Lacy, Duffy, Riffe, Thorson and Fleming: Citizen Journalism Web Sites
- 35clining community coverage resulting rom decreased newspaper reportingresources.
This study aims to explore this possibility by using content analysis andother data to evaluate whether citizen journalism Web sites have the potentialactually to be such substitutes or the inormation currently provided by dailynewspapers’ Web sites. The evaluation begins with a oundation in mediaeconomics theory and then examines key attributes—timeliness and structureo both citizen journalism and traditional daily newspaper sites—to determinei the sites resemble each other enough to possibly ulll similar unctions orreaders.
Neoclassical economic theory states that demand is a unction o a product’sprice, the price o complements and substitutes, individuals’ income and taste
but not all these actors apply equally here.In the short-run, or example, individual income would not aect thesubstitution o citizen journalism or traditional newspaper Web sites becausean individual’s income would be unaected by such a choice. A person with a$50,000 annual income will still have that income whether she or he substitutescitizen journalism sites or traditional newspaper sites.Second, because citizen journalism sites tend to be ree and most newspapersites remain ree, with the exception o archives,
the price cross-elasticity odemand does not have a large eect on demand. I a substitute or a productis ree, there is no price to aect demand.The role o the price o complements as a determinant o newspaper demandremains unexplored. Complements are products that are consumed in conjunc-tion with another product. For example, some people may have complementaryproducts they use with newspapers, coee or example, but the relationship between reading newspapers and consuming a complementary product varyrom person to person and rom time to time or the same person.Research indicates that the price o newspapers is airly inelastic.
Changesin price have traditionally had little impact on total demand because many mar-kets lack close substitutes or newspapers. In addition, the price o newspapersremains relatively low compared to other products. In short, the absence o asignicant role or price and income suggests that the content o the newspaperand reader taste have the greatest impact on individual newspaper demand.
Unortunately, neoclassical economic theory assumes taste is constant andprovides little help in analyzing substitutes on the basis o taste. However,media economics research and theory have addressed this issue.In a model based on the theory o monopolistic competition,
Lacy positedthat people evaluate media products on the basis o attributes.
Product attri- butes take a variety o orms, such as the nature o stories, the structure o themedia product and the accessibility o the material online, among others. The