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Practicing Journalism In A Digital World

Journalism can simply be defined as the gathering, processing and dissemination of information for public good. Anybody who gathers information, processes it and disseminates the information can therefore be called a journalist.

 

The advent of the Gutenberg’s printing press was the first push in the development of journalism. Journalism in 17th century concentrated on printing events rather than news. In the 19th century the focus shifted to the selling of newspapers, especially, in Britain as a result of the abolishing of ‘taxes in knowledge’, hence, establishing large markets for the development of journalism. The 20th and 21st saw more advancement in journalism with emergence of media conglomerates and press barons in Britain, intensifying competition in the news market.  

 

At all these stages of its development, journalism was only known in print and broadcast. New printing technology resulted in increase in newspaper circulation and competition in the news market. The coming of new broadcast technologies and the internet have also changed the way journalists gather, process and disseminate information, and that have equally changed the way people understand journalism.

 

Journalists and media institutions are able to use new broadcast technologies and the internet to gather and disseminate information to their audience worldwide. Technology is redefining journalism.

 

The internet and its resources are making it possible for those who were audiences and listeners of news to become the creators, gatherers and disseminators of journalistic information of any kind. Internet is overtaking traditional media such as newspapers and TV as source of news.

 

For this reason media institutions are also adjusting, adapting or changing to catch up with the technological driven world.

 

The Ghana News Agency (GNA), established 59 years ago, is adopting new technological platforms to maintain its name as a leader in news wire industry.

 

According to the Agency, ‘we have been ‘digi-prived’ for a very long time and with our newfound passion for success through information technology innovation, the plan is to ensure that our processes make technology the revolving door.’

 

The Agency has introduced a new subscriptions platform, known as Editor’s Pick. Editor’s Pick aims at improving on the dissemination of GNA files by allowing subscribers to login and download their own information instead of receiving same through email.

 

That aside, the Agency has introduced a content management website, labaari.com, which has a complicated business model built around it, aimed at finding an innovative way of monetising news.

 

How do you use the website? Accessing the website is free, but users must provide their details when setting up their usernames and passwords. Once the client becomes active on the website for a minimum of six months, he or she gets enrolled on the Labaari Club Card, a discount card concept that aims to introduce some discounts to customers when they shop in partner supermarkets or shops.

 

In collaboration with the National Information Technology Agency (NITA), GNA is to introduce the first Mobile Digital TV in Ghana. Mobile TV is simply an applet which users can upload on their Mobile phones just like WhatsApp or YouTube.  A simple tap on the App will direct the user to the LIVE TV studio of NITA and GNA to be hosted at the National Data Center. The TV App will offer Ghanaians 24/7 live TV news programming anywhere and everywhere.

 

NITA will provide the technology solution-both equipment and software-whilst GNA will provide the content.

 

NITA and GNA, apart from this collaboration, are working to develop Ghana’s foremost search engine, (infoghana.com.gh), similar to google and yahoo. It will involve the digitisation of all archives of Ghana, including newspapers, video and audio files and regular paper documents and make them searchable on the internet just by click of a mouse.

 

GNA announced these platforms at an editors’ forum in Accra, to mark 59th Anniversary of the Agency on the theme; 59 years of reporting: Defining frontiers of journalism.

 

Prof. Clement K. Dzidonu, President, Accra Institute of Technology, who spoke on ‘Technology-Driven Creation in News Service: Information as Asserts’, said it was impossible to practice journalism in the modern world without the use of one form of technology or other, adding that technology is increasingly clouding out the line between ‘the supply-side and the demand-side of the journalistic market-place.’

 

‘The line of demarcation that do exist in the past between the supply-side providers  of journalistic information  on one hand and the demand-side recipients (readers, audiences,  viewers, listeners) of such information is increasingly becoming less obvious in the 21st century,’ he added.

 

Prof Dzidonu noted that the rise of technology is changing how news is produced, owned and disseminated. ‘The deployment and the exploitation of technologies within the news industry  are opening the gate for  new intermediaries that create and distribute news, including online news aggregators, online news publishers, mobile news actors, citizen journalism and many more. New actors have emerged on the supply-side scene including,’ he said.

 

As a result of these developments, media owners are redefining news production to able to stay in the competitive news market. ‘The media houses after first letting the genie out of the bottle by initially offering digital content for “free; during the early days of the Internet in the late 1980s and the 1990s are now frantically searching for new ways to monetize their news products and services. They are falling over each other to develop multiple paid content strategies that focus on value for their ever demanding and difficult to please and retain consumers. There is no doubt that the economics of news production and distribution has been radically altered, by the emergence of technology.

‘For media houses to remain relevant, profitable and avoid demise they must adapt and innovate.  In the emerging technology-driven news media landscape there is a need to explore innovative ways and means that can enable them create value in the delivery of their news services to targeted audience willing to avail of these services and pay for them. They must without any shred of doubts convince their audience that they have information which is asset they and only they have and cannot be gotten from anywhere else and that the audience needs this information and should be willing to pay a dollar or two for it,’ Prof. Dzidonu disclosed.

Technology is throwing a challenge to journalism and media institutions must embrace the challenge just as GNA has done or else they will be thrown out of business.

GNA established on the eve of the country’s independence by Dr Kwame Nkrumah. The Agency played a key role in the early days of the liberation struggle in Africa and helped in the promotion and development of African institutions, especially the OAU, now AU. GNA is highly respected for its truthful, unbiased, credible, objective and accurate news reports, all done with speed.

Source: ISD (Jotie N. Sule)

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