Social media, online Newspapers major source of News – UNZA Don

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A University of Zambia (UNZA) Researcher and Media Consultant says Facebook commands the greatest reach and is a first choice for news and information in Zambia.

In a study aimed at understanding the audience response to the emergence and presence of online newspapers Parkie Mbozi has established that Facebook is the most preferred communication tool amongst people residing in Lusaka.

Mr Mbozi said that out of ten (10) individuals with Internet access in Lusaka Province, six (6) access and read online newspapers and the majority (nine in 10) access their favourite online newspapers through Facebook using mobile phones.

Mr Mbozi, who is a Research Fellow at the University of Zambia’s Institute of Economic and Social Research (INESOR), says majority of readers in Zambia (64%) favoured online newspapers for ‘breaking and up-to-date news’, 62% for adverts, 55% for ‘more independent news’, 46% for ‘detailed news’, 38% ‘due to Internet access’ and another 38% for their interactive features. Thirty-five percent cited ‘credibility of the news’, 34% ‘uncensored news’, 30% ‘because they are cheaper than print’ and 11% ‘posting personalized comments’.

The UNZA Don also said that, as for the social motivations for reading online newspapers, most respondents cited information and news-seeking (or surveillance), followed by social interaction and avoidance (or aversion to traditional news media).

Mr Mbozi said that, challenges attached to access and use of online newspapers are slow internet speeds, connectivity problems and high cost of Internet bundles.

Meanwhile, UNZA Vice Chancellor, Prof. Luke Evuta Mumba, has congratulated Mr. Parkie Mbozi for showing commitment to research around social media and new forms of communication.

Prof Mumba says Mr. Mbozi’s research is timely as it comes at a time when Zambia is trying to understand the workings of new media platforms. He says Mr. Mbozi’s study is important as it provides empirical data to guide policy around Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).

The UNZA Vice Chancellor, further states that a study on ICTs is important in this era of internet and social media abuse. “there is a lot of abuse online and this study definitely adds to data that will be used not only for providing policy direction, but for sensitisation efforts aimed at curbing abuse online. UNZA is proud of this study” Prof. Mumba says.

Other aspects of Mr Mbozi’s study included: use of and gratification from content and interactive features of online newspapers, perceived credibility, impact of emergence of online newspapers on traditional (mainstream) media and their political influence among Zambian readers.

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