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The Effects Of Online Newspapers On The Printed Versions; A study of University of Limpopo Turfloop campus in Mankweng




The study is on “The effects of online newspapers on the printed versions”. The study has four objectives and four research questions.  The study follows a descriptive research design which is concerned with the description of data and characteristics about a population. The population was 20 registered students from different faculties of the University of Limpopo Turfloop campus in Mankweng community and the sample size was 7-10 people; these are the students who are unfamiliar with each other from different faculties. These participants are selected because they have certain characteristics in common that relate to the topic of the focus group. The findings show that Newspaper publishers need to provide more training to the ordinary citizens especially people from the age group of 35 and above on how to access their online versions of the print on the internet via mobile gadgets and personal computers. For improvement in consumption of both print and online newspaper, the internet does not destroy print newspapers but bring in new ways of communication. Publishers must make use of this tool to enhance their print editions to online editions. Publishers of content, the responses indicate benefits to operating in both a print and an online venue, with the print edition and web or online offerings complementing not merely duplicating each other. The study therefore recommended among others that both print and online newspapers are successful in the future and work together to make each other stronger, improvements have to be made to both content and presentation the two main driving forces behind increasing readership. Newspaper publishers should try to enhance the advantages and eliminate as many of the disadvantages as possible for each medium.




In a midst of new media technologies the printed version of newspapers are negatively affected by the online news consumption.The survival of print newspapers on their online counterparts will be remembered as a watershed year in South Africa when, after more than 200 years, printed newspapers were surpassed by digital computers, tablets and cellphones as the primary source of news for most of the country’s inhabitants McQuail (2003:197). Indicated by the Times Group over the next three years, classic print advertisement spend will lose R2 billion and digital spend will be more than triple as advertisement spend. This resulted in two of South Africa’s largest newspaper publishing groups, Times Media Group and Independent Newspapers, change hands earlier this year.

Online newspapers are carving a niche of their own, especially among the news hounds, the computer savvy, and the young, who see the Internet as a viable medium for information and needium perfectly suited for people who have gone beyond television. With its tendency to blur and blend media, the online newspaper is not as straightforward as its print counterpart, even if it contains all of the news and information that is in the newspaper. The online newspaper is postmodern, online newspapers do not allow readers to thumb through and physically relate to the organisation of the online publication; readers must organise and prioritise their news mentally. Those unfamiliar with the practice and design of the online newspaper might not realise that the spotted owl story was on the front page of the online newspaper but not the front page of the print paper. Inversely, many stories deemed important enough to run on the front page of the print edition are not deemed timely or important enough to run on the front of the paper’s web site (Shayla, 1998).                                                                                                                                                       1.2   STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

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Over the past century print newspapers have played a dominant role in public communication and are now struggling to adapt to the information age that has shrunk the business model foundation that has proven so successful in the past which led to the rise of online newspapers. Most Consumers no longer purchase the printed version but prefers the online version of newspaper hence it is cheaper and accessible. Faced with such an adversary, small and large newspapers alike may have no choice but not to abandon their traditional methods but to go for an innovative approach which is going online.


The objectives of this study are:

  • To compare/benchmark the consumption of both online and print newspapers.
  • To highlight the advantages and disadvantages of online newspapers on print versions.
  • To investigate the consumption patterns by the readers.
  • To analyse similarities in terms of features, production and writing style use in both the online and print version of newspapers.


  • What is the readership rate of both online and print newspapers?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of online newspapers on print versions?
  • What are the consumption patterns by the readers?
  • What are the similarities in terms of features, production and writing style use in both the online and print version of newspapers?


The study will focus on the effects of online newspapers on the printed versions. Thisis needed because of the technological context with the internet there are more online newspapers which affect the print newspapers. Print Newspapers ensure that the readers get the best experience from the content. While the purpose of providing a decent experience to the end-user is predominantly the same for the online versions, online newspapers enhance their print counterparts.Where eye/mouse-tracking research has long been in effect to optimise the online experience, the need to implement prominent advertising placeholders and other cross-linking often sacrifices a clean and attractive layout.

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1.7 Scope of the study

The University of Limpopo Turfloop Campus in the Capricorn District situated outside Polokwane City in Mankweng Community Limpopo Province. The Turfloop Campus holds to up approximately 18000 students residing both on-campus and off-campus. The Sowetan newspaper provides students with its publications in a form of a hardcopy, the campus also have various computer labs with internet access with most of the student’s residence equipped with wireless internet for all students and local Mankweng Residents for use.

1.4 Significance of the study

The study of effects of online newspapers on the printed version can be a learning paradigm in the South African media and various newspaper publishers to ensure and enhance productivity in both media. The primitive purpose of this study is to establish the effects of online newspapers on print version and to develop positive and negative effects they may have on newspaper publishers, the results of this study will benefit different newspaper organisations, businesses in terms of where to advertise, and the community who are the consumers of this media. This study is significant because it will provide the crucial facts about the existing effects of online newspapers on the printed version, including the challenges that print newspapers face. This study will serve as the basis for future plans of action by the newspaper organisations be it community newspapers or commercial print newspapers .This study will not only benefit newspaper publishers but also the entire community they serve.

Furthermore, this study will serve as a theoretical model for future studies of the same nature if ever the existing problem has penetrated in this case will exist in the future. Future researchers will benefit from this study, and it will provide them the facts needed to compare their study during their respective time and usability.

1.5 Theoretical Framework

  • The Libertarian theory

According to libertarian theory, people are rational beings Capable of distinguishing between truth and falsehood, and between good and evil. In terms of interactivity users can write or leave in their comments about what they think of a news story on an online newspaper via the internet. The emphasis is on personal freedom and democracy that emerged in the seventeenth century and flourished in the nineteenth century before the development of internet, the media and internet are seen as a source of information and a platform for the expression of divergent opinions (Roelofse, 1996).With print media, traditional media such as newspapers layout current news for the society, but with online versions the audience can give feedback and views on any article of an online newspaper of the same publication (McQuail,1987).

  • The Social Responsibility theory

According to this theory it attempts to reconcile the ideas of freedom and independence with responsibility towards society. It is based on the premises that the media are under an obligation to create a forum for different viewpoints(new media) (Roelotse 1996:53-54).The theory also states that the media (newspapers) should fulfil their responsibilities mainly by setting professional standards with regard to the supply of information(news) and the truth, accuracy, objectivity and balance of their reporting. It should self-regulate within the framework of the law and established institutions. The media should avoid publishing information that can lead to crime, violence or social disruption, as well as information that can offend ethnic minorities.

  • The postmodern: new society, new media environment
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Amongst postmodern scholars (Ang 1998; Jacka 2003) Postmodern are characterised by a new kind of public, which in turn is characterised by hybridisation, fragmentation and the rise of minorities and minority rights. It is a society where traditional media and new media are blurred. In this new society, new channels of public communication exist such as the internet, brought about by new technologies, convergence, liberalisation, deregulation and globalisation. In terms of content, new genres such as infotainment and reality television are being produced all of them blurring the traditional distinction between information and entertainment. It is argued that the new media (internet) environment, journalism has become market-driven and guided by what is interesting rather than what is important, by an audience orientation.

1.6 Conclusion

Newspapers are static, isolated points of reporting in the media world and have several unique benefits compared to their online counterparts. The following sections attempt to highlight these benefits, and show how a digital edition of a print newspaper can fill the gap between the printed paper and the news site. Content on online sites can be updated, changed and adapted as many times as necessary, making it more transient, and coincidentally less transparent. The sole focus of the print version is on news, whereas the online edition can have split objectives, distracting from the purpose of informing (Flanagin& Metzger,2001).  The study is about investigating and making comparison between the two media in terms of content difference.


1.7.1 Chapter one entails the background of study with the purpose of the research study, introducing the proposed study by stating and describing the problem of investigation, and clarifying some concepts as they are applicable to the study.

1.7.2 Chapter two focus on literature review on the effects of online newspapers on the printed version. In this chapter it was discovered that the new media plays a major role in disseminating news and information. It captured previous work by other scholars who worked on the research topic.

1.7.3 Chapter three describes the methodology and design of the research project. It further described the population and sample that were employed to collect the empirical data. The focus group interviews along with questionnaires were used to collect data. The manner of selecting interviewees was purposive.

1.7.4 Chapter four is dedicated to data analysis using the constant comparative method and interpretation of results that subsequently led to the findings and recommendations

1.7.5 Chapter five focus on the findings and recommendations of the study.

Pages:  66

Category: Project     

Format:  Word & PDF        

Chapters: 1-5                                 

Material contains Table of Content, Abstract and References.


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