Internet access still unequal between regions of europe

Experts on a panel on online journalism around the globe said that although people all over Europe use the Internet, there are many differences between users and others within each country on the continent.

The two experts were Ari Heinonen, a journalism professor at University of Tampere in Finland, and Manuel Gago, director of and a journalism professor at University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

They highlighted characteristics of online journalism ventures in Spain and the Nordic region of Europe as part of a panel comparing online media worldwide. The main similarity was that neither country reports uniform Internet penetration across the population.

Penetration is not spread evenly across Europe, either. Only 15 percent of the people in Greece have Internet access, the panelists said during the fifth annual International Symposium on Online Journalism.

About 27 percent of people in Spain, primarily the wealthy, have Internet access, Gago said. Most users are men between the ages of 14 and 35, and sports sections are the most popular content.

In the Nordic region, usage of online media is spread more evenly by age, Heinonen said.

“The digital divide is not so wide as it is in some of the other countries,” he said.

But there are differences among populations geographically.

There is a strong online presence by newspapers in the Nordic region, Heinonen said. They are all exploring ways to generate revenue from online products, and they have begun to view the audience as consumers.

“The media industry in these countries is almost desperately trying to find out how to make money, and fast,” Heinonen said. “The Internet is seen as something to be bought and sold.”

The papers mostly put up stories from the print side unedited, recycling bulk media. This is not a sound business model, Heinonen said.

“What we get for subscription costs is more of the same,” he said. “I’m not sure how that would be a feasible strategy online.”

ISOJ 2004: Online Journalism in Asia, Europe and Latin America, from Knight Center on Vimeo.