1. Summarise the main points in the readings noting your agreement and disagreement with the ideas and opinions of the author/speaker.
Media, as in newspapers and television news have long held the key in swaying the general public to a particular point of view. And indeed in Christopher Harper’s article, he mentions that editors are like “gatekeepers [who] highlight particular stories, promote trends, sort the journalistic wheat from the chaff, and, some would argue, restrict the flow of information.” (Harper, 2003, 274). But now, with so many aspects of the world moving into cyberspace, it is of little wonder people chose to obtain the news online. This may be a new trend but Harper acknowledges that it may transform the way we acquire our news in the not too distant future.
For example, online newspapers allow me, as a reader to choose what news I want to read. And what information to look for in archives; I agree that I now have a wider range of media that can deliver the news, such as video and audio, that I didn’t previously possess. And if I have access to a computer and the internet, I have access to my own “printing press.” (Harper, 2003, 272). In this reading, Harper demonstrates through the use of surveys how online newspapers are becoming the norm in today’s society. The target audience, who pay for the newspapers are becoming older and it falls on the younger, more technically minded audience to use the internet as their source of information about what is going on in the world.
Michael Kolowich of http://www.newsedge,com is cited as saying people go online because:
- News consumers want filtering
- Finding, or the ability to search for, data is important
Harper then expands on the role of gatekeepers with the two studies involving ‘Mr Gates’ in 1949 and 1966, where the editor in question chose particular stories with certain prejudices in mind as well as what he believed was a good story. “Researchers found a set of factors that often determine what news get into the media.” (Harper, 2003, 274).
Here are some factors which apply to digital journalism:
- Intensity of threshold value
- Sociolcultural values
- Cultural proximity or relevance
On the other hand these factors do not apply to digital journalism:
- Time span
- Clarity or lack of ambiguity
Christopher Harper uses the Chicago Tribune Internet Edition as a case study, to explain how technology is changing the face of journalism today. The online newspaper compliments the paper version, however it allows readers to have access to more in depth stories; other media such as video and audio, as well as forums and technology reports and games. The designer of the website is Leah Gentry and she describes the process to be “nonlinear strorytelling… [where] one has the ability to link one computer page location to another.” (Harper, 2003, 276). This allows readers to follow the story from different points of view.
While Darnell Little, a reporter for the Tribune, uses the characteristics of Wall Street Journal to write his articles, another reporter Stephen Henderson enjoys the hands on approach to writing, editing and finally publishing the story. Both ways which are essential to the web design of the newspaper. These two reporters fall under the category of “benevolent revolutionaries”, one of three groups Harper explains makes up journalists and the way they feel about new media. The other groups are “nervous traditionalists” who are not enthusiastic about new technology and the in betweeners, the “serene separatists”. (Harper, 2003, 278).
Another point, Harper makes is they way newspapers make money, traditionally, the paper version depends on the classifies, however, with very specific websites out now (such as carsales.com), this is slowly declining and these business have to find another means of revenue to keep going. Online newspapers have adverts that you can click on and can be redirected to that specific page in seconds. Harper concludes by stating that “the growing trend of young people’s using the internet for information may create a new readership for news on the web,” and I tend to agree. People today are living life in a rush and finding that the internet is a convenient source of news, whether they want to know what is happening in their backyard or statewide, or even worldwide.
Christopher Harper (2003). Journalism in a digital age. In H. Jenkins & D. Thorburn (Eds), Democracy and New Media (pp. 271-280). Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.
2. Compare the form and content of the on-line news sites you visit with traditional newspapers.
- Crikey: http://www.crikey.com.au/
- Perth Indy Media: http://perth.indymedia.org/
- The West Australian: http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/
- The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
- Salon: http://www.salon.com/
- Ninemsn: http://ninemsn.com.au/
- The Courier Mail: http://www.couriermail.com.au/
While I enjoy sitting down with a cup of tea and a good book, I prefer to read about the news online. I find that looking through the websites listed above is great deal easier than leaving my home, strapping my children in the car and going to the shops or a newsagent to purchase a traditional newspaper. And I feel bad about the amount of paper being used to in the adverts inevitably found within the folds of the newspaper.
It’s not often I do read the news online, but when I do, it’s through ninemsn.com.au, because I have a hotmail account, and after reading my emails, I log out and am redirected to the ninemsn homepage, where the day’s news are published. It’s easy to read as I can see straight away photos or videos; the weather (I have it set to my city); polls; recipes, entertainment news and popular searchers. If something catches my eye, I will continue reading. If nothing looks interesting then I close the window and continue on to check my Facebook account, for example. I believe it’s the convenience factor, that sways me to online newspapers, everything is one click away. Also it has the ability to be specific to what I am looking for and by setting up my preferences, I can enjoy a more customised version than that of a regional newspaper.
What I find in common with traditional and online newspapers is the ability to offer feedback. Referring to Jenknis’s participatory culture, (Jenkins, 2006), I can leave a comment on a story that I feel particularly strongly about, such as Letters to the Editor, I guess that with online newspapers, the comments can be seen as soon as I post them up and people can reply to them if they wish.