Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Newsonomics: On end games and end times
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
March 13, 2014, 2:56 p.m.
Reporting & Production

The Engaging News Project at the University of Texas at Austin has a new report out today called Interactive Features in Online News. In order to get a sense of how features like polls and various share buttons are being treated by newsroom developers, Professor Talia Stroud, the project’s lead researcher, surveyed over 950 web pages and 155 websites.

Stroud frames her study by going back to the earliest days of web journalism, when content was merely being shoveled online.

Why the focus on and excitement about interactivity? The arrival of these news features suggested that the “filter first, publish second” model was transforming. The traditional system was evolving due to the possibility of “mass self-communication” by lay audiences. Site visitors could not only interact with reporters through electronic means, but they could also change and personalize news content for themselves and others, leaving a news website different than how it looked before they visited by, for example, commenting on a story.

Features were taken up scattershot, Stroud writes:

The imbalance also has been seen across different media channels. A recent study looking at online polls and hyperlinks found that more than 30% of U.S. newspaper sites had online polls, but less than 24% of television news sites had polls. Conversely, articles on television news sites had more hyperlinks than newspapers (29% for TV compared to 15% for newspapers). Other studies have shown similar patterns of unequal feature adoption.

The differences between television and newspaper websites make up some of the study’s most interesting tidbits. For example, almost all sites have comments, and almost all allow for comment interaction like replies and up or down voting. Similarly, the majority have mechanisms for reporting abuse, except for top TV sites, only 67 percent of which have such a system. Meanwhile, 74 percent of top newspapers have written codes of conduct, while only 33 percent of the top TV websites have comments behavior guidelines. Another interesting point of comparison is that publishing interactive polls is significantly more common for newspapers than it is for TV.

Two other parts of the study stand out. One, there seems to be surprisingly disparate promotion of news brand apps on mobile sites compared to desktop websites. “Although 70 percent of local television news sites advertise a mobile app on the homepage, only 38 percent advertise the app when accessing the site via mobile. Similarly, although 76 percent of top newspapers advertise a mobile app on their homepages, only 40 percent advertise it when accessing the site via mobile,” Stroud writes.

Finally, Stroud gathers some interesting information about news sites’ internal content recommendation features. The most popular by far is “related/recommended content,” which is used widely, and often powered by algorithm. Between 72 and 88 percent of newspapers use “Most Popular” features; slightly fewer use “Most Discussed” lists. The least used is “Most Emailed,” which is never used on TV sites, and appears on less than 25 percent of newspaper sites.

Show tags Show comments / Leave a comment
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Newsonomics: On end games and end times
Can publishers find a sustainable business model this new age of Facebook/Apple/Snapchat/Twitter/Google distributed content? And is local news destined to be left behind?
What Scribd’s growing pains mean for the future of digital content subscription models
It turns out that ebook subscription models don’t work very well when people read too much. So what happens next?
How research (and PowerPoints) became the backbone of National Journal’s membership program
“We no longer look at National Journal simply as a news source, but as a collection of resources, as well as a collection of experts we can turn to on occasion.”
What to read next
2843
tweets
A blow for mobile advertising: The next version of Safari will let users block ads on iPhones and iPads
Think making money on mobile advertising is hard now? Think how much more difficult it will be with a significant share of your audience is blocking all your ads — all with a simple download from the App Store.
1763For news organizations, this was the most important set of Apple announcements in years
A new Flipboard-clone with massive potential reach, R.I.P. Newsstand, and news stories embedded deeper inside iOS — it was a big day for news on iPhones and iPads.
762Newsonomics: 10 numbers that define the news business today
From video to social, from mobile to paywalls — these data points help define where we are in the “future of news” today, like it or not.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
The Awl
The Daily Telegraph
ESPN
Chicago News Cooperative
TechCrunch
Vox Media
Backfence
The Seattle Times
Wikipedia
Patch
Demand Media
Bureau of Investigative Journalism