More Nigerian media outlets are embracing digital publication — Report


TRADITIONAL media outlets in Nigeria are embracing new digital formats and channels, as more people gain access to the internet, a 2023 Digital News Report by Reuters Institute has shown.

According to the report, as fewer people turn to traditional news sources such as television and print media for information, their business models have come under pressure. 

“Print, in particular, has been in sharp decline in recent years with a further 5 percentage point drop in weekly reach in our data. Despite these problems, there are still around 100 national and local print titles, of which the best known include The Punch, The Nation, Vanguard, Guardian and Premium Times,” the report stated.

“Television and radio remain critical sources of information, especially for those that are not online, but internet access is growing fast. Nigeria hit 122.5 million internet users as of January 2023, according to DataReportal, and Nigerians have been quick to adopt a wide range of social media platforms. Meta-owned products such as Facebook and WhatsApp remain most widely used for news, followed by Twitter and YouTube. 

“The messaging service Telegram has grown rapidly in recent years and Nigeria’s youthful population is now vigorously embracing short-form video via TikTok – accessed by 56% of 18–24s, according to our Digital News Report survey, with around half of these now accessing news on the platform,” it added.

The report stated that many Nigerian media organisations are now introducing premium subscription services demonstrating potential new avenues for media funding in Nigeria.

According to the report, Nigeria media outlets are also now using podcasts and email newsletters to increase engagement with websites.

It stated further: “Hotly contested presidential elections in Nigeria in February 2023 passed off largely peacefully but turnout was affected by fuel shortages, insecurity, and evidence of voter suppression in some parts of the country. Election rallies and political speeches were widely covered by the media but questions linger regarding the objectivity of some news coverage, considering that traditional media outlets are heavily dependent on political (and government) advertising.

“Despite the evolution of the media sector, the pursuit of press freedom, as enshrined in the constitution, remains elusive. The government arrested and detained several journalists and publishers in the run-up to the election for publishing reports deemed offensive. Those affected include Haruna Mohammed, publisher of WikkiTimes, Ayodele Samuel, the publisher of Taraba Truth and Facts, and Agba Jalingo, publisher of Cross River Watch, while others were physically assaulted.”

The report stated that misinformation  was rampant on social media before, during, and after the election and a new initiative, Nigerian Fact-checkers Coalition helped to monitor and debunk the misinformation online.

“In an effort to combat the problem, a new initiative was set up by major news platforms and civil society organisations working together under the umbrella of the Nigerian Fact-checkers Coalition (NFC). Participants included the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), Dubawa, Africa Check, FactMattersNG, the Insight, FactCheckHub, TheCable, and Daily Trust and the group was active in fact-checking live presidential debates and set up an Election Observatory Room to monitor misinformation and disinformation in the months leading up to the election.

“In recent years, several laws regulating social and other digital media have been proposed by the government, in the face of international and local criticism about the wider potential impact on freedom of speech and on journalists’ ability to operate. Partly as a result, a number of stakeholders have been exploring new ideas for how to govern information on digital platforms,” it stated.

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Nurudeen Akewushola is a fact-checker with FactCheckHub. He has authored several fact checks which have contributed to the fight against information disorder. You can reach him via [email protected] and @NurudeenAkewus1 via Twitter.


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