The Future of Multimedia in the Online Newsroom

Researchers in the multimedia world gathered on Saturday during the 7th International Symposium on Online Journalism to discuss the different trends and their future effects on the developing world of online journalism.

One study found that more men than women involved browse for technology news.

“Sixty-nine percent of all men and 66 percent of women go online,” said Cindy Royal of Virginia Commonwealth University, referring to a 2005 Pew report. People who are familiar with the internet know they can use it when at work or school to get their news. But, consumers of this online media are still learning exactly how to maximize their time on internet news sites.

The study indicated a trend of men being more interested in technology and better at using it than women. This significant difference has some cultural and social implications.

Major Highfield and Justin Sablich from Syracuse University researched whether podcasting affected the audience, atmosphere, and advertising of online newspapers. One of their major findings was that the audience of these newspapers don’t understand what podcast is. The audience are just part of the problem. Their study revealed that only half of the newspapers had any way of tracking how much of their audience actually downloaded podcasts.

“We ran into some problems actually finding 10 newspapers,” Highfield said. “Newspapers don’t have good idea about audience, but are getting some feedback that should help in future.”

Advertising was also an issue for those involved in podcasting because most newspapers want to implement ads, but don’t really understand how they are supposed to do this.

Donica Mensing from the University of Nevada in Reno studied how news factors online can relate to political learning. The level of political interest and engagement in America is very low and so her reason for conducting this study was to learn how to improve how people learn politics.

“There were a lot of stories where there was no policy information at all,” Mensing said. ” It was all horse race.”

Mensing studied varying factors to judge the different sources by including issue information, visual information, multimedia use, use of links and side bars, action initiatives, and opportunity for feedback. She found the use of multimedia for online newspapers seem to contribute to making audiences more politically involved and active.

“Men are more likely to be shown as executives engaging in technology,” Messing said.

Sue Robinson, a PhD student at Temple University summed it up best when she said, “We’re changing the trajectory of news production.”

She studied whether the ways in which online editors at traditional newpapers employ technolgy alters the traditional routines of the political insititution of news. The study’s results indicated that journalistic authority is still prevalent, but new considerations must be made for audience interaction and technology.

“Journalism is now a dialogue rather than a monologue,” Robinson said while quoting one of her interviewees.

New technology and ways of giving and recieiving news cannot reach their full potential until both audience and those in the online news business learn more and mature.

ISOJ 2006: Trends in Online News, from Knight Center on Vimeo.