Academic journal article Newspaper Research Journal

How Newspaper Reporters Use the Web to Gather News

Academic journal article Newspaper Research Journal

How Newspaper Reporters Use the Web to Gather News

Article excerpt

Like other users at information-oriented businesses, news media uses of online technologies such as the World Wide Web and Internet have grown rapidly. At least one media critic has boldly labeled the Internet as the future for journalism. (1) Another scholar argued that the roles and nature of work of journalists are changing with the introduction of new online technologies. (2) Most professional news organizations had some form of Web or Internet presence at the beginning of this decade. While some news organizations use their sites for promotion, community relations or electronic commerce, many news organizations use the sites as extensions of their traditional news missions. (3) Use of the Web as a newsgathering resource has also grown rapidly since public awareness and commercial use--including that by news organizations--of the Internet and Web began rapid expansion. (4)

New media--in the form of the Internet and the Web--have had a revolutionary impact on journalism. (5) It is changing the role the journalist has served as an intermediary. It offers a broad range of new technologies with which to deliver messages and is creating its own form of journalism. The current technologies of new media make newsgathering and production more efficient, faster and cost-effective. These technologies also enhance producer creativity and encourage new approaches to old tasks. (6) Internet2, the latest generation of network computing, is thought to have an even more significant impact on news reporting and content delivery. (7)

Most newspapers today use the Internet and Web in some manner to distribute news and other types of information. Approximately 4,900 online newspapers have been created throughout the world and about 3,600 of those are in the U.S. (8) The content of online newspapers is maturing. Instead of their original duty of carrying the print edition content, many of these publications have developed their own personalities through original content and purpose. (9) These publications give attention to accuracy as well as speed in reporting information. (l0) The newspapers' sites have generated considerable traffic. (11) Online journalism has been characterized as having three dimensions--interactivity, personalization and convergence. (12)

With newsroom use of the Web and the Internet approaching 100 percent penetration, it is important to fully understand how the Internet and the Web are used in news media newsrooms. (13) The purpose of this study was to analyze Web usage through the study of daily newspaper journalists. The study focused on how news organizations used the Web to locate information, types of sites that were used, perceptions about the strengths and weaknesses of information found, Web-based technologies most often used and perceived advantages and disadvantages.

Theoretical Perspective

Theoretical perspectives and communication models integrating the use of interactive technologies are slow to emerge in journalism and mass communication literature. The newness of interactive networked information media must be viewed as a contributing factor. (14) Diffusion theory and the uses and gratifications approach are the dominant theoretical paradigms for research focusing on new media. (15) Some studies have viewed use of the Internet and the Web in the diffusion of innovation theory context, discussing the spread of use of the new technology in news organizations and in the general public. (16) Because of its fluidity and rapid integration into many business and other work environments, few other models or theoretical contexts exist for study of the use of the Web. While diffusion research, the study of the introduction and spread of new technological innovations, has value in understanding the flow of information or new innovation through a system such as newsgathering, it does have limitations. Like information flow theory, diffusion theory is source, not end-user, dominated. …

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