Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Effects of Online Journalism To Society

A Research Paper
Presented to
The Faculty of the Manila Times School of Journalism

In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Course
Media, The Press, and Society

Jamie Laine S. Meneses
January 2007

1        Introduction
  • What is Online Journalism?
  • Branches of Online Journalism

2        Online News
  • History of Online News
  • Online News Readers and Their Behavior 

3        Online Version Of Newspapers
  • History of Online Newspapers
  • Differences of the Print and the Online Version of Newspapers in the subscriber’s point of view
  • Competition between online newspaper and print newspaper

4        Online Journalism and the Society

Advantage and Disadvantage of Online Journalism
Future of Online Journalism 

5        Conclusion

Chapter I


            It’s always been a controversial thing to the researcher if online news and newspapers would really kill or predict the death of the traditional printed papers. If the society in the future would rather prefer the online news and newspapers despite its disadvantages, what would happen to the print journalism?

Print journalism has existed in our lives hundred of years already and some people would always prefer the traditional than what is innovative. Analysts once said that Television would end the popularity of radio and kill it sooner or later but Radio never left its broadcast. Would this also happen to print? We’ll never know for other factors would affect whether print will exist or online will prevail.

Specifically, the researcher sought answer to these questions:

1.      What is Online Journalism and its branches?
2.      How long Online News and Newspapers revolutionized the cyberspace
3.      What is the behavior of online readers?
4.      What Differences of the Print and the Online Version of Newspapers
5.      What competition exists between online newspaper and print newspaper?
6.      What are Advantage and Disadvantage of Online Journalism?
7.      What is in store for Online Journalism?

The beneficiaries of this study are journalism students, online users, media practitioners, and owners of media companies as they will know the impact and effects of Online Journalism to society.

In the Philippines, an estimated 9.1% of the total population, belonging to the A, B and C classes and ages ranging from 13 to 30 years old, are internet users in the Philippines. Internet has not yet really taken off our country. In fact, its penetration is among the lowest in Asia and still growing. According to the Computer Industry Almanac Inc., there were 7,820,000 Internet users in 2006 in the Philippines as compared to 2,000,000(2.6%) in 2002.

According to, Interne or simply the Net is the publicly available worldwide system of interconnected computer networks that transmit data by packet switching using a standardized Internet Protocol (IP) and many other protocols. It is made up of thousands of smaller commercial, academic, domestic and government networks. It carries various information and services, such as electronic mail, online chat and the interlinked web pages and other documents of the World Wide Web.

What is Online Journalism?

            Ramirez (2004) says that Journalism is the science or the art of writing or the business of managing, editing or writing for, newspapers, journals or magazines collectively.

On the other hand, Webster (2006) defines Online as connection of a computer to one or more other computers or networks, as through a commercial electronic information service or the Internet.

            Thus, gave the researcher her own definition of online journalism. Online journalism is the science or art of writing newspapers, journal, magazines, etc through electronic service information or the internet. But, simply defines online journalism as the reporting of facts produced and distributed via the Internet. Another definition from Hall (2005) is it is revolutionizing the way news is reported and read. The rise of the Internet has forever changed the way audiences interact with the news--stories are posted the moment they break and readers routinely expect to be able to access both the news sources and local perspectives. Online news and the media juggernauts who own it raise a number of urgent questions about accuracy, press autonomy, freedom of speech, and economic exclusion.

Branches of Online Journalism

            According to Below the Fold, Online Journalism is traditionally functioning with the three to four branches of involvement, each as vital as the other and with appropriate checks and balances:

    Mainstream Journalism purpose will be more focused and its managers more humble. This journalism as a public service role, making the most of its experience, depth and access.
    Citizen Journalism will create public journalism in a mostly “hyper-local” role, focusing on issues close to home. It will hold the mainstream media accountable to both the public and the truth.
    Consumers Journalism or much known as Just Plain People’s Journalism. These people will participate by reading, watching and listening. Then, they will comment and interact. They are just as much a part of the “media” as anyone else, because media is no longer a passive exercise. Media are now accountable to each other, from the Wal-Mart shopper to the head of CNN.
    The former “mainstream” journalist who works exclusively online or the journalism school trained reporter who has only worked in new media and not for a “traditional” media outlet. This journalism version of a mash-up may prove to be the most popular of all, as today’s reporters become more disillusioned and tomorrow’s reporters become more comfortable with all new forms of media. 

Online Journalism catches up to the traditional form of journalism. The online world is up-to-date and real world is left behind. Online Journalism can publish anytime the news breaks but the Offline Journalism is left behind and usually published the next day.

Chapter II


History of Online News

            According to Online Journalism Review(OJR), the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois released a beta version of Web browser Mosaic in September 1993. Within a month, the University of Florida's journalism school launched the first journalism site on the Web. Around the same time, O'Reilly launched the Global Network Navigator as the first e-zine to map the Web, and the White House launched a Web site. By 1994, Wired magazine's online arm, HotWired, was running the first banner ads, and newspapers started to post content on Web.

Online News Readers and Their Behavior

            A Study of news consumer’s behavior was conducted by The Poynter Institute and its partners. In 2000, Stanford University and Poynter researchers published data from the first eyetracking study of news websites, which offered some surprising results.

Stanford videotaped news readers in their homes and offices for several years, began to use eye-tracking equipment in a laboratory setting to analyze the behavior of 67 test subjects as they viewed a variety of real news websites (though a technical problem resulted in the loss of data from some of the volunteer testers).

In the 2000 study, participants were told to view any news websites they wished, and given no specific instructions. The test was free-form, and researchers pored over the data afterward trying to determine trends. Results of the 2000 study surprised many people in the still-fledgling online-news industry. One of the findings was that online-news readers look first to text (especially briefs and photo captions), not images -- which was opposite the behavior of print news readers, as observed another study.

Critics of these findings explained, “While the test used a high-speed Internet connection where web-page images appeared on screen quickly, most users at that time were used to dial-up connections where text appeared first and photos scrolled slowly on the page. Perhaps users were conditioned to look for text first and were repeating patterns that had become familiar to them.”

Another surprising finding was that banner ads indeed did catch online readers' attention -- a notion that went against current thinking. Some 45 percent of banner ads were viewed by test subjects, for an average fixation time of one second, which is long enough to perceive the ad. The ads actually were viewed more often than editorial graphics.

Other findings in the study:

  • Thirty-year-olds were more likely to read local news than either 60-year-olds or 20-year-olds. And 20-year-olds read more science and sports news than did other age groups. Virtually all ages read opinion articles in healthy proportion to their total article reading.
  • Eighty percent of all participants read crime and disaster coverage. Women were very slightly more likely to read this category, but men were more likely to read more items. (These judgments are based on proportion of each gender to its number in the study: 30 women, 37 men.)
  • Sports, surprisingly, was read equally by males and females -- 70 percent of the total for each gender. But, no female read heavily in this category, while 11 percent of the men did. In fact, the heavy sports readers were likely to exceed the number of items read per person than in any other category.
  • A higher proportion of women read local news than did men, and by a tiny margin also read more heavily in this category. Overall, 48 percent of all participants read local news.
  • Somewhat more men than women read national news and by a small margin, also read more items. Overall, 67 percent of all participants did some reading of national news.

There's lots to wonder about as Internet news readership grows markedly. The researcher learned that Consumers read both mainstream general news sources and traditional specialty news providers. These Consumers had often tried customized news, but given that up because they might miss something they must know. Now, they read multiple news sites in about 30-minute sessions. They were news junkies, still reading newspapers, magazines, listening to radio news. Most of them had been reading online news for about one year or less.

Chapter III


History of Online Newspapers

         Inky newsprint papers with its 10-point Times Roman Font were the center of every kitchen table and an integral part of everybody’s morning routine. The newspaper industry revolutionized us for hundreds of years. Readers learned to trust certain bylines and to understand signs of importance, such as the screaming banner headline. Most people believe the newspaper will never be replaced by a computer screen. After all, you can't take it with you on the Metro or spill your coffee on it.

However, online newspapers are starting to popularize their own, especially among the news hounds, the computer savvy, and the young, who see the Internet as a viable medium for information and news. Online is a medium perfectly suited for people who have gone beyond MTV, beyond Entertainment Tonight, and even beyond Wired magazine. With its tendency to blur and blend media, the online newspaper is not as straightforward as its ink counterpart, even if it contains all of the news and information that is in the newspaper.

            According to Thiel (1998) when they first created an online presence in the early to middle 1990s, editors were not worried about the day-to-day message of a newspaper -- the content. They had content down pat; the difference online was the time scale, not the content itself. But they did not realize that the time scale imposed its own message, which going from a daily to an hourly publication made it different, not just faster.

Because the online newspaper is never "put to bed" and never completely finished so long as there is news to report, or readers to receive that news for the first time as they log on at various hours of the day and night, the individual stories are not the message of the online paper. Instead the message is in the overall "look and feel." The news has to be presented in an accessible way, an attractive way. Readers have to be sold on the content by the general look and feel of the site rather than the news itself.

Online newspapers splash their headlines and sometimes their lead paragraphs on their front "page." Bylines are relegated to the full story. Readers who click to the home page of might scan the stories that are presented up front (presumably the most important), and not know whether they will be getting an AP story (which is likely, since the site uses the AP wire to update breaking news throughout the day), an in-depth political analysis by senior Post reporter David Broder, or a lighter, written-for-the-Web piece by a producer with very little journalism experience. Some readers (and even journalists) might argue that is an improvement in an age where top reporters are household names and "McLaughlin Group" celebrities -- it brings equality to news and features and allows fresh voices to emerge. Others might argue that it muddies the news because it does not provide readers with a clear distinction between hard news, features, and canned articles.

By not making a distinction between different kinds of news articles, an online newspaper turns its articles into commodities, to be sold by the brilliance of the headline and its placement on the front page, rather than by the content. Such commoditization cuts the reader off from the process of news gathering and dissemination by blurring one of the links -- the byline. And making news a commodity makes it less personal, more alien.

Online newspaper seems to emphasize style over substance, and has found a medium and an audience perversely receptive to that emphasis, producing today's postmodern journalism.

In the postmodern newspaper there are fewer boundaries, either within the publication, or in its relationship with the rest of the world. Online newspapers may have "sections," but going from one to another is seamless: no need to lick forefinger and thumb and turn pages. Seamlessness is more insidious, too, as information is added to an article as it is revealed to the reporter, or the placement or headline (size and content) is changed throughout the day as other stories wane and wax. Such practices are not possible on a one-edition-a-day paper, and they happen so rarely on multi-edition big-city daily papers that no one thinks about the effect of moving a story. In the postmodern medium of an online newspaper, however, it happens a lot. So the online newspaper in subtle ways forces the reader to become postmodern.

Differences between the Print and the Online Version of Newspapers

            Most readers of newspapers predicted that online versions of newspapers will die easily. But surprisingly online newspapers didn’t die but continued publishing on cyber space. In fact, the researcher found out that the online version is different from the print. A study conducted in the University of Columbia gave details that majority of the subscribers of the print version also wants the online version that’s why they subscribed. Another finding was that those prefer the reading newspapers online likes it better because they can easily choose the type of news they wanted to read.

            There are a lot of different from the print and online newspapers. Articles were shortened from the print edition. Stories are extended to include additional information for the online edition.  Order of content of an article is altered for the online edition.  Style is revised for the online edition making it more creative and colorful than the black and white basic style of printed papers.  Story is given a new headline for the online edition that readers became curious of what’s new in the content of the article.  A lot of graphics were also added to give better story for the online edition.  E-mail links to the editorial board, author, staff, etc. were also added to giving audience freedom to express their views, comments, suggestion about the news item.   Discussion forum on the subject of the article set up for the online edition giving audience a greater liberty to share their knowledge to others. Music, sounds, video sequences, animations and  spoken texts are attractive by means of adding variety to the plain news report. Aside from the up-to-date-minute information from the printed version, daily newspapers also offer numerous additional features on their web sites like archives, entertainment (games, comics, etc.), special offers, services and a lot more. 

Competition between Online Newspaper and Print Newspaper

A number of questions dealt with the comparison of the information content of online newspapers compared with print newspapers. Compared with the print version, the online newspaper provides more "breadth" of information. The often very much smaller size of online newspapers compared with the print newspaper may be the reason that the print newspaper was rated by considerably more respondents as providing greater "depth" of information.

Regarding the navigability, the position is more positive for online publications. Users stated that they could find their way around online publications better. As regards to entertainment value, Users found online newspapers just as good as print newspapers. The online versions of newsstand newspapers are an exception in this respect, users rated the online version as more entertaining than the print version.  What about reader loyalty? Majority of users would have chosen the print newspaper and a number would have preferred the online version if only one of the versions had been available. The decision in favor of the print version was based on its portability, while the advantages of the online version were seen as being its accessibility from outside the normal circulation area and the avoidance of unwanted paper. The main advantage, however, in the eyes of the respondents, was that online newspapers are normally provided free of charge. It is  not surprising that users would not be prepared to accept a charge. Readers are not willing to pay for online newspapers. Apparently, users are not willing to pay for the advantages of online newspapers.

Chapter IV


Advantage and Disadvantage of Online Journalism

Advantage of Online Journalism:

1.      Immediacy

            Online publication allows the publishers to get the information to the reader much more quickly than the print newspaper. Newspapers were available online before the print edition. The online version is updated several times a day. The greater immediacy of the online newspaper was very important the more page views they have.

2.      Use is usually free of charge

            Readers don’t have to go to newsstand and pay money to access news and information. Most readers who easily access WWW prefers the online news and newspapers for they can have the news without charge.

3.      Use of a wider spectrum of newspapers possible and  of foreign newspapers

            Not all print newspapers reach destinations on time. Sometimes, it even took hours or days to get a printed news papers. Online news and newspapers are available easier to be accessed specially the foreign papers. Online is better for catching the attention of people across the country

4.      Use of back copies / Archiving of articles on the computer

            The advantages resulting from hypertext, automated searching and the availability of back numbers were some of the reason why reader prefer the online versions rather than print.

5.      Contact with editors, writers, staff via e-mail  and Use of guest book/forum

            Readers can freely give their opinions and point of views to editors, writers, and staff of the paper. They also think that knowing where to contact them immediately gives reader a chance in reporting news and essential fact that the public would want to know. Also, through forums and guestbook’s they can freely discussed with other online readers the latest news through the cyber space.

Disadvantage of Online Journalism:

1.      Online newspapers do not report on all subjects

One serious disadvantage of online newspapers was felt to be that they usually provide only a selection of the articles available in the print newspaper. That online version extracts the news that is in the paper. Reader’s felt that they are not given the complete news and information that the print offers to them.

2.      They do not convey the experience of reading a newspaper

Other disadvantages cited by many users is that online newspapers can not provide the same experience of reading as a print newspaper. Most of them said that reading a news paper while eating breakfast, traveling at the metro, etc. is a whole different experience than sitting and reading computers straight from the computer monitors.

3.      Long download times

Also, the download times are long. There seem to be few technical problems connected with reading online newspapers. Some users complains that it really takes time for a webpage to load for so many graphics, pictures, advertisements and pop-ups are included online.

4.      Online newspapers cannot be read while traveling

The "paper" lacks portability. Most of them said that you have to go back to the webpage whenever you feel reviewing or verify the news you just read. Not like the print you can easily get the paper and turn the pages to re-read the news.

5.      Reading the screen is tiring

Staring too long at computer screens and monitor for some are tiring. Than in print, the plain black and white and universal fonts don’t hurt the eye.

6.      WWW access costs money

Not everyone have their own internet connections at home. Some are not even DSL/Broadband and it costs something to access internet and read the news. They would rather buy the print that they can keep copies for they would also pay, anyway.

Future of Online Journalism

According to Journalist K. Paul Mallasch, the future of journalism as a conversation, something he says is only viable through online journalism. "In the past, media has been, for the most part, a one-way process, with the 'journalists' telling the people what’s important. The future is more of a discussion between the journalists, the citizen journalists and the citizens.”

Online journalism is still in its beginning stage, according to Mallasch, but he feels that many of the small media sources, those “outside Big Media,” are working toward a more liberated press. That press that will be free of access, available and up to date anytime to everybody.

Online journalism is going to give the media revolution a chance at succeeding, give us a chance at wrangling power from the big media corporations and giving the press back to the people.

On the other hand, Chris Lapham says that, as we approach the end of the twentieth century, two powerful forces have emerged to change the mass communication model. The first is the use of computers as a means of processing, analyzing, and disseminating information. The second is the constantly accelerating capacity of that technology to enhance communication so it is almost unbounded by time and space. Because older communication technology required a huge investment of capital, a one-to-many model dominated, with those owning the broadcasting equipment or newspaper presses disseminating information to the masses.

Current technology, specifically the digital transmission of text, audio, and video, has altered the traditional one-to-many communication model; instead, audiences are becoming producers as well as consumers of information, and a new many-to-many communication model has emerged. Today anyone with a modem, personal computer, and a telephone line can become a publisher, as we now know the term. But it is a mistake to eliminate totally the old model in favor of the new. By contrasting the best of the new model -- computerized access, delivery, and packaging of information -- with the best of the old model -- insightful reporting in a well written story -- a better hybrid model that combines the best of both is created.

Reinventing itself is a tall order for an industry that works under constant deadline to produce a new product each day. By analyzing and paring down the essentials of journalism as a craft and a profession, the real essence of the industry will emerge and a predictive model will begin to take shape. To its credit, the newspaper industry has conducted research and written and thought a great deal about what to do in the future.

We are experiencing what some call an information explosion that threatens to bury even the most avid reader and intellectual. It is the excess of information that holds the key to the survival of the newspaper industry. The digitizing of information has created a vast expansion in the amount of information that is readily available to audiences. Books and manuscripts that previously consumed libraries and other physical spaces are now contained in digital bytes that can move with great speed over vast distances. Quite simply, more information is available to more people more quickly then ever before.

Mass media evolved because people from all walks of life needed help to understand the world around them. Throughout history, newspapers have excelled at collecting, recording, and distributing information at many different levels and geographic locales. As they evolve in light of technological change, newspapers need to embrace that mission anew. In fact, defining what is news is now more critical than ever. It is their ability to do this within the context of new technology that is the key to newspapers' survival.

Writing in a recent New York Times Magazine column, veteran journalist Max Frankel says: "The newspapers that prosper in the next century will be the ones that offer the best journalism, that master the subjects about which they write and acquire the talent and expertise to appraise and explain an infinite variety of events. . . . Newspapers can trust the fermenting computer industry to perfect the technologies that will gradually replace their presses and delivery trucks. It's talent that they will need to survive in the digital age -- gifted editors, reporters, and image artists who can find meaning in the approaching information glut."

In addition to improving the delivery of news, computer and telecommunications technology can improve the research and news gathering processes of newspapers. Unlike the one-to-many model where information came from the top, news on the Internet bubbles up from the bottom and meanders its way upward. The daily reality of the many-to- many model means that the journalist now has a chance to really know and interact with his or her audience that goes way beyond traditional letters to the editor.   This closer interaction should ideally lead to a better knowledge of the audience, and writing and reporting that more closely reflects readers' values and interests.

In today's more competitive information delivery environment, better research, better reporting, and better analysis are critical. Of the three, research is the priority. Speaking at a Neiman Foundation conference, J.T. Johnson explained the importance of the pre-reporting process: "The quality of the information out can only be as good as the data flowing in. . . . Hence because of this shift in the data environment, educators and journalists must immediately turn more attention to the left side of the equation, the research, reporting, and analysis aspects if we are to improve the quality of the data in analysis components."

The real beauty of the new technology is its ability to enable newspapers to not only enhance their researching and reporting capabilities, but also to deliver a better, more audience-aware product in an immediate and inexpensive way. Digital delivery is greatly improved by publication on the World Wide Web, the fastest growing part of the Internet. One of the main attractions of the Web is hypertext, a system that seamlessly links computers and files continents apart. Using the hypertext capabilities of the Web totally eliminates the proverbial "news hole" and opens up an unlimited amount of "space" for presenting the news product.

George Gilder neatly summarizes the marriage of the computer and the newspaper:  "The computer is a perfect complement to the newspaper. . . . [It] enables the existing news industry to deliver its product in real time. It hugely increases the quantity of information that can be made available, including archives, maps, charts and other supporting material. It opens the way to upgrading the news with full screen photography and videos, while hugely enhancing the richness and timeliness of the news. The computer empowers readers to use the "paper" in the same way they do today -- to browse and select stories and advertisements at their own time and place."

By using computer technology to produce and deliver a new product, newspapers have joined both the old (literacy-print) with the new (computers-digital delivery) and created a better model.

McLuhan explains this process as the creation of a hybrid which blends the old and the new to create a superior medium. "The hybrid or the meeting of two media is a moment of truth and revelation from which new form is born. For the parallel between two media holds us on the frontiers between forms that snaps us out of the Narcissus-narcosis. The moment of the meeting of media is a moment of freedom and release from the ordinary trance and numbness imposed by them on our senses."

            On the other hand, Kieren McCarthy says Newspapers are a unique business in that competition is a minute-by-minute battle. News is something you don't already know. With the Net able to supply that information almost instantly, newspapers have had little choice but to put everything they publish every day up on the Internet in the hope of keeping people on their site and returning to their site the next day.

The struggle has always been how to make money by charging for the content while also keeping as many people as possible visiting the site to make it attractive to advertisers. And of course there is the ever-present back-of-the-mind fear that free and diverse online content will stop people buying printed newspapers.

Newspaper websites' and their content have gradually become split into six areas. There are news stories - they are free and will always be. After a week though, these stories become archive stories and access to them may be charged for. Third are columnists and opinion pieces - news items that are exclusive and identifiable to the individual paper.

Next are email services - giving people a concise rundown of stories that are likely to interested them direct to their inboxes. Fourth is the digital facsimile of the printed newspaper - whether in internet-standard jpeg images, or PDF files or using some proprietary software. And finally there are the add-ons - crosswords, competitions, games and the like.

Chapter V


There has been a proliferation of online newspapers over recent years. Despite this, factors affecting the quality of online newspapers remain only partially understood. Even if online journalism is easily available and updated regularly, credibility and news sense has always been a question on whatever that is uploaded and published online.

The question of content in the published news material online will always affect its reader. Whether they will believe or not, online journalists should always be responsible in the information they are uploading.

Online gives everyone a world wide freedom and a world wide freedom deserves a world wide responsibility. Not only to its regular readers and subscribers but also to people who are just curious what news online is all about.

We are in the information age. It is the age where information is freely accessible to everybody. We want the news in other countries and we get it right away.

Since we are in this age, it also gives the researcher the conclusion that news, whether online or offline, people would always want to chase what is new within its society. And the future would not kill traditional print journalism.

The newer form, online journalism, will emerge but the older form would not die for they will continue to evolve and adapt to what the society needs.


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love, now and always, 


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