Paper presented on a training workshop for Local Government Information officers in Kaduna State
Topic: Areas of conflicts between Online and Traditional media
By: Muhammad Sabiu, Northern Bureau Chief of the Nigerian Tribune, Ahmadu Bello Way, Kaduna
First and foremost, I want to thank the organisers of this training for the rare opportunity given to me to speak on the above topic. Haidara Dangaladima has been a brother, confidant and my leader.
Yesterday, the topic given to me by Dangaladima was ‘Difference between the online and conventional media. However, I decided to adjust the topic to discuss areas of conflicts between online and traditional media, because I feel it will be more apt than just discussing the differences between the two.
Therefore, this paper for clarity sake is not an academic paper but rather it is essentially a discussion from a professional perspective.
The Speaker, armed with a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism and Post Graduate Diploma in Mass Communication with over two decades in print journalism believes in the practical dissemination of knowledge.
Of course, I will not bore you with the definitions of social media and what have you because, I believe someone has abreast you with that aspect yesterday.
My thoughts on Social media
But I want to stress one point, I want to say, without mincing words that the social media in whatever form you want to call in this our contemporary world of today has come to stay. Today it has become part of our lives. Life could be boring without our phones and access to social media.
With a combined users of hundreds of millions across the globe and with hundreds of billion dollars investment, It will be impossible to return to pre – social media era.
Has the social media led to the extinction of the traditional media? This is also another frequently asked question. Dear participants, my answer is always NO!. If you look around us, there are people who still reads newspapers, also there are people who still listen to the radio. The only thing is, the number of readers or listeners have reduced. Today, people prefer to get their news from their social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter etc.
To this end, and for the benefit of this training, I want to tell the participants that the traditional media too will not die. You know why? because of the points I enumerated earlier, and the very fact that, the social media is often full of fabricated stories, hence people refer back to the traditional media for authentication of news.
Moreso, many of you may not know that there are publicity items like advertisements, change of Names, loss of documents, companies registration , contract tender , disclaimer, etc which are usually brought by clients for publication in the newspaper every day.
Similarities between online and conventional media
Today, most of the the newspapers, radio and television stations are also online. I work in the Nigerian Tribune which has its headquarters in Ibadan, Oyo state. Today, we have an online desk with an online editor. This is the same with most newspapers.
For instance, when recently, the Alaafin of Oyo died. We did not wait until the following day to publish the story. Our reporters were sent to the palace immediately to give detail account of events as they happened in the palace via our online TV. So the funeral rites of the late Alaafin was transmitted live to the general public. If you visit our website on the day he died the traffic was overwhelming. Today, most of the media houses do the same. No media outlet wants to be left behind, as they all want to remain relevant.
Don’t forget the online breaks news faster than the conventional media, to remain relevant the conventional media too have to move with the present reality for them to survive. Any conventional media worth its salt must also be online today.
So most of the traditional newspapers have introduced online to remain afloat.
That’s why today any journalist worth his salt must train his or her self on multimedia. For example, most reporters today write and record events with their android phones and send to their offices. Daily Trust have move further they have cameraman and sometimes they cover events live.
Let me give another example with my humble self , three days ago, I sent a video of Ansaru, a breakaway Boko Haram group celebrating Eid – el – Fitr in Birnin Gwari area of Kaduna state.
But I was amazed today when I visited our website in the morning . I saw that no fewer than 14k viewers have watched the video and over 300 viewers shared the video. You can imagine how many people have watch the video.
Similarly, radio and television stations whether local or international like BBC, VOA, CNN etc have also embraced online too . If you don’t want to tune to their stations you can visit their sites and listen or watch their programs.
Today, these stations too don’t wait until the people tune to their stations. They upload any news items or content for the benefit of the public. Because they realised the more clients visits their sites the more relevant they remain in the industry.
Apart from their presence online, virtually all the conventional media organizations have social media accounts, at least Facebook and Twitter, where they equally upload links to their online stories and other media contents.
Areas of conflicts
The major area of conflict between online and conventional media is the area of ethics. You will agree with me, the user of social media account , has the final say on what he or she wants to post. You can’t stop him because when he is posting such item, you are not around. Anyone, without the knowledge of journalism can become a journalist overnight. So he posts what he likes without fact-checking. In short, he’s the the alfa and omega. But it is not so in conventional media. There are ethics that regulate the work of a journalists. There are many gatekeepers in the process of gathering news, refining it before publication.
Reliability of Information
There is always a conflict about the reliability of the story or information disseminated. Usually information seen or shared on social media are not readily seen as true and reliable. Many social media users especially journalists who come across such items undergo further checks before it is published.
Therefore, the reliability in terms of truthfulness is dicey. It can be true and it can be false. Spreading rumours and mocked pictures are common on social media nowadays. But most of the people tend to agree on what they read on the newspapers or hear on the radio.
Only one way communication vs two ways communication
While conventional media is almost a one-way communication. That is they give information with very slim chance of feed back, which can be done through Letter to the Editor, the social media allows full blown two-way communication, where users can leave reactions, comments, almost immediately for the news source.
One format vs many formats
Another area of conflict that, conventional media usually come in only one or two formats. For example, the newspaper can display text and photos, it cannot show a video or play sound. While social media supports all types of files such as audio, documents, text, video, graphics, etc.
While social media attracts million of audience, the conventional media on the other hand only attracts thousands of audience and subscribers. So there’s usually this ongoing debate which has more impact in the society.
Today, there is no conventional newspaper or electronic media that is operating on analogue. All the conventional media both print and electronic have switch over to digital. They are all on the same page with online media. Sometimes you see that the conventional media are lifting reports from credible online medium like premium times, The cable, pulse, etc and vice versa. It is however important that we verify any story before publication.
That is why at the beginning of my discussion, I did said that social media has come to stay. So as a professional, it behooves on everyone (Journalist) to acquaint themselves with the new world order if they want to excel in whatever they are doing. You cannot afford to be left behind. As information officers too, it is very important to acquaint yourselves with the social media knowledge.
You must educate yourself. First try to obtain one Android phone. If you don’t know how to operate it. Find someone to teach you. Open a Facebook, whatsup, Twitter, Instagram accounts it will help you to excel in your work.
Thank you for listening.