The progress of technology inevitably gives the chance to many sectors to evolve and develop through it. Journalism is also among these sectors. Within this progress, one of the most fundamental devices that have been developed for the journalistic world – if not the most fundamental – is the internet. Discussing about it in 2009, we are talking about the biggest connection network that has ever been set up in human history. Gold mines of data are at every turn available for inquiry and research, wherever a user may be.
The only things someone will need are a computer and a line or a connection to the internet.
So, anyone can realize that the way journalism was applied before the creation and development of the internet has radically changed in comparison with these days. Journalists have now big data bases at their disposal that surely bear other difficulties and require new skills such as the correct analysis and selection of the appropriate elements for an exact reportage.
All the above may constitute some elements of the evolution of journalism, but along with the spreading of the internet there was not only evolution but also birth of new branches of journalism, as the commonly known e-journalism became extremely developed.
Now the websites, apart from being informative means, also interact through various acts, rendering the informing easier for the user and offering him more choices than a newspaper, or even the TV, could offer. The aim of this project is to study three electronic newspapers based on their interactivity.
That means, how much and in which ways they interact with the users. The electronic newspapers that will be studied come from Greece and focus on worldwide athletic events, with a particular emphasis on the current greek athletic events.
This research will focus on three webpages: www. sport24. gr, www. contra. gr , www. sportfm. gr . The aim is, after the end of the project, to have reached some in-depth, thorough results based on the MacMillan theory concerning the interactivity of the webpages. Theoretical Framework News in the internet is a rather new phenomenon in journalism. A decade ago, the newspapers and the news agencies were discovering the possibilities of almost immediate delivery of the news to the readers that had access to the world wide web.
Nowadays thousands of newspapers, TV networks, radio stations, magazines and other editions are present at the internet and millions of users read the news through the internet in a daily basis (Salwen, Garrison, & Driscoll, 2005). According to Meyer (1991), journalism is a kind of science and there have to be some common features with it. These are the verification of the already existing information and the possibility that anyone has to realize the same research that the journalist has done. These constants have not changed, even if journalism through the internet and within it, has indeed changed.
Just like the radio changed the newspapers when it spread, just like the television and the picture that it carried into the houses changed afresh the newspapers but also the radio, just like that, the internet through its spreading managed to offer a new way of the circulation of the news, a brand-new way of communication, a fresh method of finding information, having as a result a new “window” for the world of journalism: electronic journalism. Based on that, many news pages were created that offered a new way of informing, setting new conditions in informing.
These news pages led, through the interactivity, to a completely different and new way of informing. But how has interactivity substantially altered the news and its presentation? According to MacMillan (2000), the way that someone interprets an internet webpage is inseparably united with the way the user interprets the interaction elements within it. Webpages’ Research The three electronic newspapers that have been studied are www. sport24. gr, www. contra. gr, www. sportfm. gr . These three webpages deal with the athletic events in Greece but also in the rest of the world. To begin with www. portfm. gr and studying it concerning the interactivity elements, we can see that it does have some of them. First of all, it offers a various number of links which lead to relevant news to what we are already reading. It poses an e-mail so that anyone can communicate with the editor of a specific piece of news to make any critical comment. On the other hand, it does not offer links that cross-refer out of the webpage. There are no elements such as videos or songs within the webpage. Of course, there is the possibility of radio reproduction (of the station that also disposes the webpage).
There is no search engine, neither the ability to chat in a chatroom in the webpage. Furthermore, there is no ability to enrol in the webpage for news while special characteristics such as the weather forecast and TV programme are not disposed and there is no kind of questionnaire or research on the current events and the news. Finally, there is no kind of game within the webpage. To continue with www. contra. gr, we encounter more interactivity elements within the webpage, in comparison with www. sportfm. gr. We run into e-mails to communicate with the editors and there is also the ability of navigation to other news related to the one we are reading within the webpage. In this webpage, there are also external links, that is, for webpages apart from the one we are already into. In several pieces of news, there are multimedia elements – mostly videos and, sometimes, some acoustic detachments. There is a special category-link with all the videos of the webpage. The ability to chat is absent from this webpage, too, and so is the enrolment ability with some kind of document.
There are no special characteristics, nor gallops or questionnaires. Finally, there are some Flash games which are in a link within the webpage and enable the users to play while in it. It is easy to realize that www. contra. gr clearly includes more interaction elements than www. sportfm. gr, rendering it more user- friendly. The webpage with the biggest number of interactivity elements between itself and the user is left for the end. www. sport24. gr offers links concerning a particular item of news which lead to relevant webpages, while it also disposes external links relevant to the news, outside the webpage.
Concerning the multimedia width, www. sport24. gr was the most thorough, with a wide availability on videos, various images and acoustic detachments that provide a more intense sense of interaction with the user, rendering the news more vivid through the videos and the pictures. There is an announcement board with the most important events of the day, whilst there is also a board that provides the most important news until the moment of the last updating of the webpage. As far as the search engine is concerned, neither Sport24 disposes it – that means that none of the three electronic newspapers involve it.
Sport24 is the only webpage of the three that we have studied, which offers an enrolment document. Of course, the document does not concern the whole webpage or news about a specific subject, but only specific columns that are in the webpage. It is also thorough as far as the special characteristics are concerned, since it disposes TV programme, weather forecast and other subjects that do not exclusively deal with sports events. There is no ability to order products via the webpage, but a link is provided so that the user can be navigated to another webpage where he can realize his purchasings.
There is no permanent gallop or questionnaire but, regularly, the public has a questionnaire at its disposal, concerning current events or even a whole blog where the readers can express their opinion. Finally, there has been created a whole page in bucket 24 which includes flash-type games, giving even more emphasis than the webpages that have previously been studied. Conclusions The three electronic newspapers that we have studied had resembling interaction elements. www. sport-fm. gr had the least number of characteristics that we set as a criterion according to the MacMillan theory.
Right after this, www. contra. gr follows, which importantly outstands, concerning the interactivity subject, in comparison with www. sport-fm. gr . Finally, www. sport24. gr is the most thorough from the researched newspapers. According to the rating webpage www. alexa. com and if we set the interactivity elements as a reading criterion, the readability results are in accordance with what we have studied. www. sport-fm. gr is in the third place among the webpages we are studying, while www. contra. gr and www. sport24. r take turns in the top of the sports news webpages in Greece. The common absence in all three webpages is the search engine and the existence of a chat room. In essence, though, the most important absence of all three webpages is the chatroom, which offers the ability of immediate interaction and needs constant surveillance but gives a vivid dimension to the webpage. So, based on the previously presented results of the research, we are fully confirmed if we base the readability on the MacMillan theory on interactivity and interaction.
Within the last years, the progress of technology has set journalism in an evolutionary orbit. Journalists are now informed even faster and immediately transfer the news with the help of the internet but also the way in which they present the news has changed in a great extent. This renders the news’ webpages that have been created one more basic informing tool for the readers. In order to prove what an important role the internet journalism and the informing webpages play, in a research that has taken place in the U. S. A. according to http://media. ooblog. gr/ , the 13% that used to be informed through the internet in 2001, it has now reached an impressive 40%. The internet is a tool that has now given a new substance in informing, based, apart from the news, on the interactivity elements which activate the reader and give him an active role. According to a research, the internet does not bring the user into the traditional position of a passive reader who would just read the news in a newspaper or would listen to it from the radio or the TV (Salwen, Garrison, & Driscoll) .