Active news audience in COVID-19 pandemic season: Online news sharing motives and secondary gatekeeping decisions by social media users in Nigeria

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Abstract

Despite its prevalence among Nigerian online readers, the motives for, and impli¬cations of, online secondary gatekeeping - a practice where online media audi¬ences select further fragments from published news, aggregate them and share with fellow social media users - have remained unexplored particularly as regards possible sharing of news about the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, this study examined the motives for online news sharing, the newsworthiness criteria applied by Nigerian social media users while selecting and sharing COVID-19- related news and implications of this practice for users' general knowledge about the virus. Online survey with 349 social media users and five Focus Group Discussion sessions with purposively selected social media users provided data for the study. Findings show that 94.8 per cent of the respondents shared news items about confirmed cases (48.7 per cent) and recoveries (46.1 per cent), while only 5.2 per cent of the respondents shared information about COVID-19 fatali¬ties. Apart from fact-checking stories to confirm their veracity, users applied various newsworthiness criteria such as intensity (25.2 per cent), proximity (14.0 per cent), consequence (12.3 per cent), bizarre (11.2 per cent) and personality (10.9 per cent). Findings further show that the respondents applied 44.076 times the messages they were exposed to through social media to protect themselves against COVID-19. Nigerian social media users are active online secondary gatekeepers, and exposure to COVID-19 stories through social media during the pandemic enhanced their general knowledge about the virus.

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APA

Ojebuyi, B. R., Ojebuyi, B. R., & Kolawole, R. A. (2022). Active news audience in COVID-19 pandemic season: Online news sharing motives and secondary gatekeeping decisions by social media users in Nigeria. Journal of African Media Studies, 14(1), 45–61. https://doi.org/10.1386/jams_00064_1

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