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ANANALYSISOFCOMMUNITYNEWSWEBSITES: ACOMPARISONOFLOCALNEWSWEBSITES TOINDICATEINDUSTRYTRENDS ACREATIVEPROJECT SUBMITTEDTOTHEGRADUATESCHOOL INPARTIALFULFILLMENTOFTHEREQUIREMENTS FORTHEDEGREE MASTEROFARTS BY JESSICAF.KERMAN SUSANJ.

SMITH BALLSTATEUNIVERSITY MUNCIE,INDIANA MAY2010

Acknowledgements Manythankstomythesiscommittee:SusanJ.Smith,Chair,whohelpedmeto

focusmyresearchandfindwaystoanalyzethesubjectmatter;MarySpillman,who gavemeguidanceinstorytellingandnarrative,aswellasassistedmetomakethis paperorganized;andDr.JoeMisiewicz,whosupportedmethroughthisprocessand pushedmetofinishdespiteseveralroadblocks. ThanksarealsoduetotheentireDigitalStorytellinggraduatefacultyandstaff fortheirsupport,particularlyDr.JamesChesebroforreadingthroughtheentiretyof thispaperseveraltimesdespitenotbeingonmycommittee;NancyCarlson,who guidedmethroughdocumentarymaking;andAdministrativeAssistantKrisScott. Ialsomustthankthemanypeoplewhohelpedmetomakethedocumentary portionofthisprojectAlhur:TheFreeOnes.ThefilmandWebsitewouldnothave gottendonewithoutthehelpofPhotographerPeterGaunt,WebDesignerRiley Paulsen,ProductionAssistantAngelitaFaller,andofcoursethepeoplewhostarin thedocumentaryAlfanAbdulahad,SuhellDawood,SarmedTomaandSamer Toma.Thankyouforallowingustoinvadeyourprivacyanddocumentyourlivesfor somanymonths.Finally,thankstoCharlieWiles,whointroducedmetotheAlhur family. Finally,abigthankyoutothefriendsandfamilywhosupportedmethrough

someverystressfulandexcitingtimes.

TableofContents I. II. III. IV. V. Part1:Introduction....................................... 3 Part2:LiteratureReview..................................8 Part3:Method.............................................18 Part4:Results.............................................28 Part5:Discussion.........................................35 a. Analysis...............................................35 b. Limitations............................................ 36 c. FurtherResearch...................................... 38 d. Conclusion............................................ 39 References................................................ 44 Appendix:PagesandStoriesAnalyzed..................... 48

VI. VII.

Part1:Introduction Thepoweroftraditionalnewsisdeclining.Newspapersandlocaltelevision newsstationshaveenteredableakperiodoftimeinwhichtheyarestrugglingfor advertisingdollarsandtryingtoretainanaudiencethatismovingtotheInternet. Inthepast,expertshavesuggestedthatnewermediacannotfullyreplace older,establishedcommunicationsystems.Filmdidnotkilltheater.Televisiondid notkillradio.Withnews,innovativethinkersfoundwaystoadaptnewstonew media.Newsreelsturnedtonewscasts.Newspaperstoriesweresummarizedinto 30secondstoriesonthetelevision.TheInternethastheabilitytocombineallforms ofmediaintooneplace.However,newswasnotforcedtoreallyadapttothe Internet.Instead,somethingthatisprintedinthenewspapercaneasilybeposted ontotheWeb.Andnow,morethanever,broadcastnewscandothesamething postavideostoryontheWebandpastethescriptunderneath.Nothingnewis neededorsopeoplethought. Theproblemwiththismindsetisthattheaudiencewantedmore.While journalistswerehappyjuststickingoldpiecesonanewmediumlikeusingused scotchtapetomendaripothermediacompaniesstartedinnovatingandpushing theboundariesoftheInternet.Usedscotchtapeisnotgoodenoughtopermanently fixarip.Itmightworkforashortperiod,butaftersomeuse,thatripwillcontinueto

tear.Inthesameway,othermediacompaniesembracedtheinteractivitythatthe

Internetwascapableof,andbydoingthatpigeonholednewsintoanoldmediathat justdidntunderstandtheInternet.Untilveryrecently,thatswheremuchofthe newshasstayed.Thenewsindustrytookamuchlongertimethanmostother industriestoadapttotheInternet.ItisbecauseofthishesitationthatGoogleand othernonnewscompanieshavepushedtheenvelopeofnewandemerging technologyanditsusesandnewscompanieshavenot(ProjectforExcellencein Journalism,2005). However,theseold,establishednewsmediaarestilltrustedonline.While peoplesaytheyaremoreskepticalofwhatthenewsmediasaysandreports(Pew, 2008),theyalsocontinuetotrusttheWebsitesownedbytraditionalmediamore thanWebstartupssuchasTheDrudgeReport(Pew,2009).Thesereportsonly measureanationalaudience;thus,onlynationalnewssites(suchasMSNBC,CNN, TheWashingtonPostandTheNewYorkTimes)arereallyevaluated.Theselarge companieshaveinvestedtimeandmoneyintotheirWebsitesinthepastfewyears. TheyvedonefocusgroupsandusabilitytestingtoensurethattheirWebsitesare userandadvertiserfriendly.TheyhavemoneytohireWebteamswhocancreate Webonlycontentandinteractiveelementsthatsupplementstoriesonline. Manycompaniesthatspecializeinlocalorcommunitynewsdonothavethe financialresourcestodofocusgroupsandusability.Theydonothavethemoneyto hireonlinespecificstaffordesignersfortheWeb.Thesenewsorganizationshave lessmoneydevotedtotheWebsitethananyotherpartoftheoperation.Theyrely

almostcompletelyontheirlegacynewsproducttoproducecontentandrevenue.A legacynewsproductreferstoanewsmediacompanysoriginalproductsuchasa newspaperorbroadcast.ThesecompaniesWebproductsarebasedontheirlegacy productsbecausethepeoplewhoproducefortheWebarethesamepeoplewho produceforthelegacyproduct.Thelegacyproductisalso,currently,thesourceof mostrevenueforthecompany.Thepopularblog10,000Wordscited10reasons whyonlinenewssitessuck.Thatlistincludedlongtextstories,multipagephoto slideshows,lackoflinkstootherresources,andpoorWebdesigningeneral(Luckie, 2009).Inaddition,manyofthesesitesusetheWebasadumpinggroundforcontent thatisalreadypublishedintheirtraditionalformats. Localnewsoperationsarestrugglingmuchmorethanthebig,national companies.InaMarch2009surveybyPew,onlyhalfofrespondentssaidthey believedthatlosingtheirlocalnewspaperwouldhurtciviclifeintheircommunity alot.Manyofthosewhosaytheclosingofthelocalpaperwouldn'tmakemuch,if any,differenceintheircommunitiesnotethatthereareothernewssources availableorcriticizethenewspaper'squality(Pew,2009). ThisqualitycrisisforlocalnewshasalottodowiththeInternet.Theamount ofpeoplewhorelyontheInternetfornewshasjumpedconsiderablyinthepast fouryears(Pew,2009).Whilemorepeoplearegoingonlinetosearchfornews, communitynewssiteshavenotchangedmuch.Manyofthesesitesareaesthetically unmaintainedandhardtonavigate,makingadifficultuserexperience.Accordingto JakobNielsen,inhisbookEyetrackingWebUsability(2009),onlyapersonwho

reallyneedssomethingonaparticularsitewillgrinandbearitthroughan unpleasantuserexperience.Also,formostofthesecommunitynewssites,the contentisusedinthenewspaperorbroadcastalso,thusmakingthecontent

redundantbythetimetheuserseesitonline.Thiscouldcauseaudiencemembersto gotoothersourcesfornewsabouttheircommunity. LargermediainstitutionssuchasCNN.comorMSNBC.comhaveinvested timeandmoneyintostayingcurrentwithonlinetrends.However,midsizedand smallnewspapersandlocaltelevisionstations,whichcomprisemostofthe traditionalnewssourcesinexistence,havebeenlessadamantaboutupdatingthe lookandcapabilityoftheirsites.Todiminishthedeclineoflocalnews,localmedia outletsshouldfocusmoreattentionontheaestheticsandcontentoftheirsitesand theexpectationsoftheiraudienceonline. Theselocalnewsorganizationsgenerallydonotusemultimediaor interactiveelementssuchasvideoorFlashbasedpresentations,whichgarnerthe uniquequalitiestheWebhas.Thisanalysisaimstoidentifyfactorsthatcontribute totheeffectivenessoflocalnewsuseoftheWeb. Tostartananalysislikethis,itisimportanttofirstlookatpriorresearchin theareaofmediatedcommunicationtodefinewhyspecifictypesofstoriesarebest toldwithspecificmedia.TheanalysisalsorequiresalookatresearchinWebdesign andusability,asthesefactorsalsocontributetotheoverallexperienceauserofa Websitehaswhenconsumingnewsonline.Part2willsurveysomeoftheresearch doneinthisarea,aswellasshowtheneedforananalysissuchasthisone.Part3

discussesandexplainsthemethodofthiscontentanalysis.Part4explainsthe

resultsoftheanalysisandappliesthemtocommunitynewsWebsitedevelopment. Part5discussesthelimitationsofthestudy,theimplicationsforthecommunity news,andtheneedforfutureresearch.

Part2:LiteratureReviewandNeedforAnalysis Mostmajornewsmediaorganizationshavebeenslowtoincorporatenew technologyintotheirbusinessmodels.AsPavlik(2008)wroteinhisbookMediain theDigitalAge,Likecautiouspenguins,mediaexecutivesmostcommonlypreferto letotherstestthewatersfirstratherthanriskdivinginandbecomingaquickmeal forakillerwhale. Unlikemostindustries,newsorganizationsputonlyasmallportionoftheir

budgetsintoresearchanddevelopment.ItisforthisreasonthatGoogleandother nonnewsmediacompanieshavepushedtheenvelopeofnewandemerging technologyanditsuses(ProjectforExcellenceinJournalism,2005).Themediaand technologiesusedtodisseminatenewsaffectthetypesofnewsthatanaudience receives,aswellasthetypesofnewsthatanewscompanygenerates(Pavlik,2008). Theimportanceandinfluenceofmassmediashouldnotbeunderestimated. AccordingtoSnow(1983),massmediaareusedinfourways:First,asasourceof informationabouttopicsthatarerelevanttothesenderandreceiver;second,mass mediaprovideinformationaboutsocietyandculturetheappropriatewayto behave,theproperperspective,generalcommonsenseandknowledge;third,mass mediaisatrustedsourceforreliableandcredibleinformation;andfinally,there

arevicariousandovertinteractionnetworkswithinthemediaindustryand betweentheaudienceandthemedium. Newsisdisseminatedthroughseveralformsofmassmedia.Newspapers, magazines,film,television,radio,onlineandmobiledevices,arejustafewofthe mediausedtospreadinformationandideas.Thisanalysisfocusesonnewspapers

andtheInternetspecifically;however,itdoesprovidesomecontextforotherareas ofthenewsindustry. Studyingthemeaningofcommunicationmedia,Berlo(1960)heldthatitwas possibleforamediumofcommunicationtobeacausaldeterminantorfactorinthe communicationprocess,andhespecificallyarguedthatthemediumisacarrierof messages.Whenthesenderandreceiveruseamediumtomediatecommunication, themediumwillactivelydeterminewhatisbeingcommunicatedandthe effectivenessofthecommunication(Berlo,1960).Krugman(1971)alsonotedthat themediumconveysitsownsenseofreality.Readingaprintproduct,suchasa newspaper,ismoreinteractivethanwatchingatelevisionprogram.Thepassive activitydoesnotrequireanyintrospectivethoughtprocess,andthuspeopledonot necessarilylinkthecontentoftheprogramtotheirownlives(Krugman,1971). Whentalkingaboutnewsandmediausedtodisseminatenews,thiscanbe interpretedtomeanthatastoryinthenewspaperwillsendadifferentmessageand adifferentsenseofrealitythanthesamestoryonthetelevision,radio,orthe Internet(Snow,1983).Eachmediumseemstostimulatespecificsensesandideas formostAmericanaudiencemembers.

WhenGutenbergsprintingpresswasinventedinthe1440s,theimpactof thewrittenwordbecamemoreprevalentthaneverbeforebecauseinformation

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couldreachthemassesmorequicklythanbefore.Thewrittenword,becauseofits relianceonvisualperception,emphasizedpeoplesrelianceonthevisual. Snow(1983)notedthatthenewspaperbecameaniconicinstitutionin societyasacrediblesourcefornews.Thenewspaperrepresentedstability,asits basiclayouthadgoneunchangedforahundredyears.Italsorepresented democracyinthatitmaintainedtheroleofwatchdoginAmericansociety. Democracyisdependentonaninformedcitizenship,andthenewspaperhelpedfill andprovidethatrole.Snow(1983)wrotetheprintedwordisaspecialinflection deviceitself.Wordsinprinthaveaformalityinappearancethatlendsalargedegree ofcredibilityoranofficialairtothesubject...Inthissense,aninflectiondevicethat newspapershaveestablishedinthemindsofthepublicisthebeliefthatnewspaper copyhasanofficialappearingreality. Astoryinthenewspaper,becauseofitsformalappearanceandstability offersaconcreteformofcommunication.Thestorycannotbechangedonceitis printedinthenewspaper,givingitasenseoftrustworthiness.Whenpublished onlinethesamestoryisperceivedaseasilymanipulatedandnotasstable.Thereisa directcorrelationbetweentheamountofnewsreceivedonlineandthedeclineof believabilityofnews(Pew,2008;Pew,2009).Despitethiscorrelation,onePoynter studyfoundthataudiencememberstrustinformationonaWebsiteownedbya newspaperortelevisionstationmorethaninformationprintedorbroadcasted

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throughtraditionalmediaoutlets(Post,A.,Adams,J.,Cortese,J.,Heald,G,&DuBard, J.,2009). Levinson(1999)saidthatoneoftheattractionsofnewspapers,booksand otherprintedproductsisthatthewordsarestationaryandstable.TheInternet relievesproblemsofslowcommunication,gatekeepingandshutoutofalternative ideas(Levinson,1999).ThefluidityoftheInternetalsoenableseasymanipulation byusers,creatingbelievabilityproblemsfortheaudience. Photographsinitiatethesameexperienceaswrittenstories.Theiconic natureofthestillimageisamajorfactorinthesuccessofphotojournalism.Someof themostmemorablemomentsofhistorycanbeidentifiedthoughnews photographytheflagraisingatIwoJima,themushroomcloudoverHiroshima, theprotesterinTiananmenSquare,andtheWorldTradeCentertowersstandingfor thelasttime,tonameafew. Helfand(2001)wrotethatthestillpicturecanprovokeandstimulatea personbychallenginghisorherperceptionofauthenticity.Therelationship betweenthehumanmemoryandthetenacityofimagescannotbeunderestimated. Shealsonotedthatdespiteemphasisonmovingpicturesandfilm,theimages peopletendtorememberarestill.Themovementtodigitalphotographyandthe easeofitsmanipulationhasshiftedtherealitythatpeopleonceassociatedwith photographs(Pavlik,2008).Thefilmicimagegivesanarbitraryrealitybecausethe audiencehasaperversehabitofassumingthatthewaytheythinkyouare communicatingisthewaythatyouintendedtocommunicate.Asfarastheyare

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concerned,themessagetheygetistheonlymessagethereistoperceive(Hampe, 2007).Reality,asBazin(1967)remarked,isfragmentedbycameraangles,framing, pointsofview,andothercinematictechniquestocreateameaningthatmightnot haveoriginallybeenthere. Shelton(2004)listedseveraladvantagesanddisadvantagestousingvideo. First,hewrote,videoisavisualmediumanditismultisensory,Thismultisensory quality,withtherightmixofsightandsoundportendsmaximumopportunityfor optimizingcommunicationsandengenderingempathyinouraudiences.However, videohasthedisadvantageofforcingalinearstoryline.AsShelton(2004)explained, videointraditionalformatsmustbeseenfromstarttofinishinthatorderfora viewertoreallygainthemeaningofthenarrative.Theresnotimeforreflective thought,forreviewofdifficultsequences,fordetailedscrutinyofcomplexvisuals,or fordiscussion.Toomuchinformationislostandcannotberetrieved...Film/videos linearityreducessignificantlyitsoveralleffectivenessinteachingcognitiveand perceptualmotorskills. Televisionprogramsattractandretainanaudiencebasedonstereotypes, entertainment,dramaandidealnormsofthemiddleclassinAmerica(Snow,1983). Thepersonalitiesandcharactersontelevisionthatpeoplearemostcomfortable witharethepeoplewhoaremiddleoftheroad,withthesamevaluesandmorals thatthemiddleclassshares(Snow,1983).Televisionentertainmentusesdramato drawtheaudienceandcaptureitsattention.Snow(1983)remarkedthatthisdrama factoralsoseepsintonewsprogramming:

Networknewsisdramaticinseveralrespects.First,theanchorperson

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projectsaseriousandauthoritativedemeanorthatapparentlyonlymiddle agedpeoplecancarryoffsuccessfully.Credibilityisalsodramatically emphasizedbystagingthenewscastinsidethenewsroom.Backgroundmusic enhancestheseriousatmosphere,therhythmandtempospeecharematter offact,storylengthisshort,andalmosteverynewseventhasfilmand graphicstoemphasizevisuallythedrama.Todaythereislittledifference betweenanetworknewscastandtheentertainmentformatusedintheater bothemploydramaticstagingtechniquestoframetheirsubjectmatter.By contrast,localnewscastsintheseventiesusedacomedyframeworkcalled happytalk.Newscastersbanteredbackandforthwithshortquips,there alwaysseemedtobearemoteminicamreportwithsomeeccentriccharacter, whetherforecastersdressedinclownsuits,andthenewscastalwaysended withahumorousbitofirony.Sometimesitseemedtheonlystraight reportingoccurredonthesportssegment. Televisionreportersareseenastheideal.Theyaretruthseekerswhowill

stopatnothingtofindoutthetruthandseekjusticefortheinnocent.Localnews broadcastsoffertoassistpeopleinthecommunitywhofeeltheyhavefallenvictim toawrongdoing.Thereporterson60Minutesarebestknownfortheirexpossof corruptpoliticiansandbusinesspeople.However,Snow(1983)warnedthat televisionnews,becauseofitsdramaandintensity,canleadtowhathecallsan unquestionedtrust.Anchorsappeartobeexpertsonthesubjectstheyreport becauseofthisauthoritativerequirementfortelevision.However,televisionnews

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peoplearenotinitiallyhiredbasedontheirexpertiseinjournalism.Theyarehired fortheirabilitytowriteshort,dramaticstoriesthatcancapturetheattentionofthe massaudience.(Thisisnottosaythatsuccessfultelevisionnewsanchorsand reportersarenothighqualityjournalists.Quitetheoppositeistrueinmanycases.) MorepeoplearereachingtotheInternettofindnewsandinformation(Pew, 2009).WhatistrulysignificantabouttheInternetisitsabilitytoallowimmediate twowaycommunication,likethetelephone.Unlikemanypreviousmedia,the Internetallowsuserstobrowse,review,scan,fastforward,etc.,attheirownpace. Thisprovidestheplatformforthepossibilityoftrulynonlinearstorytelling (Shelton,2004).SheltonwrotethattheinteractivityassociatedwiththeInternet providestheuserwithamessageofcontrolbecauseitcanbeselfpaced,allowing moretimeforcomprehension.TheInternet,Sheltonsaid,givesamultisensory experience,whichagainengendersempathyandoptimizescommunication. However,unlikeotherformsoftwowaycommunication,theInternetallowsa messagetobesentandreceivedbyamassaudience,thusmakingitaunique medium. Newscastsondemandhavechangedthewaytelevisionnewsis disseminated.Anewsconsumercanwatchstoriesfromthemorningnewscast duringlunch.TheuseofstreamingvideoontheInternetandWorldWideWebhas enabledanewkindofnewsconsumerwhoseeksinformationonhistime,notonthe setscheduleofthetelevisionstation.

Aswithvideoondemand,theInternethasalsochangedthewaynewsis disseminated.ThefirstnewspapertostartpublishingonlinewastheColumbus DispatchinJuly1980(Shedden,2010).By1982,TheWashingtonPost,TheNew YorkTimes,TheSanFranciscoChronicle,andeightotherAssociatedPress

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newspapershadpartneredwithCompuServetoprovidenewsonlineviaVideoTex (Shedden,2010).Broadcaststationsalsostartedpostingtextstoriesonlineatthis time.Itwasntuntil1991,whenAppledevelopedQuickTime,thatvideocouldbe postedonline(Lawton,2000).QuickTimeallowedusersonlinetopostvideo; however,usershadtodownloadthevideotoviewit.Onlyinrecentyearshasvideo becomepopularontheWeb.Thistrendcanbeattributedtostreamingcapabilities andshorterdownloadtimescausedbyafasterconnectiontotheWeb. Levinson(1999),playingoffofMcLuhansdescriptionsoftheelectronicage, saidtheInternet,becauseofitsmassiveappeal,providespeoplewithamorerich experience.HeproposedthattheInternet,becauseofthisrichness,canprovidea fullerandmoreaccurateunderstandingofreality.Aswithwrittenstoriesand photographs,anythingontheInternetcanbeperceivedasphonyormanipulated, leadingtoanissueoftrustworthinessandbelievabilityforonlinenews. Ifwecometoknowsomeoneonline,evenseephotographsorlivevideo imagesofhisorherface,westilldonotknowwithcertaintyvariousaspects ofthatpersonwhichwecouldperceiveinaninstantinaninperson encounter:thephotoorevenvideoimage,forexamplecouldbephony. (Levinson,1999)

Thereasonfortheperceiveddisconnectbetweenthenewspaperstory

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printedonpaperandthesamestoryontheInternetisthatanyonecanpublish whatevertheydlikeaboutwhatevertheywantonline,nomattertheirexpertise, education,culture,gender,age,orethnicity.TheInternet,inthisway,canbeusedas arepresentationofdemocratization.Theonlineformatalsoenablesanonymity, whichinturn,providespeoplewithfreedom.Italsogivesthemtheopportunityto lie,distort,andleadpeopleinadirectionthatcouldbeconsideredwrong. TheInternethaschangedthebusinessmodelsofallnewscompanies.While

atonetimetraditionalmediareliedcompletelyonadvertisingrevenuefortheir legacyproducts,nowcompaniesareworkingtofindwaystomaketheirWebsites moreprofitablewithseveraladvertisingstrategies.Theonceloyalaudience memberswhowouldreadthenewspapereverydayathomearenowreadingit onlineforfreeatworkandtheyarecheckingoftenfornewinformation.Thenews company,inturn,shouldbeworkinghardertoprovidenewsfastertoaccommodate thisnewbreedofnewsconsumer.Onlinenewshascreatedanenvironmentin whichspeedandcurrencyoftentakeprecedenceoveraccuracy,factchecking,and multiplesourcing(Pavlik,2008). Interestinnewsishigherthaneveraccordingtothe2007Poynter Eyetrackingstudy(Quinn,Stark,&Edmonds,2007).Previousresearchprovidesa baseofinformationaboutthenewsmediaandhowtheInternethaschangedthe news.However,verylittleresearchhasbeendoneconcerningcommunitynews

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online.ThisstudyaimstofillthatvoidbyanalyzingtwolocalnewsWebsitesforsite designandcontentonline. Thereisnohandbook,notest,forwhichpeopleinthenewsmediacanuseto createaneffectivecommunicativeexperienceontheirWebsites.Withintherealm ofnews,theproblemofmisuseofmediacreatesconfusionandfrustrationfora sophisticatedonlineaudience.Theaudienceformanyofthesenewssitesisfilled withpeoplewhoregularlysurftheInternet.Theyknowwhattolookfortoidentify professionalismandreliability,andthuscredibility,withinaWebsite.Thesenews siteslacktheaestheticsandmediausagetoconstitutecredibilityuponinitial contact.Thisanalysisprovidesastartingpointforthesesiteoperators.

Part3:Method AccordingtoNielsen(2000),usabilityisthemeasurethatdetermines whetherasitegetscustomersornot.Webusersexhibitaremarkableimpatience andinsistenceoninstantgratificationIftheycantfigureouthowtouseawebsitein aminuteorso,theyconcludethatitwontbeworththeirtime.Andtheyleave.This analysisusesusabilitystudiesformuchofthebasisoftheresearch. ThisstudyanalyzesWebsitesownedbytwonewspaperorientedcompanies becausenewspapershavebeendisseminatinginformationontheWeblongerthan othertraditionalnewscompaniessuchasthoseintelevisionandradio(Sheddon, 2010).Previousresearchhasshownthattraditionalcommunitynewscompanies primaryfocusistheirlegacyproduct.TheWebsitesownedbythesecompanies sufferbecausetheWebcomessecond.Thesecompanieshirereporterswhowritea storyforthenewspaper.Thatstoryisthenpublishedonline,unchanged.Inmany cases,thereasonforthisisalackoftime,staffandfinancialresources.Companies whoseprimaryproductistheWebsitedeliveraproductthatismoreimmediate, engagingandinformativetotheironlineaudience. Toshowthistendency,twolocalnewsWebsiteswereselectedforanalysis overthreerandomdaysduringatendayperiod.Thisstudyemployscontent

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analysistoanalyzeandinterpretcorrelationsbetweenthetwosites.Accordingto Krippendorff(2004),Contentanalysisisaresearchtechniqueformakingreplicable andvalidinferencesfromtexts(orothermeaningfulmatter)tothecontextsoftheir use.Thisresearchtechniquegivestheresearcheranobjective,systematic,and replicablemethodtoanalyzetextsandothermeaningfulmattersuchasart, images,maps,andsigns(Krippendorff). Thecontentanalysismethodisbestforthisstudybecauseitisusedto describetrendsincommunicationcontent,tocomparemedia,andtoconstruct communicationstandards(Krippendorff,2004).Thepurposeofthisstudyisto describepossibletrendsincommunitynewsWebsiteaestheticsandcontent,to comparetwocommunitynewsWebsites,andtoconstructstandardsbasedonthe patternsandtrendsutilizedbythetwocompanies. Thefirstofthetwosites(www.TheHeraldBulletin.com)isthatofasmall newspaperlocatedinacityof56,000peopleinIndiana.The20,000circulation newspaperisownedbyasmallmediaconglomerate.TheWebsiteusesthesame templateas75percentofthe130newsWebsitesthecompanyownsthroughout theUnitedStates,thusmakingitagoodrepresentativeofthesitesownedbythe company. ThesecondWebsiteanalyzedinthisstudy(www.annarbor.com)isthe sourceoflocalnewsforacityofabout114,000people.Thesitereplacedthedaily newspaperthatwasoncetheonlysourcefordailynewsinthecity.Accordingto newspaperarticlesabouttheclosingofthenewspaper,TheAnnArborNewshada

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dailycirculationofabout48,500.TheAnnArborWebsitewasdesignedbyAdvance Publicationstorepresentthefutureofonlinenewspapers.Thesitereplacedthe 120yearoldnewspaperasthesoledailynewsproviderinthecity.Accordingtothe publisherLaurelChampion,thenewspaperclosedbecauseofrevenueloss,saying thebusinessmodelwasnotsustainable(Knight,2009).TheclosingofTheAnn ArborNewswasthefirsttimeacityasbigasAnnArborwouldgowithoutadaily newspaper.Othernewspapersthroughoutthecountryhavestartedprintingfewer daysaweekorhavegoneonlineonlybecauseofthechangingmediaenvironment intheUnitedStatesaswellasthecountryseconomicwoes. Outofthemorethan1,400newspapersinexistenceintheUnitedStates, 90%areconsideredmidsizedorsmall(ProjectforExcellenceinJournalism,2009). Researchershavedifferingviewsastowhatconstituteslarge,midsized,andsmall; howeverallmeasurementsarebasedoncirculation.TheAssociatedPressManaging Editors,whenawardingnewspapersforaccomplishments,dividesnewspapersinto threecategories:smallnewspapersarethosewithacirculationofupto39,000; midsizednewspapersarethosewithadailycirculationbetween40,000and 149,999;andlargenewspapersarethosewithacirculationofmorethan150,000 (APME).Basedontheseclassifications,thesiteforTheHeraldBulletinwould representthatofasmallnewspapercompanyandthesiteforAnnArbor.comwould representamediumsizednewspapercompany. Bothsiteswereviewedinthemidstofmorningpeaktraffichours.According totheonlinemanagerofTheHeraldBulletin.com,peakmorninghoursforeachsiteis

from8a.m.to9a.m.everyweekday(J.Schneider,personalcommunication,

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February,23,2010).Schneidersaidthenewssitehitsanotherpeakaroundnoon.At AnnArbor.com,thepeaktraffichoursarefrom8a.m.tonooneveryweekday(A. Nash,personalcommunication,February23,2010).Thedayswerechosen randomlyfromatwoweekperiod.Daysanalyzedwereweekdays,astoshowthe siteduringhightrafficdays.Generally,newsWebsiteshavesimilartrafficpatterns onweekdays,butthetrafficdropsdramaticallyontheweekends.Also,both companieshavesmallerstaffsontheweekends,whichcanaffecthowmuchnewsis postedonlineduringthosedays. Forthethreedays,thesiteswereviewedbetween11a.m.andnoon.By analyzingthesitesatthistime,onesitewasviewedinthemidstofitshightraffic timeandthesecondsitewasviewedimmediatelyafterthepeaktimes.Viewing thematthesametimeensuredthestudywouldbeconsistent.Specifically,ifamajor newseventhadhappenedduringthestudyperiod,analyzingbothsitesatthesame timewouldkeepresultscomparable.Bothsiteshaveautomatictimestampson storiestoindicatewhentheyarepublishedonline.Eachsitestoptenstorieswere analyzedduringthesetimes.Thetoptenstoriesweredeterminedbytheir proximitytothepriorityspotsonthepage.Onlythestoriesonthemainpagewere analyzedbecausethemainpageisaconglomerationofthestoriesfromtheother pagesonthesite.Also,themainpageislikelytochangemoreoften. Thiscontentanalysiscomparesthetwositesbasedongeneral,contentand usabilitystandardsoutlinedinpreviousresearch.Throughthedecades,peoplehave

createdstandardstheyusetodeterminewhetheranewspaperoratraditional

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broadcastnewscastisreliableandcredible.Individualswillevaluatenewssources differentlybasedondemographic,socialandpsychologicalfactors(Alexander& Tate,1999).However,AlexanderandTatelistfivespecificstandardsessentialto theevaluationprocesswhetherfortraditionalmediaorforonlinemedia.These are Authority:theextentofexpertisetheauthorororganizationhasover thetopicathand. Accuracy:theextentofqualityoftruthandprecisenesswithinthe contextoftheWebsite,aswellasthefreedomoferrorwithinthe copyonthesite. Objectivity:therepresentationoffactsinanindependent,fairand accuratemanner,withoutmuchopinionorotherbiases. Currency:theidentificationthattheinformationonthesiteiscurrent anduptodate. Coverage:thedepthofreportingabouttheparticulartopiconthesite.

Innews,thesepointscouldincludeelementssuchastheinclusionofthe nameoftheauthorandorganizationresponsibleforthecontentontheWebpage; thedateandtimethepagewaslastupdated;clearlylabeledopinionwriting; frequentupdates;andanindicationthateditorsorfactcheckershavereviewedthe informationprovided(Alexander&Tate,1999).WhileAlexanderandTateprovidea startingpointforevaluation,theydonotgoindepthwiththeiranalysisof

evaluatingnewscontentontheWeb.Oneofthereasonsforthiscouldbebecause theWebwasstillarelativelynewconcepttomostofthepublicin1999. SuccessfulWebsitesareeasytouse,followingbasicusabilitystandards.

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NielsenandPernice(2009)identifiedpriorityspotsonWebpages,wherethemost importantinformationfortheusershouldbelocated.Thehighestpriorityspotsare generallyintheuppercontentarea,belowtheglobalnavigation.ThisiswhereWeb usersgenerallylookforinformationfirst. ContentisasimportantasusabilitywhenitcomestoWebsites.Contentthat isconsistentlyhardtounderstandorinaccuratewilldriveusersawayfromthesite. Pavlik(2008)outlinesfourformsofcontentfordigitalmedia: 1. Repurposedcontentusingatraditionalmediadesignormodel.The contentisproducedforthetraditionaldeliverysystem,butinsteadis deliveredviatheInternetorotherdigitaldeliverysystemsuchas mobiledevices.Thismightincludeanewsarticlethatistaken directlyfromthenewspaperandnotchangedatallfortheWebsite. 2. Repurposedcontentfeaturingadesignuniquetodigitalmediaor onlineenvironment.Thismightincludeanewspaperarticle unchangedfortheWeb,butithashyperlinksinit. 3. Originalcontentbasedontraditionalmediadesignormodel.This wouldincludeanonlineonlystoryforanewspaperornews broadcastthatiswrittenasifitweregoingtobeprintedor broadcast.

4. Originalcontentfeaturingadesignuniquetoadigitalmediaor onlineenvironment.Thiskindofcontentwouldincludeblogs, interactivecontent,orvideowithhotspots(i.e.embeddedlinksor othermediaobjectssuchashighresolutionimages). ThefourthformofcontentiswhatPavliksaysrepresentsthefutureof

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media.Mediaorganizationsareincreasinglyaddingthistypeofcontentontotheir Websitestoengagethenextgenerationofmediauser.Moreover,appetitesfora moreinteractiveandcustomizablejournalismareemerginginwhichtraditional newsmediafaceasomewhatdubiousfuture,withaudiencesfortraditionalnews mediaformsdwindling(Pavlik,2008). Todaysnewsreadersseekdirectcontactbetweenthemselvesandthe journalistswhoreportthenews.Fromcommentingonstoriesonlinetoaddingto storiesonwikisandblogs,theideaofinteractionbetweentheconsumerandthe producerhasbecomeanormformanynewsorganizations.Byengagingsources andaudiencesinadailydialog,whetheronlineoroff,(newsorganizations)can improvethequalityoftheirreportingandreestablishthemselvesascentraltothe democraticprocessintheUnitedStatesandaroundtheworld(Pavlik,2008). AccordingtoNielsenandPernice(2009),imagesonlinecapturepeoples attentionwhentheyarehighcontrastandhighquality;croppedratherthanscaled tofitasmallspace;easytointerpret,notexcessivelydetailed;andrelatedtothe contentofthepage.Conversely,peopleignoreimagesonlinethatarelowcontrast andlowquality;toobusyforthespace;looklikeadvertisements;boring;and

unrelatedtothecontentonthepage.TheNielsenandPerniceeyetrackingstudy

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foundthatpeoplearemorelikelytolookatanimagethatrelatestothecontenton thepagethanagenericoneoronethataddslittlevaluetothepage.Whenreadinga CNNarticleaboutsmugglerswhoforcedSomalirefugeesfromtheirboatsinto sharkinfestedwaters,peoplelookedattheimageoftheboatsthataccompaniedthe article.Somelookedattheboatsafewtimes(Nielsen&Pernice,2009). AccordingtoNielsenandPernice(2009),peoplelookforspecificdesign standardsontheWebsuchasalogointheupperleftcornerofallpages,a navigationalmenuacrossthetoporalongtheleft,aHomebuttoninornearthe menuonthefarleft,andanopensearchfieldontheupperrightofthepage.Web pagesthatareclutteredordifficultdesignsmakepeoplelesslikelytofindwhat theywant.Onlyapersonwhoreallyneedssomethingonaparticularsitewillgrin andbearitthroughanunpleasantuserexperience(Nielsen&Pernice,2009). NielsenandPernice(2009)alsoreportthatsomecontentcreatedforanother medium,suchastelevision,isnotgreattoexperienceontheWeb.Theexample NielsenusesisavideoofapersontalkingaboutHurricaneKatrinarescueeffortson CNN.com.AuseroftheCNNsitelookedatthedoctortalking,butthenhiseye traveledtootherpartsofthepagewhilehestilllistenedtothevideo.Generally, peoplebecomeboredwithtalkingheadvideosbutwillcontinuelisteningtothe videoiftheyareinterestedinthetopic(Nielsen&Pernice,2009). Avideo,suchasthetrailerfortheHarryPottermovieTheGobletofFire, translateswelltotheWebbecausethequalityishighandthesubjectsappear

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mostlyinthemiddleandthecontentisfastmovingandexciting(Nielsen&Pernice, 2009).Ifpeoplechoosethevideocontenttowatch,suchasatelevisionshowor wellproducedmovietrailer,theywillwatchtheentiretyoftheproduction. Instructionalanimationsalsoreceiveagreatdealofattention,accordingtothe eyetrackingstudy. AmajoradvantagetheInternethasoveratraditionalnewspaperis

immediacy.Journalistscanprovideinformationandnewsinatimelymanner, updatingstoriesastheyhappenratherthanwaitinguntilthenextpresstime (Gunter,2003).WebsitedesignersandonlinemarketersagreethatupdatingaWeb sitefrequentlyisnecessarytomaintainarelevantsitetousers.Freshcontenthelps WebpagesrankhighonsearchenginessuchasGoogleandYahoo.Newcontentalso showsanaudiencethatthesiteiscurrentandworthreturningto.Ifasiteoperator wantsuserstoreturndaily,thenhemustupdatethesitedaily.Ifusersshould returnmorethanonceaday,thenthesiteshouldbeupdatedmorethanonceaday (Websource,2009). AccordingtoPew(2009),manypeoplewouldnotcareiftheirlocal

newspaperweretoshutdowncompletely.However,thesamestudyshowedthat41 percentofthosesurveyedgottheirlocalnewsfromthenewspaper,andabout48 percentsaidtheygottheirlocalnewsfromthenewspaperanditsWebsite.Online userscanfindnationalnewsatseveralothersitessuchasCNN.com,MSNBC.com, andWSJ.com.Thelocalnewspaperandthelocalnewstelevisionstationare sometimestheonlyplacewherepeoplecangetnewsaboutthecommunitytheylive

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in.OnlinethenewspapersWebsiteshouldservethesameneedsbyprovidinglocal content.Accordingtoonesurveyfrom1999,usersofnewsWebsitesseeklocal newsfromlocalnewsWebsites(Phipps,1999).Localnewswasvaluedmorethan anyothertypeofcontentincludingweather,national,andtheclassified advertisements.Fornewspaperswithacirculationoflessthan250,000,the importanceoflocalnewsjumpedalmost30percent(Phipps,1999). Basedonthisresearch,thisanalysiswillconsiderthefollowinghypotheses:

H1:NewsorganizationswhoseprimaryproductistheWebsitewillmore oftenpostthemostimportantinformationinthepriorityspotsofthepage thannewsorganizationswhoseWebsiteisnottheprimaryproduct. H2:NewsorganizationswhoseprimaryproductistheWebsitewillprovide picturesthatpertaintothespecificstorymoreoftenthannewsorganizations whoseWebsiteisnottheprimaryproduct. H3:NewsorganizationswhoseprimaryproductistheWebsitewillproduce videosthatarefastpacedandcapturetheattentionoftheusermoreoften thannewsorganizationswhoseWebsiteisnottheprimaryproduct. H4:NewsorganizationswhoseprimaryproductistheWebsitewillupdate theirsitemorefrequentlyduringpeakhoursthananewsorganizationwhose Websiteisnottheprimaryproduct. H5:NewsorganizationswhoseprimaryproductistheWebsitewillproduce morespecificallylocalcontentforthesitethannewsorganizationswhose Websiteisnottheprimaryproduct.

Part4:ResultsoftheAnalysis R1:NewsorganizationswhoseprimaryproductistheWebsitemoreoften postthemostimportantinformationinthepriorityspotsofthepagethan newsorganizationswhoseWebsiteisnottheprimaryproduct. Afterreviewingthemainpageandthetoptenstories(basedonplacement onthepage)ofbothsites,resultsshowthatbothnewsorganizationsplacedthe sametypesofinformationinthepriorityspotsonthepage.Asnotedearlier,the priorityspotonthepageisintheuppercontentarea,belowtheglobalnavigation (Nielsen&Pernice,2009).Eachday,thenewswasshowcasedinthisspotonthe page.Partofthiscanbeattributedtoconsistentdesign. Generally,anewsroombasesitsnewshierarchyonseveralnews characteristicssuchastimeliness,proximity,conflict,prominence,effectand novelty.Thesecharacteristicsareusedtodecidewhatstoriesarenewsworthyand wherethestorieswillbeplacedinthenewspaperorinthebroadcast.Basedon priorworkexperiencewithTheHeraldBulletinandAnnArbor.com1,both organizationsusesimilarsystemstodecidewhatisatopnewsstorybothinthe printversionandtheonlineversion. Online,bothsitesusedtimebasedsystemstopresentthenews,thusthe generalnewshierarchywasdisplaced.However,AnnArbor.comdidplacesome
1IworkedatTheHeraldBulletinasastaffreporterfromMay2007toAugust2008.Iworkedat

AnnArbor.comasaninternduringJulyandAugust2009.TheworkexperienceIvehadwithboth organizationswasafactorinthechoicetousetheseorganizationsascasestudiesforthisanalysis.

emphasisonthestoriesthatthepeopleinthenewsroomthoughtweremost

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newsworthy.Thesestorieswerepositionedatthetopofthepriorityspot.Whilethe topnewsforTheHeraldBulletinwascompletelytimebased,themostimportant newsforAnnArbor.comwasdividedfromtherestinaTopNewssectionatthetop ofthepage,thenunderthatwasasectioncalledTodayinAnnArborthatfeatured atimebasedsystemofsortingstories.Bydoingthis,thestaffatAnnArbor.comis implementingsomeofitsjournalistictrainingandexpertisebyhelpingusersdecide whatstoriestheyshouldreadbasedonnewsvaluesandcharacteristics. Partofajournalistsjobistorelayinformationthatcontainscontextaround aparticulareventortrendsothestorypertainstotheaverageaudiencemembers life.Listsoffuneralsoreventsdonotperformthisaction.Theselistswhiletheydo providetimelyinformationdonotcontaincontextorotherjournalistic characteristics.Thetimebasedsystemmoveditemssuchaslistsofeventsand funeralsforeachdayintothetoptenlistings.Whiletheselistsdoexhibitsomeof thenewsvalues,theyarenotwhatmanyconsidertobenewsbyastandard definition. Table1 TypesofItemsPostedDuringPeakHours Sites Site1(THB) Day1 Day2 Day3 Total Site2(AA) Day1 Day2 NewsArticle 7 8 8 23(76.7%) 8 9 Other 3 2 2 7(23.3%) 2 1 Total 10 10 10 30(100%) 10 10

Day3 9 1 Total 26(86.7%) 4(13.3%) THB=TheHeraldBulletin.com,AA=AnnArbor.com 10 30(100%)

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Bothsitesfeaturedarticlesthatwerejustlistsofeventsorsomethingsimilar (arrests,births,etc.).Thesetypesofitemscomprisedabout23%(7)ofthe30 storiesanalyzedonTheHeraldBulletin.comduringthestudyperiod;theycomprised about13%(4)ofthe30storiesanalyzedonAnnArbor.comduringthesameperiod. Basedonthisinformation,theresultsshowthatwhilebothsitesusesimilar systemstosortnewsonline,thenewsorganizationwhoseprimaryproductisthe Websitedoespresentthemostimportantinformationinthesenseofnews valuesandcharacteristicsinthepriorityspotsonthepagemoreoftenthanthe siteofanorganizationwhoseprimaryproductisthenewspaper.Notonlydoes AnnArbor.comusesomehierarchyfornewsworthinessonitssite,butitalsouses moreofitspriorityspotsonthepagefornewsratherthaninformationalitems. R2:NewsorganizationswhoseprimaryproductistheWebsiteprovide picturesthatpertaintothespecificstorymoreoftenthannewsorganizations whoseWebsiteisnottheprimaryproduct. Accordingtoresearch,imagesthatappearonsitesshouldbedirectlyrelated

totheideasthatapageistryingtoconvey(Nielsen&Pernice,2009).Accordingto thestudybyNielsenandPernice,peoplelookatimagesonlinethatareunrelatedor somewhatrelatedtothepageonly14percentofthetime.However,imagesthat wererelatedtothecontentwerelookedat29percentofthetime(Nielsen& Pernice,2009).Innews,visualjournalists(i.e.designers)trytousephoto illustrationsorotherrepresentativegraphicwhentheydonothaveaphotograph

thatpertainsdirectlytothestory.However,asthisresearchindicates,those illustrationsarerarelyapointofinterestforusers. Table2 TypesofVisualElementsthatAccompanyNewsItemsOnline Sites Pictures Illustrations Site1(THB) Day1 5 0 Day2 2 0 Day3 3 0 Total 10(33.3%) 0(0.0%) Site2(AA) Day1 8 1 Day2 9 0 Day3 7 2 Total 24(80%) 3(10%) THB=TheHeraldBulletin.com,AA=AnnArbor.com None 5 8 7 20(66.7%) 1 1 1 3(10%)

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Total 10 10 10 30(100%) 10 10 10 30(100%)

Thisstudylookedathowoftenthetwonewsorganizationsstudiedused

photographsthatpertaineddirectlytothespecificstoryonthepage.Thestudy showedthatthehypothesiswasoverwhelminglycorrect.Mostofthetime(66%), storiesonTheHeraldBulletin.comdidnothaveapicturewiththem,letalonea picturethatpertaineddirectlytothespecificstory.Ontheotherhand, AnnArbor.comhadpicturesthatdirectlypertainedtothestory80%(24)ofthe time.Thesiteforthenewspaperdidnothaveanyillustrationsforstories,whilethe sitethatistheprimaryproducthadthreecasesinwhichtheonlypicturewiththe storywasrepresentativeoranillustration. R3:NewsorganizationswhoseprimaryproductistheWebsiteproducevideos thatarefastpacedandcapturetheattentionoftheusermoreoftenthannews organizationswhoseWebsiteisnottheprimaryproduct.

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VideoisrelativelynewtotheWeb.Untilrecently,aslowspeedtoaccessthe Webwasalimitationtotheamountofvideothatcouldbeuploadedandviewed online.However,inthepastcoupleofyears,broadbandhaspenetratedamuch largergroupofWebusers,andvideohasbecomemoreimportantandprevalenton theWeb.In2005,theserviceYouTubestarted.Onlyfiveyearslater,itholds millionsofvideosthatareviewedbymillionsofpeopledaily.Newsorganizations, especiallynewspapercompanies,haveonlyrecentlystartedaddingvideocontent ontheirsites. ThisstudyfoundthatTheHeraldBulletinveryrarelyusesvideowithits storiesonline.ThelastvideouploadedtothesitesPhotos&Videossectionwas threedaysbeforetheanalysisstarted.Thevideobeforethatwaspublishedalmost threeweeksprior.Mostofthevideosaresportsrelated.Asitpertainstothisstudy, therewerenoinstancesinwhichvideowasusedtoenhancethenewsstories analyzedonTheHeraldBulletin.com. Table3 Numberofvideosusedoneachsite Sites Video NoVideo Site1(THB) 0(0%) 30(100%) Site2(AA) 5(17%) 25(83%) THB=TheHeraldBulletin.com,AA=AnnArbor.com ThejournalistsatAnnArbor.comusedvideomoreoftenthan TheHeraldBulletin.comtoenhancetheirstoriesonline.However,outofthe30 storiesanalyzed,only5(17%)hadvideoswiththem.Noneofthevideosfeatured

talkingheads,whichasnotedbefore,isgenerallyboringtoaudiencemembers (Nielsen&Pernice,2009).

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R4:NewsorganizationswhoseprimaryproductistheWebsiteandwhose primaryproductisanothermediumupdatetheirsitesrightbeforepeakhours withfreshcontent,butnotduringthepeakhoursasoften. Asnotedpreviously,thepeakhoursforbothnewssitesarebetween8a.m. andnoon.ThesiteforTheHeraldBulletinexperiencesapeakbetween8a.m.and9 a.m.andagainaroundlunchtime(J.Schneider,personalcommunication,February 23,2010),andthesameistrueforAnnArbor.com(A.Nash,personal communication,February23,2010).Forthisanalysis,eachsitewasviewedonce between11a.m.andnoonforthethreedays.Bothsitesuseanautomatically generatedtimestamptoindicatewhattimeastoryispublishedonline.Usingthese timestamps,theanalysisshowedthatbothsitespublishedmostofthecontentright beforethepeakhoursatabout7:45a.m.orslightlyearlier,notduringthepeak hoursaspreviouslyhypothesized. Table4 FrequencyofUpdatesDuringPeakHours Sites Peak NotPeak Site1(THB) Day1 3 7 Day2 1 9 Day3 3 7 Total 7(23.3%) 23(76.7%) Site2(AA) Day1 5 5 Day2 1 9 Day3 2 8 Total 8(26.7%) 22(73.3%) THB=TheHeraldBulletin.com,AA=AnnArbor.com Total 10 10 10 30(100%) 10 10 10 30(100%)

About27%(8)ofthestoriespostedonAnnArbor.comwereaddedduring peakhours.About23%(7)ofthestoriesonTheHeraldBulletin.comwereadded duringpeakhours.However,onbothsitesthemajorityofstorieswereadded

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between5a.m.and7a.m.,whichallowstheWebsitestohavefreshcontentbefore thepeakhoursstart. R5:NewsorganizationswhoseprimaryproductistheWebsitepublish specificallylocalcontentforthesiteslightlymoreoftenthannews organizationswhoseWebsiteisnottheprimaryproduct. Asindicatedpreviously,audiencemembersgotolocalnewsWebsites

becausethesitesareoftentheonlyplacesforthemtofindoutinformationabout theircommunity;thus,communitynewsWebsitesshouldplaceasignificant emphasisonpublishedlocal,originallyreportednews.Theanalysisfoundthatboth sitesdoproducelocalcontentfortheWebmoreoftenthantheypostnewswireor nationalcontent. Table5 Numberoflocallyproducedstories Sites Local Wire Site1(THB) 30(100%) 0(0%) Site2(AA) 28(93%) 2(7%) THB=TheHeraldBulletin.com,AA=AnnArbor.com Lessthan7%ofthestoriespublishedonTheHeraldBulletin.comwerefrom thenewswireTheAssociatedPress.AllofthestoriespublishedonAnnArbor.com werelocallyproduced.

Part5:Discussion Analysis Theresultsofthisanalysiscanbeattributedtothewayeachorganization runs.Basedontheanalysisandpreviousworkexperiencewithbothcompanies,the resultsemphasizethatthenewspapercompanyfocusesontheprintproduct primarily.Themostobviousindicationofthisisthelackofpicturesandvideothat complementstoriesontheWebsite.Becausethenewspapersfirstpriorityisthe printproduct,photographersanddesignersusemostoftheirtimeandenergyon theneedsoftheprintedition.Ifastoryhasapictureinthenewspaper,itwill probablyhaveapictureonline.However,thismeansthatifthestoryinthe newspaperdoesnotneedagraphicelement,thestoryonlinewillnothaveone. Thesameistrueofvideo.Anewspapercannotprintvideo,andthusthe companywhosenewspaperwastheprimaryproductdidnotpostanyvideoduring theperiodofthisanalysis.Asexplainedearlier,videoonlineisstillafairlynew concept,andmanycommunitynewscompaniesdonothavetheequipment,staff,or trainingtoshoot,edit,andpostvideosontheWeb. Theresultofnographics,pictures,orvideo,isatextheavypagethatcanbe construedasboringtotheaudience.AccordingtoNielsenandPernice(2009),pages

shouldbevisuallyinterestingtokeepanaudience.Picturesandvideosareonlya

36

coupleofseveralwaystodothis.Thesameresearchsuggestedotherwaystobreak upapagesuchaschunkinginformationinsteadofdesigningitallinahomogenous formatandprovidingheadingsforeachsection. Also,theresultsindicatethatbothsiteswerecateringtotheaudienceby postinginformationimmediatelybeforehightraffichours.Peakhours,asdescribed earlier,happenwhenprofessionalsgettowork(8a.m.to9a.m.)andagainaround lunchtime.Bothsitesusedinthisanalysisseemedtousethesepeakhoursas guidelinesofwhentopostcontent.Thesitesalsopublishedmostlylocalcontent, whichalsoindicatesthatthecompaniesaretryingtoprovidestoriesand informationthatlarger,nationalsitesdonot.ForAnnArbor.com,thebusinessmodel isbasedontheideaofhyperlocalnews,whichmeansthatthemainnewspriority forthesiteisproximity.Accordingtothismindset,peoplecanfindstoriesfromthe AssociatedPressorotherwireserviceselsewhereontheWeb. Limitations Itisimportanttocriticallyevaluatetheresultsandthewholestudy.This studyhaslimitationsthatshouldbetakenintoaccountwhenconsideringtheresults andtheirimplications.Someoftheselimitationscanbeusedasstartingpointsfor futureresearch. Thisanalysisaimedtoshowthecurrentstateofprofessionallyproduced communitynewsontheWeb.OutofthehundredsofprofessionalnewsWebsites updateddailyintheUnitedStates,onlytwowereusedinthisstudy.Thesamplesize

canbeseenasalimitationasitrepresentsonlyasmallportionofthenumberof professionalnewsWebsitesinthecountry.Thesetwositeswereusedas representationsoftraditionalcommunitynewsWebsites.However,bothcome frommediumsizedMidwesterncities.Sitesbasedinlargercitiesandindifferent

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regionscouldgarnermuchdifferentresults.Othersitesandotherregionsreportfor audienceswithdifferentneedsandintereststhanthosewholiveinthese Midwesterncities. Thenumberofstoriesanalyzedcanalsobeconsideredasmallsamplesize, astheyareonlypartofanongoingprocessofnewstellingthatcontinuesdailyall overthecountry.Intheentiretyofthisstudy,60newsitemswereanalyzed. However,theseitemswerecompletelydependentonthestaffsizeandproductivity ofeachorganization;theamountofnewshappeningineachcity;andtheeditorial processateachorganizationputtingthecontentontheWeb.Staffsizecouldchange theresultofonhowmanystoriesarereportedandhowmanyofthosestoriesmake ittotheWebproduct. Thestudywasdoneovera10dayperiodinFebruaryandMarch2010.Days werechosenatrandomduringthistimeperiod.However,nomajornewsevent (suchasaSuperBowloralargeearthquake)happenedduringthisresearchperiod. Majornewseventschangethedynamicsofanewsroomdramatically.Despitethe hyperlocalmentalityofAnnArbor.com,ifanationalnewseventhadhappened,the staffwouldhavebeenassignedstoriestolocalizethenationalevent.Thesameis trueofTheHeraldBulletin.Iftheresearchperiodhadbeenoveralongerperiodof

38

time,therecouldhavebeenalargerpossibilitythatamajornewseventwouldhave happened,thuschangingthestatisticscollected. Futureresearch Furtherresearchofcommunitynewsisneededtoconfirmandexpandonthe informationfoundduringthisstudy.Alargercontentanalysisthatincludesmore communitynewssitesandmorenewsitemsoveralongerperiodoftimeis necessarytoshowatrendincommunitynews.Wang(2006)suggestedthatwhen performingacontentanalysisofonlinenews,thebestsampletotestconsistencyof anewsWebsitewouldrequirecollectionofatleast50samplesoverarandomsix dayperiodfromeachsite.Byresearchingsitesforalongerperiodoftimeand collectingmoresamplesfromeachsite,theresearchercaninvestigatethesites consistencywitheachitem(Wang).Also,furtherresearchmightincludetheWeb sitesofbroadcastnewscompanies,astheyareonlyrecentlyusingtheWebasa marketfornewaudiencemembers.Futureresearchcouldcomparetrendsbetween newspaperWebsitesandbroadcastWebsites. ThenewsandtheWebarechangingatsuchaquickpacethatastudylikethis onequicklybecomesobsoleteasnewtechnologyandnewstorytellingmethodsare usedtodisseminatenews.NielsenandPernice(2009)notedintheirstudythatthe presentationofmultiplemediaontheWebhasincreasinglyimprovedinthepast decadeandusershavecometoexpectmore.Thewaypeopleviewandusethe multimediacontentonaWebsitewillmostlikelychangeevenmoreinthenext decade.

Thetechnologyusedtodisseminatenewshaschangeddramaticallyinthe pastdecadeaswell.Newspapersandtelevisionstationshavebecomepartofan

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intricatesystemofmediausedtofindoutinformation.Thisstudymainlyfocusedon theWebsitesoftwonewsorganizationsbeingviewedonacomputerscreen.Future researchshouldtakemobiledevicesandothersystemsintoaccount. Finally,themajorityofpreviousstudieshadresearchedanationalaudience, andthus,nationalnewssites.Moreresearchisneededintheareaofcommunity newsandcommunitynewsoutlets,asthemajorityofnewsisdisseminatedthrough them.Specifically,aresearchershouldcomparelocallyownednewspaperssuchas TheElkhartTruthtoconglomerateownednewspaperssuchasthoseownedby GannettorScripps. Conclusion ThisanalysissuggeststhatsomecommunitynewsWebsitesareusing techniquesdescribedbyWebexpertsaseffectivemeansofusabilityand communicationforcontentandaestheticsontheirsites.Thisimpliesthat companieswithoutthefinancialmeanstopayforextensivefocusgroupsand usabilitytestingsuchasTheHeraldBulletincanstillstaywiththetrendsonthe Web. However,thesestandardsareboundtochangeastechnologycontinuesto advance.Onlyafewyearsago,picturesweredifficulttoloadonaWebpage.Now,a Webpagewithoutsomegraphicelementisconsideredboring.Soonsiteswithout videowillsufferfromthesameclassification.Asbroadbandpenetratesmoreand

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moreoftheInternetuserpopulation,moreinteractiveelementsandvideoswillbe expectedtokeeptheattentionofaudiencemembers. Asthistechnologybecomesmoreprevalent,companiesthatdisseminate

communitynewswillneedtoinvestfarmoreintheWeb.HiringWebspecificstaff suchasinteractivitydevelopers,Webwriters,andvideoeditors,isjustoneofmany needsthatmustbeaddressedattheselocalnewscompanies.Whilesomesuggest trainingcurrentstafftoperformthesefunctions,itisimportanttonotethata separatestaffemphasizestheimportanceoftheWebsite.Thatemphasisonthe Webiswhatdifferentiatesanewsorganizationthatcanadapttochangeandone thatcannot.Ultimatelytheorganizationthatcannotadaptwillfail. AfactorinthenewsslowmovetotheWebisthelackofasuccessful

businessmodelforWebbasednewscompanies(Garrison,2005).While AnnArbor.comisattemptingtocreateasuccessfulmodel,ithasyettoprovethatthe businessmodelissustainable.WhentransitioningfromTheAnnArborNewsto AnnArbor.com,thecompanycuthundredsofstaffmembers.Becauseofthelackofa successful,sustainablebusinessmodel,companiesthatstillprimarilyproducea newspaperhavebeenreluctanttoproduceonlineonlycontent(Salwen,2005). However,theneedandaudienceispresentforonlinenews.Asonlinenews

becomesevenmoreprevalenttoAmericans,thesecompanieswillhavetoadaptand offeronlineexclusivesthatincludeinvestigativereports.Onlinenewssiteswill havetoofferoriginalnewsiftheyaretoevolveintomorelegitimateandoriginal

newsresourcesintheirownrightandbecomemorethanpromotionaloutletsfor parentmediaoutlets(Salwen,2005). Online,newscanbesupplementedwithpowerfulelementsthataddtothe

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contentinanewsstory.Withaddedcontentsuchasvideosandinteractivegraphics, audiencememberscaneasilybecomemoreinformedabouttheircommunityand theissuesthataffectthem.IndependentsitessuchasSalonandSlateshowthat thereisanaudienceforindepth,originalonlinenews(Salwen,2005).Knowing this,communitynewssitesshouldtakemoreinitiativetoproduceindepthreports aboutissuesandpeopleintheircommunity. Anexampleofthistypeofnewsreportingmightcomeintheformofshort

photobaseddocumentarieslikethoseonthesiteMediaStorm.org,whichhasbeen verysuccessfulincreatingmeaningful,impactfulnarrativesaboutissuesthatface peoplethroughouttheworld.Despiteanobviousbiasfortheunderdog,thestories featuredonMediaStormareinformative,yetcapturing. AnotherexampleofthistypeofstorytellingistheshortdocumentaryAlhur:

TheFreeOnes.ThisnarrativefollowsthesameideasasthoseonMediaStorm.org; however,thedocumentaryandtheWebsiteforthedocumentaryweremadeovera longperiodoftimebyasmallgroupofpeople.Thisdocumentaryfollowsthelivesof afamilyofIraqirefugeesastheytrytoadjusttoAmericancultureandlifestyles.The documentaryusesthisfamilyasrepresentativesofagroupofpeopleintheUnited States.Theyhavethesameproblemsasthousandsofotherrefugeesthroughoutthe country;however,theirlocalitytotheIndianapolisareamakesthestorymuchmore

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prevalenttoaudiencemembersintheMidwest.Thisstoryalsobringsawarthatis thousandsofmilesawaybacktotheUnitedStatesandintothelivesofAmericans. OntheWebsiteforthedocumentary(www.thealhurs.com),thereareseveral

shortvideosandinteractivegraphicsforpeopletousetofindoutmoreaboutthe IraqifamilyandtheIraqirefugeesituationinAmerica.Thevideosonthissiteare lessthanthreeminuteslong.Asstudieshaveshown,highlyproduced,shortform videosaregainingpopularityonline(Rick,2009).Thissiteprovidesthattypeof contenttocomplementthelongformstoryinthedocumentary. NewspapersandothernewsWebsitesshouldconsiderprojectslikethisfor

theirWebsites.Aprojectlikethisonecouldbedonebyasmallstaffatacommunity newsoffice.Storieslikethisareavailableineverycommunity,andwhiletheytakea longhoursandinvestigativereporting,siteslikeMediaStormhaveshownthatthere isanaudienceforthesetypesofinvestigationsandnarratives.Addingashortvideo doesnotrequiremuchmorethanareporterhavingavideocamerawiththemat interviewsandevents.ForTheAlhurs.com,theshortvideoscamefromcontentthat couldnotbeusedinthedocumentary.IfnotfortheWebsite,thiscontentwould havestayedonthetapesnevertobeseenagain. Journalistsonthejobhuntarecontinuallybeingaskedforskillsinmultiple

mediaplatforms,buttheevidenceoftheseskillshasyettoberealizedonline. Companiesshouldtaketheinitiativetogiveeachreporteracameraandreallypush formultimediacontent.PriorexperienceatAnnArbor.comshowedthatthe companyplacedmoreemphasisongettingthatextracontentfortheWebsite;

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while,experienceatTheHeraldBulletinshowedamuchlargeremphasisonfilling spaceinthenewspaper,leavingmultimediabehind.Ofcourseitisimportanttonote thatTheHeraldBulletinstaffdoesnothavethetrainingortheequipmentnecessary toeasilyproducevideofortheWeb. Insummary,communitynewssitesshouldtakemoreinitiativetobepresent

ontheWeb.HavingaWebsitewiththenewsthatwasinthenewspaperisnot enough.Online,sitesshouldhaveinteractiveelementsthatcomplementthestories andhelpaudiencemembersrelatetothestories.Thesesitesshouldalsoinvestin longterm,indepth,visualreporting,astherehasbeenevidenceofademandfor thistypeofstorytellingonline.Whileanewspaperreportercantellaveryindepth storyin40inchesofcopyonnewsprint,theaudienceislookingforthedepthbut withvisualsthatkeeptheirattention.Theyareseekinganarrativethattheycan relatetoandthattellsacompellingstory,whileatthesametimeexplainsa complicatedprocessintermstheycanrelatetoandunderstand.

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