BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The news is the most important source of information about current events and issues. News provides information that shapes people’s perceptions of various events and influences their responses or reactions to issues in their environment. As concerns become more prominent in public discourse, news can have an impact on policy agendas (GMMP, 2010). People would read, watch, or listen to the news not just for knowledge, but also to improve their social functioning, which includes taking part in public discussions, making educated civic judgments, and making informed choices. To influence how people perceive the ever-changing world, gain a better understanding of what has happened in the past, and learn more about how discoveries play a role in people’s news consumption.
News can be disseminated through a variety of channels. People can now get news from a variety of sources around the world, in addition to traditional newspapers, television, and radio, thanks to the advancement of media technology. The newspaper is the oldest form of news, followed by radio and then television. Through platforms such as mobile phone applications, modern news channels such as the internet have brought news closer to the majority of people. Factors such as media liberalizations and deregulations have contributed to the expanded news environment in countries like Ghana, and how news is accessed depends on which channel is available. Interests and opinions formed about the channel, as well as other factors, can influence the decision to choose one channel over another. Various countries have conducted studies to see which channel is preferred over the other. The findings of these fact-finding investigations were mixed, with some indicating that television was the most trusted news source, followed by newspapers and radio (Ibelema and Powell, 2001). As a result, the researcher must consider what the situation is for Ghanaian college students, taking into account their unique nature as digital natives with access to a diverse range of news sources.
There are many different types of news. Business, health, scientific, international, local, sports, and entertainment news are among the many forms of news that have evolved from a focus on politics to cover other topics. Each of these categories can appeal to a wide range of readers or customers. According to Dutta-Bergman (2004), news consumption is influenced by the type of content, audience characteristics, and the format in which the news channel is provided. According to Prior (2005), users’ content tastes were constrained until recently since the sorts of news available to them were limited. The concept of audience control over what news they consume has been presented to news viewers (Lee, 2013). According to Prior (2007), society has evolved to become more high-choice in terms of news as more individuals place a high importance on their own interests and political leanings. Regardless of the diversity of news available, a person is more likely to be committed to a specific sort of content and will only read news that meets their demands (Dutta-Bergman 2004). People may choose their favorite material according on their interests, histories, and proclivities across a number of channels, whether it’s entertainment, movies, comedies, music, lifestyle fashion magazines and blogs, or information about politics and current affairs. Shehata et al., 2016.
Young people who lead double-quick lifestyles, according to Huang (2009), juggle school, work, sports, social networking, leisure, entertainment, news consumption, and so on. Consumption of news may satisfy some of their demands. According to Vincent and Basil (1997), despite the availability of alternatives, some young people read certain forms of news when the themes and substance directly touch them. Nonetheless, the quantity of news outlets accessible to young people might be overwhelming, particularly given their anticipated regular use of social media via mobile phones and other devices. Even if you aren’t looking for news, there’s a chance you’ll come upon it. They are less likely to absorb news that does not immediately touch them if they have control and the choice to select. The age effect on news intake has been proved through research.
The older people become, the more likely they are to exhibit an interest in news, according to Qayyum et al. (2010). Another study found that younger people read newspapers and watch news on television less than older generations (Poulus, 2010). In general, research has shown that how young people absorb news differs from how earlier generations consumed information. The way people consume news varies from generation to generation. In recent years, research in the United States has focused on the younger generation who grew up with the internet. They dubbed those born after 1980 ‘Millennials’ or the ‘Internet generation’ (Poindexter, 2013). (Diddi and LaRose, 2006). They are often uninterested in waiting for the morning newspaper to get current information. Rather, they want news on demand, which they can get whenever they want. Young people may strive to dominate all parts of the news media more often than not, rather than the other way around. As individuals get older, political and economic news may become more significant. Younger individuals, on the other hand, are more likely to be interested in entertainment, science, and technology news.
Because we live in an era of the internet and mobile phones, young people in Ghana are likely to come across news even if they do not set out to discover it. Students’ access to news is likely to be greater than that of the general public, as institutions frequently make the internet available to students for their use.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
College students are increasingly living on their own and are more likely to make critical decisions based on information obtained from a variety of sources, including the news. Another significant factor to consider is that college students are typically expected to be informed of critical international events as they go on to the next stage of their lives. As a result, college students are likely to regard news as a vital resource that will enable them to contribute to their communities. Consumption of news is one method of acquiring such information. According to research, today’s viewers, especially college students, have more news channels to choose from than ever before (Lee, 2013). This study is essential because of the rapid development and changes in journalistic methods, as well as the rising interests and involvement of young people with news.
In terms of personal news channel preferences, one would examine which station will best meet their needs on a daily basis. The more probable a news channel is to meet the individual’s needs, the more likely that news medium will be chosen. College students are digital natives and pioneers in absorbing technical advancements connected to digitization since they are a young population. Huang (2009). Younger people have realized that online news is one of their favourite news sources.
The intake of news by young people from all around the world has flooded literature. Similar efforts have been made in Ghana to bridge the difference in news consumption habits. This, however, did not address the difference in the kind of news that university students like. By concentrating on the news consumption preferences of college students, this study aims to define the sort of news that they like using empirical data in the context of Ghana.
OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The primary aim of this study is to investigate the news consumption preferences of college students. Specifically, the study will;
1. Find out the news consumption preference of students in University of Ghana
2. Find out the pattern of their engagement with news.
3. Find out the gratification derived from preferred news consumption.
The following questions guide this study;
1. What is the dominant type of news students consume?
2. What is the pattern of their news engagement?
3. What do they use the preferred news type for?
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This research is crucial because it will add to our understanding of university students’ news consuming patterns, particularly in Ghana. It aims to get a better knowledge of how University of Ghana undergraduate students consume news by experimentally determining the news type(s) and consumption preferences of University of Ghana undergraduate students; as a result, comprehending the news consumption preferences of college students in Ghana. Students’ media preferences, according to previous study by Avor (2015) on their news consumption patterns, are internet, television, and radio, in that order. The survey, however, did not look into the sort of news that students favored or the time of day that they watched news. When a result, as students establish their news consumption habits as young people, this study will reduce the gap in their news consumption preferences on the sort of news they like.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study covers the news consumption preference of students in University of Ghana, the pattern of their engagement with news, and the gratification derived from preferred news consumption. Hence, the respondents for this study will be obtained from students of Ghana University.
LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
During the course of this study, the researcher was limited by insufficient time to extend the research and increase the sample size to make for better findings.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
1. NEWS PREFERENCE: Based on this study, news preference refers to what students are inclined to read, watch or listen to.
2. NEWS CONSUMPTION: Listening, reading or watching news or attending to news media. How often respondents consumed news per day and weekly as well as the times of day news is consumed.