NEWSPAPERS READERS PERCEPTION OF THE USE OF IMAGES IN LOCAL NEWSPAPERS IN BUEA
|JOURNALISM AND MASS COMMUNICATION
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Photographs in newspapers can stimulate opinion change, either making a reader love the good advertised, or making the reader hate it. In view of the foregoing, this study sought to ascertain “ Readers perception of the use of images in local newspapers in Buea”
The population of study in Buea metropolis is 43000 but just 100 newspaper readers participated since the method used to carry out this research was distributing questionnaires to our target population which are readers of newspapers.
The major findings gotten from the research was that majority of the respondents in the Buea metropolis pay attention to photographs in newspapers.
Readers have different reactions to pictures that are displayed in Cameroon newspapers and also Pictures are important to newspaper readers introduction of professional journalism has made the face of the newspaper today a standard one, because the use of photographs in newspapers helps to get the reaction that readers feel about it.
Moreover, People are attracted to photographs on newspapers pages. The study found out that photographs communicate more than one thousand words and therefore play a crucial role in drawing the attention of readers to the most prominent news.
Furthermore, pictures do have a strong influence on photojournalism, and readers in Buea have proven to understand news more coherently when photographs are used to deduce the message. It was subsequently recommended that visual images on newspapers must be reflective of the message it sends to pass to its numerous readers.
A photograph on a newspaper page must connote the same message with the write-up that explains it.
The Cameroon media must ensure that obstacles to the flow of information are investigated; ethical and professional standards in the media must be upheld. For the sake of professionalism, a certain standard of learning and expectations must be met to be qualified as a photojournalist.
For many years, photography has played an increasingly important role in the various media of mass communication that use visual messages to disseminate information (i.e. books, newspapers, magazine, film, television; and the internet-based media) (Ijeh, 2015).
Photographs have been known to greatly stimulate public interest in current events and human angle stories presented by the visual media of mass communication, and have also made tremendous contributions to the civilization and advancement of mankind (Ezekiel & Ezekiel, 2007).
The power of photographs in mass communication stems from the common knowledge that photographs are more powerful than words in message dissemination hence the dictum; “A picture can speak more than a thousand words”.
This is because photographs speak a universal language and are better able to elicit the same emotions from people on different sides of languages and educational divides (Ezekiel &Ezikiel, 2007; Fasheke 2004).
In addition to creating a greater emotional response, photographs are used to capture a reader’s attention to an article.
Visual images are the gateway to a news story. Communication professor at the University of Oklahoma, Michael Pfau, claims that people do not merely pick up newspapers and magazines and start reading. Rather, they look at them, check the headlines and photographs to determine which stories they would like to read (Pfau, 2006).
In previous research, eye-tracking software has been used to determine which articles are read first, proving that a reader begins their perusal of a newspaper drawn to the most striking features – typically the headlines and photographs.
According to (Pfau, 2006), readers are more likely to view a photograph, first before reading a text. However, he noted that combining both text and photograph makes it three times more likely that at least some of the text will be read.
He also noted that previous research with an eye-tracking device has also proven that readers are drawn to larger photos over smaller ones, and colour images over black and white versions.
To the general public, photographs are deemed credible sources of information. Viewers are more susceptible to believe images that they visually see, rather than what they hear or read (Pfau, 2006).
Photographs tend to be taken at face value, exactly for what they represent, while a photograph and text seem to be less credible because “readers sense that the words are authored, but the image is a true representation” (Kepplinger, 1976).
Conversely to Anderson 1989 cited in (Kepplinger, 1976) argues that “though the photographic image may have powerful visual impact, it does not have the ability to give any in-depth explanation of the event it presents to a world eager to be informed.
It cannot tell what happened before or after an event; it cannot give political or social context, much less analysis.
The camera does not know which of the events it captures are historically significant and which are not. As John et al. (1989) have noted, a photograph is time frozen, a moment yanked out of its before and after” and therefore requires an added textual analysis to accompany an image (Andersen, 1989).
According to Eunson (2008), a “stand-alone” picture refers to a single photograph, with a caption that describes its content, published on a newspaper or magazine page whose other text or picture content are not related to the photograph in question.
Here the photograph with its caption tells a story alone and not in any way related to other news stories on the same newspaper or magazine page. A picture is said to be accompanying a news story, its images and captions are directly related to a contiguous text of a newspaper or magazine news report.
In this case, the photograph is used to support the story text. “Picture – based” news stories sometimes refers to a panorama of photographs on newspaper or magazine pages.
Here, sets of pictures that present different aspects of a particular subject, event or phenomenon are printed on dedicated newspaper/magazine pages with no textual report. The set of photographs, with the aid of their captions, tell the story.
The newspaper is one of the largest users of still pictures. In this contemporary digital media space where all the media of mass, communication (both offline and online) compete for audience and readership; pictures have become a veritable asset for these media outlets.
This competition has necessitated and propelled newspaper to become more innovative in their use of photographs to attract and sustain readership. While some schools of thought argue that pictures aid the readership of newspapers, others argue that they are irrelevant and make little or no impact on readers.
It is therefore imperative against the already established background to ascertain the reader’s perception of the use of photographs, specifically in the Cameroonian Newspapers.
Visuals can have a dramatic impact on a reader’s involvement and feelings towards an event or issue. Images on newspapers have a powerful impact on readers’ attitude and understanding, and this impact and understanding cannot be created by text alone.
In a news context, the presence of a photograph can significantly affect the consumer’s attitude towards the framed issue. While some readers might perceive pictures in newspapers as a support for the texts, others perceive it as something used in filling up the newspaper and making the pages numerous.
To some also, it is just an act that serves to draw attention to a big story and to further illustrate statements made in the story and give the readers more details about the information presented.
This study, therefore, seeks to ascertain Newspaper readers perception of the use of photographs.
- To ascertain if the use of photographs in Cameroon newspapers contribute to attracting the attention of newspaper readers in Buea
- To determine if newspapers readers view photographs as space fillers.
- To determine if newspapers readers view photographs as an aid to the readers understanding of the content.
- To ascertain if newspaper readers view photographs in newspapers as aiding credibility to stories or they are used for aesthetic appeal.
- To what extent does the use of photographs in Cameroon newspapers contribute to attracting the attention of newspaper readers in Buea?
- How do newspaper readers view this use of photographs as space fillers or aid to readers’ understanding?
- How do newspapers readers view photographs as aid of readers understanding of the content?
- How do newspaper readers view photographs in newspapers as aiding credibility of stories or for aesthetic appeal?
This study is focused on assessing newspaper reader’s perception of the use of photographs in Cameroonian Newspapers. The researcher chose to limit the study to newspaper readers in Buea South West. Further research can focus on newspaper readers in other parts of the region and other regions of the nation.
This study is considered relevant for various reasons.
- It will contribute to the available literature on the use of photographs in newspapers. Specifically, it will fill the gap in the literature on the perception of the use of newspapers in as held by newspaper readers in Buea.
- For print media practitioners, it could throw some additional light that will guide their use of photographs in newspapers and other print media.
Photograph: A picture created by projecting an image onto a photosensitive surface such as a chemically treated plate or film, CCD receptor etc.
Newspaper: A publication usually published daily or weekly and usually printed on cheap, low – quality paper, containing news and other articles.
Photojournalism: A form of journalism in which a story is told primarily through photographs and other images.
Readers: People who read newspapers.
Journalism: The process of news gathering and dissemination through publication to a specific audience.
Perception: Organization, identification and interpretation of sensory information.
Assessment: The act of assessing something.