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Researchers explore the geography of online news

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All news is local – that’s a truism of journalism. Does the
Internet change that? Do newspapers expand their notion of community when their
potential readership goes global? Are news nets cast further to attract
a wider readership? Those are among
the questions researchers involved in the Geography of News Project are working
to answer. In an article for J-Source, research director Mike Gasher discusses
the project’s findings so far.

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Canadians losing faith in news media

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Only half of Canadians believe news organizations get their
facts straight and just a third think news is fair and balanced, according to polling data
released by the Canadian Media Research Consortium
(pdf). The results of
the national survey suggest Canadians are less interested in the news and more
dubious about news media credibility than five years ago, when the CMRC
commissioned a similar poll.

Many who have lost trust in traditional news
media are turning to Internet news sources, as are a surprisingly large number
of young people. While Internet users enjoy non-traditional news sources
and features that foster interactivity, the most valued features of online news
are the links that allow users to find more detailed information.

 “People clearly care about accuracy, about discipline, and
about the commitment to quality, and if traditional players tamper with those
principles, clearly the audience is prepared to make them pay a quick price,”
the report concludes. “The real key to success for traditional media could
involve learning a new language – the language of interactivity, of
conversation, of engagement and involvement of the audience. It may also mean
shedding the notion of reporting without opinions. If traditional media develop
websites that offer more than their print or broadcast product by building
larger packages of content that include user-generated material, then the future
may well be much brighter than many of us thought.”


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Study looks at how online Canadians get news

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The average Internet-connected Canadian spends about 2.3 hours a day consuming news and information from a variety of sources, including television and newspapers, according to a new study by the Canadian Media Research Consortium (pdf) based on 1,000 interviews. Asked about “top-of-mind” stories, most respondents reported first learning about them on television. But most who wanted to know sought additional information online. The study also found that while older respondents tended to read text online, younger people preferred online video. The study notes that while television and newspapers continue to be used as news sources, the strengths of these traditional media (newspapers are seen as strong on detail, background and context while television is seen as strong on visuals and live reports) are increasingly also found online.

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More Canadians creating content on the Internet

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A growing number of Canadians are using the Internet to chat, blog and download material, Statistics Canada reports. Internet use in Canada continues to grow but still skews toward younger, educated and higher-income Canadians. E-mail remains the “killer app” but using the Internet to find news, weather, community events and other information historically provided by news media remains popular among Canadians, growing slightly between 2005 and 2007. 
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Use of anonymous sources down at the NY Times

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Use of anonymous sources by reporters at the New York Times has been cut in half since 2004, when the Jayson Blair incident prompted the newspaper to rewrite its sourcing guidelines, reports the paper’s public editor. However, Clark Hoyt also said most unnamed sources were still not adequately described by reporters and the amount of anonymously sourced opinion actually increased.

Anonymous sourcing at the Globe and Mail
Those interested in the issue of sourcing by Canadian reporters might want to read Denise Rudnicki’s recent study of the use of anonymous sources in the Globe and Mail (PDF) during a six-month period in 2005-2006. Rudnicki concluded that anonymous sources quoted by Globe reporters were most often used to insert “colour and comment” and “added little to public discourse.”

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Young news consumers overwhelmed by info overload

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Young people want in-depth news reporting but can’t seem to find it in the daily torrent of headlines, news bits and factoids that bombard them in today’s 24/7, Internet-driven news environment, according to an ethnographic study of young people’s news habits commissioned by the Associated Press and released this week. The study, a preview of which was reported earlier in Findings, also suggests the difficulty younger news consumers face in following news is intensified by a habit of multitasking. Following a story beyond a headline or snippet happens almost by accident, depending on whether the user stumbles on a useful and attractive link or reference. The study recommends journalists be more aware of how Internet users consume news and and create more entry points to guide news consumers toward informative and contextualized reports.
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Marketers plan to spend more online, less on print

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More bad news for print media: A survey of U.S. marketers finds most plan to spend more advertising dollars online during the next few years and reduce the amount they spend on print.
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Marketers plan to spend more online, less on print

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More bad news for print media: A survey of U.S. marketers finds most plan to spend more advertising dollars online during the next few years and reduce the amount they spend on print.
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British study explores link between PR and news

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Most of the journalism produced by Britain’s national newspapers is “pre-packaged” or “recycled” news derived from public relations material and wire services, according to a recent study by researchers at the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural studies. At least 19 per cent of press stories originated wholly or mainly from PR material, the researchers reported. Other findings: Print journalists are producing three times the copy they did 20 years ago and are doing less fact-checking and contextualizing as a result; broadcast news outlets are less dependent on PR and news wires for their material but continue to rely heavily on newspapers when deciding their news lineup. (Note: You can download the entire study; use Word to open.)
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Mapping newspaper job cuts

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Journalist and designer Erica Smith is interactively mapping locations and details of newspaper job cuts in the United States. The subject matter is depressing, but the presentation technique (using Google Maps) is impressive.
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