If there is anything that has given Nigeria the brightest positive image in the eyes of the international community within the past five decades, it is sports. Of all the sports that the nation has participated in on the global scene, three tower high above all others in terms of the glory they have brought the country. They are football, athletics and boxing, in that order. In athletics, Nigeria has participated in such competitions as the Olympics, the World Athletics Championships, the Common wealth Games, the all Africa Game and others. The sprints, jumps and relays have earned us more respect than other events.
The sporting press is the fastest means to sell the sports economy agenda of any nation without necessarily distorting the message which is to create wealth through the enhancement of sport economy in Nigeria. Looking at the sport economic indices the sporting press has been able to cut a niche for itself as we now have sports papers, sports radio, sports television programmes, even now we have a sport online real-time website in Nigeria, just to mention a few.
The most important change that has taken place in the sports industry is the significant role that journalism has played in the development of sports all over the world. Apart from the fact that the media has increased sports awareness and spectatorship among peoples of the world, it has also increased revenue generation which has enriched the various sports stakeholders. The media have been playing a catalyst role for the identification and the promotion of knowledge, information and understanding about sport in the nation (Alimi, 2003).
Sports journalism is regarded as the means of communication through which a large number of people could be reached. This could involve the use of newspapers, television, radio, films, handbills, posters, computer and Internet (Hornby, 1985). Sports journalism sharpens and re-orders the perceptions of the readers and viewers in a particular event or happening in the society and contributes to a reservoir of knowledge of the past and current events. Acosta (2002) pointed out that competitive sports would only survive and develop with the cooperation of the media. It is for this reason that sports must enjoy good relationship with the press, radio, and television. The relationship should be effective, continuous, personal and open.
1.2 Background Of The Study
The history of journalism in Nigeria could be traced to the activities of a British -Anglican Missionary to Nigeria, the Reverend Henry Townsend, who published the newspaper for “Egba” people and Yorubas in Abeokuta, Iwe Irohim. The first edition was released on December 3, 1859. The growth of journalism in Nigeria began from this humble beginning, and the newspapers that sprang up at this period focused mainly on politics and fight for freedom.
Today, journalism practice has advanced greatly to such an extent that journalists are now accorded respect and the focus of media has expanded to include economics, politics, social event and sports. Furthermore, print journalism is not limited to only daily newspapers but has extended to weekly news magazines some of which are printed in Nigerian local languages. Sports journalists, according to Alimi (2003) have crucial roles to play in the ongoing efforts to use sports as a vehicle for social mobilization geared towards building a prosperous country. It is the duty of the sports journalist to provide the audience with knowledge, information and understanding. Effective broadcasters and announcers attract spectators and sports enthusiasts to sports happenings.
1.3 Statement of the problem
Sports journalism is a noble profession. Its embedded technicality however, means a sport journalist must be one who is knowledgeable on his or her subject matter, knowing that such subject matter as sports news and reports has the capacity to generate public reaction based on the sport journalist perception and presentation; Although the role of the sports journalist in sports development is well established, it is not uncommon to find that some very cynical critics still exist within the profession. If sport is to be improved and more acceptable to the people, the relationship between sports journalism and the press needs to be synchronized. The new media including the internet, smart phone, etc, that in many cases stream live broadcasts of such sports as soccer and other athletics beloved to Nigerian audiences, seem to render the role of the sport journalism even more irrelevant. Or could it be that the new media might be changing perception of the role of the sports journalist as a redundant one. This study will, therefore, investigate the impact of the new media on audience perception of the role of sports journalism in sports development in Nigeria.
1.4 Objective of the study/ purpose
The objective of this study is to determine the perceived impact of the new media in sports journalism in Nigeria and the effect this could have on sports development in Nigeria.
1.5 Research Question
The following research questions were asked to help guide the study:
- How have the new media impacted audience perception of the role of sports journalist in Nigeria?
- How do sports audiences perceive the role of journalist in sport developments in Nigeria?
- How has sport journalism contributed to the development of sport in Nigeria?
1.6 Significance Of The Study/ importance
Sport is regarded as one of the world’s most powerful communication tools, as a result of its near universal appeal, covering power and its many associations. These characteristics confer on sports the capacity to reach a range of audiences in a variety of ways, most especially those that are difficult to reach. The influence of spectators in sports cannot be over emphasized. The presence of spectators provides an added pro-active effect and improves performance. In sports event, a large number of people are present at such venues either to enjoy the event or act as active supporters. Misrepresentation in the sports news can and do at times cause upsets and embarrassment. This might have been wittingly created. Sports journalists and sports journalism can effectively influence the conduct and administration of sports in Nigerian. Through the information given to readers on recent developments at the local and international levels sports journalists can create the required awareness in the efforts towards development of sports in the country.
1.7 Scope of the study/Delimitation
The scope of this study shall be limited to only Awka in Anambra State. Confining the research to Awka will enable the investigator (researcher) to gather effective and reliable information as regards the project topic under investigation.
1.8 Conceptual Definition Of Terms
- New media : Recent ways of communication:- Facebook, 2go, internet, whattsapp etc.
- Online News: News that is cast through the use of Internet.
- Internet: A global computer network providing a variety of information and communication, consisting of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocol.
- Sport: An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which individual or team competes against another or other for entertainment.
- Development: The process of being improved or improvement in a state or an act.
- Journalism: The activity or profession of being a journalist.
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