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In the year 1450, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. In 1605, Johan Carolus adopted the printing press in creating the world’s first newspaper. A trend started, as the news media adopted the printing press and, with it, developed a manual distribution model. The world accepted this as the model for news production and distribution, and for centuries to come, media professionals, delighted at the invention and its acceptance, went to sleep. Not even the invention of the radio and television could force a rethink of an age-old business model that served centuries of newshounds and news consumers – until the arrival of the digital age on the heels of the invention of the internet.
With the advent of the digital age, the word ‘media’ suddenly acquired a different meaning – confusing the media professional and opening the eye of the news consumer, as digital technologies suddenly transformed the way information and news content are distributed and consumed around the world.
Since the advent of the internet in the early 1990’s, the media space has been gravely altered with huge consequence for media practitioners and consumers of traditional news media – what with the altering of media consumption habits, the reinvention of old professional practices, the altering of agenda setting platforms and status-conferral processes, the bursting of old media conventions and the creation of new traditions.
In this era of disruption, brought on board by new technologies which are circumventing traditional news media and contesting its once celebrated advantaged position as gatekeepers of news, information and popular ideas, the traditional media is struggling, not just to defend its old position, but to reinvent itself.
Clearly, the swift information and communication technology inventions that came with the internet eclipsed the basis and process of news gathering and reporting and introduced an unusual paradigm shifts which shook the foundations of the news media industry. Similar to the reality on the global scene, digital technologies are also fundamentally altering the nature and function of media in Nigeria.
Today in Nigeria, there are clear signs of the eclipse of the traditional media as once vibrant traditional news-media organisations today struggle to fund their operations, given dwindling circulation numbers brought on board by expensive news-prints and difficult to manage printing presses as well as shrinking advertising patronage, given the hot contest from nibble, cost effective, smart and widely accessible digital news platforms.