What Effect Does Online News Edition Have on Printed Newspaper Thesis

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¶ … Online News Editions on Printed Newspapers

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Is the printed newspaper dead? Over the course of the twentieth century, newspapers "exhibited profit margins higher than most industrial sectors" and enjoyed "the largest share of advertising expenditures of all media" (Boczkowski 3). Having a page-length advertisement in the New York Times was considered the best way to reach a mass audience, or at least a mass audience with great spending power. But in the 21st century, there have been numerous postmortems written about print, non-'virtual' newspapers. The medium has rapidly deteriorated in terms of its healthy sales revenues since "the Internet burst on the scene as an entirely new mass medium" (Gibbons & Hiebert 1999, p. 306). Advertising revenues for American newspapers shrank by 14% in the first three months of 2008, and the Los Angeles Times "announced that 250 jobs were going - 150 of them in [the] editorial [department]" (Snoddy, 2008, p.18). Of course, long before the Internet, since the inception of mass communication, changes in technology have altered the way information is received. However, with startling speed, the Internet has made print newspapers seem irrelevant because of print's lack of interactive capability, slow pace of generating print content compared with the Internet, and because online newspapers often have more attractive user features than their print counterparts. It seems likely that print newspapers, if they continue to exist, will largely go the way of coffee table books -- perhaps subscriptions will be given as a gift or bestowed as a perk or luxury at some high-end hotels and offices. But the medium of print news seems increasingly irrelevant, in comparison to other media, even in comparison with newspapers' own online format.

TOPIC: Thesis on What Effect Does Online News Edition Have on Printed Newspaper Assignment

The Internet itself "more closely replicates the thought processes of the human brain than any other technology" -- it is discursive and less linear than previous media formats, and thus entirely alters the way news is experienced (Gibbons & Hiebert 1999, p.315). Although many brick and mortar papers have online editions that are similar to their real world versions, even reading the New York Times online is a profoundly different, more profoundly enriching and personalized experience. It also enables quicker access to breaking news, and news that is of interest to the user. For example, someone researching a stock can check that stock's price in 'real time' as well as search the history of that stock in the business media over the past several months or years. A user with a particular political bias can likewise segment his or her viewing content, only searching for articles or editorials he or she agrees with -- there is no need to page through the newspaper. Of course, this also means that there is less of a chance that a headline about an unexplored subject will attract the reader's eye. Greater segmentation helps readers and advertisers, and even theoretically could help newspapers to sell additional advertising on many sections of their website. The New York Times, for example, prints the same articles in certain areas, such as the "health" section as well as the "business section," but can include two different types of advertisements to target the likely users of each. But the proliferation of places to put advertising in a variety of online newspapers also means that although some papers "have more readers than at any time in [their] history" thanks to the web, "advertisers have more choice," as to where to place advertisements, which has meant less revenue for newspapers over the past several years, with the shift to web-only content (Snoddy 2008, p.18.)

The Internet is about "space time, and choice," because the user does not have to proceed through a page or informational space in a linear fashion but can quickly click a hyperlink to skip from an article on one page to the website itself, and can carefully choose his or her content and make it as narrow or broad, as partisan or objective as he or she desires (Gibbons & Hiebert 1999, p.315). There is, of course, something of a problem with this in terms of exposing readers to new ideas, opinions, and concepts, causing many to fear online news-reading will lead to greater "social fragmentation" because of content segmentation (Boczkowski 2005, p.2). Also, there may be a blurred line between advertisement and news, more so than in print, if the reader learning about a new website follows the newspaper's hyperlink to that website, something he or she cannot do in print. But the ease of this action makes printed new papers seem more clumsy, and time-consuming to read.

But the Internet can also increase a reader's exposure to new forms of information in a way that print cannot. The availability of Internet newspapers allows individuals to read a greater variety of newspapers for free, from all over the country and the world. The rise in interest in the Internet does not reflect a decline in interest in news -- as noted by Xigen Li (2006) in Internet newspapers: The making of a mainstream medium, there are many positive aspects of online newspapers, particularly their interactivity, which have benefits for readers, publishers, as well as advertisers. People help generate the content of websites, feed comments to the editors online, and reader interest can be measured in 'hits' on specific articles, not just in terms of buyers of the whole paper. This allows publishers to segment content and to address readers' concerns. Online newspaper content is the product of a dialogue, not a monologue as it is with print newspapers. Users respond in real time to stories that can be added to in real time, a luxury not open to print publishers. But this could also make newspapers publishers overly sensitive to reader comments and avoid underreported stories with little built-in audience.

Some editors, even those who were early movers into the online market have often exhibited suspicion and trust towards the new technology, as discussed in Digitizing the News: Innovation in Online Newspapers by Pablo J. Boczkowski, Boczkowski calls American dailies "reactive, defensive and pragmatic" in reacting to threats from other forms of new media, and praises those newspapers that make use of the strengths of the online format, rather than resisting it. One example of a media source that has used the Internet in a positive fashion is that of New Jersey Online's Community Connection, a joint Web hub that connects articles and classified sections of most major New Jersey newspapers, including the Star-Ledger, the Trenton Times, and even local television websites. Connecting these different stories and segments of the state and press enables a level of hypertextuality impossible on print -- it seems to make the print versions obsolete, except for users uncomfortable with the physical act of reading content online. The New Jersey focus also shows how the global medium of the Internet can be very local in its focus. In fact, Boczkowski says that a focus on local issues of concern may be the most important new feature the Internet, more so than its embrace of globalization, and the "standardization" evident by most major newspapers pre-Internet, has now been radically challenged by user-generated interactive, carefully segmented content (Boczkowski 2005, p.6). The Internet has occurred in a specific global context with "innovations unfolding in a more gradual and ongoing fashion…shaped by various combinations of initial conditions and local contingencies" (Boczkowski 2005, p. 4).

Although most U.S. media analysts of the newspaper industry focus on the impact of the Internet and the superiority of the online format, especially for younger users with busy lives and greater adaptability to new technology, some U.K. analysts have proposed that the more entrenched and diverse newspaper-reading culture of the U.K., the greater emphasis on reading multiple newspapers going home on the London underground, for example, and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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