opportunity to create their own news as well as to get the other side of the story by getting news from the Internet which is seen as free from control (Rosenstiel, 2005).
Readers still remain unclear as to what online publishing could bring to humanity. A study by Carina and Eriksson, (2007) shows that archive¸ i.e. the possibility of saving newspapers from previous days, is the most interesting added service of online publishing, followed by personalization and community information. For example, the possibility of cutting out and save items from the printed edition was seen as an aspect that needed to be transferred to the e-newspaper. According to the study, people are happier with online publishing when it comes to distribution, because there would be no more cutting down trees and less decontamination due to less distribution by vehicles.
Yapp (2009) opines that, the youth and the underage prefer online publications to hardcopies of newspapers and this brings about the fear of the survival of the printed version of newspapers. He also says that, with almost no distribution costs, the internet has the potential to reshape the media world, letting new competitors in and forcing established giants to either evolve or die. However, Carina and Eriksson, (2007) think otherwise by stating that, there are of course many “historians” who feel strongly for the print newspaper, regarding it as a cultural document that provides a real, tangible link to history and “an aesthetic experience of time”. The newspaper is portable and easier to read, but the online connection process can be tedious and often produces encounters of “e-error” messages and slow loading, making people prefer the feel and touch of the tangible and portable newspapers and to have them delivered to their doorstep every day (The Economist, 1996, quoted in Carina and Eriksson, 2007).
Paolo (2012) revealed that, in China and India, newspaper markets are growing strongly, fuelled by robust economic growth in the emerging urban and literate middle class that is enjoying higher incomes and rising standards of living. In China, newspapers have evolved from being the ‘tongue and throat’ of the Communist Party to being commercialized. This development means that while newspapers in China will not challenge the Party, they are asking lots of questions, so the country is more open as a result. In India, the growth of a popular vernacular press is skewed to entertainment, scandal, gossip and sports with some coverage of public affairs; which while not being a perfect development, supplements what the Indian media system has offered to the country’s citizens in the past.
Fred, (2007) says that, even where the problems are felt most keenly, in North America and Europe, there have been recent success stories, such as the dramatic rise of free daily newspapers, like those of Sweden’s Metro International, this, he clearly stated, is as a result of the newspapers non-profit motives. With revenues reducing, many newspapers who cannot survive without profits, have slashed news bureaus and journalists, while still attempting to publish compelling content, much of it more interactive, more lifestyle-driven and more celebrity-conscious. Some have also cut staff as well as editorial content, and in a vicious cycle, those cuts often spur more and deeper circulation declines, triggering more loss of revenues (David, 2009).
2.2.8 The Challenges facing Online Publishing
Online publishing, just like every other publishing practice, is not galvanized from challenges. It has its own challenges, which have so far left media practitioners wondering the durability and/or sustenance of the practice of online publishing. Some observers believe that the challenge faced by conventional media, especially newspapers, has to do with the perfect storm of the global economic crisis, dwindling readership and advertising, and the inability of newspapers to monetize their online efforts (Yapp, 2009). Newspapers, especially in the West and the US in particular, have lost the lion’s share of classified advertisement to the Internet. The situation worsened when a depressed economy forced more readers to cancel their newspaper subscriptions, and business firms to cut their advertising budget as part of the overall cost-cutting measurements. As a result, closures of newspapers, bankruptcy, job cuts and salary cuts are widespread (Mahmud, 2009).
This has made some representatives of the US newspaper industry seek some sort of bailout from the government by allowing U.S. newspapers to recoup taxes they paid on profits earlier this decade to help offset some of their current losses. This is what they put forward to the Joint Committee of Congress (Creeber, and Martin, 2009).
Accusations are being hurled at search engines giants by publishers such as Sir David Bell, who categorically accused Google and Yahoo of “stealing” the contents of newspapers. A similar allegation came from media mogul Rupert Murdoch in early April 2009. Google, however, sees these allegations and accusations as unfounded and ungrounded. The search engine giant’s response is that it is the Internet which has posed the threat to the traditional model of newspaper business. Google is not harming the industry, but helping to increase traffic to newspapers’ websites. Google News shows only the headlines, a line or two of text and links to the story’s Web site, which is fair in copyright laws (Peter, 2011).
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that newspapers cut nearly 50,000 jobs, that is roughly 15 percent of the industry’s work force between June 2008 and June 2009 (The Star Online, September 2009). Despite the bad times, however, there are some successful stories involving newspapers which have been able to weather the storm and remain resilient through their online digital newspapers. Some of the more successful newspaper responses include companies like The New York Times, Knight Ridder, and the Washington Post (Yapp, 2009).
2.2.9 The Punch Newspaper
The Punch newspaper is a daily newspaper in Nigeria founded in 1973. It is published by Punch Nigeria Limited currently owned by Ajibola Ogunsola. Since its establishment in 1973 till this present day, The Punch newspapers has been relatively successful in the business of news gathering and circulation (Ezinwa, 2006).
The paper was established jointly by two persons, commonly identified James Aboderin and Sam Amuka. However, during the Second Republic, Aboderin and Amuka parted ways due to their growing political differences. Aboderin later secured the support of his former foe, MKO Abiola, after the latter left the NPN. The paper began to take on a political stance, mostly against the Shagari regime. Supposedly, days before the end of the administration of Shagari, a few Punch editors were aware of a coup approaching and injected strong anti-government tones in their reporting (Onyia, 2011).
A 2009 survey collectively carried out by the Advertisers’ Association of Nigeria (ADVAN), Association of Advertising Practitioners of Nigeria (AAPN) and Media Independent Practitioners Association of Nigerian (MIPAN) had revealed that The Punch Newspaper is the highest selling newspaper in Nigeria with an average sale of eighty thousand (80,000) copies per day, followed by The Nation newspaper which is the second highest selling newspapers in Nigeria with an average sale of seventy six thousand (76,000) copies per day.
So far, The Punch, just like other Nigerian newspapers, has not been immune to the excess of authoritarian regimes in the country. In 1990, its editor was jailed for 54 days. In 1993, and 1994, the publishing house was closed on the direction of the nation’s ruler. Onyia (2011) is of the opinion that it was the doggedness of the publishers of newspaper that has continued to keep it in existence, suggesting that the newspapers would have been “dead” if the owners had succumbed to the dictatorial rulers of past military regimes in Nigeria.
2.2.10 ThisDay Newspaper
ThisDay is a daily national newspaper published in Lagos by Leaders and Company Nig. It is owned by Nduka Obaigbena who is also the editor of the newspaper. It was first published in the year 1995 with its headquarters in Apapa, Lagos. ThisDay has two printing plants: one in Lagos, and the other in Abuja and uses broadsheet format of newspaper publication (Onyia, 2011). As of 2005, it has a circulation of 100,000 copies and an annual turnover of about $35 million (US).
Surprisingly, studies carried in 2009 by the Advertisers’ Association of Nigeria (ADVAN), Association of Advertising Practitioners of Nigeria (AAPN) and Media Independent Practitioners Association of Nigerian (MIPAN) has it that ThisDay newspaper is a joint least selling national newspaper in Nigeria with six other newspapers, having an average daily circulation of sixteen thousand, (16,000) copies per day. It is however, pertinent to stress that the study dealt with only national newspapers, meaning that ThisDay is not one of the least selling newspaper, but one of the least selling national newspaper.
In its first years of publication, THISDAY won the Newspaper of the Year Award for three consecutive years. One of the peculiarities of the paper in the 1880s and 1990s was their early attempt to invest in colour printing. This, according Ezinwa (2006) gave the newspaper a distinctive edge over most of the thriving national newspapers in the country.
However, just like every other Nigerian newspapers, ThisDay is not without its own challenges. In April 2012, the radical Islamist sect, Boko Haram bombed the office of ThisDay Newspaper alongside that of the The Daily Sun newspaper in Jabi, Abuja. This made them shot down production for some days in protest for the attack.
2.3 Theoretical Framework
Some theories which are related to the topic under study are examined as follows:
2.3.1 Agenda-Setting Theory of the Press
Developed in 1968 by Max McCombs and Donald Shaw, the agenda-setting theory of the press states that the press has the power to dictate what the masses think of and believe at any particular period of time. It describes the ability of the media to influence the salience of topics on the public agenda, saying that if a news item (event) is covered frequently and prominently, the audience will regard the issue as more important than the rest. By comparing the salience of issues in news content with the public’s perceptions of the most important election issue, McCombs and Shaw were able to determine the degree to which the press determines public opinion. Since the 1968 study, published in a 1972 edition of Public Opinion Quarterly, more than 400 studies have been published on the agenda-setting function of the mass media, and the theory continues to be regarded as relevant as ever in the media world (Berger, 2005).
The theory also points out that the media dominates over the creation of pictures in our head and memory. It believes that the public reacts not to the actual event produced, but the picture of the actual event in our memory as created by the press. However, many authors have observed that the press may not be completely successful much of the time in telling people what to believe, but it is stunningly successful in telling their readers what to think about. The world looks different to different people, because of the map that is drawn and displayed for them by writers, editors, and publishers of the paper they read (Jeffery, 2006: Alfred, 2005; and Chris, 2001).
Core Assumptions of the Agenda-Setting Theory
Agenda- Setting is the media’s ability to transfer salience issues through their news agenda so the public agenda can form their understanding of the salience issues. Two basic assumptions underlie most research on agenda-setting;
- The press and the media do not just report events, they filter and shape it
- Media concentration on a few issues and subjects leads the public to perceive those issues as more important than other issues.
In the light of this, the media in its entirety takes absolute control of the information we see or hear. The media uses gatekeeping strategies and agenda setting to control our access to news, information, and entertainment. Gatekeeping is a series of checkpoints that the news has to go through before it gets to the public. Through this process many people have to decide whether or not the news is to be seen or heard. Some gatekeepers might include reporters, writers, and editors. After gatekeeping comes agenda setting which eventually shapes and reshapes the minds of the audience (Wilson, 2005)?
The Cognitive Effects of Agenda-Setting
Agenda setting occurs through a cognitive process known as accessibility. Accessibility implies that the more frequently and prominently the news media cover an issue, the more instances of that issue become accessible in audience’s memories. When respondents are asked what the most important problem facing the country is, they answer with the most accessible news issue in memory, which is typically the issue the news media focus on the most. The agenda-setting effect is not the result of receiving one or a few messages but is due to the aggregate impact of a very large number of messages, each of which a different content has, but all of which deal with the same general issue. Mass-media coverage in general and agenda setting in particular also has a powerful impact on what individuals think that other people are thinking, and hence they tend to allocate more importance to issues that have been extensively covered by mass media (Chris, 2001).
2.3.2 Uses and Gratifications Theory (UGT)
Uses and gratifications theory (UGT) was developed by Katz in 1970. It is an approach to understanding why and how people actively seek out specific media to satisfy specific needs. The theory says that the audience uses the media simply because of the satisfaction they derive from using the media. UGT is an audience-centered approach to understanding mass communication. Diverging from other media effect theories that question “what do media do to people?” UGT focuses on “what do people do with media? This Communication theory is positivistic in its approach, based in the socio-psychological communication tradition, and focuses on communication at the mass media scale. The driving question of UGT is: Why do people use media and what do they use them for? UGT discusses how users deliberately choose media that will satisfy given needs and allow one to enhance knowledge, relaxation, social interactions/ companionship, diversion, or escape (Chris, 2001).
It assumes that audience members are not passive consumers of media. Rather, the audience has power over their media consumption and assumes an active role in interpreting and integrating media into their own lives. Unlike other theoretical perspectives, UGT holds that audiences are responsible for choosing media to meet their desires and needs to achieve gratification. This theory would then imply that the media compete against other information sources for viewers’ gratification. UGT has value today because it gives communication scholars a perspective through which a number of ideas and theories about media choice, consumption, and even impact can be viewed. In brief, the theory suggests that media use is motivated by needs and goals that are defined by audience members themselves, and that active participation in the communication process may facilitate, limit, or otherwise influence the gratifications and effects associated with exposure. Current thinking also suggests that audience activity is best conceptualized as a variable construct, with audiences exhibiting varying kinds and degrees of activity (Ezinwa, 2006).
Assumptions of the Theory
Unlike other theories concerning media consumption, UGT gives the consumer power to discern what media products they consume, with the assumption that the consumer has a clear intent and use. This contradicts previous theories which state that people are helpless victims of mass media. Given these differing theories, UGT is unique in its assumptions which are:
- The audience is active and its media use is goal oriented
- The initiative in linking need gratification to a specific medium choice rests with the audience member
- The media compete with other resources for need satisfaction
- People have enough self-awareness of their media use, interests, and motives to be able to provide researchers with an accurate picture of that use.
2.3.3 Social Responsibility Theory of the Media
This theory was popularized by Wilbur Schramm, Theodore Patterson and Siebet in the late fifties. Chris (2001) records that, the Hutchins Commission (whose official name was the Commission on Freedom of the Press) was formed during World War II, when Henry Luce (publisher of Time and Life Magazines) asked Robert Hutchins (president of the University of Chicago) to recruit a commission to inquire into the proper function of the media in a modern democracy. After deliberating for four years, the Commission came to this conclusion in 1947, that the press plays an important role in the development and stability of modern society and, as such, it is imperative that a commitment of social responsibility be imposed on mass media.
According to this social responsibility theory, the press has a moral obligation to consider the overall needs of society when making journalistic decisions in order to produce the greatest good. Though there had been journalism Code of Ethics for decades, the Commission’s report was considered landmark by some scholars; they believed it was a pivotal reassertion of modern media’s role in a democratic society. Social-responsibility theory thus proposes that the media take it upon themselves to elevate society’s standards, providing citizens with the information they need to govern themselves. It is in the best interest of the media to do this; if they do not, social theorists warn, the public will demand that the government regulate the media (Chris, 2001).
2.3.4 The Magic Bullet or Hypodermic Needle Theory of the Press
The theory compares media messages to bullets from a gun, which when hits a receiver, would unstoppably pass through him and comes out from the opposite direction. The magic bullet theory which is also known as the hypodermic needle theory is a theory of the press suggesting that an intended message is directly received and wholly accepted by the receiver. The magic bullet or hypodermic needle theory of direct influence effects was not as widely accepted by scholars as many books on mass communication indicate. The magic bullet theory was not based on empirical findings from research but rather on assumptions of the time about human nature (Berger, 2005).
People were assumed to be “uniformly controlled by their biologically based instincts and that they react more or less uniformly to whatever “stimuli” that comes along. The Magic Bullet theory graphically assumes that the media’s message is a bullet fired from the “media gun” into the viewer’s head. Similarly, the Hypodermic Needle theory uses the same idea of the “shooting” paradigm. It suggests that the media injects its messages straight into the passive audience. This passive audience is immediately affected by these messages. The public essentially cannot escape from the media’s influence, and is therefore considered a “sitting duck. Both models suggest that the public is vulnerable to the messages shot at them because of the limited communication tools and the studies of the media’s effects on the masses at the time (Berger, 2005).
2.3.5 Theory of Underdevelopment
Underdevelopment theory is an economic theory which is used to describe a situation where available resources are not used to their full potentials, which results to development being slower than it should be. This theory is, to some experts too cumbersome and should be broken into modernization theory and dependency theory. However, if broken into these two theories as suggested, the message may not be clear as stated above.
The relationship between this theory and the topic under study is this. Even as online publishing has brought with it some level of improvement in the ways and manner news are gathered and disseminated, even as it has widened readership and accessibility of news publications across the world, it may or may not lead to economic development if it is not well used. Chris (2010) found that Nigerian online readers, especially the young ones merely indulge in online conversations (chatting) in social media which in so many ways do not improve their reading skills. This causes underdevelopment of the minds of such readers.
After looking at these different theories, the researcher used the magic bullet theory of the press to write his project. The theory states that the press has great powers that can determine what the people think and believe at any point in time. A clear knowledge of this theory will help development communication experts to make use good use of newspapers in their day to day work of development the minds of the people and improving their behaviour, which is one of the most important development strategies in the world.
2.4 Empirical Studies
Several studies have looked at online publishing from different perspectives and such studies provided evidences on a number of effects of online publishing on either the modus operandi or style of publications, speed or pace of news gathering and dissemination, media objectivity, timeliness of news reportage or on the society at large, each discussing briefly the effects of online publishing on our style of living.
Emmanuel (2001) studied the relationship between online publishing and publication styles and processes in America. The study used questionnaire to generate descriptive and inferential statistics and found that introduction of online publishing affected publishers in different ways. It significantly affects the process and style of newspaper publishing in America.
Nora (2002) studied newspaper publishing and the World Wide Web (www) using the United Kingdom as case study. The study employed content analysis as methodology and found new media (online publishing) presents an ever-moving landscape. The study findings suggest that for the foreseeable future, the web will be a medium that is in constant change, requiring near-constant adaptation. The rapid pace does little to facilitate reflection or planning, but demands movement and action. Web developers struggle with these demands, yet possess a working vision for what a web site should be.
Akpera (2003) looked at the effects of social networking on the reading habits of Nigerian undergraduates employing a survey research method. The study found that the majority of Nigerian undergraduates use social networking sites and it affects their reading habits to a great extent including the reading of newspapers.
Rogers (2004) looked at online publishing and rural journalism in Benue State using content analysis as well as questionnaire distribution through a simple random sampling and found that online publishing does not have significant effects on rural media in Benue State. The study also found that though most of the rural media in the state have introduced online publishing, illiteracy and the lack of access to the internet have ensured that rural journalism has not been affected.
Alfred (2005) in a study focusing on online publishing and media objectivity in Nigeria using content analysis as well as questionnaire distribution through a simple random sampling found that online publishing does not affect media objectivity in Nigeria. Most of the respondents believe that in journalism, objectivity is upheld whether or not the news stories are published online or in hardcopies.
Carina and Eriksson (2007) aimed at finding audience preferences and demands in introducing the e-newspaper in Sweden. The study used online questionnaire evaluation in real life settings and found that the test persons that have and actual use experience of the e-newspaper, despite the shortcomings in the device and service, were more positive to adopt than the respondents that have experienced concept movies and prototypes with more advanced functionality and interface.
Fred (2007) looking at the Drop in Newspaper circulation in America and their survival strategies used questionnaires to generate the study data and found that newspaper circulation in America had dropped by 61% . The study also found that free newspapers would ensure newspaper survival and when newspapers have non-profit motives, they can circulate more and their survival would be ensured.
Sheminenge, (2007) studied “The Effects Of Online Publishing On The Modus Operandi Of Nigerian Press”, used Questionnaire as the instrument and the results show that the mode of operation of Nigerian press has changed significantly because of the introduction of online publishing in the country.
Phillip, (2009) dealt with “The Income of Media Houses in America”. He use Interview as the instrument for data collection and the results show that; At most newspapers, web advertising accounts for only 10–15% of revenues. Newspapers now get only about one-tenth to one-twentieth the revenue for a web reader that they do for a print reader. Online advertising does not pay newspaper houses enough.
Taylor, (2009) studied “How Internet affects the Newspaper Business”. He used questionnaire as the instrument for data collection and the result show that; Corporate advertisers are now relying more heavily on cheaper and more dynamic online advertising space. Likewise, print classified ad sections are being out-competed. Revenues from daily newspaper advertising dropped 44 percent from 2005 to 2009, and that the only advertising medium to experience an increase in advertising revenue during 2009 was, in fact, the internet. Newspapers have been forced to cut costs. With labor costs constituting 50 percent of newspaper expenses, staffing was the first to go. Between 2001 and 2009, daily newspapers reduced overall newsroom staff by 25 percent.
Mark, (2010) took a look at “The Changes in the In-house Style of Newspapers across Europe”. He used questionnaire as the instrument for data collection and the results show that; most newspapers have changed their style of publication, placing news stories on the pages and on the web as well, re-sizing the advert spaces. The results also show that the newspaper of the future may bear little resemblance to the older newspapers, becoming a hybrid, part-print and part-internet.
Ali et al, (2011) studied “The Impact Of New Media on Traditional Mainsstream Mass Media”. They used contentment analysis & questionnaire as their instruments for data collection and the findings show that; despite these distinctions, there are still complementarities between the new media and conventional media. They will continue to coexist and reinforce each other particularly in Malaysia and other developing countries
Paolo (2012) wanted to know “Why Newspaper Markets are growing in China and India, While They Decline in the US and UK. He used questionnaire and interviews as his instrument for data collection and the findings show that; Newspaper markets are growing in China and India, while they decline in the US and UK because of the Global Financial Crisis and the associated downturn in newspaper advertising. Print journalism is still fuelled by robust economic growth and demand from an emerging urban and literate middle class that is enjoying higher incomes and fast rising standards of living.
Dominic, (2013) studied “Online Publishing and Publishers’ Funding of Newspaper in America from 2000 to 2012”, using questionnaire as the instrument for data collection. The findings show that; many publishers have cut down on their investment and funding of the industry. Newspapers now, cut their most expensive reporting projects such as investigative journalism and the likes by up to 63%. Dominic (2013) looked at “Newspaper Circulation and Best Strategy for their Survival”, using questionnaire as the instrument for data collection. The findings show that; there is no consensus on the best strategy for survival. Some chose to drop the practice of online publishing while others believe the wisest move is embracing the internet and its online publishing. But even those who chose online publishing over print journalism still fear bankruptcy due to lack of considerable income from online publishing.
Resource Information Systems, Inc (2014) studied “The Impact of Media Tablets Publication Paper Markets: How will Graphic Paper Demand Be Affected in North America and Western Europe? They used questionnaire and interview as their instruments for data collection and the results show that; in the first year of availability over 15 million tablet computers reached consumers. In addition, the size of the North American electronic reader market almost doubled in size, surpassing 10 million units. By 2015, almost 200 million tablet computers are expected to be sold in North America and consumers will use them to consume content that was previously found in printed books, magazines and newspapers.
2.5 Summary of Literature Reviewed
Available literature for this study has been keenly reviewed; books, seminar papers, posts on websites and the likes and it portrays several issues as they are specific to the effect of online publishing on the revenues of newspapers. It was established that indeed, online publishing, in all its ramifications affects the revenues of hardcopies of any publications because some readers now chose to resort to free online publications instead of purchasing hardcopies of the newspapers and readers are not charged for online publications.
The literature also revealed that online publishing has some effects on the modus of operation of publication sectors. The way and manner news are gathered, recorded and distributed have changed to a large extent. News gathering and reporting are faster in online publishing than it is in hardcopy publication. The time of editing can is not same in both the online and print journalism. Many online publishers, sometimes chose to post the write-up online and then edit it as time goes on, probably as news updates are brought in.
It was also established in the literature reviewed that online publishing does not affect media objectivity. This is because objectivity in journalism is often upheld whether or not news stories, articles and feature stories are published online or in hardcopies. The literature reviewed also online publishing has no significant effects on rural journalism because of the fact that the rural men and women for whom the news are intended very often, and for many reasons, do not use the internet.
The literature also revealed that in the past decade, the funding of newspaper houses have drastically reduced by up to 63%. Many publishers no longer invest in foreign bureau or investigative journalism. All these, they do just to cut down costs of production as they clearly understand that online publishing gives little income.
2.6 Gaps in the Literature
All the studies reviewed have one thing in common. They all have to do with the effects of online publishing on either the modus operandi or style of publications, speed or pace of news gathering and dissemination, media objectivity, timeliness of news reportage or on the society at large, with none of them dwelling of the effects of online publishing on the revenues of newspapers. This shows the difference between those studies and this present study, which seeks to establish the effects of online publishing on the revenues of newspapers. This indicates the difference between those reviewed works and this particular study. The present study therefore seeks to fill this gap by providing the newspaper publishing companies with the knowledge of the effects of online publishing on the revenues of Nigerian newspapers and suggesting possible solutions.
This chapter deals with the research methodology. It describes research design, area of study, data collection and method of data analysis.
3.2 Area of Study
This study looks at the sales, revenue and employment records of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria from 1997 to 2013. It also looks at the changes, if any, in the advert rates of these two newspapers as well as their cover prices in the last decade, to see if online publishing has affected them in any way since it was introduced in January, 2005. In the light of this, the study mainly made use of secondary data.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria is a West African country with 36 states, having a population believed to be around 160 million people. The country covers an area land mass of about 923,768 square kilometers and shares borders with Benin, Chad, Cameroon and Niger Republic. It has three major ethnic groups which are Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba and more than five hundred minor ethnic groups. It is the most populous country in Africa and the seventh most populous country in the world.
3.3 The Research Design
Survey research method was used in this study. This is because the study gathered and analyzed the compilations and/or the sales, revenue and employment records of ThisDay and The Punch newspapers as well as other relevant documents obtained from these newspapers over a period of time, using time series analysis as the method of data collection. The researcher analyzed the sales, revenue and employment records of these two newspapers from 1997 to 2013, i.e. eight years before they introduced online publishing in January, 2005 and eight years after. In other words, the study measured what is called before and after effects.
3.4 Trend Estimation
The first hypothesis of the study “Online publishing has no significant effects on the sales and revenues (profitability) of The Punch ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria” was analysed using the trend line estimation. The trendline is a line on a graph showing the general direction that a group of points seem to be heading or a bounding line for the price movement. Trend estimation is a statistical technique to aid interpretation of data. When a series of measurements of a process are treated as a time series, trend estimation can be used to make and justify statements about tendencies in the data, by relating the measurements to the times at which they occurred. By using trend estimation, it is possible to construct a model which is independent of anything known about the nature of the process of an incompletely understood system (for example, physical, economic, or other system).
This model can then be used to describe the behaviour of the observed data. In particular, it may be useful to determine if measurements exhibit an increasing or decreasing trend which is statistically distinguished from random behaviour. Given a set of data and the desire to produce some kind of model of those data, there are a variety of functions that can be chosen for the fit. If there is no prior understanding of the data, then the simplest function to fit is a straight line with the data plotted vertically and values of time (t = 1, 2, 3, …) plotted horizontally. Once it has been decided to fit a straight line, there are various ways to do so, but the most usual choice is a least-squares fit. This method minimizes the sum of the squared errors in the data series, denoted by the y variable. Given a set of points in time t, and data values yt observed for those points in time, values of a and b are chosen so that is minimized is given as:
Here at + b is the trend line, so the sum of squared deviations from the trend line is what is being minimized. A trend line shows the trend in a data set and is typically associated with regression analysis. Creating a trend line and calculating its coefficients allows for the quantitative analysis of the underlying data and the ability to both interpolate and extrapolate the data for forecast purposes. This estimation was further tested with the R2 which denotes the percentage of variations in the dependent variables, thus the higher the R2, the more the model is able to explain the changes in the price and advertisement rate measures. Hence, the better the regression based on the Ordinary Least Square (OLS) techniques and this is why the R2 is called the coefficient of determination as it shows the amount of variation in the dependent variable explained by the explanatory variables.
3.6 Modeling for Efficiency (Productive and Technical)
Appraisal or evaluation of the effects of online publishing on revenues seems to be an uphill task due to methodological constraints though ranges of performance indicators used in other empirical research have given insight to what is needed. The study made used of indicators such as profitability, capital expenditure, operating or relative efficiency as well as employment for each enterprise included in the sample. Using the efficiency and distributional effects as indicators, the effect of online publishing on revenues of newspapers can be obtained.
The effect of online publishing changes in any given indicator will be measured by comparing the average value for the eight years before online publishing (- 8 to -1) with eight years after online publishing (+1 to +8). The year of online publishing in Nigeria (2005) is thus taken as the base year (100), which in effect is exempted from the analysis. The results will be tested using t-test and the two-tailed Wilcoxon signed–ranked test to ascertain the significant changes in the observed variables before and after online publishing process.
Whenever assessment of changes in the level of relative or productive or technical efficiency is required, Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) is usually employed since it involves using mathematical programming methods in constructing a non-parametric piecewise surface over data. DEA is then a linear programming based technique for measuring the relative performance of organizational units where the presence of multiple inputs and outputs makes comparisons difficult. It also allows efficiency to be measured a priori without specifying the analytical form of the production function required. This consequently weighs input and output variables in producing a single summary measure of relationship for each Decision-Making Unit (DMU). This implies that DEA is a linear programming model for assessing the efficiency and productivity of DMU. It conveniently handles performance measurement at firms/industrial or organizational level. If a single input and output is in existence, the unit efficiency is measured as the ratio of the output to the input. Unit efficiency here implies the capacity of yielding a given level outputs (products or services) minimizing the quantity of inputs (resources). When DMU possess multiple input and output, the efficiency is measured by taking the ratio of the sum of weighted outputs to the sum of weighted inputs.
An employment of the model used by Afeikhena (2001) which combines Charnes, Cooper and Rhodes (1978) model as quoted in Amakom (2003) that assumed constant return to scale and Coelli (1996) quoted in Morgan (2005) which assumes variables returns to scale is employed in this study in measuring productive or technical efficiency. The above model is in line with Emrouznejad (2001) on productivity measurement.
efficiency scores greater than or equal to the ones obtained using the CRS model. This has been commonly used since the 1990’s but the study will employ both cases. Conducting both CRS and VRS DEA upon the same data in measuring technical efficiency for a particular DMU implies that the DMU has scale efficiency when there exist a difference between the two hence. Scale Efficiency is thus calculated from = VRS TE – CRS TE
Let’s note that the value of the Scale of efficiency depends on the margin of the difference. In other words the wider the margin the smaller the scale efficiency value and vice versa. Table 3.1 below presents the summary of indicators employed and instruments for capturing them.
Table 3.1: Summary of Indicators Employed and Capturing Indicators
|Major Indicators||Sub-Indicators||Method of Capturing|
|Profitability||Return on sales
Return on assets
Net income / total assets
Net income efficiency
|Real sales/number of employees
Net income/number of employees
|Capital investment||Capital expenditure/sales
Capital expenditure/total assets
Note: The value of the scale of efficiency depends on the margin of the difference. In other words, the wider the margin, the smaller the scale of efficiency and vice versa.
3.7 Method of Data Analysis
Data were analyzed and presented with Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) as embedded in DEA Frontier. Hypothesis 4 was tested with DEA, while hypothesis 1 was tested with trend estimation analysis as well as analysis of before and after effects like hypotheses 2 and 3. The tests were validated using t-test and the two-tailed Wilcoxon signed–ranked test to ascertain the significance of the changes in the observed variables before and after online publishing process.
3.8 Data Type and Sources
Data for the study is generated through secondary source from on-site visits, interviews, and mails from the two newspaper houses due to the nature of the analyses required. Secondary data collected from the two newspaper giants included:
- Monthly sales record for the period 2007 to 2013;
- Total revenue for the period 2007 to 2013;
- Number of employees for the period 2007 to 2013; and
- Capital investment record for the period 2007 to 2013.
Time series data analysis was collected for the entire period through the help of staff of both ThisDay and The Punch newspapers. The researcher were granted access to the registers where total sales, revenue, employment and capital investment made by the two newspapers and other vital statistics from 1997 to 2013 was recorded.
DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS
In this chapter, the researcher analysed and presented data so as to provide answers to the respective research questions posed in chapter one of the study. Data analysis here refers to the sorting, categorization and interpretation, i.e. drawing of inferences from the gathered relevant data used in this study. Asika (2004) explains this concept as, those techniques that enable a researcher to make summary description of the subject from the data by systematically extracting information that was not apparently there before. In essence, data analysis interprets using the available to find the unavailable.
4.2 Before and After Effects for Sales and Revenue (Profitability)
The first objective of the study was to find the effects of online publishing on the sales and revenues of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria. To achieve this, a research question was posed thus: What are the effects of online publishing on the sales and revenues (profitability) of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria? This question is key because as firms embrace the internet and consequently acquire more technologies, it is expected that the profitability level would increase (Reid, 2001, Kikeris, Nellis and Shirley 1992 quoted in Amakom, 2003 and Thomas 2004) through increase in sales and revenue. In 2005, The Punch and ThisDay newspapers among others, introduced online publishing, embracing the internet and acquiring more technologies.
The first thing done by the study was to estimate the trend line for sales of the two newspapers for the entire period (2007-2013) before splitting to see the before and after effect and have each of these trend line tested with the R2 which denotes the percentage of variations in the dependent variables thus:
With this indication, one can see how The Punch has been battling to keep its product in the market to ensure sustainability as a result of the changes in number of newspapers sold which had come as a result of the introduction of online publishing in the business of newspaper publishing. Having seen that, let us take a look at the sales records for the pre-online era and have that compared with the post-online era.
From January 1997 to December 1998, the Punch newspaper recorded average sales of 2,000,000 copies per month. However, even as the paper recorded average sales of 2,000,000, in 1999, they made higher sales in the months of January, April and November in that same year. The trend line as shown in figure 4.2 below shows that in the year 2000, The Punch newspaper recorded highly fluctuating sales. At the beginning of the year, there was a decline in the sales, but as of May, her sales rose way beyond 2,000,000 and at the last two months of the year, the sales returned to 2,000,000 (on average) copies per month. Also observation of the line shows that from 2001 to 2004, the newspaper recorded highly commendable sales as indicated by the trend line.
Post Online Publishing
When online publishing was introduced in January 2005 and the number of newspapers sold increased, the sales dropped back to below 2,000,000 per month, much lower than what they recorded five years earlier (year 2000). The result as shown in figure 4.3 reveled that in 2006, from January to around May, The Punch newspaper recorded average sales just above 2,000,000 per month. It dropped below that figure in the middle of that year and then, rose above 2,000,000 copies at the last quarter of the year. In 2007, apart from the month of January, the newspapers sold more than 2,000,000 in all other months. There was a repeat of 2006 incidence in 2008, when from January to around May, The Punch newspaper sold more than 2,000,000 per month. The sales dropped below that figure in the middle of that year and then quickly rose above 2,000,000 copies at the very end of the year. See figure 4.3 below for details.
Analysis of the trend shows that The Punch newspaper had very stable sales in 2009 with average monthly sales of 2,433,342 copies. A closer look shows that the sales figures did not fluctuate like they did in other years. Such commendable sales record did not last long as we can see a drop in mid-2010. However, at the beginning of 2011, higher sales returned, but declined in the middle of the year before rising again to end the year on a high note. By January 2012, the sales records improved and seemed to continue till the middle of the year before declining again. In the year 2013, the sales continued the same way as in 2012, but came higher only in the middle of the year only to drop again.
From the trend line in figure 4.3 above for The Punch newspaper, we can conclude that between 2006 and 2013 (post-online publishing), that on average, the monthly sales increases and decreased by 84 (see equation on the chart y = 84.516x + 2E+06)R2 for supporting its significance for The Punch newspaper is 0.8002 or 80.02%.
From the trend line in figure 4.4 above, for ThisDay newspaper, we can conclude that on average, the monthly sales within these years (1997-2013), as captured by this study increased and decreased by 202.9 units (see equation on the chart y=195.4x+544397). R2 for supporting its significance for This Day is 0.84062 or 84.062%. See figure 4.4 below for details.
Figure 4.4: The total sales of ThisDay newspaper from 1997 to 2013
With this indication, one can see how ThisDay battled to keep its product in the market to ensure sustainability as a result of the changes in number of newspapers sold which had come as a result of the introduction of online publishing in the business of newspaper publishing. Having seen that, let us take a look at the sales records for the pre-online era and have that compared with the post-online era.
The trend line is set at the paper’s average monthly sales in 1997 which was 504,892. The trend line shows that from November 1997, sales increased slightly above the average and continued increasing until the following year. In 1999, the sales were way higher than it had been since 1997. However this declined slightly in January 2000 and stayed that way until the last two months of the year with another rise in January 2001. This rise lasted for up to six months and declined in the second half of the year and increased in 2002. Surprisingly, 2003 saw a very significance rise in newspaper sales. Such rise lasted for the whole of 2003, but regrettably declined once again in 2004.
The trend line in figure 4.5 below, for ThisDay newspaper, shows that on average, the monthly sales increased or decreased by 1573 units (see equation on the chart y=1573.3x+500196). R2 for supporting its significance is 0.6844 or 68.44%. see figure 4.5 below for details.
A visual look at figure 4.6 shows that the worst had happened to the ThisDay newspaper sales with the introduction of online publishing in February 2005 and consequently the hike in the prices of newspapers and the decrease in their advert rates, when the sales outputs of these newspapers fell way below 500,000 copies per month. This significant decline lasted till around May and then rose once again, as we can see from figure 4.6 below.
The publishers seemed to have been blinded by this unexpected rise and the, the price of newspapers was increased once again in June 2006, leading to another mind-burgling decline in the sales outputs of these newspapers. From June till the end of December 2006, ThisDay newspaper recorded its lowest sales in nine (9) years. However, the newspaper industry got itself back on its feet with the rise in the sales as recorded in 2007, which had seen the average sales output of ThisDay newspaper rose from 453,614 in 2006 to 685,010 in 2007.
The trend line also shows an increase in sales afterwards, though not as high as it was in 2007. It had continued till the first few months of 2008. However, when the price of newspapers and the advert rates were increased once again in June 2008, the sales number of ThisDay newspapers consequently decreased. The sales fell from 685,010 in 2007 to 55,286 in 2008. The sales in 2009 were increasing bit by bit until December when it rose with force only to fall again a month later and from January 2010 to December 2010, the sales were just increasing in what looks like almost a crawl.
Though the sales output (sales) was poor in the first two months of 2011, the year later saw the sales number rose significantly and stayed that way for the rest of the year, making record average sales in so many years (693,467 copies per month). Surprisingly, except in December 2012 when it increased and May 2013 when if declined, the sales output of ThisDay newspaper has not seen any significant difference in such a long time.
By looking at the trend line in figure 4.6 above, we can conclude that on average, the monthly sales increased or decreased by 914 units (see equation on the chart y = 914.4x+524397). R2 for supporting its significance for is 0.7637 or 76.37%.
In the light of this forgoing trend analysis, the study tested for the profitability as well as the output of these two newspapers looking at the before and after effect using net income/sales as summarized in table 3.1 above. See table 4.1 and 4.2 below for results details.
The result above shows that both the output and profitability of the two newspapers improved as a result of increase in sales and revenue. It also shows that ThisDay newspaper’s profitability (mean change of 1.73) improved more than that of The Punch newspaper (mean change of 0.79) but in overall output, The Punch newspaper’s mean change (2.35) improved more than ThisDay (1.92). The better performance in terms of overall output is corroborated by 1171 overall increase or decrease in sales for The Punch newspaper (see equation in figure 4.1) as against 195 for ThisDay newspaper (see equation in figure 4.4).
Hypothesis One Test Result
With the introduction of online publishing and the increase in the accessibility and readership of these newspapers, one expected that sales and revenue of Nigerian newspapers would consequently increase very significantly. However, the hypothesis test results above (the t-test scores tested with Wilcoxon Statistics which are 1.97*** for The Punch and 2.47*** for ThisDay) shows that the profitability of these newspapers have been affected by the introduction of online publishing in 2005. The t-test scores tested with Wilcoxon Statistics shows that the effect of online publishing on the profitability of both The Punch newspaper and ThisDay were significant at 0.01 level. And because online publishing has proved to have significantly effects on the growth of the sales and revenues (profitability) of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers, the first null hypothesis is rejected.
In summary, prior to the introduction of online publishing, The Punch and ThisDay newspapers had been having commendable output, recording higher sales that increased significantly between 1997 and 2004. When online publishing was introduced, the expectation was that sales would even increase at a speedier pace. However, the result of the trend line estimation as shown above shows that during the pre online era (between 1997 and 2004), the sales of ThePunch on average increased or decreased by 4,115 units while during the post online era between 2006 and 2013, the sales of The Punch increased or decreased by 84 units. Similarly, during the pre online era, the sales of Thisday increases and decreases by 1573 units while post online sales of the newspaper increases and decreases by 914 units but in all the two newspapers outfit were able to break even and maintain overall output growth and increase in profitability.
4.3 Before and After Effects on Employment Levels
Let’s recall that employment is a term used to describe the relationship between employer and employee. It means the hiring of staff for a payable and/or non-payable role in an organization, often refer to as contract. It could also be said to mean the agreement between the employer and employee that the employee will provide certain services on the job, and in the employer’s designated workplace, to facilitate the accomplishment of the employer’s organizational goals and mission (Sam, 2001).
In a study by Hall and Weiss (1967), size (employment level) did tend to be associated with higher profit rates among the Fortune 500 companies for the years 1956 through 1962 which was used in the study. The second objective of this study set to determine the effects of online publishing on the employment of the publishing houses and to find this, a research question was posed thus; what are the effects of online publishing on the employment levels of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria? To ascertain if online publishing has any significant positive effect on employment in the two newspapers, the study calculated the average of numbers of employees including the median average before and after online publishing. The values were tested and validated using t-test and the two-tailed Wilcoxon signed–ranked test to ascertain the significance of the changes in the observed variables before and after online publishing process and the result is depicted in table 4.3 below.
The tests results show that, though not encouraging, the employment levels of The Punch newspaper and ThisDay newspaper have increased instead of decreasing, with positive mean changes of 0.03 and 0.06 respectively. Worthy of note, yet again, is the fact that the employment level at The Punch newspaper (mean change of 0.03) is lower than that of ThisDay newspaper (mean change of 0.06) even when The Punch is the highest selling newspaper while ThisDay is the lowest selling newspaper in Nigeria. Despite the above changes, the tests were not statistically significant for both Punch and ThisDay.
Hypothesis Two Results
Ho2: Online publishing has no significant positive effects on the employments of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria. The t-test scores (1.18 for the Punch and 1.24 for ThisDay) tested with Wilcoxon statistic above (0.049 for The Punch and 0.804 for Thisday) but were not statistically significant which shows that online publishing has no significant positive effects on employments of both newspapers respectively. The null hypothesis above is therefore upheld.
A look at this concurred with the argument that many people believe that technology does the work of men. In other words, when technologies are acquired by a company, some workers in that company may likely lose their jobs. Internet is seen the same way when it comes to a company’s chain of distributorship, as one can stay in his office in Lagos and deliver services to a friend in New York.
4.4 Before and After Effects on Capital Investment
The capital investment of a firm is widely expected to be increased whenever the firm embraces the internet and/or acquire more technologies (Reid, 2001, Kikeris, Nellis and Shirley 1992 quoted in Amakom, 2003 and Thomas 2004). In this regard, it is expected that the capital investment of Nigerian newspapers, as they embrace online publishing would increase significantly.
To ascertain if online publishing has any significant effect on capital investment of the two newspapers outfits, the study calculated the average of annual capital investments including the median average before and after online publishing. The values were tested and validated using t-test and the two-tailed Wilcoxon signed–ranked test to ascertain the significance of the changes in the observed variables before and after online publishing process and the result is depicted in table 4.4 below.
The result shows that the capital investments of two newspapers have increased and were statically significant. Note that the capital investment increase at ThisDay newspaper (mean change of 2.91) is higher than the capital investment increase at The Punch newspaper (mean change of 1.01), meaning that owners have invested more in ThisDay newspaper than The Punch newspaper. This finding is definitely not in line with Dominic, (2013) who found that capital investment in the newspaper industry has dropped by 63% since 2010.
Hypothesis Three Results
Ho3: Online publishing has no significant effects on capital investments of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria.
The t-test scores (2.29 for The Punch and 3.87 for This Day) tested with Wilcoxon statistic above (3.82 for The Punch and 1.925 for Thisday) were statistically significant which shows that online publishing has significant effects on capital investment of both newspapers respectively. The null hypothesis above is therefore reject and the study concludes that online publishing has significant effects on capital investments of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria
4.5 Productive and Technical Efficiency of The Punch and ThisDay Newspapers
Having looked at all of these, let us see the scale of efficiency of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers as calculated by the researcher using Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA). As noted before, the value of the scale of efficiency depends on the margin of the difference. In other words, the wider the margin, the smaller the scale of efficiency and vice versa.
As firms embrace the internet and consequently acquire more technologies, it is expected that the level of their operational and/or technical efficiency would increase (Reid, 2001, Kikeris,
Nellis and Shirley 1992 quoted in Amakom, 2003 and Thomas 2004). This was done by The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in the year 2005 and their operational efficiency was expected to rise.
To ascertain if online publishing has any significant effect on productive and technical efficiency of the two newspapers outfits, the study first calculated the average of indicators for operational efficiency including the median average before and after online publishing. The values were tested and validated using t-test and the two-tailed Wilcoxon signed–ranked test to ascertain the significance of the changes in the observed variables before and after online publishing process and the result is depicted in table 4.5 below.
The t-test scores (2.32 for The Punch and 1.99 for This Day) tested with Wilcoxon statistic above (2.26 for The Punch and 2.981 for Thisday) were statistically significant which shows that online publishing has significant effects on operational efficiency (productive) of both newspapers respectively. However, since this has to do with productive and technical efficiency, the study went further to conduct a Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA).
Hypothesis Four Result
Ho4: Online publishing has no significant effects on the technical and productive efficiency of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria.
The results from the DEA show a drop in the technical and productive efficiency of The Punch newspaper. It shows that the technical and productive efficiency of The Punch newspaper dropped from 0.083 pre-online to 0.077 post-online, while that of ThisDay newspaper dropped from 0.335 pre-online to 0.171 post-online. This results shows that though operationally (productive) the two outfits are becoming more efficient but in technical terms they are worse off after online publishing. Since these two newspapers firms have become worse off in terms of technical efficiency which matters most, the study cannot reject the fourth null hypothesis and hence conclude that online publishing has no significant effects on the technical efficiency of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria. See tables 4.6 and 4.7 below for details results.
The Punch Newspaper
DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS AND RESULTS
5.1 The Findings of the Study
This study x-rayed the effects of online publishing on the sales, revenue, employment, capital investment as well as operational (productive) and technical efficiency of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria. In this regard, four research questions were posed to guide the study and make findings. These research questions are: What are the effects of online publishing on the sales and revenues of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria? What are the effects of online publishing on the employment level of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria? What are the effects of online publishing on capital investment level of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria? And lastly, what are the effects of online publishing on the technical and productive (operational) efficiency of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria?
5.2 Effects of Online Publishing on Profitability
The first objective of this study was to determine the effects of online publishing on sales and revenues (profitability) of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria. The findings of this study show that online publishing has, to an extent, affected the sales and revenues in other words the profitability of The Punch and Thisday newspapers in Nigeria. The findings of this study show average annual profitability of The Punch and Thisday newspaper has only increased by 0.79% and 1.73% respectively. This is quite surprising as people may have expected more though not that bad. More surprising in these findings is the fact that The Punch newspaper, which has remained the highest selling newspaper in Nigeria since the introduction of online publishing failed to make more profit than Thisday newspaper which is generally regarded as the least selling newspaper in Nigeria.
Before the introduction of online publishing, (the pre online era – between 1997 and 2004), the sales of ThePunch on average, the monthly sales increases or decreases by 4,115 units while after the introduction of online publishing, (the post online era – between 2006 and 2013, the sales of The Punch increases or decreases by 84 units. Similarly, before online publishing, the sales of Thisday increases or decreases by 1,573 units while post online sales of the newspaper increases or decreases by 914 units.
Now, let take a closer look at the sales here. Compare the average monthly sales output of ThisDay newspaper in 1997 (504,892) to the newspaper’s 2005 average monthly sales of 481,966 and one will be marveled at what online publishing really did to the newspaper’s sales
More worrisome is the fact that even the newspaper’ 1997 average monthly sales of 504,892 was still higher than its average monthly sales in 2009 (492,141) and 2010 (493,127). This is a company with 13 years of experience and expertise, watching its sales go lower than what they recorded more than a decade earlier. The revenues of both The Punch and ThisDay newspapers have been heavily affected by the introduction of online publishing.
The findings also show that The Punch newspapers recorded their highest ever (as of then) sales between March, 2001 and October, 2004. This is in line with Ambrose, (2013) who told the researcher in an interview that, few months before the introduction of online publishing in 2005, The Punch newspaper was doing so well, recording more and more sales as the days went by, only to have its sales cut short a little later.
In the same vein the findings also revealed that both The Punch and Thisday newspapers enjoy higher sales in those years when elections are held in Nigeria (1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011). This is in line with Onyia (2011) that whenever Nigeria has elections, people resort to newspapers for political news and that this increases newspaper patronage, but once the elections are over, the patronage disappears.
From June till the end of December 2006, ThisDay newspaper recorded its lowest sales in nine (9) years. This must have led to Yuri (2006); Olalekun (2006) and Leo (2006) finding out that 2006 was ThisDay newspaper’s worst year ever in the history of newspaper publication in Nigeria.
The findings of this study had indeed shown that in 2000, The Punch newspaper and ThisDay newspaper recorded average monthly sales of 2,102,775 and 557,371 copies per day respectively. Then, in 2005 (five years later) when online publishing was introduced, The Punch newspaper and ThisDay newspaper recorded average monthly sales of 2,096,017 and 481,966 copies respectively per day. No wonder Oluwale (2006) had warned that Nigerian newspapers should either quit online publishing or, much to their displeasure, watch their enterprises shot down.
Emmanuel (2001), Rogers (2004) and Sheminenge (2007) as reviews in the literature had all stated that the survival of any company/industry depends, to a large extent, on the sales and/or patronage placed on such company/industry by the people and newspaper industry is not an exception. Regrettably, the revenues of these newspapers, as we have seen in the findings of this study has not been encouraging, thus leading to some newspapers reorganizing and restructuring their firm to include magazine publications in their businesses.
In a study, Sobowale and Adim (2009) had found that, considering the production and distribution costs of newspapers as well as the salary frame of Nigerian newspapers in relation to their advert rates, a newspaper publisher must record daily sales of, at least, two hundred thousand (200,000) hard copies per day in order to survive the trends of online publishing. In other words, they must record monthly sales of at least 6,000.000 copies per day. No Nigerian newspaper even make up to half of that figure. Would they survive this trend of online publishing?
Also found and upheld by this study is that each time the prices of newspaper were increased, the sales outputs decreased. This happened in February 2005, June 2006 and June 2008. Thus the first law of demand which says, the higher the price of a product, the lower the revenues of it and the lower the price, the higher the revenues of it.
This study also found that newspaper readership level is higher in the South West part of Nigeria, followed by South East, South-South, North West, North Central and Lastly North East. This is not surprising, as the National Bureau of Statistics (2010) also found that literacy levels of the six geo political zones are just as found by this study. Newspaper readership level and literacy levels also go hand-in-hand.
A firm whose average annual profitability increases by 0.79% or 1.73% in seven years may just be struggling to survive considering the hike in the cost of raw materials and other inputs as well as the increase in salaries/minimum wages in Nigeria. No wonder Tsav (2011) laments that in the past five to six years (2006 – 2011), many notable Nigerian newspapers have been sold out by their original owners, with the new owners vehemently battling for survival. With this spasmodic increase in average annual profitability, many newspapers are likely to close shops if they have no other subsidiary firm they rely on. The only encouraging part of this finding is the growth in average annual output 2.35% for The Punch and 1.92% for the ThisDay Newspaper. This also confirmThe Punch newspaper sells higher than Thisday newspaper.
This is in line with what Google (2009) as quoted in Ajimobi (2011) said, that they feared the rapid closure of newspaper enterprises as nothing in the nearest future because they will be able to restore newspapers’ revenues to what they were before the emergence of online publishing. The finding is also in line with Obasi (2014) who stated that, with news stories free online, the revenue of newspapers houses is now very low compared to the experience in the last two to three decades. This study also conforms toTaylor, (2014) who stated that revenues from daily newspaper advertising had dropped 44 percent from 2005 to 2009, and that the only advertising medium to experience an increase in advertising revenue during 2009 was, in fact, the internet itself.
Pre-Online Sales versus Post-Online Sales
Having analyzed the sales as recorded by The Punch and Thisday newspapers between 1997 and 2013, let us take a snappy look at the sales in a juxtaposing manner, comparing the preonline sales with that of post-online sales. This, the researcher believes, would undoubtedly give us a clearer understanding of the effects of online publishing on the revenues of these newspapers and make the work more self-explanatory in spectacular way.
Refer to figures 4.2 and 4.3. The trend line in figure 4.2 above for The Punch newspaper, shows that between 1997 and 2004 (the pre-online publishing), that on average, the monthly sales increases and decreases by 4,115 units (see equation on the chart y = 4115.7x + 2E+06). However, the trend line in figure 4.3 shows that between 2006 and 2013 (post-online publishing), on average, the monthly sales increased and decreased by 84 (see equation on the chart y = 84.516x + 2E+06).
Once again, refer to figures 4.5 and 4.6. The trend line in figure 4.5 for ThisDay newspaper shows us that on average, the monthly sales increased and decreased by 1573 units (see equation on the chart y=1573.3x+500196). The trend line in figure 4.6 shows that on average, the monthly sales increased and decreased by 914 units (see equation on the chart y = 914.4x+524397). And we can also conclude that the introduction of online publishing in 2005 has some significant effects on the sales of this Thisday newspaper.
5.3 Effects of Online Publishing on Employment Levels
The second objective of this study was to determine the effects of online publishing on the employment level of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria. The results show that, though not encouraging, the employment levels of The Punch newspaper and ThisDay newspaper have increased instead of decreasing, with positive mean changes of 0.03 and 0.06 respectively. Worthy of note, yet again, is the fact that the employment level at The Punch newspaper (mean change of 0.03) is lower than that of ThisDay newspaper (mean change of 0.06) even when The Punch is the highest selling newspaper while ThisDay is the lowest selling newspaper in Nigeria. Despite the above changes, the tests were not statistically significant for both Punch and ThisDay, hence the second null hypothesis of the study was upheld. This led to the conclusion that online publishing has no significant positive effects on employments of both newspapers.
A look at this concurred with the argument of many studies that technology does the work of men hence when technologies are acquired by a company, some workers in that company may likely lose their jobs.
5.4 Effects of Online Publishing on Capital Investment
The third objective of this study was to determine the effects of online publishing on the capital investment of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria. The result shows that the capital investments of the two newspapers increased and were statically significant. Note that the capital investment increase at ThisDay newspaper (mean change of 2.91) is higher than the capital investment increase at The Punch newspaper (mean change of 1.01), meaning that owners have invested more in ThisDay newspaper than The Punch newspaper. One may wonder why there is a case of increase in capital investments in the two newspaper outfits. The results may not reflect a renewed confidence in publishing but rather a signal that some online media ventures are finally perceived as being sophisticated and agile technological companies, as well.
Basic economics suggests that if the impairment of working capital during a slump were balanced by a corresponding accretion of suitable kinds of liquid capital, then the replenishment of working capital during the boom could be effected by drawing on the high stocks of liquid capital. This implies that business would never lack the means of working at full steam, and the problem of recovery would merely be one of furnishing business with the motive to work at full steam. But enquiry in this case will be found to lead us to the opposite conclusion to that which we have reached in the case of working capital. Instead of the fluctuations in the amount of liquid capital being larger than one might expect, we shall find that they are small and that there are cogent reasons why we cannot expect much assistance from this source to balance fluctuations of investment in fixed capital.
5.5 Effects of Online Publishing on Productive (Operational) and Technical Efficiency
The fourth objective of the study was to determine the effects of online publishing on the productive and technical efficiency of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers in Nigeria. It is expected that when an organization embraces the internet, acquiring all the technological devices required for it, then its technical/productive efficiency would improve. But from the empirical findings, it was evident that that is not true especially for technical efficiency. Thus, online publishing has some significant negative effects on the technical but not productive efficiency.
Even though the accessibility of news stories, with the help of the advancement in technologies, has become easier for most readers across Nigerian, the technical/productive efficiency of these newspapers has unfortunately disproved. With a click of the mouse of a computer system or a keypad of other digital devices, online readers gain access to millions of news headlines. This paints a picture of an improvement in technical/productive efficiency of newspaper publishing firms. However, this study has proved otherwise with its result which shows that the technical efficiency of The Punch and Thisday newspapers has dropped from 0.083 to 0.077 and 0.335 to 0.171 respectively.
This finding disagrees with Thijs, and Arvid (2012) who said that, with the technologies and the digital devices that had come with internet, the technical efficiency of newspaper publishing enterprises has improved. The findings of this study also disagree with Creeber and Martin (2009) who posit that even though the internet has crippled some notable newspaper outlets, the few surviving ones have improved technically and are now efficient in their business of gathering and disseminating news stories. The good news from the findings, is the improvement in the productive (operational) efficiency.
5.6 Implications of the Findings for Development
Whenever we discuss development, every single aspect of human activities are considered and/or brought into the lamplight. In other words, everything that happens in the life of a man in one way or the other affects his development (Anietie, 2012; Todaro and Smith, 2011; Bridge, 2011; Alfred, 2005 and Rogers, 2004).
Newspapers educate and keep the masses informed about the local, national and international activities. They describe the economic policies of the governments and countries of the world. They also play a very vital role of highlighting and pin-pointing the social, economic and moral evils in the society. In other words, newspapers provide a wholesome intellectual food for the people in the society. In this contemporary time, the role of newspapers in our society is very significant in the promotion of trade, commerce, and business.
In most developing countries, newspapers are arguably the easiest and best way of keeping records of the day-to-day activities of the offices, especially those of the governments. This is as a result of the lack of safe and reliable electronic databases which help us to keep information in electronic form. This explains why almost every office in the developing countries often has a drawer or even a store where hardcopies of newspapers are carefully kept for future references (Bridge, 2011 and Ezinwa, 2006).
Anietie (2012) agrees that newspapers are some of the media through which most offices keep accurate records of their day-to-day activities and literature has it that the importance of keeping accurate records is fundamental to the growth of any man, group, institutions and/or a nation at large, without which growth and development becomes hard to achieve. An up-to-date database is the most useful resource in planning for growth and development. Records tell about the success of past campaigns, the improvement in present campaigns and the helps of to predict the future. It helps in monitoring a nation’s growth rate and most important of all, record keeping is one of the most resourceful advisers on development matters.
In the wake of these tremendous developmental works done by newspapers, one needs no soothsayer to tell him that the survival of newspapers, to a large extent, matters to development communication experts and other development agents, especially in the less developed countries of the world where reliable digital databases are lacking.
The findings of this study have shown that online publishing has some positive and negative effects on newspapers. Put differently, the findings of this study have shown that the sales and revenues (profitability), capital investment and operational efficiency of Nigerian newspapers have improved. Employment level and technical efficiency have been on the negative end of the online publishing. The big questions therefore is, if these newspapers die of as a result of this, how would our offices keep records of their activities which is vital for the development of this country?
5.7 Policy Implications for Media Practitioners and Regulators.
As this study has established, online publishing has little positive effects on the real revenues and profitability of The Punch and Thisday newspapers in Nigeria as well as their productive efficiency. This implies that real revenues of these newspapers may have dropped significantly since 2005 when online publishing was introduced. This trend, if not tackled, could wipe Nigerian newspapers out of the market in the nearest future.
When Ajimobi (2011) found that the introduction of online publishing has ensured that all the newspapers in Nigeria today have a combined circulation figure that is far less than that of only Daily Times of Nigeria in 1980 (a time when the population of Nigeria was about half of what it is today), eyebrows were gruesomely raised. But this study has proven him right and joins in recommending some inclusions in the newspapers’ editorial and/or in-house policies of Nigerian newspapers.
This study has proven Ajimomi (2011) right. In the face of this, there is urgent need for something to be done to save these newspapers and ensure their survival. The media owners/practitioners and the regulators should include all these in their editorial and/or in-house policies. They are as listed below:
- Reduce Cover Price: Whenever there is a decline in the revenues of a product, the next step is a reduction of the price of such product, thus the law of demand – the lower the price, the higher the demand and vise versa. All the Nigerian newspapers have a uniform price of N150 in the market. Hate it or love it, an average Nigerian values N150 more than a copy of newspaper. If newspapers are cheaper in the market today, readers will have reasons and resources to buy copies and more patronage would be enjoyed, leading to increase in revenues. Policy makers then need to intervene here because it may not be possible for the price to reduce when the production cost is increasing compared to countries around Nigeria.
- Cut Production Costs: Cutting costs would enable newspapers to reduce cover prices. When Guardian newspaper increased its price from N100 to N150 in June 2008, all other newspapers followed suit, giving the cost of production as their reason for the increase. Newspapers hire many staff who do nothing but follow politicians and celebrities around, gossiping irrelevantly. This number should be reduced to its barest minimum to enable cost cuts and more savings. Production cost can as well be cut by reducing the number of pages of the papers. Some notable Nigerian newspapers often have pages that contain less informative stories which can either be split and fixed in other pages or deleted completely to reduce the number of pages and ensure that production cost if reduced.
- Restructure Online Publications and Make them Serve as Introductions to the Print Publications: When reader get all the news online, they often become satisfied, but when they go online only to find a paragraph that introduces them to full story as published in the print copies, they go looking for the hardcopies. One of the popular newspapers that employ this strategy is The Metro International in Sweden and the paper enjoys patronage to a large extent.
- Organize Training Sessions for Media Practitioners: The Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) and other media regulators should organize training sessions for media workers on the “Mainstreaming of Technology and the Effective Usage of Digital Devices”. Many media practitioners, as pointed by Kusa, (2010), Tsav, 2011) and Bridge (2011) in the reviewed literature lack professionalism on the use of technological devices, and if such training is organized for them, they would improve on their productive and technical efficiencies.
SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The profitability of Nigerian newspapers have seen some increase since the coming of online publishing in 2005 even though not as much as expected. It could be seen from the result that these newspapers recorded higher sales before the introduction of online publishing than they recorded after the introduction of online publishing. When broken into months, the worst decrease in the sales outputs of these Nigerian newspapers came in February 2005 when the practice of online publishing first emerged in the country. The second in June 2006 and the third worst decrease in sales came in June 2008.
The findings of this study have shown that the effects of online publishing on the technical efficiency of Nigerian newspapers is very negative and would liquidate the industry if something is not done fast. One of the foreseeable solutions to the challenges posed by online publishing on profitability and technical efficiency of newspapers is the introduction of the Digital Subscription Model (DSM) which ensure that every online reader pays a certain fee before access to online publications be given to him.
Another solution widely prescribed by researchers (Franklin, 2003; Creeber and Martin, 2009; Tsav, 2011; Ajimobi, 2011; Thijs and Arvid, 2012, Obasi, 2014; and Taylor, 2014) is the reduction in the prices of these newspapers. However, even as the sales outputs of The Punch and ThisDay newspapers decreased, the publishers of these newspapers, among others, have continued to increase the cover prices of the papers, hence forcing the sales of these newspapers to suffer more and more deceases. It is understood that this may be as a result of high production costs. Uniformly, the prices of Nigerian newspapers have seen some significant increase for three consecutive times since the coming of online publishing in 2005. The first price increase came in February, 2005, the second in June, 2006 and the latest price increase in June, 2008. Expectedly, each time the price of these newspapers increased, the quantity demanded of them decreased as well.
In the face of the findings of this study so far, the study conclusively lay down these facts; online publishing has little positive effects on profitability of Nigerian newspapers. In Nigeria, with the introduction of online publishing practices in 2005, sales and revenues are not as rosy as thought and might likely worsen if these newspapers channel more of their adverts to the online versions. This is because a greater number of readers now resort to free online publications instead of purchasing hardcopies of the newspapers and readers are not charged for online publications. The study also revealed that online publishing has some mixed effects on the technical and productive (operational) efficiency of Nigerian newspaper with productive efficiency positive and technical efficiency negative.
The mode of operation of publishing houses has been affected as well, though positively. The way and manner news are gathered, recorded and distributed have changed to a large extent. News gathering and reporting are faster in online publishing than it is in hardcopy publication. The time of editing can is not same in both the online and print journalism. Many online publishers, sometimes while breaking news chose to post the write-up online and then edit it as time goes on, probably as news updates are brought in.
6.6 Limitations of the Study
This study and its findings are limited to affirmations of newspaper publishing enterprises in Nigeria: The Punch and ThisDay newspapers. In the same vein, the study is purely based on the data available to the researcher and therefore, could not cover areas other than stated above.
After carefully gathering, analyzing and interpreting the relevant data, these recommendations are therefore made by the researcher;
- Online publications should be made to serve as intro to the main publications which should be published in the hardcopies of these newspapers. This will attract more readers to the print versions of the newspapers, and will therefore, increase the revenues of them.
- The lower the price, the higher the demand, the theory of demand and supply says. In the view of this, Nigerian newspapers should also consider exploring reducing the prices of these newspapers, to enable them attract more readers.
- The strategies and operations of the online advertising should be restructured to increase income of Nigerian newspapers.
- Newspapers should introduce Digital Subscription Model (DSM) for their online version, where, upon payment of the subscription fee, passwords are given to the subscribers to enable them access the websites. This will definitely increase the income of The Punch and ThisDay
- There should be a “bail out” attempt from the government. Government should fund these newspapers. Critics argue that these will make these newspapers pro-government in their publication, but the researcher believes that it is better for the publishing companies to be pro-government in their publications and survive this trend than to watch the companies liquidate as a result of poor funding.
6.5 Suggestions for Further Study
When a particular research problem is solved, its report automatically becomes a fresh research problem. After making the findings as seen earlier, the researcher therefore suggests that more studies be carried out in these areas:
- The effects of online publishing on the behavioral and attitudinal change of Nigerians news consumers.
- Online publishing in Nigeria: problems and prospects.
- The role of online publishing on the repositioning of image perception of Nigeria nation at both domestic and international levels.
- The efficacy of online publishing in the fight against information imbalance among the countries of the world.
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