Advantages Reading Newspaper Essay Oped

Ioana Epuresummarises “Harnessing the potential of online news: Suggestions from a study on the relationship between online news advantages and its post-adoption consequences”, a study by An Nguyen (University of Stirling)

In the last decade journalism has entered a stage in which news organisations are less reluctant to invest in online operations, but An Nguyen’s study starts from the premise that they do so driven not by the desire to innovate and fully exploit the potential of online news, but because of the fear that the internet will replace traditional media in the news market.

As a consequence, they haven’t actually tried to understand what users want from online news and how what they want will affect their behaviour after receiving it.

Surprisingly, the results of Nguyen’s study show that traditional press still has a battle to carry, provided that practitioners understand why people have turned to online news and try to offer them something similar.

The effects of the attributes of online news on its adoption and use: a review

Past studies in this field have shown that there are 9 socio-technical advantages that have determined the adoption and use of online news:

  • no costs
  • multitasking
  • more news choices
  • in-depth and background information
  • 24/7 updates
  • customization
  • ability to discuss the news with peers
  • the existence of different viewpoints
  • the opportunity to “talk back to the media”

However, although these studies have successfully explored the link between the attributes of online news and the internet users’ decision to adopt them, they failed to analyze the practical consequences of this decision. This is of crucial importance when it comes to the future development of online news.

Therefore, the 2 big questions that have remained unanswered by previous research and to which An Nguyen’s study aims to find an answer are:

1. To what extent the socio-technical advantages of online news linked to the way internet users adopt, use, evaluate and affiliate themselves to online news?

What derives directly from this question is the issue of whether online news can gradually replace traditional media, or whether all news sources will complement each other.

2. If there is a reduction in the time spent on traditional news media since online news adoption, how does this relate to the socio-technical advantages online news?

Methods

The article uses data from a national survey of Australian users of news conducted in 2004, that involved internet non-users, internet users that were not using online news, and online news users.

Findings

Out of the 9 attributes, immediacy seemed to be the main reason for online news adoption. 70% of online news users had visited news sites a few times a day, while 47% of them would go to the internet first if they found out something interesting had happened.

This means that the most important aspect that online news practitioners should focus on is providing continual 24 hour news services.

However, it seems that people expect, along with continuous updates, quality content as well – 90% of online news users had clicked on links for in depth and background information.

This stresses the importance of taking advantage of the linking and unlimited space available on the internet, as well as its interactive quality, to uncover a larger number of perspectives, from as many audiences as possible.

The study also shows that customization (the ability to receive tailor-made news) does not contribute to how much people use online news, but it does influence the level of their attachment to it, after adoption.

The ability to combine news with other online purposes, on the other hand (email news alerts, the embedding of news into non news sections of portal sites) seemed to be extremely important for online news users. The same goes the “no cost” factor. The study indicates that people are not willing to pay for news and they won’t be in the future either, as the effect of multitasking would be reduced if the news was not free.

Surprisingly, the interactive component, the ability to talk back to the media, was not as important as practitioners usually consider. The reason behind this might lie in the fact that user journalist interaction was still largely ignored at the time the study was conducted.

The study also shows that the displacement effect is still very limited – only about 10% of the users have reduced their use of traditional media.

From this point of view, the most-threatened medium is represented by magazines, displaced especially by people who use online news because they are free and customizable.

Newspapers come second, being replaced by the users that appreciated attributes such as immediacy, while television was replaced due to its superficiality, its lack of in depth information.

Concluding notes: some questions for journalism scholars

The most important conclusion of this study is the fact that people want both permanent updates and comprehensive news, an expensive combination, considering that most of them are unwilling to pay for online content. Therefore, any investment in successfully combining the two must be made at the publisher’s expense.

A solution to this issue might lie in advertising. The study concludes, though, with the following questions: what if online advertising does not work well enough for online news providers? And if not, where will the resources necessary for further investments in online news come from?

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This entry was posted in blogging and tagged an nguyen, consumption, customisation, displacement, immediacy, interactivity, research on by Paul Bradshaw.

As the government begins its crackdown on essay mill websites, it’s easy to see just how much pressure students are under to get top grades for their coursework these days. But writing a high-scoring paper doesn’t need to be complicated. We spoke to experts to get some simple techniques that will raise your writing game.

Tim Squirrell is a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, and is teaching for the first time this year. When he was asked to deliver sessions on the art of essay-writing, he decided to publish a comprehensive (and brilliant) blog on the topic, offering wisdom gleaned from turning out two or three essays a week for his own undergraduate degree.

“There is a knack to it,” he says. “It took me until my second or third year at Cambridge to work it out. No one tells you how to put together an argument and push yourself from a 60 to a 70, but once you to get grips with how you’re meant to construct them, it’s simple.”

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Poke holes

The goal of writing any essay is to show that you can think critically about the material at hand (whatever it may be). This means going beyond regurgitating what you’ve read; if you’re just repeating other people’s arguments, you’re never going to trouble the upper end of the marking scale.

“You need to be using your higher cognitive abilities,” says Bryan Greetham, author of the bestselling How to Write Better Essays. “You’re not just showing understanding and recall, but analysing and synthesising ideas from different sources, then critically evaluating them. That’s where the marks lie.”

But what does critical evaluation actually look like? According to Squirrell, it’s simple: you need to “poke holes” in the texts you’re exploring and work out the ways in which “the authors aren’t perfect”.

“That can be an intimidating idea,” he says. “You’re reading something that someone has probably spent their career studying, so how can you, as an undergraduate, critique it?

“The answer is that you’re not going to discover some gaping flaw in Foucault’s History of Sexuality Volume 3, but you are going to be able to say: ‘There are issues with these certain accounts, here is how you might resolve those’. That’s the difference between a 60-something essay and a 70-something essay.”

Critique your own arguments

Once you’ve cast a critical eye over the texts, you should turn it back on your own arguments. This may feel like going against the grain of what you’ve learned about writing academic essays, but it’s the key to drawing out developed points.

“We’re taught at an early age to present both sides of the argument,” Squirrell continues. “Then you get to university and you’re told to present one side of the argument and sustain it throughout the piece. But that’s not quite it: you need to figure out what the strongest objections to your own argument would be. Write them and try to respond to them, so you become aware of flaws in your reasoning. Every argument has its limits and if you can try and explore those, the markers will often reward that.”

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Fine, use Wikipedia then

The use of Wikipedia for research is a controversial topic among academics, with many advising their students to stay away from the site altogether.

“I genuinely disagree,” says Squirrell. “Those on the other side say that you can’t know who has written it, what they had in mind, what their biases are. But if you’re just trying to get a handle on a subject, or you want to find a scattering of secondary sources, it can be quite useful. I would only recommend it as either a primer or a last resort, but it does have its place.”

Focus your reading

Reading lists can be a hindrance as well as a help. They should be your first port of call for guidance, but they aren’t to-do lists. A book may be listed, but that doesn’t mean you need to absorb the whole thing.

Squirrell advises reading the introduction and conclusion and a relevant chapter but no more. “Otherwise you won’t actually get anything out of it because you’re trying to plough your way through a 300-page monograph,” he says.

You also need to store the information you’re gathering in a helpful, systematic way. Bryan Greetham recommends a digital update of his old-school “project box” approach.

“I have a box to catch all of those small things – a figure, a quotation, something interesting someone says – I’ll write them down and put them in the box so I don’t lose them. Then when I come to write, I have all of my material.”

There are a plenty of online offerings to help with this, such as the project management app Scrivener and referencing tool Zotero, and, for the procrastinators, there are productivity programmes like Self Control, which allow users to block certain websites from their computers for a set period.

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Look beyond the reading list

“This is comparatively easy to do,” says Squirrell. “Look at the citations used in the text, put them in Google Scholar, read the abstracts and decide whether they’re worth reading. Then you can look on Google Scholar at other papers that have cited the work you’re writing about – some of those will be useful. But quality matters more than quantity.”

And finally, the introduction

The old trick of dealing with your introduction last is common knowledge, but it seems few have really mastered the art of writing an effective opener.

“Introductions are the easiest things in the world to get right and nobody does it properly,” Squirrel says. “It should be ‘Here is the argument I am going to make, I am going to substantiate this with three or four strands of argumentation, drawing upon these theorists, who say these things, and I will conclude with some thoughts on this area and how it might clarify our understanding of this phenomenon.’ You should be able to encapsulate it in 100 words or so. That’s literally it.”

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