U.S. News Web Sites Better, But Small Papers Still Lag

U.S. News Web Sites Better, But Small Papers Still Lag

Greer, Jennifer

Web sites are increasingly more sophisticated in news presentation, revenue-generating features, multimedia and interactive elements. Small papers lag significantly behind medium and large ones.

While newspapers have experimented with electronic publishing technologies since the early 1970s-including proprietary services, Videotext and bulletin boards-the World Wide Web, the platform of choice since the mid1990s, has been the most successful form of online newspaper publishing.1 The Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune launched an ISP and Web-based newspaper (called the Electronic Signpost) in April 1994.2 By 1996,175 North American dailies were online, and 775 publications were online worldwide. One year later, nearly 1,600 newspapers were being published online, including 820 in the United States.3 Early newspapers were criticized as “little more than static boards displaying weather, tourist and civic information, or telephone numbers of editors at the newspaper.”4

Since the mid-1990s, however, the number of newspapers providing Web sites and the online news audience have grown significantly. Sites have also increased in sophistication of content and features, with many adding timely, in-depth and original reporting. For example, Outing described online coverage of the Iraq war as “Web-centric, well-planned, compelling multimedia content (with) breaking-news headlines and video delivered at nearly the speed of television.”5

Researchers have studied a variety of these emerging features including content,6 use of technology/ interactivity,8 potential revenue models9 and news efficiency.10 Much of this research relied on data collected at a single point in time or focused on a single issue over a few years.11 This study moves beyond cross-sectional analyses to a longitudinal study of how online newspapers have evolved since their inception. Building on an introductory content analysis of 83 online newspapers published by U.S. dailies,12 this study presents a content analysis of the same newspapers every winter from 1997 to 2003. Specifically, this study examines trends in news presentation and content, multimedia use, interactivity and potential revenue sources. Additionally, the study examines how circulation size of print newspapers relates to content and features present in their online products.

Literature Review

Early online newspapers were harshly criticized for simply reproducing the print product online.13 One industry observer warned publishers: “Simply sticking your content-or shovelware-on a Web site just doesn’t cut it any more. With the tsunami of newspapers flooding the Internet, the need to differentiate yourself is crucial.”14 And a Poynter Institute associate told publishers not to be overwhelmed by technology and simply dump their print versions onto Web sites, but to think creatively through the development, creation and delivery of information.15

The findings of a number of cross-sectional studies of Web newspapers are summarized below. They are divided into the four areas of interest in this study: news content, multimedia usage, interactivity and potential revenue sources.

News Content and Presentation

While online newspapers are well-suited to provide frequently updated news, some early newspapers used their sites simply to provide contact information or to promote subscriptions. More than a quarter of the papers analyzed in a 1997 study had not updated their sites in more than 24 hours.16 Since then, however, studies have consistently shown news as dominant in online newspapers. A study of 74 online dailies, non-dailies and specialty papers in early 1997 and 166 online sites six months later found that 92 percent of all the sites featured local news by the end of 1997. The presence of national news on the sites increased from 45 percent to 53 percent over the six-month period.17

Presentation of news content also has been studied, as news sites have experimented with designs and formats. A 1997 survey sent to all 247 online daily U.S. newspapers found that smaller newspapers (41 percent) tended to provide a directory-like listing of news stories on their front pages, while 59 percent of the national/metropolitan papers followed a traditional newspaper design, presenting news headlines, text, and graphics on the front page.18 More than two-thirds of the papers provided electronic archives, and half updated their Web editions more than once a day.19 A survey of 135 online editors in late 1997 found that 57 percent of the editors updated their sites every 24 hours, while 41 percent updated more frequently and 2 percent less frequently.20

Fewer studies have examined the format of news stories online. An analysis of 230 genetic cloning stories on three online news sites (CNN, ABC and MSNBC) and three national newspapers (The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today) from 1996 to 1998 found that online news stories were 20 percent to 70 percent shorter than print stories.21 More than half of the online articles used outside services such as wire reports or guest columnists, but about 90 percent of the print stories were written in-house.22

Readers look for efficiency in online news delivery, and minimizing the number of links readers must follow before finding useful content is one measure of efficiency. A 1999 study of the efficiency of five online newspapers found wide variation in the number of links and layers users had to navigate before reaching useable content.23

Multimedia

News sites have been slow to add multimedia elements to news stories and other content. Fewer than 10 percent of online editors in one early survey reported using animated graphics, audio clips or video clips.24 In 1998, only two of 44 English-language online newspapers in Asia provided multimedia content.25 However, Dibean and Garrison noted an increase in the use of audio and video between November 1998 and july 1999.26 Still, less than a third of the newspaper sites employed these technologies, and of those, some only used multimedia elements in advertisements and not in news stories.

Interactivity

Early studies found few sites taking advantage of the Web’s interactive potential.27 By the end of 1997, 94 percent of online newspapers provided a general e-mail address, but only 57 percent provided individual e-mail addresses.28 all but one of the sites in a 1997 census study had a general e-mail address, and a third sponsored forums and live-chats.29 A study of six electronic newspapers in 1998 and 1999 found that a majority used forums, related information, e-mail, site searches and consumer services to encourage interactivity. Few offered chat rooms, polls or signups for customized news delivery.30 The 1998 study of 44 English-language Asian online newspapers found almost all offering e-mail links for feedback to the newsroom and a third allowing readers to contribute content. One-fifth provided real-time chats and forums.31

An analysis of five Iowa online newspapers during the 2000 presidential primaries showed the interactive capabilities of online newspapers covering specific news events.32 all sites provided e-mail links and links within stories to national news, political party, or candidate sites. Other interactive features present on at least one site included polls and poll results, real-time chats with major candidates, streaming video, discussion of the debates, online quizzes and an interactive town hall feature.

Revenue Sources

A critical question still facing online newspapers is the development of sustainable revenue streams to support online ventures. Early revenue models focused on advertising, with some relying on subscription fees. A survey of 40 online newspapers in 1996 found that 13 sites charged for subscriptions, 27 had advertising (three provided it free), and seven provided Internet access.33 Kamerer and Bressers noted in their 1997 study that 76 percent of sites carried classified ads, 60 percent carried display ads and 6 percent tried other forms of revenue generating activities, such as site hosting, sale of books, ISP and Web page design services.34

The 1997 survey of 247 online dailies found 6 percent charging subscription fees and about 10 percent charging for archives.35 A 1998 study of 75 sites found that 91 percent published classified ads online, but few took advantage of technologies to deliver effective interactive classified ads.36

Circulation Comparisons

Newspapers with smaller circulations typically have fewer features than do their larger counterparts; this trend occurs online as well. Overall, studies of online papers indicate that sites for smaller circulation newspapers had less content, less frequent updates, fewer multimedia elements and fewer interactive features than did larger newspaper sites. Tankard, for example, found that sites with large staffs updated content frequently, added hypertext links to stories and provided video or audio clips.37 Another study found smaller newspapers less likely to provide discussion forums and chat rooms.38 And a 1997 survey found that more national/metropolitan newspapers (87 percent) featured ads than did local dailies (73 percent).39

Research Questions

RQ1:

Did news content and presentation online change between 1997 and 2003?

RQ2:

Did use of multimedia elements change over time?

RQ3:

Did interactivity provided by online newspapers change over time?

RQ4:

Did potential sources of revenue apparent on sites change over time?

RQ5:

Is circulation size of the print counterpart related to sophistication of news, multimedia, interactivity and revenue sources used?

Method

A longitudinal content analysis of U.S. newspaper sites was conducted between 1997 and 2003 to allow for trend analysis over time.

Population and Sample

The population of interest was online newspapers connected with daily print U.S. newspapers. When the study began in February 1997, a list of all U.S. online newspapers was obtained from the Editor ? Publisher site’s online newspaper section, which listed about 880 publications, about 60 percent of which were classified as daily newspapers. In 2003, the population of daily online U.S. newspapers was 1,279.40

Researchers selected a purposive representative sample of newspapers in 1997by selecting one online newspaper under each state listing. Next, sites were selected under the “national” category. Additional newspaper sites were added to achieve a balance among online sites connected with very large newspapers (circulation greater than 300,000), mid-sized newspapers (100,000 to 300,000), and smaller newspapers (less than 100,000). Weekday circulation figures were taken from the Editor & Publisher Yearbook (1996 edition). While some studies have used 50,000 as the cut-off point for smaller newspapers, very few sites connected with this population were found in 1997. Therefore, the researchers defined small newspapers as below 100,000 in circulation. The resulting sample consisted of 83 online news publications connected with U.S. dailies, about 9.4 percent of the total 880 U.S. publications listed by Editor & Publisher in 1997, but about 20 percent of the sites connected with daily newspapers.

The panel of 83 newspapers was followed over seven data collection periods each February41 through 2003, when 81 sites were analyzed. Between 1997 and 2003, one site went off line and another merged with a newspaper group site. By 2003, the 81 sites represented 6.3 percent of the population of online dailies.

Procedure

The unit of analysis for this project was the entire online publication, which included all site content (news, special features, advertising and entertainment). Researchers followed links but stopped once the link took the visitor outside of the newspaper’s site. While analyzing entire sites was not difficult in the early years of the study, this analysis became more time consuming as site content grew larger and more complex. However, for most coding categories, coders simply acknowledged the presence or absence of a feature. Once a feature was found, the coder moved on to the next category. First, researchers collected location and circulation size of the corresponding print newspaper. Next, researchers examined the four areas of interest in the study: news content, multimedia, interactivity and revenue sources.

News content and presentation:

For news content, coders noted the presence or absence of local news, national news, links to an automated news wire such as the Associated Press and news archives. For archives, coders noted how far back news was available. For news presentation, coders examined whether news was updated daily, whether news was first presented on the first level of the site, whether the first exposure to the site had a mix of site information and news and whether news was presented on the first screen in headlines and leads. These were coded as 1 for present (or yes) and 0 for not present (or no). To create a score for sophistication of news content and presentation, sites were given one point for each of the above nine variables. News content sophistication scores, in theory, could range from 0 to 9.

Multimedia:

Coders looked for any use of audio, video or animation and noted whether these elements were being used in news stories rather than advertising or entertainment content. Sites were given a multimedia sophistication score, which could range from 0 to 4.

Interactivity:

Four interactive features were examined. First, coders noted whether sites allowed any user feedback via the site, even a basic connection such as a general e-mail link. Next, coders examined whether readers could contact news staff directly, either through an e-mail link to a reporter placed in a story or through a staff e-mail directory. Coders also examined whether electronic communication sent to the site was posted in a variety of formats, such as forums, letters to the editor, or reader comments posted on the story page. Finally, coders noted the presence of customizable news options such as the individualization of a homepage or a personal news e-mail highlighting selected topics. Summing the point for each of these items created an interactivity score that ranged from O to 4.

Revenue Sources:

Five categories of advertising were investigated: any 1) advertising present, 2) real estate ads, 3) real estate ads enhanced with images, 4) classified ads and 5) classified ads enhanced with search capability. In addition, coders examined five other indicators of potential revenue sources: 1) subscription-charging to access any news items beyond archives; 2) registration-requiring visitors to sign in to use any part of the site; 3) Internet access-serving as an ISP; 4) charges for archives-charging for searching or accessing any archival material; and 5) in-house online advertising services-an advertiser’s page was hosted on the site. With the five types of advertising features and the five types of other revenue sources combined, online sites could score a business model sophistication score of O to 10.

Inter-coder Reliability:

Two coders were trained using a nine-page protocol to gather data on the 83 sites each year. In total, eight coders collected data over the seven years. Using the Holsti’s formula, reliability on 10 percent of the sample within years ranged from +.74 to +.98, with an average inter-coder reliability score of+.89.42 Computing reliability between collection periods was more problematic because sites could not be archived for analysis. Therefore, coding errors likely occurred in some years, as suggested by a few variables presented below. These variables were not omitted, however, because the focus of the study is a trend analysis, not a year-to-year comparison.

Findings

The 83 sites were connected with print newspapers ranging in circulation size from 1,435 to 1.89 million. Nearly 40 percent (33) were classified as small newspapers; 33.7 percent (28) were mid-sized papers; 25.3 percent (21) were large papers.43 Papers were evenly distributed geographically.44 Six papers (7.2 percent) went online in 1994,29 (34.9 percent) in 1995,33 (39.8 percent) in 1996 and 1 (1.2 percent) in 1997.45 Over the seven years, 566 code sheets were completed, ranging from 83 in 1997 to 78 in 2001.46

Research Question 1

The first research question examined news content and presentation style at online newspapers from 1997 to 2003. As Table 1 shows, despite some fluctuation, each of the items investigated in this category became more common. As for news content, local news was a staple from the beginning and present on nearly all the sites by 2003. National news content, general archives, and long-term archives increased more dramatically, while newswire provision fluctuated over time. The four variables measuring news presentation-daily updates, news onhomepage, headlines and leads on homepages, and a mix of news and site information on the homepage-showed dramatic increases. While about 70 percent sites were updating daily in 1997, 90 percent did so in 2003. The number of sites providing news on the homepage increased from about half to all but five by the end of the study.47 The information on the homepage changed as well. In 1997, 31.3 percent had an even mix of news and site information; by 2003, 92.5 percent of the sites analyzed had this even mix on the homepage. As for the presentation of news stories on the first screen, in 1997, 66.3 percent featured a headline and a lead; seven years later, the vast majority of sites (83.5 percent) featured a headline and lead.

These nine news content and presentation variables, all coded as 1 for present and O for not present, were summed to create a news sophistication score. That average score increased significantly (F = 10.42, df = 6,559, p

Research Question 2

The second research question examined multimedia elements used on the sites. As Table 2 shows, all multimedia features examined increased (with some fluctuation) over time. Animation was most common in 1997, and it remained so throughout the study period, even with the fluctuation noted between 1997 and 2000. Audio and video content increased from a handful of sites to nearly half. And more than two fifths of sites were using these multimedia elements in the presentation of news by 2003. In previous years animation and other elements were used exclusively in advertisements. The average multimedia sophistication score significantly increased over time, from 0.90 to 2.24 (F = 13.67, df = 6,559, p

Research Question 3

The third research question investigated interactive features present, which did not all show dramatic increases over time. As Table 3 shows, a general e-mail was present on virtually all sites each year. Posting reader responses in some form (forums, attached to the story, e-mail letters to the editor) became more common.48 Customizable news was rare in 1997, peaked in 1998 and dropped again until it bec a m e popular in 2002 and 2003.49 Providing reporter e-mail addresses did show a significant jump over time; this feature was present on almost all sites by 2003. Combining these four interactive elements to create an interactivity sophistication score showed a significant increase (F = 5.07, df = 6, 559, p

Research Question 4

The fourth research question examined features found online that could indicate revenue sources for the paper. Five advertising features were investigated. As Table 4 shows, any advertising, real estate ads and classified ads were popular in 1997 and increased significantly over the seven years. By 2003, all three were present on more than 95 percent of sites analyzed. The more dramatic growth came in “enhancement” to these ads. Search capabilities for classified advertising were present on only half of sites in 1997 but four-fifths of sites in 2003. Real estate ads enhanced with visuals grew from being present on a quarter of sites in 1997 to nearly half in 2003.

Next, five other potential revenue sources were examined. Two of these sources, providing Internet access (serving as an ISP) and hosting advertising internally, were preferred business models in 1997 but declined dramatically over the next six years to become the two least popular revenue sources by 2003. In contrast, the other three revenue sources showed slight or dramatic increases. Paid online subscriptions, used by 6.0 percent of sites in 1997, declined through the middle of the study period, with only one site charging a subscription in 1999 and 2000. However, by 2003, subscriptions were chargedby 15.0 percent of sites. Registration for use of any part of the site, a variable added in 2000 when registration became common, grew from 4.9 percent of sites that year to 48.8 percent in 2003. Finally, while half of sites charged for archives in 1997, more than three-fourths of sites did so by 2003.

Combining the five advertising features and the five other revenue sources examined produced a revenue source sophistication score. This score increased significantly (F = 6.24, df = 6, 559, p

Research Question 5

The final research question investigated whether print newspaper size made a difference online. To conduct this analysis, a total site sophistication score was created by summing the sophistication scores for content, multimedia, interactivity and revenue sources. Next, means of the total sophistication score were analyzed using a factorial Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) with newspaper size and collection time as the independent variables. As Table 5 shows, total sophistication score increased significantly over time for all newspapers (from 11.76 to 16.58). The large main effect for time (F = 16.04, df, 6, 558, p

Discussion

Two trends emerged over the seven years. First, online newspapers are offering more of everything-content, multimedia, interactivity and revenue-generating features. Instead of discontinuing one type of feature when another is added, the sites, on the whole, have expanded offerings. second, size matters for online newspapers. While medium and large newspapers have become more similar, small papers lag behind.

More of Everything

Each of the four areas of online newspapers analyzed showed significant increases in the breadth and number of features offered. For news, local reports still dominate, but sites have increasingly offered other content, including archives, national news and newswires. Clearly, online newspapers are becoming stand-alone news products rather than supplements or advertising vehicles for their print parents.

Presentation of news content also has changed dramatically. Online newspapers are more likely to update frequently, providing more timely information. News is now presented on the first layer, and readers see an even mix of site information and news when they first log on. Most sites provide headlines and news capsules on the first page, allowing readers to quickly scan and select stories. Future studies should examine presentation in more sophisticated ways than the measurements used in this study. For example, research could look for standardization in presentation, layout, navigation and use of images across sites.

Multimedia use also increased, particularly in the last few years, suggesting that use of these features may be accelerating. While audio and video use showed marked increases, perhaps a more interesting trend is the sharp rise in use of multimedia in news stories since 2000. This rise may indicate that true multimedia story telling could become more common on news sites in this decade, especially as more users switch to broadband. Future research should track how these elements are being integrated into online news sections.

Although interactive features are significantly more prevalent today than in 1997, the only real growth in interactivity was the addition of reporters’ e-mail addresses. The data suggest that newspapers are still working to find interactive elements that function well in an online news environment. Research indicates that hosting successful interactive elements online is challenging for many types of sites. A study of 500 high traffic Web sites found that only 15.9 percent of the sites featured links to real-time interactivity (audio, video, chat, Web cameras) off the homepage.50 Other research points to the difficulty newspapers have had in running successful discussion forums.51 This research, as well as the findings in this study, suggests an area ripe for additional research.

In regard to business models, newspapers clearly have abandoned two revenue streams that looked promising initially – serving as an ISP and creating or hosting advertisers’ pages. Instead, newspapers have enhanced advertising, the standard business model for print journalism. In addition, more papers are charging for archive use and, in some cases, for use of special sections. Finally, newspapers are more likely to require registration for use of at least portions of their sites. With registration, newspapers are able to track user demographics, increasing value to advertisers. The documented increase in types of revenue generators illustrates that no clear business model has emerged to support online newspapers.

Circulation Size Matters

One expectation early on was that the Web could make it easier for smaller entities to compete with economic elites. In the first year of this study, large newspapers had more sophisticated sites than did medium newspapers, which in turn had more sophisticated sites than did small newspapers. After seven years, small newspapers still haven’t capitalized on the Web’s equalizing potential. What’s even more telling is that small newspapers were defined in this study as papers with circulations of less than 100,000. Many other studies have defined small newspapers as those with circulations of less than 50,000. When these very small papers are analyzed separately, the disparity becomes even more pronounced. While medium and large newspapers now have equally sophisticated sites, small newspapers lag behind in every measure analyzed in this study. If adoption rates of new features at smaller online sites continue at the current pace, they will never match their larger counterparts. This runs counter to hopes that online publishing would provide an “equalizing” factor among news organizations.

Several factors may account for this trend, including the increased technological sophistication required to maintain well functioning Web sites, the limited audience for many small newspaper Web sites and competition for small newspaper resources. Five years ago it was feasible for one or two employees to post daily news; today, the sophisticated databases employed by larger sites are difficult for smaller sites to justify. Another factor that may account for some of the disparity has been called a “universal power law”-the observation that the most popular Web sites tend to gain an accelerating advantage over their competitors.52 As the largest news sites capture a significant percentage of the market for news, the smaller markets attract only a fraction of news traffic on the Web, making it difficult for justify spending scarce resources on a product that captures only a small percentage of the audience.

Future research that examines factors influencing the resources devoted to online editions at large, medium and small newspapers would help explain this issue. Certainly there are examples of dynamic small papers producing successful online editions, such as The Lawrence Journal-World (circulation 20,000), which employs 20 people in its online staff. Examining the relationship between circulation size, staff size and online content would help researchers understand these issues in more depth.

As the newspaper publishing industry faces economic pressures, some have expressed concern that Web newspapers are stagnating. This study shows that rather than stagnating, online newspapers are expanding. In fact, online newspapers are not only evolving, but are thriving-at least in terms of variety of content and features. Newspaper Web developers are adding new elements and abandoning features that have proven unsuccessful. As the industry moves into its second decade, this dynamic and creative experimentation is sure to continue.

Notes

1. Barrie Gunter, News and the Net. (Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2003), 2.

2. David Carlson, “David Carlson’s online timetable,” David Carlson’s Virtual World, (3 September 2003).

3. Hoag Levins, “Time of change and challenge,” Editor & Publisher, 4 January 1997,58.

4. D. Noack, “Off-line Newspapers,” Editor & Publisher, 8 February 1997, 323.

5. Steve Outing, “Hold On(line) Tight.” Editor & Publisher, 17 February 1996, 41.

6. David Kamerer and Bonnie Bressers, “Online Newspapers: A Trend Study of News Content and Technical Features” (paper presented at AEJMC, Baltimore, MD, August 1998).

7. Wendy Dibean and Bruce Garrison, “How Six Online Newspapers Use Web Technologies,” Newspaper Research Journal 22, no. 2 (spring 2001), 86.

8. Brian L. Massey and Mark R. Levy, “Interactivity, Online Journalism, and English-language Web Newspapers in Asia,” Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly 76, no. 1 (spring 1999), 141; Tanjev Schultz, “Interactive Options in Online Journalism: A Content Analysis of 100 U.S. Newspapers,” Journal of Computer Mediated Communication 5, no. 1 (September 1999), (25 March 2003, para. 25).

9. Christopher Harper, “Online Newspapers: Going Somewhere or Going Nowhere?” Newspaper Research Journal 17, no. 3/4 (fall/winter 1996): 6; David R. Thompson and Birgit L. Wassmuth, “Few Newspapers Use Online Classified Interactive Features,” Newspaper Research Journal 22, no. 4 (fall 2001): 22.

10. Xigen Li, “Web Page Design Affects News Retrieval Efficiency,” Newspaper Research Journal 23, no. 1 (winter 2002): 41.

11. Jon E. Hyde, Decoding the Codes: A Content Analysis of the News Coverage of Genetic Cloning by Three Online News Sites and Three National Daily Newspapers, 1996 through 1998. (Ph.D. diss., New York University, April 2001); Jane B. Singer, “Information Trumps Interaction in Local Papers’ Online Caucus Coverage,” Newspaper Research Journal 23, no. 4 (fall 2002): 92.

12. Jon Gubman and Jennifer Greer, “An Analysis of Online Sites Produced by U.S. Newspapers: Are the Critics Right?” (paper presented AEJMC, Chicago, 111., july/August 1997).

13. Jon Katz, “Online or Not, Newspapers Suck,” hotWired, October 1997, (21 May 2003), para. 25; Ron Reason, “A Call for New Thinking for the New Media,” Poynter Online, (27 March 1997); Carol Pogash, “Cyberspace Journalism,” American Journalism Review NewsLink, (May 21, 2003): para. 12; Joseph D. Lasica, “Goodbye, Gutenberg,” American Journalism Review NewsLink, (27 March 1997).

14. Dan Mitchell, “Online Newspapers Jilted by Advertisers,” Wired News, (21 july 1997) (5 November 2003).

15. Reason, “A Call for New Thinking for the New Media.”

16. Gubman and Greer, “An Analysis of Online Sites Produced by U.S. Newspapers: Are the Critics Right?”

17. Kamerer and Bressers, “Online Newspapers: A Trend Study of News Content and Technical Features,” 6.

18. Foo Yeuh Peng, Naphtali Irene Tham, and Hao Xiaoming, “Trends in Online Newspapers: A Look at the U.S. Web,” Newspaper Research Journal 20, no. 2 (spring 1999): 58.

19. Peng, Tham, and Xiaoming, 57.

20. James Tankard and Hyun Ban, “Online Newspapers: Living up to Their Potential?” (paper presented at AEJMC, Baltimore, MD, August 1998).

21. Hyde, “Decoding the Codes” 3814.

22. Hyde, “Decoding the Codes” 3814.

23. Li, “Web Page Design Affects News Retrieval Efficiency,” 45.

24. Tankard and Ban , “Online Newspapers: Living up to Their Potential?”

25. Massey and Levy, “Interactivity, Online Journalism, and English-language Web Newspapers in Asia,” 143.

26. Dibean and Garrison, “How Six Online Newspapers Use Web Technologies,” 88.

27. Schultz, “Interactive Options in Online Journalism: A Content Analysis of 100 U.S. Newspapers,” para. 15.

28. Kamerer and Bressers, “Online Newspapers: A Trend Study of News Content and Technical Features,” 5.

29. Peng, Tham and Xiaoming, “Trends in Online Newspapers: A Look at the U.S. Web,” 59.

30. Dibean and Garrison, “How Six Online Newspapers Use Web Technologies,” 87.

31. Massey and Levy, “Interactivity, Online Journalism, and English-language Web Newspapers in Asia,” 145.

32. Singer, “Information Trumps Interaction in Local Papers’ Online Caucus Coverage,” 93.

33. Harper, “Online Newspapers: Going Somewhere or Going Nowhere?” 7.

34. Kamerer and Bressers, “Online Newspapers: A Trend Study of News Content and Technical Features,” 6.

35. Peng, Tham and Xiaoming, “Trends in Online Newspapers: A Look at the U.S. Web,” 57.

36. Thompson and Wassmuth, “Few Newspapers Use Online Classified Interactive Features,” 23.

37. Tankard and Ban, “Online Newspapers: Living up to Their Potential?”

38. Schultz, “Interactive Options in Online Journalism: A Content Analysis of 100 U.S. Newspapers,” 66.

39. Peng, Tham, and Xiaoming, “Trends in Online Newspapers: A Look at the U.S. Web,” 57.

40. This number is based on a review of three U.S. newspaper directories: American Journalism Review (23 March 2003), NewsLink (23 March 2003), and NewsDirectory.com (23 March 2003).

41. Because the first data collection was in February, the month was held constant each year to control for seasonal fluctuations in the news cycle. February was chosen initially because few major annual events, such as the World Series, the Academy Awards, elections, etc. are planned during that month.

42. Roger D. Wimmer and Joseph R. Dominick, Mass Media Research: An Introduction (Belmont, Calif.: Thomson Wadsworth, United States, 2003), 157.

43. Circulation size was unavailable for one title.

44.22 (26.5%)were in the West; 18 (21.7%) in the Midwest; 17 (20.4%) in the South or Southeast; and 22 (26.5%) in the Northeast. Another four papers (4.8%) were located in Alaska, Hawaii, or the U.S. Virgin Islands.

45. Online start date could not be determined for 14 (16.9%) of the sample.

46. In some years, sites were undergoing reconstruction or not accessible on several attempts.

47. For all these analyses, crosstabulations were run using Chi-square analyses. In virtually every case, for news and throughout the paper, the differences over time were significant at p

48. These were two of the few Chi-square analyses in the project that were not significant at p

49. The peak in 1998 may be due, in part, to coding error that year. However, even without that year, it is clear that customizable news was not common until 2002.

50. Erik P. Bucy, Annie Lang, Robert F. Potter and Maria Elizabeth Grabe. “Formal Features of Cyberspace: Relationships between Web Page Complexity and Site Traffic,” Journal of the American Society For Information Science 50, no. 13 (November 1999): 1246-1256.

51. Cassandra Imfeld and Glenn Scott, “Under Construction: Measures of Community-building at Newspaper Web Sites,” (Paper presented to the Newspaper Division of the AEJMC Convention, Kansas City, August 2003.)

52. Lada A. Adamic and Bernardo A. Huberman, “The Web’s Hidden Order,” Communications of the ACM 44, no. 9 (September 2001): 55-60.

Greer is the Director of Graduate Studies and Mensing is an assistant professor in the Reynolds School of Journalism at the Universty of Nevada-Reno.

Copyright Newspaper Research Journal, Department of Journalism, University of Memphis Spring 2004

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