The communicative adequacy of headlines from two online newspapers in Tanzania
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The advent of internet has made it possible for people to read online newspapers rather than their print versions. It is expected that a newspaper headline should be optimised to meet the communicative expectations of its online readers. However, some newspaper headlines do not communicate adequately in the digital environment. This study sought to examine the communicative adequacy of headlines in twoonline newspapersin Tanzania. The objectives of this study were to: determine the communicative functions of newspaper headlines in the digital setting; examine the communicative principles ofnewspaper headline design in the digital setting; explain the clickbait features which online newspaper editorial teams use to design headlines for their digital publications and determine the online newspaper headline clickbait features with the significant impact on news selection and readership. This study was guided by the relevance Theory by Sperber and Wilson (1986/1995) that defined a newspaper headline as the relevance optimiser of its story. The research employed the mixed research method and analytical crossectional research design. The study involved the population of 10 online newspapers in Tanzania and 31,000 online newspaper readers. From the population, the study used the sample of 2 online newspapers and 100 online newspaper readers. The current enquiry usedthe computerized systematic random sampling to obtain a sample of 259 front page headlinesfrom 730 headlines that had been published by The Citizen and Mwananchionline newspapers from July 2017 to June 2018. The researcher used a guided questionnaire and a checklist in the course ofdata collection. The Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 20 was used to analyse the quantitative data whereas thematic analysis was used for qualitative data. In this study there were four major findings. First, the study revealed that 69.9% of the twoonline newspaperheadlines examined performed the primary communicative function by summarising the articles they represented. Secondly, it was revealed that the editors of the two newspapers under this study largely observed the principles of designing the appropriate newspaper headlines. Thirdly, it was revealed that the editorial teamsexploited the standard words length per headline with short headlines but they rarely exploited the clickbaits of question, negative sentimental words, and self-referencing. Lastly, it was revealed that headlines with negative and positive sentimental words, concepts and names of high news-value, and headlines without signal words had the significant impact on newspaper readership in the digital environment. However, readability, literal and non-literal constructions, and characters of headlines had no significant impact on newspaper readership. This study was significant to linguists,online journalists, bloggers, website designers and marketers as these fields deal with communication. The quantitative approach and analysis made it the first study to explicate the communicative adequacy of headlines from two online newspapers in Tanzania.The study recommended the online editorial teams of the two Tanzania newspapers to design their headlines by putting into consideration of the environment of their digital publications.From this study, it was concluded that The Citizen and Mwananchi newspaper headlines could not adequately communicate with their headlines because they were still observing the traditional functions and principles of printed newspapers in the digital environment.
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