AN EVALUATION OF THE INFLUENCE OF ONLINE NEWSPAPERS ON THEIR PRINT VERSIONS’ READERSHIP AND REVENUE AMONGST POSTGRADUATE STUDENTS IN SOUTH-EAST, NIGERIA
This study investigated the influence of online newspapers on their print versions’ readership and revenue amongst Postgraduate students in South-East Nigeria The qualitative and quantitative methods employed focused on the research questions. Tables, figures and simple percentage counts were employed in making the research data easily understandable. The in-depth interview was employed in gathering data from Online Editors of The Punch, The Guardian, Vanguard, The Sun, The Nation, ThisDay and Business Day newspapers. Findings revealed that 542 (60%) of the online newspaper readers were motivated by the use of pictures, ease of reading. The t-test result for the first hypothesis on readership motivation showed that of the entire paired sample tests, the only one that was accepted was the one on ‘cheapness’ of either the online or offline newspapers as represented by (.882) significance against others as represented by (.000) significance. The Chi-square tests revealed that the perception of The Sun, The Punch, The Nation, ThisDay, Business Day and Vanguard newspapers with respect to timely, authoritative, popular and currency ratings of their usage did not depend on their online or print attributes because the test values are greater than the table values. The Punch’s online and offline (print) newspaper readers agreed that there were difficulties in accessing both online and offline newspapers as represented by 489 (55%), and 321 (36%) respectively. Online newspapers have both positive, 255(29%) and negative, 381 (43%) influences on their print versions’ readership and revenue. Online Editors are aware of the Paywall billing system but said they have not employed it in running their online services. The study recommends that; offline newspapers should package attractive and contemporary editorial content; offline newspaper operators should build relationship with their readers through events sponsorship, marketing promotions, public relations, and advertising; newspaper organizations should train and retrain journalists on computer –assisted reporting and online journalism; newspaper organizations should reorganize their operations in the areas of data base infrastructure and web-focused sales to remain relevant.