Higher speed on Internet a drag on journalism

February 28, 2006

Over the last ten years the Internet has grown from being a marginal phenomenon to a popular and much used medium. When news journalism is done via the Internet, its journalistic content is altered, and people other than journalists and media companies have the opportunity to be heard.

Many phenomena and services have made the move to the Internet, including journalism. A dissertation is now being submitted that closely examines the processes of change in the conditions, ideals, and norms when news journalism is carried out on the Internet. The study comprises four Swedish sites: aftonbladet.se, expressen.se, den.se, and svd.se, representing two evening tabloids and two morning newspapers.

Michael Karlsson, a doctoral candidate at Mid Sweden University, shows that Net journalism makes it possible to provide a constant and replaceable flow of information.

"It's indeed remarkable that contradictory depictions of events can be encountered depending on when you visit sites and that news can disappear from sites. This is a clear warning to readers not to rely on the news content of Web sites," says Michael Karlsson.

Journalism on the Internet is not a finished product as in many other media but rather a constantly ongoing process. News sites are more like live TV news than like their parent newspapers. The sites are continually updated, and descriptions of events change during the day, sometimes vanishing altogether.

"Something else that surprises me is that the content is still so text-based and that what dominates is the conveyance of information, just as in the newspapers, instead of the interactive features that the Internet makes possible," adds Michael Karlsson.

Interactivity occurs almost exclusively in the form of hyperlinks and the possibility of e-mailing the writer. Only one of the sites examined has a function for comments, the only systematically recurring facility for the public to say what they think in connection with the news material. But when the public does take the opportunity to offer their comments, the journalist does not pay them the attention they warrant.
Questions can be sent to: Michael Karlsson, phone: +46 60-14 86 04; e-mail: michael.karlsson@miun.se

Swedish Research Council

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