Academic journal article Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media

Complementarity in Consumption of News Types across Traditional and New Media

Academic journal article Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media

Complementarity in Consumption of News Types across Traditional and New Media

Article excerpt

The increasing popularity of the World Wide Web has led to a growing academic interest in the effects of the Web on the consumption of traditional media (Kayany & Yelsma, 2000). While 57% of Americans visited the Internet at least once in 2001, 49% of these Internet users used it to gather information. In addition to the increase in Internet consumption, recent years have witnessed decreases in the consumption of traditional media such as newspapers, television, and radio (Stempel, Hargrove, & Bernt, 2000). This decrease in the consumption of traditional media has been attributed to the advent of the Internet. in its monthly telephone surveys conducted in 1998, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press (2000) reported an increase in online news users on one hand and a decrease in the consumption of news from traditional sources such as TV, newspapers, and magazines on the other hand. Acknowledging the emergent role of the Internet in shaping the current media landscape, media scholars have become increasingly interested in studying its relationship with traditional media (Katz, 1999).

The central question, then, is: How does the Internet affect the way consumers read, view, or listen to traditional media outlets? This relationship between the Internet and the traditional media has been at the heart of an ongoing debate between two streams of media scholarship (Coffey & Stipp, 1997; Kayany & Yelsma, 2000). While media theorists on one end of the spectrum argue that the introduction of a new medium will not cause major changes in the media landscape (Coffey & Stipp, 1997), theorists on the other end suggest a revolution in the way people consume different media, ultimately leading to the death of traditional media (Coffey & Stipp, 1997; Stephens, 1998). The discourse around the impact of the Internet is conceptualized as a dialectic, a manifestation of the tension between the two opposing philosophical forces of stability versus change (Kayany & Yelsma, 2000; Stempel & Hargrove, 1996; Stempel, et al., 2000). It exposes competing frames, with researchers arguing about the success of one medium over another (Stempel & Hargrove, 1996; Stempel, et al., 2000). Acknowledging the scholarly impetus on studying media forms within a competitive frame, Umberto Eco (1996) stated, "The idea that something will kill something else is a very ancient one, and came certainly before Hugo and before the late medieval fears of Frollo," (p. 295). Placed under the rubric of supersession (Duguid, 1996), constancy (McCombs, 1972), and displacement effects (Kayany & Yelsma, 2000), the fundamental question hinges on the ability of a new medium to replace or displace an old one (Kayany & Yelsma, 2000). Note the roots of the debate in a techno-deterministic model that accords centrality to the medium (McLuhan, 1964). In the face of the evolution-based conceptualization of existing research as a struggle between media types for resources, exploring alternative theoretical approaches is pivotal to the development of a more complete understanding of the relationship between traditional and new media. The relationship between media types needs to be located within the realm of content, context, and receiver characteristics; in other words, instead of demonstrating homogenous patterns across the population, the consumption of a medium will depend upon the nature of the content, the characteristics of the audience, and the context within which the medium is consumed (Duguid, 1996; Nunberg, 1996). This paper proposes a shift in research on media relationships by investigating the congruence between media types in specific content domains. Using data collected by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press (2000), it shows the congruence of audience's content interest across media, suggesting a shift in research approach.

Fundamental to the idea of supersession is the rhetoric of technological revolution built on the premise that each new technological medium will replace an old medium (Duguid, 1996). …

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