Information Technology And The Changing Role Of Mass Media In Nigeria



INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND THE CHANGING ROLE OF MASS MEDIA IN NIGERIA

This chapter reviewed the relevant literature as regards information technology and the changing role of mass media in Nigeria. . Their review done in this chapter was derived from textbooks, journals, and unpublished project/research report.

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  • INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT) TYPES AND FUNCTIONS

Information technology resources abound in Nigeria. According to Okoro (2001) some of these information technology (IT) resources include the following

  • The telephone
  • The facsimile (Fax) machine
  • The word processor
  • The electronic computer; and
  • The electronic mail.

 

  • THE TELEPHONE

The telephone has been become so common place that any attempt to describe its functions may seem super flow. However, since Graham Bill, fondly referred to as “the father of telephone” made a maiden use of this seemingly simple technological device, the telephone has undergone so phenomenal transformation that today, it has become a powerful medium for mediating interpersonal communication.

 

The present day sophisticated telephone is equipped with answering devices, thereby introducing flexibility into telephone usage, as time shifting enables participants to shift post phone that participation in a telephone communication.

 

The modern day improved communication technology has also put in place sophisticated telephone networks for conveying information electronically. Most computers now “talk back” to each other, while fax messages are transmitted via telephone lines. (Udoji 2000) modern telephone networks now help to bring together widely dispersed business executives who trips across nations and continent are being unlaced by teleconferencing – a technology that enables such individuals to meet electronically, make plans, set goals and general exchange notes.

 

(Ezeugwu, 2001) – other features of the modern telephone include programmed dialing and built in speakers that allow the dialing and receiving calls without picking up the receiver.

 

According to Umano (2002) some of the organization in Nigeria whose telephone had the above features includes the following:

  1. Shall petroleum development corporation
  2. Agip oil Nigeria Plc
  3. Total oil Nigeria Plc.
  4. Mobil oil Nigeria Plc.
  5. First bank of Nigeria plc.
  6. Union bank of Nigeria plc.
  7. United band of Nigeria plc.
  8. Cadbury Nigeria plc.
  9. Unilever Nigeria plc.

10 Nigeria breweries plc.

11 Guiness Nigeria plc.

  1. Nigeria Bottling plc.
  2. John Holt plc. Among others.

 

In addition to the above cellular or mobile telephone (eg the global system for mobile communication – GSM) allows the asers to reach be reached anywhere and anytime (Akumah, 2001).

 

  • FACSIMILE (FAX) MACHINE

The facsimile (fax) machine was developed when telex became equipped with the devices for electronic scanning of drawings, photograph, plans and documents as well as for transmitting them as electric impulses via telephone lines to another fax machine anywhere in the world.

 

The advantage of fax over the use of coumer services is not only in instantaneous reception of the document faxed but also in the point that the sender retains the original copies of the document transmitted (Ezeonu, 2002) fax machines are used in a variety of long distance business transactions, particularly by the following organization in Nigeria:

  1. Media –        Newswatch Communication ltd

Nigerian Television Authority

Federal Radio Co-0poration or Nigeria

Other eg The Punch Newspaper Guardian etc.

  1. Banking Institutions; eg First bank plc

Access bank plc

Trade bank plc

Standard trust band plc

Continental trust bank plc

Union bank plc

  1. Breweries –        Jos International breweries plc

Nigerian breweries plc

Guinness Nigeria plc.

READ  The Effectiveness of the Radio as an Agent of Social Mobilization in Rural Communities

4,      Conglomerates eg –    SCVA Nigeria plc

A.G. Leventis plc

U.T.C. Nigeria plc

John Holts plc

UACN plc

Unilever Nigeria plc.

  1. Food/Beverage and Tobaco eg Cadbury plc.

Nestle Nigeria Plc

7 Up bottling co – plc.

P.S. Mandrides and co-plc.

Floor mills plc.

 

  • THE WORD PROCESSOR

The word processor is an advanced electrical electronic typewriters, equipped with facilities for the electronic creation of letters, reports thesis, term papers, articles, contract papers and a host of other documents, without unsightly ensures, corrections and mis-spellings (Kute, 2000). The word processor facilities unhindered detection, insertion, movement and re-arrangement of words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs and even whole pages, or parts therefore, or any document.

 

One obvious advantage of the word processor is the convenience it affords the user to churn out high quality document without having to use correction fluids, paste-ups and similar messy corrections. Most unable to communicative approach to writing, the word processor can be used for drafting, re-drafting and editing, while mistakes can be easily and unnoticeably corrected even in a near final copy of the document.

 

It is a faster, more accurate, and less expensive means of producing and reproducing professional quality reports and documents (Alli, 2002).

 

Bayo (2001) has detailed what we can do wish the word processor. These amongst others, include the following:

  1. Build a library of standard letters, paragraphs and other materials for future use.
  2. Insect material such as contract papers, invoices or financial statements without re-typing.
  • Produce special formats such as
  • Underling
  • Bold print
  • Subscript
  • Superscript
  1. Automatically, add features such eg:
  • Headings
  • Wider or narrower margins
  • Page numbers.

 

With the aid of the word processors we can produce and reproduce instomised letters, notices circulars, bulletins and memorandum. We can also routinely, but rapidly, check and cress- check whole documents for mi-spellings, irrelevant repetitions use of trite words or expression and make any other changes by simply tapping the might command keys (Falola, 2002).

Finally, we can save text or document a diskette for future access, up-dating amendment or use.

  • THE ELECTRONIC COMPUTER

The computer is an extremely powerful machine for business and non-business operation, it possess an unusual capacity for information management data acquisition processing, storage, retrieval, transmission and file maintenance. (Olaniyi, 1994). The computer is equipped to perform these task at unimaginable high speed and unparalleled level of consistency and accuracy, equally amazing is the capacity of the computer have disk to store thousands of million bits of data and information, which can be retrieved in microseconds (Alerheam, 2000).

The computer is presently a popular feature of most organization in Nigeria as could be seen from table 1. Computers can function.

Table 1      Trends in computer accessibility and utilization, by corporate organization in Nigeria.

Type of Organization Year Percentage Applying Computer in their Operations
1. Financial Institutions 1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

25.8

32.9

33.8

50.9

71.4

88.5

2. Food/Beverage

Companies

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

26.2

3. Packaging Companies 1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

58.9

62.1

4. Government Ministries

and Agencies

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

17.1

28.2

29.7

36.2

59.5

60.8

5. Breweries 1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

45.7

58.2

6. Parastatals 1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

15.8

21.8

40.8

69.8

 

Source: Federal ministry of science and technology (2002)

As either stand above personal computers (PC) or connected in a mace of small and large networks. Such a link with computer terminals help individual computers to communicate and store from an ever increasing fund of data and information around the world (Okoro, 2001).

  • APPLICATION OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY IT IN NIGERIA

According to Kure (2000) information technology (IT) has wide application in Nigeria. He noted that the use of IT resources enhances

  • The collection, processing storage and dissemination of personnel data and information.
  • The collection and dissemination of News.
  • On-line library services and computer search
  • The circulation of internal memos, reports and minutes or meetings.
  • Computer aided distance teaching and learning process.
  • Accounting and auditing
  • On-line technical consultancy services.

In terms of commerce and greating wealth, IT resources cannot be equated to any other method. This is because of the instant gratification that the IT resources provide (Olaniyi, 1999) for instance IT resources give. Organization instant opportunity of telling their audience about their products and services and make them pay almost immediately without thinking twice.

 

The audience is given the opportunity of purchasing products instantly, for examples newspapers, books and software and other digital products and services can be downloaded into the buyers computers with immediate effect after payment.

Those products that cannot be downloaded can be paid for online and arrangements made for home delivery.

In addition IT resources affords organization companies, schools and government the opportunity of sharing information across the world (Falola, 2000).

  • INFRASTRUCTURAL NEEDS FOR SUCCESSFUL IT OPERATION

Olaniyi (2000) reported that for effective operation of It resources in Nigeria, a lot of dependable infrastructure facilities need to be put in place. He noted that sustainable IT operation in Nigeria depends on the availability of the following infrastructure facilities:

  • Human resource eg trained computer operation computer analysis, computer engineers, software development professional and so on.
  • Technical know-how
  • Management support
  • Suitable power supply services
  • Reliable telecommunication network
  • Motivation

The absence of some of these infrastructures facilities in Nigeria had made the objective of attaining efficient operation of IT resources a mirage. These call for incentive efforts to provide the above facilitation in the country so as to enable it (Nigeria) enjoy the dividends of information technology (Alechewu, 2000).

  • NEGATIVE IMPACTS OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

Though an obviously attractive creation, information technology (IT) has its limitation and negative dimension, hence the need to be cautious in the adoption of its facilities. This is because an un researched, untrained and unskilled adoption and use of IT in Business organization, or any sector for that wetter, they turn out to be counter productive.

One of the limitations of IT is that like any other technology, its effectiveness is not interdependent of its user, his training, skill, experience and responsiveness to the content of use.

Our skill, and creativity are therefore crucial in order to maximize the capabilities of any information technology (Kure, 2000). Furthermore, there is a need to appreciate that the primary goal of IT is to make data and information readily available faster and cheaper than even before.

 

In many cases, with the touch of the right button, such data and information can be obtained lawfully or unlawfully by anyone, anywhere, anytime.

 

This factor however may result in the invasion of privacy, as stored personal data can be accessed even across national boundaries (Ojili, 2001). For most developing nations with comatose economy and crippling foreign debt burdens, adoption of IT, on a massive scale, may be too expensive on enterprise. IT is expensive for yet another reasons most trans-national manufacturer are notorious for sharp restrictive trade practice, as the load technical information on their products.

Most IT facilities are installed for the importing nations as “turn-key” projects thereby fostering a dependency syndrome on the part of the importing nation, protection technical features are incorporated into both the hardware and basic software packages, with little room for adaptation to local needs and realities.

 

In addition, the rate of obsolescent of IT hardware makes maintenance a rather costly venture (Abosede, 2000).

Finally, national and international crooks have been known to manipulate computer capacity for electronic fund transfer to dupe individuals and organization of huge sums of money.

This negative dimension is however being taken care of by appropriate in-built devices and coded instructions.

 

  • THE DEVELOPING ECONOMICS AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT)

That information technology (IT) has come of age is fast becoming an under-statement. This era has been entirely described as an information age or the computer age. The face of innovations and rapidity of obsolescence is, to say the least, bewildering.

However, it needs but appreciated that the IT feat did not come by a sudden thigh. It is rather a product of long, painstaking and sustained research, development, and modifications, mainly by the industrialized world (Umunna, 2002).

In terms of IT development, research and application, the developing economics has lagged behind. This is not to suggest that such economics do not appreciate the tremendous possibilities of IT. However, most of them lack the political will, the huge financial outlay, commitment to research and development (R and D) and basic infrastructure facilities for technological take-off. All this is coupled with lack of solid inter-regional co-operation to pool their scarce local technological expertise for information technology development (Ezeugwu, 2001).

 

Most of what we have at present are “turn-key” facilities, dumped on developing economics, a factor that has created in them a dependency syndrome.

 

All is not lost, however, as some level of teaming up or inter-regional co-operation is becoming manifest among the Arab League, Latin American nations the Caribbean, the Asian and South East Asian (Udiji, 2000).

The African continent is not prepared be left out either. It is beginning recognize the inevitability of inter-region approach in IT development. The pan- African telecommunication union (PANAFTEL) was founded to Boost inter-regional rural telephone links, build microwave relay networks and provide needed basic telecommunication facilities for technological integration of the continent.

The Pan-African documentation and information system PADIS) is yet another attempt at inter-regional sharing of technical, economic and socio-cultural information among the countries of Africa.

Though political difference, unstable political and worsening economic climates are threatening to stall these efforts, some appreciable progress is nonetheless being made at least in the area of computer software development.

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