Abstract: This study evaluated the Impact of Pictures on the Credibility of News Items in the Punch Newspaper among Uyo Residents. The design for the study is a survey research design. Four research questions were answered using mean and standard deviation. Samples of 360 persons (both male and female) were selected out of a total number 305,961 people in Uyo using random sampling technique. The test items (PIPCNPQ) were face and content validated by experts in the field of mass communication. Perception of the impact of pictures on the credibility of news items in the punch newspaper questionnaire (PIPCNPQ) was the instrument used for data collection. The result of analysis showed that pictures have great impact on the credibility of news items on newspaper. The findings concluded that using pictures on news items in the punch newspaper have positive impact on the perception of Uyo readers on the use of pictures for news credibility.
This is because pictures in punch newspaper enhance the credibility of the stories. As they depict reality, they also furnish evidence to show the authenticity of a news story or give proof of an event that occurred. It was recommended that photojournalists should use original source of photographs from an event to ensure the improvement in the value of news content and news worthiness.
Impact of Pictures on the Credibility of News Items in the Punch Newspaper among Uyo Residents
1.1 Background to the Study
Pictures are one of the popular medium in use by the mass media either electronic or print media in any news delivery. In winning the heart of leaders, journalists use photographic images as main communication strategies in delivering their messages, agendas and also to catch the readers’ attention. This has equipped journalists with competent skills needed. As for readers, they need the required information as their reference before making any decisions. Pictures are meant to express a message and not just function as aesthetics. It is a powerful medium of expression and visual communication that involves the process by which events are mirrored in pictures, which reveal something too brief for the eyes alone to define.
Pictures serve as an instrumental view of reality by disseminating information that enables viewers make an accurate response to whatever is going on for the past two decades, the public overall trust in the press has declined (project for Excellence in Journalism, 2006).
The Pew Research Centre (2005) reports that 60% of the masses think the media are politically biased in their reporting. Similarly, the percentage of those who believe most of what they read in their daily newspaper dropped from 84% to 69% in 2006 (Pew Research center, 2006). In 2002, only 35% said media reporting is generally accurate, down from 55% (Pew Research Center, 2002).
The believability of several major news organizations has also declined since the 21st Century. For example, in 2007 only 65% of masses surveyed rated ABC news as highly believable, while 83% did so in 2002. The results were similar for NBC news and CBS new. In addition, believability for daily newspaper declined from 80% in 2002 to 59% in 2006. Nonetheless, a February 2006 study suggests that the public’s trust in the print media may be on the rise 59% of the masses reported having a favourable view of the press, up from 43% in December 2004 (Pew Research Center, 2006).
The idea of telling news in pictures dates back to the wall carving of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamian. Even the Japanese and Chinese alphabet of today are traced to the combination concepts. These findings broaden the horizon and potentialities of communication with pictures (Nnayelugo Okoro, Historical Perspective of Photojournalism, 2002).
Back home in Nigeria, using picture in telling news has its root in the colonial period. It followed advent of news papering in Nigeria, newspaper led to improved pays use of catchy illustration. The socio-political environment of Nigeria help to spear head the development of photojournalism (use of pictures to tell stories). The inseparability of politics and photography is a factor that goes far back in line. The nationalist who were fighting for independence found newspaper a ready weapon for castigating the colonial administration. The problem then was that these publications had ordinary photographs which had little or no knowledge of what is news worthy. The picture they produce were essentially aware photographs which usually affect the credibility of news they illustrate.
However, the 1970’s upward witnessed a marked improvement in both photo content and style. The emergence of punch newspaper has since revolutionize Nigeria photojournalism both in story points. The made the editors to employ a good press photographer who must have an eye for news in the same way a reporter must have a nose for a good story. With this, pictures are made to be more news oriented which better represent news they illustrate, thereby enhancing the news credibility, attracting and compelling the readers to read the story and add aesthetic mood to the newspaper.
We cannot talk about credibility of pictures on news items without talking about photo journalism and photography. Photojournalism involves the use of camera to record events as they happen. Like a news reporter, a photo journalist is a reporter but he or she writes with camera and disseminates news events through images. Photojournalists use pictures to tell stories, interpret event and communicate their feelings about the society as journalist hoping for a better society.
A photograph is a picture produced through the chemical action of light sensitive film, or as a digital photography that records images on memory card and processed on the compute. The act of photography can be traced back to French inventor, Joseph Nreephore Nicepee, who was the first photographer to successfully make permanent images in 1826. Thirteen years late, another Frenchman Louis Jacques Dagurre made photography more practical by fixing light images on silver-coated copper plates. Photography was used to capture news worth images soon after in the 1830s. English photographer, Roger Fenton, documented British troops during the Crimean war (1853-1856) in Europe, another photographer, Mathew Brady Photographed battle seen during the American cruel war (1861-1865) as at then, photography was an expensive and time consuming endeavour.
The growth of photography and photojournalism can be traced to two major factors that occurred near the end of the 19th century. The first is the technical innovation. This includes the invention of role film, smaller cameras, faster lens and the perfection of the half tone process of printing photographs as a series of light and dark dots which allowed newspaper publishers to reproduce photographs quickly and inexpensive. The other factor was the introduction, by George Eastman of small camera in use of that time. Thus, convenient cameras gave photojournalist the freedom to record news easily and quickly. The technological advancement enabled them to also take pictures which were previously impossible to take such as night and moving images.
Photojournalists have become visual interpreters, using their cameras and knowledge to bring readers to a feeling of what an event was real like meanwhile, in the past, the photograph, which was later reproduced by an engraver into a zone plate. The plate was then printed on a hoe rotary press. Due to the long process, several days passed before these line-drawn renderings of photographs appeared on the front-page of the newspaper.
This research will explore the impact of pictures on the credibility of news items in one of the biggest newspaper, punch among uyo readers.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
In achieving credibility of news items, various factors are involved; good, features, pictures, well organized news page, known news source etc. among all of these. The researcher discovered punch newspapers with pictures sells more. So the statement of problem of this research work is to find out why pictures out of other factors seem to add more credibility to news items in the punch newspaper, and why uyo residents seen to patronize punch newspapers with pictures.
1.3 Objective of the Study
The primary purpose of this study is to know the impact of pictures on the credibility of news items in the punch newspaper among uyo residents.
Specifically the study seeks to:
(i) Establish exposure to pictures that accompany news items in the punch newspapers by uyo residents.
(ii) Know the perception of uyo reader on the use of pictures in news items.
(iii) Ascertain if pictures help in adding credibility to news items in the punch newspaper among uyo readers.
(iv) Identify other factors, other than pictures that enhances the credibility of news items in the punch newspaper among uyo readers.
1.4 Research Questions
The following questions will serve as a guide to the study:
(i) How can exposure to pictures that accompany news items on the punch newspaper by uyo residents be established?
(ii) What is the perception of uyo readers on the use of pictures in news items?
(iii) To what extent to pictures help in adding credibility to news items in news items in the punch newspaper among uyo readers?
(iv) What other factors, other than the pictures, enhance credibility of news items in the punch newspapers among uyo readers?
Impact of Pictures on the Credibility of News Items in the Punch Newspaper among Uyo Residents
1.5 Significance of the Study
The findings of this study will be beneficial to the messes students of mass communication and other researchers in this field. The study is embarked upon so that people will understand and appreciate the impact of pictures on ensuring news worthiness. In other words, it will help them know its effect on news credibility.
This study shows clearly the benefits in photojournalism to our researchers, professionals in the field, street men and women and to students of mass communication. The study will serve as a guide and reference for further researchers or as a resource to photojournalists in training. This will also help in the encouragement of the use of picture and illustration in magazine pages and other newspapers since its usage prove pragmatic on readers. This in other words, serve as a guide to editors who place any kind of picture on their newspaper and magazine pages. The findings and recommendation will serve to improve and reposition the trend of photojournalism in Nigeria.