The Future of Print Media before 2025

A Bloomberg BusinessWeek debate organised by Jeff Jarvis and Chris Tolles on the future of print media argued that by 2018; online media would completely dominate the print media. With many having to read news via mobile phones and internet the argument appears to be right which posses a grave threat to print media.

With the explosion of mobile internet usage in Africa, West Africa is fast becoming a mobile internet hub in Africa driven by social media. According to Internet World Statistics for Africa as far back as 2012, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and Sierra Leone are the top most internet users in West Africa with a figure of about 48,366,179; 3,568,757; 2,269,681; and 76,880 respectively.

In every five mobile internet users in the above mentioned countries two have access to online media via social network. With Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal toping most users of social media networking (Facebook, Twitter, blog, Youtube etc) in West Africa.

Internet world statistics shows that Nigeria has over 6 million Facebook, Ghana over 1 million, and Senegal over six hundred thousand Facebook users respectively. One tenth of Facebook users in these countries get daily news on their mobile phone via online media.

A research conducted by the Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN 2010), shows that the daily sales of Newspapers across the country was less than 300,000; implying that out of 470 Nigerians only one buy Newspaper. The Punch newspaper which is the number one selling national daily has about 34,264 copies; The Sun about 25,632, Vanguard about 25,241, Guardian about 25,222; and Thisday about 21,703. The most widely read Newspaper in the North ‘Daily Trust’ about 11,672, Nigeria Tribune about 8,314daily sales. However, Compass; Daily Independent; Leadership; New Nigeria; Mirror and National Life could barely make 1600 daily sales. The explosion of online media has reduced print media daily circulation and readers to 40% compare to online media followers and readers which is about 60%.

Interview conducted by WEST AFRICA REPORTERS (WAR) cross session of persons in Abuja-Nigeria shows that many prefer social media and online news to print media, to them they deliver news immediately trending it on twitter and facebook.

Whereas print media publishes in 24 hours which makes theirs a story other than news, and you spend little to access online media and you do not face the problem of having to litter your house with hard copies. They further opined that online media gives room for citizen diplomacy; making it easier for citizens to engage on online discussion which makes online media more participatory compared to print media.

In Sierra Leone, according to Mr Sei, the managing director of Standard Times, the newspaper barely circulates 5000 newsprint daily; circulations are limited to Freetown and hardly get to the deeper crevices. With the upsurge of mobile internet; news gets to an average farmer in the deeper crevices of Sierra Leone. Online media in Sierra Leone shows the respective followers; Cocorioko 4,149, Sierra Leone Daily Nation 2,930, The New Daily Nation Forum, 4,522; Sierra Leone Government Media Network with 2,459; Rebranding Sierra Leone 1,316; APC Live Forever 2,819and, OGI Forum1, 656.

This is a universal trend, US newspaper circulation declined to an average of 8.7% in 2007 and 2009, while it has further declined to 5%. In UK circulation declined by 25% in 2007-09, in Greece 20%, Italy 18 % and Canada of 17 %, in Africa 30%, Asia 13%, and 4.55 in South America.

Many may think that discussions on the downfall of print media are exaggerated; however, there is no denying the authenticity or relentlessness of its challenges, or the unavoidability of a digital future. E-readers, e-books, smartphones, and tablets all give readers mounting range of digital options for consuming content.

They make available to readers convenience, portability and interactivity options that print media do not provide. These technological advances have come with striking changes in content consumption patterns, forcing foremost transformations within the media sector worldwide. Numerous analysts have boldly declared that the period of printed newspaper is over. Shortfall in advertising revenues and disjointed audiences as a result of online media signals a challenge posed to print newspaper industry. This therefore shows that print media are likely to go down the drain in the year 2025. And if it doesn’t it is likely to record very low patronage.

Audu Liberty Oseni

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