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NEWSPAPER PREFERENCE AMONG CIVIL SERVANTS IN UYO CAPITAL CITY DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
1.1 Background to the Study
Newspaper readership is the people who read or are thought to read a particular newspaper. Decline in newspaper circulation and readership does not mean newspaper readership is aging. In fact, declining newspaper circulation and readership is happening at the same time with aging newspaper readership. Looking at the macro vision of aging newspaper readership, general social factors suggest that there is aging population and new way of newspaper reading presently (i.e. reading online newspaper articles, reading free newspapers). Aging of newspaper readership has impacts on societies and which aging readership has relationship to voter participation.
Newspaper readership studies do perhaps seem to be confined to an obscure corner of extant literatures. This probably may be due to the assumption that virtually people read newspapers for obvious reasons; hence, doing a newspaper readership study (to ascertain how frequently newspapers are read, reasons for reading them and preference for a particular newspaper to the other), appears rather elementary.
According to Goodluck, Williams and Adesoji (2016), readership studies besides being the fulcrum of further studies function as a key marketing tools. Advertisers probably would prefer a newspaper of wider coverage with a wider readership reach. Evidently, newspaper readership tends to indirectly influence “the what and why” of coverage of news events; for reporters, editors give space for events they know would be of interest to the readers (Patrick and Melchizedec 2014). In the words of Croteau and Hoynes (2000:3), systematic and regular reading shapes the intellect, refines the motions, elevates tastes and provides perspectives for one’s living and thereby prepares a person for an effective participation in the social, religious, cultural and political life.
Orukamayan (2015) writes that news should not only be in an absolute sense of being news, it should also be the sort of news that the reader of the paper will likely want to read, a newspaper that satisfy the curiosity of readers is most likely to be preferred to others.Newspapers often contain current interesting information meant for the reading pleasure of the vast majority of readers of all ages and walks of life.
Currently, newspapers have announced it strong present in Nigeria, as Nigeria Press Council in 2009 published that there are about 246 newspapers and 50 magazines spread across the country, although, not all of them are doing well. Across the 36 states in the country, there is also a coterie of state-owned newspapers, mostly poorly produced, with poor circulation figure and showing poor circulation performance, with low advertisement patronage and often inadequate subvention from their owner-government (Nigeria Vision 20:20 Report, 2009: http://www.nv2020.org).
The newspaper circulation figures help to inform the owners and those who work in newspaper organizations about the performance of their news products in the competitive media market. Another goal of readership survey is also to provide information to advertisers who are desirous of making effective selection of the newspaper with wider circulation and which would reach their target customers (O’Sullivant, 1994 cited in Aliagan, 2011). However, media workers are often sceptical about what the circulation figures say about the popularity of their product (Burton 2002), though this is about the main way of knowing a newspaper’s performance rating in the market. Thus, circulation figures will only make meaning to the fund providers of the newspapers and perhaps the readers who are influenced by what they produce as well as advertisers who need such information in their planning for marketing purposes.
It is however said that people read newspapers to reinforce their existing beliefs. They do not do that in order to be converted into new ones. Their choice of newspaper would also be affected by product or brand choice. This would be accentuated by the credibility of the medium, its fairness and objectivity, their attitude toward the newspaper based on the societal or media norm, their mood and how the newspaper affect their existing beliefs. Certain characteristics such as level of literacy and income level may also affect exposure to newspapers and making a choice among newspapers (Aliagan, 2011).
The media exist as an organ of information sourcing and dissemination, educational promotion, surveillance, social enlightenment and mobilisation. These functions set the media apart as an important link and factor in the relationship between the government and the governed, and make them a sine qua non to societal growth and development, Ekeanyanwu (2007).
The print media particularly newspaper has created awareness among people of different class, religion, locality as well as professions regarding their rights and duties. Udoakah(1994) in Des Wilson (2000) stated that newspapers came into existence as a result of the need by political groups to propagate their views, but they have developed to a point that all classes in society and all points of views are represented today.
Newspapers are known for the provision of up-to-date information on local, state, national and international events. Newspapers often contain current and interesting information meant for reading pleasure of the vast majority of readers of all ages and walks of life. As an important print medium of mass communication, newspapers provide the most current analysis, debate and criticism of socio-political, economic, health and a host of other issues as information, education and entertainment to the readers.
Ola and Ojo (2007) cited in Ikechukwu (2015) noted that newspapers are important as they carry current information and keep the readers informed of events and happenings within and outside their immediate environments.Ruotoleo (1988) in his study of newspaper readers in Brazil identified five types of newspaper readers as follows:
- Instrumental Readers: these use newspapers to get information they think will be useful for daily living.
- Opinion Readers: they use newspapers to get advice and guidance for forming and validating opinion.
- Pleasure Readers: these use newspaper reading as an enjoyable habit.
- Ego Readers: these use newspapers as sources of information for impressing others. They read to enhance their self-image and status with others.
- Scanners: they use newspapers for many and varied reasons, but there is no single motivation or pattern strong enough to suggest that they belong to any of the other listed categories.
Baran (2007), averred that “the reason we have the number and variety of newspapers we do today is because readers value them”. This implies that newspapers strive in the face of other media of mass communication in reaching out to members of the society including men, women, and youth especially those who value its contents.