Online News and the Public

Online News and the Public

Online News and the Public

Online News and the Public

Synopsis

This volume offers unique and timely insights on the state of online news, exploring the issues surrounding this convergence of print and electronic platforms, and the public's response to it. It provides an overview of online newspapers, including current trends and legal issues and covering issues of credibility and perceptions by online news users. The heart of the book is formed by empirical studies-mostly social surveys-coming out of the media effects and uses traditions. The chapters are grounded in theoretical frameworks and bring much-needed theory to the study of online news. The frameworks guiding these studies include media credibility, the third-person effect, media displacement, and uses and gratifications. The book ends with a section devoted to research on online news postings. This book is appropriate for scholars, researchers, and students in journalism, mass communication, new media, and related areas, and will be of interest to anyone examining how people use the web as a source for news.

Excerpt

Online news, as we know it today, did not exist a decade ago. It did not exist at all just two decades ago. Today, there are thousands of newspapers, television and radio stations, magazines, and other publications that have a presence on the World Wide Web. Every day, millions of Web users read the news, view it, or listen to it on demand.

In recent years, communication researchers have conducted a number of studies about computer-mediated communication. Interest in the Internet and World Wide Web suggests we can expect an explosion of more research in coming years. Ironically, the early history of the computer gave no hint that this technology would evolve into a mass communication medium. “Computers were not originally perceived as communication tools, ” Rogers and Malhotra (2000) noted. “The early use of computers was limited to number-crunching and other repetitive data-handling tasks. The potential of computers for human communication, and thus for digital democracy, however, has been realized most fully only in the 1990s with the rapid diffusion of the Internet” (p. 10).

Perhaps the most pertinent application of the Internet and World Wide Web to “digital democracy” is as a news medium. Society extols the “informed citizen” conversant in public issues. It also prizes a vibrant news media, furnishing citizens with information about public issues. Admittedly, the informed citizen and the vibrant news media are ideals. Nonetheless, both concepts underscore the role of citizens and the news media in sustaining democracy (Bertelsen, 1992; Bogart, 1995; Carpini, 2000; Poindexter & McCombs, 2001; Wilkins, 2000). New media, or new forms of delivery of media messages, raise hopes and concerns about whether they will contribute to an informed public.

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