News and interactivity

Photocredit: cartoonstock.com

Photo credit: webdesignbooth.com

Barrie Gunter, in his book News and the Net, defines interactivity, in the context of online journalism, by enumerating four dimensions that make a news site interactive:

1. Complexity of choice offered to users. Interactivity is conceived of of as the range, or complexity, of content topics and content-interaction devices that Web journalists offer their audiences. The assumption is that consumers will experience greater interactivity when more choice is provided.

2. Responsiveness to the user.  Online journalism offers interpersonal interactivity when Web journalists engage individual audience members through the Internet’s technology. This kind of communication would be asynchronous, or delayed, as is the case with the e-mail.

3. Facilitation of interpersonal communication. Interactivity, for this dimension, could be thought of as asynchronous, or in real time, conversation. Online journalists would facilitate this by allowing their Web sites to be used as conduits through which two audience members could engage each other interpersonally.

4. Ease of adding information to the system. Another way to conceive of Web journalism’s interactivity is whether content consumers are permitted to add their own messages to the news site. In this way, they become content producers as well as consumers of it. The interaction would be asynchronous and from one member of an audience to the many members.

These four dimensions were derived from the conceptual model of interactivity developed earlier by Heeter (1989). The model, in its original form, has six dimensions but those four mentioned above, according to Gunter, were regarded as directly relevant to the analysis of online news.

Aside from these four dimensions, Gunter also writes about a fifth one – immediacy – added by Massey and Levy (1998), who define it as “the extent to which Web news sites provide consumers with the most immediately available information.”

Revisiting 2012

Photo credit: Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Below are the fearless forecasts made in December 2011 by a number of leading Dutch media practitioners on the changing media landscape in the Netherlands. The article was originally written in Dutch, which I translated and submitted as one of the requirements for my DEVC 206 course two semesters ago. We are now heading to a new year and similar articles are, for sure, already in the offing. Anyway, I thought of re-posting this article to know which predictions did come true in 2012 and to give readers a glimpse of media developments in a “wired” country like the Netherlands.  Here it is:

Bert Wagendorp, columnist/reporter, De Volksrant
Everything [that began in 2011] will just continue in 2012. I see more and more train passengers no longer reading the free newspapers; everyone will just be tinkering with their iPhone or iPad. And I see those piles of newspapers in train stations gathering dust: the end of the free newspaper is near. I also notice that I myself am having too little time for all the information coming my way. I have given up on TV, I just turn it on when I want to watch back a program. I’m awaiting the arrival of Internet-TV, one that can flash all the information I need on the screen. You feel the revolution on this terrain forthcoming, it’s just a matter of when it’s finally breaking out. I’m not that up-to-date with all the technological developments to predict that. As far as the newspapers are concerned, “we” will further focus ourselves on in-depth news, interpretation, and analysis. The newspaper will further develop as a medium for highly educated group of readers: the “elitization” of the medium can, I’m afraid, no longer be stopped. Radio is the medium of the future, for sound remains the preferred means of communication to tell a story.

[Update: A gratis daily newspaper, De Pers, has indeed folded up and television sets with Internet connectivity have become the norm. Mainstream newspapers have fully embraced the Internet by offering digital versions of their products, while maintaining the print editions for their remaining subscribers.]

Marc Stubbe, chief commercial officer, Sanoma Media:
Short deadlines, just like in 2011, will be the order of the day in 2012. This is possible because  all these mobile gadgets have made us on-call 24/7. To ask someone to write a column in the afternoon and expect it to be finished in the early evening will therefore become the most normal thing in this world. Technology is developing fast, sometimes too fast for many. Digital media have grown from niche to market leaders and now dictate the pace.

Ruud Hendriks, media, IT and telecom entrepreneur, adviser, speaker :
The crisis will push more and more people into bargain-hunting. eCommerce will grow tremendously. The biggest advertising medium for 2012 will be online, as well as via the television. Partly because of the arrival of iPad 3 and iPhone 5, newspapers will get more blows and will find it hard to keep their heads above water. The tech world will further develop and will produce more startups.

Willem Albert Bol, media manager at Vodafone:
The media landscape of 2012 will not be really different from that of 2011. The same trends will go on, but at a faster pace in the coming year. The most dominant development remains the digitalization of all media. Therefore not only online and mobile, but digital television, digital radio, digital outdoor. What I personally find interesting is the mix of digital and traditional, making use of the best qualities of each one. Since 2011, the touchscreen experience provided by mobile phones/tablet has also been a growing phenomenon in television sets. I’m curious if this will go on in 2012.

Erwin Blom, Expert Trendwatcher of the Year awardee:
The Internet is an assassin. Figures for the giants of yesteryears are caving in. On YouTube, individual creators are earning a lot thanks to the millions of subscribers who like their films. Anyone can just start his or her own live channel online, for which neither network nor cable is needed. And writers are directly knocking on Amazon’s door to offer their wares directly. Just a pair of examples that will characterize the trend. 2012 is the year when every link in the chain will have to prove his worth more than ever. For if that doesn’t happen, he will be cut away from creation to consumption.

Wouter Hendrikse, general director, HUB Publishers:
What has long been going on for a substantial period of time, the conversion of media, will accelerate in 2012. What we see – partly based on our day-to-day experience – is that other media forms are looking for connection with hitherto estranged sorts of media. Radio is rubbing elbows with print, print with television, online with events, etc. Cross-pollination, that is. And this process has its impact especially on the commercial route. Publishers and other media companies should lose no time to go into this, partly because of the enormous possibilities. For standard rate cards of long ago are no longer enough. Advertisers expect a lot more, they expect other concepts. Stand-alone printed pages are actually no longer sold, it’s about the total concept. Funny is that the market is asking us, preferably together with the creative bureau, to act not as as an enterprise but a creative unit. And if that’s not possible with a bureau, then we have to solve it ourselves. From creation to implementation, to execution. This, too, is a clear signal of a converging media, a process that we have to follow with great interest. Publishers and media owners should actively embrace these endless opportunities. More creativity and out-of-the-box thinking in 2012, please.

Piet Bakker (photo), professor Cross Media Content at the School of Journalism in Utrecht and Dr. Peter Vasteman, assistant professor at the Department of Media Studies, University of Amsterdam:
Since the beginning of the 1990s newspapers have been losing ground, first to TV and later to the Internet. Although there seems to be some substitution, the main reason seems to be that coming generations use the media that they grew up with as their media of preference. This was TV in the 1980s and ’90s, the Internet in the 1990s and in the 21st century, and the mobile phone in the last decade. Generations that grew up with newspapers still treat this medium as their medium of preference. This explains not only why newspapers have problems reaching the younger generation but also why they still have a firm foothold in the Dutch society.

News, not only in newspapers, but also on TV, are still very popular. The national daily 20:00 o’clock newscast NOS Journaal often has two million viewers or more, and is usually in the top 10 of every day’s best-viewed programs.There is no shortage of people wanting to read, watch or listen to news.

Internet penetration – or to be more precise broadband Internet penetration – is very high but has not yet resulted in a total shift in media use. This could happen, however, when new generations grow up and take over in numbers from the older ones.

[The last item is not part of the main article. Click here to visit the source.]

Social media as big distraction

Photo credit: Metro

The headline in today’s issue of Metro, one of the two gratis tabloids I’m reading everyday on my way to work, reads: Social media leidt scholier te veel af.

The news item is about how social media are negatively affecting the studies of high school students in the Netherlands. In her book Focus! Over social media als de grote afleider (Focus! Social media as the big distracter), Justine Pardoen says the remarkable increase in the number of failing students can be attributed to too much “twittering” and “facebooking”.

Pardoen says this is brought about by young people’s constant need to establish connection with each other, which, according to her, is but the most normal thing among adolescents. And this search for connection also happens now virtually via the social media, which, Pardoen asserts in her study, are to blame for many students’ diminished focus on their studies.

Pardoen says  that this development definitely needs further study.

Working with data

Data Journalism Handbook

Are you into data journalism? Or does your job require you to handle and interpret lots and lots of data? Here’s a piece of good news. The book, Data Journalism Handbook, is now available online – for free, under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareALike license.

The authors hope to foster data literacy, which they define as “the ability to consume for knowledge, produce coherently and think critically about data. It includes statistical literacy but also understanding how to work with large data sets, how they were produced, how to correct various data sets and how to interpret them.”

I used to work for IBON Foundation in Manila and I’m sure this is one book that can definitely benefit the research institution’s present crop of researchers and writers, who, in the digital age, are always faced with the so-called information overload.

Click here to access the book.

Campus paper goes digital

Photo credit: guardian.co.uk

I recently stumbled upon this article, The State Press in a digital age, and thought it was worth commenting on, not because it was about something new but because of its significance to the future of the print media. It’s an editorial published by The State Press, the official student newspaper of the Arizona State University, announcing their “shift toward a digital-first newsroom starting Spring 2013.”

Although they are not totally abandoning their print edition as of yet, the paper’s current staff wrote that their decision to go digital was in recognition of the profound change in the way their readers, the so-called “now” generation, access and consume news.

They wrote: “The shift toward a digital newsroom actually began with our readers. We cannot ignore that a daily print newspaper has a different value in the digital age. College students consume more and more media on their computers, smartphones and tablets. We’re all connecting, sharing and relating to each other on multiple social media channels. The spread of information no longer relies on ink, but on an Internet connection.”

This actually is but a continuation of the trend engendered by the Internet, especially in developed countries, where the printed text has been losing ground to the hypertext in attracting readers.  Just recently, the iconic Newsweek deciding to write 30 to its print edition sent ripples all over the world.  Many a pundit are now saying that it’s just a matter of time before print media go totally passé.

But whatever happens, production and consumption of information will definitely undergo more transformation in the years to come. As The State Press further said: “We now look across a spectrum of new media tools and see an abundance of storytelling potential. There are many unknowns, but one thing is certain: Our way of doing journalism is not the way of our parents or professors.”

Related articles:

Going hi-tech

My mother Lucia, taking some computer lessons from me during her visit to Amsterdam two years ago

My mother is turning 70 next month, and during one of our previous Skype conversations she asked if it was possible for us, her seven children, to chip in and gift her an iPad. Thinking she was just kidding, all I could utter was, “Wow! Si Nanay, hi-tech na (Wow! Mother is getting hi-tech),” a comment that elicited laughter from her grandchildren who were huddled around her. But when she reminded me about it last week, only then did I realize how serious she really was in owning this Apple gadget.

Mom’s fascination with the digital pad started only recently, when she discovered, after trying out one, how it was a lot easier to use a touchscreen than a laptop’s mouse and keyboard. She’s definitely no computer-literate. She only uses it every time she wants to chat with me and my other abroad-based siblings, and she does this not without the help of my young nephews and nieces — all digital natives — who prepare the computer for her, including logging in on her Skype (or Yahoo) account.

Aside from having trouble mastering a laptop (or a smartphone, which she finds too small), Mom has also come up with a couple of justifications for wanting to have an iPad. The first is the possibility of being able to regularly read the bible again, her nightly ritual of yore, which she can only intermittently do these days because of her deteriorating eyesight.

The second reason has something to do with her Facebook account that she seldom opens. This time she wants to have full control by maintaining it all by herself. Finally learning how to read or watch the posts especially by people she hasn’t seen in years was to her quite magical. “Parang nandyan lang sila (It’s as if they were just here),” I remember her saying then after being reconnected with her long-lost relatives and friends, thanks to the digital slate in her hands.

***

My mother is truly a Johnny-come-lately in the digital age, and  her belated “coming-of-age” can be ascribed to the slow inroads the Internet has made so far into majority of Filipino households. In fact, since March 1994, when the Internet first arrived in the Philippines, the country “has not made so much headways in terms of giving most Filipinos access to it, creating the so-called ‘digital divide’ which has plagued many emerging economies since the dawn of computers and the Internet.”

According to a report done by survey outfit AGB Nielsen Philippines, only about one in three Filipinos was accessing the Internet in 2011. The report also made the following findings:

  • 33% of Filipinos access the Internet, five percentage points below the Southeast Asian regional average of 38%.
  • Internet penetration amongst consumers aged 15 to 19 was close to two-thirds (65%) and nearly half of those in their 20’s were online (48%).
  • There is still much room for growth for those aged 30+ – less than one quarter of consumers aged in their 30s (24%) access the Internet, 13% of consumers in their 40s, and just 4% of consumers aged 50+.
  • 52% of Filipinos have a computer with high speed Internet connection at home.
  • Home is the most common Internet access point for those aged 30 years and above close to nine in ten Internet users aged 50 years and above (86%) cite “home” as their main point of access.
  • 74% of 15-19 years identify Internet cafés as their main point of Internet access.
  • Already close to one quarter of Filipinos Internet users (24%) access the Internet on a daily basis via a mobile phone and 56% intend to access the Internet via a mobile phone in the next 12 months.
  • Over two thirds of Filipino digital consumers (67%) have visited social networking sites, compared to 40% who use email.
  • The Philippines ranked second highest for the number of people who have ever “liked” or followed a brand, company or celebrity on a social networking site (75%).
  • 61% of Filipino Internet users said they trusted consumer opinions posted online, higher than any other market in Southeast Asia and seven points above the regional average.
  • Online product reviews and discussion forums are one of the most trusted sources of recommendations in purchase decision making, second only to recommendations from family and friends.
  • Close to two thirds of digital Filipinos (64%) use social media as a resource in purchase decision making.

Nevertheless, Filipinos, once wired, are one of the most active communities in the information highway, especially in social media sites like Facebook, Blogger, WordPress, etc. This has prompted a local blogger to write that Filipinos really are crazy… Internet crazy. “We should be on Guinness,” quipped this blogger after enumerating a number of  statistics that show the massive Internet traffic generated from the Philippines.

Could it be that the presence of the 10-million strong overseas Filipino workers and immigrants all over the world, who I suppose regularly communicate with their loved-ones back home, are also behind that massive traffic? Anyway, that’s another topic I am planning to research on for DEVC 204.

***

Meantime, I have yet negotiate with Nanay if a cheaper tablet is just fine with her.