Academic journal article Global Media Journal

Readership and Readers' Perception of Omani Newspapers

Academic journal article Global Media Journal

Readership and Readers' Perception of Omani Newspapers

Article excerpt

Abstract

Readership of print newspapers has been the focus of many studies and analyses because of the advancement of online journalism, information technologies and socio-economic changes in recent years. This study focuses on the perception and readership of Omani newspapers in the age of globalization. It investigates people's reading habits and their attitudes towards the content and layout of 9 dailies and several free weekly tabloids. This survey study was conducted on 747 subjects selected on the basis of the non-probability convenience sample from Muscat, the capital of Oman. The results indicated that only 5.5% of the respondents said they don't read newspapers. The salient reasons for not reading newspapers were the availability of other media sources and lack of time to read newspapers. Most readers of Omani newspapers are males with diploma and university degrees who work in the public sector. Hard copies are still popular in Oman, since only 3% read the online version of newspapers. Reading frequency was found to correlate with the type of content and professionalism aspects more than the appearance and presentation (layout & design) of Omani newspapers. The images of private newspapers are more favorable than those of the public ones. However, readers' views about certain newspapers were found to be subjective and judgmental. News was the most frequently read type of content and Omani newspapers were found to cover local news better than other topics.

Print Media vs. New Information Technology:

Some existing and dominant media players in the market alongside scholars, tend to perceive new information and communication technology as a threat. For nearly two decades, most of the available literature speculated a competitive relationship between print media and digital media, because the latter is often seen in the context of replacement, challenge and threat. Sulaiman Saleh (2002) identified four challenges posed by new information technology to print journalism; death of some newspapers, reduction in circulation, decrease in advertising revenue and emergence and popularity of electronic journalism.

However, in depth analysis reveals a very complex picture regarding the status of print media in different countries. Despite the death of some newspapers in places like North America and Europe, they actually continued to grow in other parts of the world such as Africa, Asia and South America. According to the World Association of Newspapers (2008), the number of newspaper titles rose by 5.3% in Asia, 4.55% in Australia and Oceania, 3.99% in Africa and 2.54% in Latin America. The number of newspaper titles worldwide reached 12,477 in 2009, with a 1.7% increase from the previous year (World Association of Newspapers, 3 August 2010). To give an example, in the Arab Gulf region several newspapers came out in the last five years. These include Azzaman, Muscat Daily and Al-Ro'yah in Oman and Emirates Today & Alimarat Alyawm in UAE. In 2006, North Africa witnessed the launch of two new newspapers; Almassae in Morocco and Mouwatinoun in Tunisia, according to the Arab Press Network Website (2010). In addition to the emergence of paid newspapers, the world has also witnessed a noticeable expansion of free daily & weekly tabloids and newspapers. These free newspapers are heavily supported by advertising revenue.

Nevertheless, many Arabic newspaper titles have also closed down across the region. Kuwait's Awan and Bahrain's Alwaqt ceased their operations in 2010, only two years after their inception. Egypt's El Badeel, which was launched in 2006, closed down in July 2009. Groupe Maroc Soir, a major Moroccan publishing company, also closed down in 2009 two of its titles, Assabahia and Assada El Massaia. Similarly, the Daily Star in Lebanon, the only English language newspaper, has been battling a difficult financial situation since January 2009 when it closed down before re-launching, and continues to have an uncertain future (Dubai Press Club, 2010: 26). …

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