1.1 Background of the study

Over the years, photography has played an increasingly important role in various media that use visual messages to disseminate information (for example, books, newspapers, magazines, films, television; and online media) (Ijeh, 2015). It is known that photographs greatly stimulate public interest in current events and stories about people represented by visual media of mass communication, and have also made a huge contribution to the civilization and development of mankind (Ezekiel and Ezekiel, 2007).

The power of photos in mass communication stems from the well-known fact that photos are more effective than words in spreading messages, hence the saying: “A picture can speak more than a thousand words.” This is due to the fact that photographs speak a universal language and are better able to evoke the same emotions in people who are on different sides of languages and educational differences (Ezekiel and Ezekiel, 2007; Fasheke, 2004).

In addition to creating a greater emotional response, photos are used to attract the reader's attention to the article. Visual images are the gateway to a news story. Michael Pfau, a professor of communication at the University of Oklahoma, argues that people do not just take newspapers and magazines and start reading. Rather, they look at them, check the headlines and photos to determine which stories they would like to read (Pfau, 2006). In previous studies, eye-tracking software has been used to determine which articles are read first, proving that the reader starts reading the newspaper with the most striking features-usually headlines and photos. According to (Pfau, 2006), readers are more likely to look at the photo first before reading the text. However, he noted that the combination of text and a photo increases the probability that at least part of the text will be read three times. He also noted that previous studies using an eye tracking device have also proved that readers are attracted to larger photos compared to smaller ones, and color images compared to black-and-white versions.

For the general public, photos are considered reliable sources of information. Viewers are more receptive to images that they visually see, rather than to what they hear or read (Pfau, 2006). Photos are usually taken at face value, precisely for what they represent, while the photo and the text seem less reliable, because " readers feel that the words are written by the author, but the image is a true representation” (Kepplinger, 1976).

Conversely, Anderson 1989, quoted in (Kepplinger, 1976), states that “although a photographic image can have a powerful visual impact, it is not able to provide any detailed explanation of the event that it presents to the world seeking to be informed. He cannot say what happened before or after the event; he cannot give a political or social context, let alone an analysis. The camera does not know which of the events captured by it are historically significant and which are not. As John et al. (1989) noted that photography is a frozen time, a moment torn from the "before and after", and therefore additional textual analysis is required to accompany the image (Andersen, 1989).

According to Yunson (2008), an "autonomous" image refers to one photo with a caption describing its content published on a newspaper or magazine page, the other text or image of which is not related to the photo in question. Here, the photo with the caption tells the story separately and is in no way related to other news on the same page of the newspaper or magazine. It is considered that a photo accompanies a news article, its images and captions are directly related to the continuous text of a news report of a newspaper or magazine. In this case, the photo is used to support the text of the story. "Picture-based" news stories sometimes refer to a panorama of photos on the pages of newspapers or magazines. Here, sets of photos that represent various aspects of a particular subject, event or phenomenon are printed on special pages of newspapers/magazines without a text report. A set of photos with their captions tells a story.

The newspaper is one of the largest users of photographs. In this modern digital media space ,where all media, communications (both offline and online) compete for an audience and a readership, photos have become a real asset for these media. This competition demanded and pushed newspapers to use photos more innovatively to attract and maintain a readership. While some schools of thought claim that photographs help newspaper readers, others claim that they are irrelevant and have virtually no effect on readers. Therefore, it is extremely important to find out the readers ' perception of the use of photographs, especially in Nigerian newspapers, against the already established background.

1.2 Problem statement

Visual effects can have a significant impact on the reader's engagement and attitude to an event or problem. Images in newspapers have a powerful influence on the attitude and understanding of readers, and this influence and understanding cannot be created by text alone. In a news context, the presence of a photo can significantly affect the consumer's attitude to the problem in the frame. While some readers may perceive photographs in newspapers as a support for texts, others perceive them as something used to fill the newspaper and increase the number of pages. For some, it is also just an action that serves to draw attention to a big story and to further illustrate the statements made in this story, and to provide readers with more detailed information about the information presented.

This study was conceived in order to find out the perception of newspaper readers in the capital of Enugu of the use of photographs in Nigerian newspapers.



1.3  Objectives of the Study

1.   To ascertain if the use of photographs in Nigerian newspapers contribute to attracting attention of newspaper readers in Enugu Metropolis.

2.   To determine if newspaper readers in view photographs in newspapers as space fillers or as aid to readers’ understanding.

3.   To ascertain if newspaper readers view photographs in newspapers as aiding credibility to stories or they are used for aesthetic appeal.

1.4       Research Questions

1.         To what extent does the use of photographs in Nigerian newspapers contribute to attracting the attention of newspaper readers in Enugu metropolis?

2.         How do newspaper readers view this use of photographs as space filler or aid to readers’ understanding?

3.         How do newspaper readers view photographs in newspapers as aiding credibility of stories or for aesthetic appeal?,,,,

1.5       Scope of the Study

This study is focused on assessing newspaper reader’s perception of the use of photographs in Nigerian Newspapers. The researcher chose to limit the study to newspaper readers in Enugu East metropolis.  Further research can focus on newspaper readers in other parts of the state and other states of the nation.

1.6     Significance of the Study

This study is considered relevant for various reasons.

1.         It will contribute to available literature on the use of photographs in newspapers.  Specifically, it will fill the gap in literature on the perception of the use of newspapers in newspaper as held by newspaper readers in Enugu metropolis.

2.         For print media practitioners, it could throw some additional light that will guide their use of photographs in newspapers and other print media vehicles.

1.7       Operational Definition of Terms

Photograph: A picture created by projecting an image onto a photosensitive surface such as a chemically treated plate or film, CCD receptor etc.

Newspaper:  A publication usually published daily or weekly and usually printed on cheap, low – quality paper, containing news and other articles.

Photojournalism: A form of journalism in which a story is told primarily through photographs and other images.

Readers: People who read newspapers.

Journalism:  The process of news gathering and dissemination through publication to a specific audience.

Perception:  Organization, identification and interpretation of sensory information.

Assessment:    The act of assessing something.



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