PERCEIVED MOTIVES FOR CLIC KING ON MULTIMEDIA FEATURES ON NEWS WEB SITES: AN EXPLORATORY STUDY By AMY ZERBA A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS IN MASS COMMUNICATION UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2003
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank the following people for guiding me through the process of researching and writing this thesis during the past year. First and foremost, I would like to thank the multimedia journalists who took the time to speak with me openly about multimedia. These journalists are Mark Adams, Travis Fox, Scott Horner, Tom Kennedy, Naka Nathaniel, Jane Stevens, John Vandewege, and Joe Weiss. Because of audio difficulties, Travis Foxâ€™s interview was not used as part of the preliminary study. His comments, however, did provide background knowledge about videography and multimedia. I would like to thank my adviser and committee chair, Mindy McAdams for taking the time to discuss online journalism with me, pushing me to â€œreally thinkâ€ about ideas, teaching me the skills to conduct my study and believing in my work. She taught me how to build a survey and database, two skills I know I will use again for research. Mindy is one of only a handful of people in my life who have taken a chance on me because they see potential. This encouragement and support will stay with me through my future academic and professional career. I would like to thank Dr. John Wright for teaching me qualitative research methods and how to conduct a survey. Despite his hectic schedule, Dr. Wright still made time to meet and answer questions. I would like to credit my interest in online journalism to Professor Dave Carlson, who opened my eyes to this other world of journalism for which I left a budding career as a print journalist. From him, I learned the language of HTML and the history of online journalism. ii
Outside of my committee, there were two people who helped me with technical support, Craig Lee and Michael Palenchar. Craig connected my survey to a database on the university server and also trouble-shooted when I encountered technical problems with the survey before the study. He made my study happen. Michael gave me a crash course on SPSS and taught me how to run statistical tests using SPSS. I would like to thank two friends, Donna Pazdera and Richard Batchelder, for listening to me ramble on about my thesis and believing that I would complete it during times I thought I would never finish. My co-worker and friend, Flora MacColl, allowed me to take time off from work to focus on my thesis. She is another person who really believes in my potential as a scholar. Finally, I would like to thank my parents for fully supporting my decision to return to school for my mastersâ€™ degree. I thoroughly enjoy learning. Both of them have always supported my academic career through words of encouragement and occasional monetary donations. iii
TABLE OF CONTENTS Page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS..................................................................................................ii LIST OF TABLES.............................................................................................................vi LIST OF FIGURES..........................................................................................................vii ABSTRACT.....................................................................................................................viii CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION AND PURPOSE OF STUDY.......................................................1 2 LITERATURE REVIEW.............................................................................................9 Uses and Gratifications Model.....................................................................................9 Comparing Print and the Web....................................................................................13 Multimedia and Interactivity...............................................................................18 Adopting something new.............................................................................25 Learning theories and other media...............................................................27 3 PRELIMINARY STUDY...........................................................................................30 Findings and Discussion.............................................................................................32 Conclusion..................................................................................................................44 4 METHODOLOGY.....................................................................................................47 How Yahoo!Groups Work..........................................................................................49 Inviting Users to Participate in the Web-based Survey..............................................50 Selecting Participantsâ€™ Email Addresses.............................................................51 The Participants...................................................................................................52 The variables................................................................................................56 Data analysis................................................................................................59 5 RESULTS...................................................................................................................61 iv
6 DISCUSSION.............................................................................................................68 Multimedia Packages..................................................................................................73 Problems with Study...................................................................................................75 7 CONCLUSION...........................................................................................................79 Future Research..........................................................................................................80 In Closing....................................................................................................................81 APPENDIX A INTERVIEW QUESTIONS.......................................................................................83 B INFORMAL EMAIL TO PARTICIPATE IN SURVEY...........................................85 C WEB-BASED SURVEY............................................................................................89 D NEWS SITES LISTED BY RESPONDENTS.........................................................100 LIST OF REFERENCES.................................................................................................102 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH...........................................................................................108 v
LIST OF TABLES Table page 3-1 Groups and Criteria..................................................................................................34 4-1 Example of how to find a group in Yahoo!Groups..................................................50 5-1 Frequencies of multimedia features.........................................................................62 5-2 Perceived motives for clicking on multimedia features...........................................63 5-3 Perceived motives for not clicking on multimedia features.....................................63 5-4 Correlations with exposure to news sites and perceived motives............................65 5-5 Correlations with exposure to multimedia features and perceived motives.............65 5-6 Correlations with reliance on news sites and perceived motives.............................66 5-7 Correlations with multimedia features and past experiences...................................66 5-8 Correlations with exposure to multimedia packages and perceived motives for clicking on multimedia packages.............................................................................67 5-9 Correlations with exposure to multimedia packages and perceived motives for not clicking on multimedia packages.......................................................................67 D-3 News sites listed by respondents............................................................................100 vi
LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 3-1 The definition of multimedia package.....................................................................33 4-1 These screen shot images show how public email addresses can be collected in Yahoo!Groups..........................................................................................................48 C-1 First screen of survey: Permission...........................................................................89 C-2 Second screen of survey...........................................................................................90 C-3 Third screen of survey..............................................................................................91 C-4 Fourth screen of survey............................................................................................92 C-5 Fifth screen of survey...............................................................................................93 C-6 Sixth screen of survey..............................................................................................94 C-7 Seventh screen of survey..........................................................................................95 C-8 Eighth screen of survey............................................................................................96 C-9 Ninth screen of survey..............................................................................................97 C-10 Tenth screen of survey: Background........................................................................98 C-11 Eleventh screen of survey: Thank you.....................................................................99 vii
Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Mass Communication PERCEIVED MOTIVES FOR CLICKING ON MULITMEDIA FEATURES ON NEWS WEB SITES: AN EXPLORATORY STUDY By Amy Zerba May 2003 Chair: Mindy McAdams Major Department: Mass Communication This study examines why Internet users click and do not click on multimedia features on news Web sites. The purpose of this research is to explore readersâ€™ perceived motives for clicking on these features and how these motives relate to exposure to news sites, exposure to multimedia features, past experiences after reading text and then clicking on a multimedia feature, and reliance on news sites for news and information. Based on a uses and gratifications approach, extensive literature on the uses of the Internet and other media, and interviews from seven multimedia journalists, a Web-based questionnaire was developed that asked Internet users about their perceived motives for clicking on audio, video, graphics and photo slideshows on news Web sites. This study suggests that technology difficulties are slowing the advancement of multimedia features on news sites, yet a fast connection and story interest could override these factors. Slow download and poor quality were rated as prominent reasons for not clicking on multimedia features. Respondents rated â€œinterestâ€ in the news story as a viii
prominent motive for clicking on these features. The study showed a significant positive relationship between exposure to multimedia features and the motive statement, â€œI have a fast connection.â€ In examining multimedia packages, a significant positive relationship was found between exposure to multimedia packages and the statement â€œthese multimedia packages take too long to download.â€ The study also showed a significant positive relationship between increased exposure to news sites and the motive statement â€œI learn better with audio/video,â€ which may have valuable implications for audio and visual learners. ix
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION AND PURPOSE OF STUDY Shortly after four hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001 (9/11), millions of Internet users raced to the Web to get the latest details about the attacks. The volume of traffic made some sites such as CNN.com, ABCnews.com and NYTimes.com, inaccessible for an hour, according to Keynote Systems Inc. (2001), which tracks the performance of top business Web sites. Producers at Google posted this message for users looking for news about the attacks. If you are looking for news, you will find the most current information on TV or radio. Many online news services are not available because of extremely high demand. Below are links to news sites, including cached copies as they appeared earlier today (Pew Internet and American Life Project, 2002, p. 27). Many of the users were office workers who did not have access to a television or radio. While TV and radio clearly had the most users, more readers went to the Internet for information than the newspaper (Palser, 2001). News sites were not prepared for such a catastrophic event that would generate the most traffic to traditional news sites in the history of the Web (Pew Internet and American Life Project, 2002). Some sites borrowed server space from their partners. For example, CNN used CNNSI.com and CNNfn.com and ABCNews.com tripled its capacity by using ESPN.com and ABC.com servers (Palser, 2001). Sites began to strip off nonessential content such as advertisements, navigation and pictures to reduce impact on their servers and focus on only 9/11. CNN.comâ€™s homepage before the attack was at 255 kilobytes; afterward it dropped to 20 1
2 kilobytes. (Palser, 2001; Keynote Systems Inc., 2001). As overall Internet usage declined by 8% and 12% in the first days after the attacks, those reporting using the Web for getting news increased to 25% to 28% on a typical day after 9/11, up from the 22% on a typical day four weeks prior to the attack (Pew Internet and American Life Project). Online journalists faced new challenges and demands on 9/11. How do they organize information quickly? How do they tell a story that has video, audio and thousands of images when the demand for news exceeds the staffing or, on this day, server space? In a field that still is considered new, multimedia journalism attempted to define itself on and after 9/11. What is multimedia? Multimedia is a term rarely defined, and when it is, a range of meanings emerges. Multimedia journalists interviewed in this study and a handful of researchers have trouble defining the term, but most agree that â€œmultimediaâ€ means the integration of more than one medium (Hoogeveen, 1997; Perse & Greenberg-Dunn, 1998; Ruggiero, 2000; M. Adams, personal communication, September 29, 2002; S. Horner, personal communication, October 10, 2002; T. Kennedy, personal communication, October 18, 2002; N. Nathaniel, personal communication, October 17, 2002; J. Stevens, personal communication, October 25, 2002; J. Vandewege, personal communication, October 23, 2002; J. Weiss, personal communication, September 27, 2002). Multimedia features include text, pictures, audio, video and graphics, all features specifically listed by the multimedia journalists interviewed in this study (Adams; Horner; Kennedy; Nathaniel; Stevens; Vandewege; Weiss). These seven multimedia journalists also listed â€œinteractivity,â€ as a multimedia feature. Others might include Flash presentations, databases, PDF documents, Weblogs, diaries, polls, surveys, quizzes,
4 the information in these elements is complementary, not redundantâ€ (J. Stevens, personal communication, October 25, 2002). But one could argue that a text story online with a still photographâ€”two multimedia featuresâ€”would be considered multimedia. Multimedia features on news Web sites also do not have to be related to text and can simply stand alone, such as Washingtonpost.comâ€™s â€œThe Day in Photos,â€ which consists of a Flash presentation of photographs from around the world each day ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/photo/dayinphotos/index.html ). Joe Weiss, multimedia producer at MSNBC.com and former multimedia editor at the Herald-Sun in Durham, N.C., defines a multimedia package as having some sort of integration of just one other medium. Typically, I would think audio or I would think some other level of interactivity than just a standard Web page. If not, then the entire Web is multimedia. It is sort of multimedia by design. What I usually think of is a third level of information, sort of a delivering medium other than just text and pictures. Whether it be interactive or audio or video, whatever. Itâ€™s like art. I canâ€™t define it, but I know it when I see it (J. Weiss, personal communication, September 27, 2002). For purposes of this study, multimedia features on news Web sites are video, audio, graphics and/or photograph slideshows that may or may not be interactive that are coupled with a related text story. What makes multimedia so difficult to study from a uses and gratifications approach is the gray area in which the users are seen as active participants, but are, many times, actively creating their experience as receivers of the message. And the senders, the journalists, have to adjust their delivery modes and shift their role in the communication process (Singer, 1998). Before examining the impacts of multimedia features, it is important to understand why people click on these features in the first place. An estimated 606.6 million people in the world use the Internet, according to NUA Internet surveys (2002), which monitors and analyzes key events on the Internet. On an
5 average day in 2002, at least 64 million Americans (or 43% of the 129 million Americans with online access in 2002) were on the Internet, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project (2002), which began researching the social implications of the Internet in 1999. As the Internet continues to add readers, newspaper readership is sliding (Pew Research Center, 2002). Asked if they had a chance to read the newspaper yesterday, 41% of Americans said â€œyesâ€ compared to 48% who said â€œyesâ€ in 2000 and 50% who said â€œyesâ€ in 1997, according to the Pew Research Center (2002). Today, only 30% of Internet users born between 1962 and 1971 (ages 31 to 40) read the newspaper. A decade ago, 53% of Internet users in their 30s said they had read the paper on the previous day (Pew Research Center, 2002). Twenty-somethings today have never been avid newspaper readers and there is little evidence to show that they will start. In 2002, a quarter of Americans age 30 or under said they read the newspaper the previous day, slightly up from 22% in 1996. And less Americans under the age of 30 are watching the nightly network news on a daily basis (Pew Research Center, 2002). In 2002, only 19% of Americans age 30 or younger watched the nightly network news on a daily basis, compared to the 53% of senior citizens who watched the nightly network news regularly. Could multimedia storytelling draw younger adults to read the news? New patterns of news consumption are emerging as the Internet and other technology, such as cell phones and PDAs, provide new avenues for obtaining news and information (Pew Research Center, 2000). Television, radio, newspapers and magazines deliver news in ways specific to that medium, and hence the story content is tailored to each. For example, radio and television have the capability of providing instantaneous coverage of news events, unlike newspapers and magazines. Broadcast news can show live events
6 taking place. Radio, newspapers and magazines allow news consumers to voice their opinions about a particular news story, more so than broadcast news. Newspaper and magazines offer written sidebars to related stories that provide additional information for readers. Each medium draws on its strengths. But the Internet has all of these attributesâ€”audio and video capability, instant news coverage, reader forums and hyperlinksâ€”and online news Web sites are delivering stories using them and other Internet-specific features, such as searchable databases, photo slideshows, user-driven interactive illustrations and email. All of these mediums are at usersâ€™ fingertips, but how and why users choose multimedia features on news sites is uncertain. In addition to making decisions about what news stories should be covered and how they should be covered, these journalists must think in â€œdifferent dimensionsâ€ (D. Potter, Symposium on Converged Journalism panel discussion at the University of Florida, Feb. 6, 2003). Potter explains how multimedia journalists have to open their minds and â€œthink in dimensions in layers that allow people to delve.â€ Multimedia journalists must decide what multimedia features improve, complement and enhance stories. They can spend anywhere from a few hours to a year producing a multimedia package for a news site. Time, staffing and cost make multimedia storytelling an expensive venture with few rewards and no profits for online news sites. So how are news consumers responding to these multimedia packages? And do readers even care about multimedia features on news sites? The purpose of this research is to explore readersâ€™ perceived motives for clicking on multimedia features on news Web sites and how these motives relate to exposure to news sites, exposure to multimedia features and reliance on news sites for news and
7 information. Currently, multimedia journalists are measuring reader response of multimedia packages by hit counts and/or email feedback (M. Adams, personal communication, September 29, 2002; S. Horner, personal communication, October 10, 2002; T. Kennedy, personal communication, October 18, 2002; N. Nathaniel, personal communication, October 17, 2002; J. Stevens, personal communication, October 25, 2002; J. Vandewege, personal communication, October 23, 2002; J. Weiss, personal communication, September 27, 2002). Essentially, they are designing in a vacuum. If multimedia journalists are creating design rules as they go, what exactly are they going by? And how much are readersâ€™ needs a part of these rules? By understanding usersâ€™ motives, multimedia journalists could tailor multimedia features toward usersâ€™ wants and needs. For example, if entertainment is a strong motive for clicking on multimedia features, how can multimedia journalists include this â€œwantâ€ in delivering news without blurring the line that separates the seriousness of most news events and entertainment? Perhaps, interactivity would play a stronger role. If users click on multimedia features because they learn better with audio and video, how could multimedia journalists take audio and video to the next level? Drawing from previous research on uses and gratifications for using the Internet and other media and suggestions by seven multimedia journalists interviewed as part of a preliminary study, a typology of perceived motives was developed for this study. The perceived motives listed in this study fall under the categories of entertainment, information seeking, curiosity, technology, understanding, enjoyment, interest, learning and reliance. Little research has been conducted on this new way of storytelling that uses sound, visuals and interactivity. This study asks Internet users what their perceived motives are
8 for clicking and not clicking on multimedia features on news Web sites. Interviews with the multimedia journalists provided additional background knowledge about multimedia storytelling and an insidersâ€™ perspective on what they believe are readersâ€™ perceived motives (see Chapter 3). The uses and gratifications model, previous research and the interviews provided a framework on which this study was based. This study attempts to examine motives that will help multimedia journalists understand usersâ€™ â€œwantsâ€ and help advance multimedia journalism during its present learning curve by keeping users at the forefront as design rules for multimedia storytelling on news sites are being written.
CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW As research about online journalism continues to grow steadily, studies on multimedia features remain few. Multimedia means more than one medium, including text, audio, video, graphics and photographs. Multimedia features were scarce prior to the mid-1990s because of cost and hardware required (Ruggiero, 2000). Pavlik (1997) saw hints of original online news content coupled with experimental forms of storytelling beginning to emerge in 1997 on a handful of sites. Now multimedia features on news sites appear to be slowly becoming an everyday feature on some of the bigger news sites, such as Washingtonpost.com and MSNBC.com. There is no research to date on how users select multimedia features to which they watch and/or listen. Information scanning is not done systematically, which makes it difficult to study (Graber, 1984). In collecting research on which to base this study, previous studies that focused on the uses and gratifications of the Internet as well as other media were used. The uses and gratifications model is the backbone of this study. The literature was organized by studies that focused on the uses and gratifications model, motives for using the Internet and other media, comparisons of content and design with print versus online newspapers, the terms â€œmultimediaâ€ and â€œinteractivity,â€ the inaccuracy of hit counts, adoption of new technology and learning theories using other mediums. Uses and Gratifications Model In the 1970s, media researchers turned to studying audiencesâ€™ motivations for using media (Rubin, 1994). Prior to this, media researchers studied the effects of mass 9
10 communication on readers (Rubin, 1994; Katz, Blumler & Gurevitch, 1974). The uses and gratifications perspective shifted from looking at users as passive to active and research questions shifted from how the media affect people to what people do with the media (Rubin, 1994). This perspective in the 1990s and 21st century asks the question â€œWhy do consumers read online newspapers?â€ instead of â€œHow do online newspapers affect consumers?â€ When applied to online news sites, the uses and gratifications approach assumes that users go to these sites to gratify needs or wants. They are active participants because they are active communicators who select their channels of communication dependent upon their personal goals. The audience-centered approach examines their motives for media use, what influences these motives and the consequences of these needs, motives and desires. Even in early uses and gratifications studies, Katz, Blumler and Gurevitch (1974) saw a growth in the interest in gratifications that the media provided audiences. In these early days of empirical mass communication research, a list of functions formed that were served by either content or a specific medium. These include: To match oneâ€™s wit against others, to get information or advice for daily living, to provide a framework for oneâ€™s day, to prepare oneself culturally for the demands of upward mobility, or to be reassured about the dignity and usefulness of oneâ€™s role (Katz et al., 1974). Critics who doubt that motives and gratifications play a role in determining media consumption argue that external circumstances, such as watching television during mealtime because of oneâ€™s work schedule, determine media consumption; the needs of an individual far outweigh the â€œillusory and inadequateâ€ gratifications obtained; and if there are gratifications, people are not effective at finding these gratifications and the media do
11 not index these potential rewards well (McGuire, 1974). While initial exposure may be due to external and situational circumstances, human needs and gratifications do determine continued exposure to material, for if a behavior is to continue it must be reinforced in some way, and motives are linked to gratifications (McGuire). In studying television motives and exposure to television, Rubin (1983) asked users their level of agreement with motive statements for viewing television. His findings showed that television use motivations do effectively explain or predict viewing pattern consequences. Habits, passing time and entertainment viewing motivations had a significant positive relationship with amounts of TV viewing. Critics argue about the fuzziness of definitions for the concepts of needs, motives, uses and gratifications. Rubin (1994) explains that needs, motives, uses and gratifications sought are antecedents to behavior. The effects, consequences, gratifications obtained and outcomes are consequences of the behavior. Gratifications are an important motivating factor for seeking information (Graber, 1984). A handful of scholars have studied why consumers use the Internet and found information, entertainment and/or passing time among prominent reasons (Papacharissi & Rubin, 2000; Ferguson & Perse, 2000; Stempel, Hargrove & Bernt, 2000; Perse & Greenberg-Dunn, 1998). Papacharissi and Rubin (2000) identified five primary motives for using the Internet â€“ information seeking, entertainment, convenience, passing time and interpersonal utility. Information seeking and entertainment were found to be top motives for using the Internet in their study of 279 students. Convenience, passing time and interpersonal utility fell to secondary motives. A person who is financially secure, satisfied with life and comfortable with face-to-face conversations may prefer to use the
12 Internet for instrumental uses such as information seeking (Papacharissi & Rubin), where as a person who is less satisfied with life and is not as confident in face-to-face interactions may use the Internet more as a way of communicating or filling time. Stempel et al. suggest that Internet users who use the Web as a source for news are information seekers. Perse and Greenberg-Dunn (1998) found that computer users more than non-computer users believe that computers are more useful for entertainment, to escape or keep busy. In this 1998 study, the most commonly mentioned use for computers was to pass time or keep busy. In addition, they found that people will select media that they feel are useful. Ferguson and Perse (2002) also found entertainment and passing time to be prominent motives, along with relaxation, social information and information, similar to Rubinâ€™s television viewing motives (Rubin, 1983). Flaherty, Pearce and Rubin (1998) found significant correlations between face-to-face communication motives and Internet motives in information, entertainment and passing time. Their study also showed significant correlations between face-to-face communication motives and Internet motives in interpersonal motivesâ€”inclusion, affection, control, relaxation, escape and pleasureâ€”and other media motivesâ€”social interaction, habit, time-shifting and to meet people. Mings (1998) found that diversionary gratifications were reported as the prominent use sought in both print and online newspaper consumption and obtained in online newspaper consumption. Knowledge-related gratifications were the primary gratifications obtained from print newspaper consumption. However, there was no correlation between print gratifications sought and obtained and online gratification sought when it comes to
13 knowledge. Mings proposes that online readers may be seeking a different kind of knowledge online. A handful of scholars believe that a uses and gratifications model is a productive approach for examining the Internet (December, 1996; Morris & Ogan, 1996; Newhagen & Rafaeli, 1996). Ruggiero (2000) encourages researchers to include the concepts of interactivity, hypertext, demassificationâ€”a personâ€™s control over the medium, and asynchronicityâ€”messages staggered in time. Rafaeli (1996) recommends focusing on multimedia, hypertextuality, packet switchingâ€“a medium without fixed traffic routesâ€“synchronicity and interactivity. Singer (1998) suggests two ways researchers should look at the Internet, both of which can be applied to multimedia. One is to look at the Web as the â€œultimate in individualism, a medium with the capability to empower the individual in terms of both the information he or she seeks and the information he or she creates.â€ The other is to see the Web as the â€œultimate in community-building and enrichment.â€ People can forge links online in ways that have never been possible through traditional media or other forms of communication. People use the Internet in various ways with news consumption only part of overall Web use. Comparing Print and the Web Although the Internet started in the early 1970s, publicly available online news has been around in the United States since videotext in the early 1980s. It was not until the early 1990s that the World Wide Web, which links pages of information across networks and computers, was introduced and newspapers started using it for publishing purposes (Deuze, 1999; Peng, Tham & Xiaoming, 1999). But early online news stories were mere duplicates, or shovelware, of the print editions (Schultz, 2000; Pavlik, 1997). Reaching more readers was the prominent reason given by publishers and online editors for
14 publishing an online version of their newspaper five years ago (Peng et al.). A 1999 study by Chyi and Lasorsa showed national online newspaper sites, more than local newspaper sites, were indeed reaching additional audiences. 1 Generating income through advertising and using the online version to promote the print product were the second and third reasons for publishing online in 1999 (Peng et al.). Design decisions are often modeled after traditional mediums. Broadcast news sites, such as CNN.com, mimic TV screens with color and modular components while print sites are text-heavy (Palser, 2002). From a layout standpoint, newspaper readers are accustomed to recognizing what is important on printed pages because of the hierarchy of headline sizes, space given to the story, story length and art that accompanies stories. Online news sites are more of an organized menu of stories from which users can choose. Because space is not a concern, a larger variety of news stories can be offered. Readers have more choice and control. The online cues are limited to the storyâ€™s content and relative position on the news site. Often, the headlines are the same sizes. The likelihood that a person reads a story is dependent upon whether visual story importance cues and the readerâ€™s interest in the story match up, among other factors (Graber, 1984). As Graber (1984) notes, reader interest is a key component in determining whether a story will be read. Whether readers will read stories online that they originally were not interested in is debatable (Lewenstein, 2000; Tewksbury, Weaver & Maddex 2001; Berry, 2000). Fifty of the 67 participants in a 1998 eye-tracking study by the Poynter Institute for Media Studies and Stanford University read articles they had not planned to read (Lewenstein, 2000). Surveys by Tewksbury et al. in 1996 and 1998 showed that the 1 Chyi and Lasorsa discuss in their study that accessibility may be the reason users prefer the print format for local news versus national newspapers, which are more accessible online and less expensive.
15 more people went online in 1998, the more likely they were to report unintentional news exposure (2001). But Berry (2000) found that story topics rated moderately interesting in pre-tests by 84 participants were still considered moderately interesting regardless of multimedia enhancements. Bernt, Fee, Gifford and Stempel (2000) compared interests of Ohio adults with perceived readersâ€™ interests stated by editors of Ohio newspapers and found that editors do not estimate readersâ€™ interests accurately in determining what news readers want more of, the same amount or less. An experimental study by Tewksbury and Althau (2000) suggests that the placement of a story on an online site does make a difference. According to the study, more online readers will recognize a story placed prominently on the New York Times homepage than they would if the story was buried inside the international section of the print version of the Times. This shows the usability of salience cues that allow online staffs some control over reader consumption. For print, cues can be headline size, photographs, length of articles, key words of interest and cues from the social environment (Graber, 1984). Social environment cues are topics that become the focus for conversation among friends and colleagues. But whether print design can transfer to the Web is debatable (Lowrey, 1999; Poynter Media Studies, 1998). All four Internet creative directors who Lowrey interviewed in 1999 agree that traditional print design principles translate to the Web. 2 Lowrey suggests that at that time, that is all Web designers had to go by. 2 Lowrey interviewed John Caserta, creative director for the Chicagotribune.com at the time; Andrew Devigal, former creative director with Knight-Ridder new media; Duffy Dolan, former creative director for Access Atlanta; and Dale Peskin, former president of the Society for News Design and former art director for several large dailies.
16 However, a year earlier, the Poynter Media Studies experiment suggested that not all newspaper design rules can transfer over to their online versions (1998). The eye-tracking study showed readers enter online sites via text entry points versus graphics. 3 For traditional print versions, itâ€™s just the opposite, according to Poynterâ€™s newspaper eye-tracking study. Most studies show readers read online newspapers for international news versus local news (Mueller & Kamerer, 1995; Chyi & Lasorsa, 1999; Wu & Bechtel, 2002; Lewenstein, 2000; Tweksbury & Althau, 2000; and Poynter Media Studies, 1998). Readers have listed receiving late breaking news and world news as top preferences for electronic newspapers over print newspapers but found the text more difficult to read online (Mueller & Kamerer). Traditional newspapers are preferred for local stories (Mueller & Kamerer; Chyi & Lasorsa). However, Editor & Publisher polled 53,000 Internet users in 1999 and found local news was the most popular item (Strupp, 1999). Wu and Bechtel examined types of stories and topics that drive people to the Web by correlating daily newscasts from ABC and CNN with traffic on the New York Times Web site. The study shows that traffic with New York Times had a positive correlation with other media coverage of international politics, international relations, issues that involve other countries, education and science, whereas traditional news coverage of natural disaster, domestic politics and legal coverage were negatively correlated. 4 Wu and Bechtelâ€™s study also shows that timely, urgent, breaking news increases traffic to Web 3 Poynter acknowledges that some eye absorption takes place outside of an â€œeye-fixation cluster.â€ It is possible for artwork to be seen without the eye being fixated on it. The group also acknowledges the small sample size of 67 participants. 4 The authors acknowledge that maybe users see the New York Times as a superior international news provider.
17 sites. Poynterâ€™s 1998 eye-tracking study showed readersâ€™ interests, measured by participants clicking on a story, led with stories on war, crime, disaster and opinion categories, followed by national and political, state, international and local news (Lewenstein, 2000). Tweksbury and Althaus suggest that print readers begin reading with more international, national or political coverage, which are traditionally stories on the front page, versus online. One reason is that online versions offer a larger number of story options and readers take advantage of this. According to the Stanford Poynter Project, online readers are reading more of each story, an average of 75 percent of the story (Poynter Media Studies, 1998). In some cases, news sites have twice as many headlines if not more vying for attention compared to the five or so on a newspaper front page. Add in multimedia features and users are bombarded with competing choices, many of which users may scan over without becoming fully aware that these choices, which include multimedia links, are there. In 1976, Graber interviewed 21 registered voters over a course of one year to understand how people select and process information that they use to form opinions about political issues. When participants were asked why they paid attention and absorbed particular information, their primary reason was â€œpersonal pleasure,â€ or personal relevance (1984). Psychological gratification was the major reason for selecting stories, a finding supported by participants paying more attention to news containing human interest elements, such as crimes, accidents, health care, sports, entertainment, etc. Other top reasons that were stated in the interviews were â€œemotional appeal,â€ â€œsocietal importanceâ€ and â€œinteresting story.â€ In this same study, users were asked why they neglected some prominent stories in the interview story tests. The most common answer
18 for not paying attention to a story, â€œI missed that oneâ€ without giving a reason other than haphazard scanning. Other reasons, in order, included: no interest, too remote and too busy. Three of the four creative directors who Lowrey interviewed in 1999 agree news sites must give readers a mix of traditional news and â€œusableâ€ news. In this case, one director advises news sites to clearly distinguish through design and presentation what is traditional news and news elements that invite readers to participate. Similar to newspapers, story content should dictate story form, however, the creative directors agree that stories should become shorter online, such as breaking stories in chunks or giving the user an option to â€œgo long or go shortâ€ (Lowrey, 1999). This user control option encompasses two of the three Web advantages of quality online content over traditional media that Deuze (1999) definesâ€“interactivity and individualization. The third advantage is convergence. Multimedia and Interactivity As new technology emerges on news sites, people are faced with more media choices, and motivation and satisfaction become even more important factors of audience analysis (Ruggiero, 2000). Stories on 360degrees.org, a site that teams up scholars, students, artists, programmers, journalists, activists and statisticians in telling stories, showcase the possibilities of multimedia storytelling for news stories (www.360degrees.org). The documentary of prison inmates and their spoken diaries is an example ( http://www.360degrees.org/360degrees.html ). This site shows the bigger multimedia stories, such as the anniversary of 9/11, that take a more thematic approach to storytelling versus episodic. Episodic storytelling treats an event as a single story, such as a robbery or meeting, whereas thematic places issues and events inside a general theme
19 or trend. Wu and Bechtelâ€™s content analysis study (2002) suggests that online users are interested in episode-oriented news stories covered by television or other media and flock to news sites for more information, as shown by 9/11, versus planned coverage. Multimedia packages on news sites use at least one featureâ€”text, audio, video, graphics and photographsâ€”in combination with interactivity, Flash, audio or video to tell a story in a non-redundant way. Multimedia journalists can spend anywhere from a few hours to a year writing, shooting, recording, designing and producing a multimedia package for a news site, with more emphasis placed on longer, more in-depth stories. Including multimedia with breaking stories is slowly becoming easier but can be time-consuming in the newsgathering and production stages. Interactivity is not synonymous with multimedia. But interactivity definitions are as wide as its uses. Deuze (1999) defines interactivity as having the potential to make the reader part of the news experience. The audience is active in receiving and giving information, whether it is clicking on links to get to stories, emailing writers, using a bulletin board on the site, contributing to a Web chat with writers or sources in stories, voicing opinions in discussion groups or filling out opinion polls or surveys. The reader is involved with the story. Ha and James (1998) define interactivity as the â€œextent to which the communicator and the audience respond to, or are willing to facilitate, each otherâ€™s communication needs.â€ Interactivity is the extent to which communication reflects back on itself, feeds on and responds to the past (Newhagen & Rafaeli, 1996). Steuer (1992) defines interactivity as the extent to which users are involved or engaged in modifying the form and content of a mediated environment in real time. Interactivity is multidimensional (Heeter, 1989; Downes & McMillan, 2000). Heeter defines
20 interactivity as having six dimensions: how much choice users are provided with, the effort that users must exert to access information, the degree to which a medium can react responsively to users, how user selection of information can be monitored, ease of adding information by users and the degree of interpersonal communication between two people or among a small group. Downes and McMillan define interactivity as a continuum with message-based and participant-based dimensions, which accounts for the varying degrees of interactivity on Web sites. The message-based dimensions are the nature and direction of the messages, the importance of time to message structure and retrieval, and sense of place. The participant-based dimensions are control, responsiveness, and perceived goals. For example, a searchable database with rich content may have low values of message-based dimensions but high values of participant-based dimensions. Interactivity as a required component of multimedia packages is debatable. In the preliminary study to this research, four of the seven multimedia journalists interviewed viewed the term as an optional feature of multimedia packages. But the two words â€“ multimedia and interactivity â€“ often times are used interchangeably. Tom Kennedy, director of photography and design at Washingtonpost.com, makes a clear distinction between multimedia with and without interactivity. One is, you can have multimedia thatâ€™s the form of storytelling but itâ€™s still primarily a way of delivering content that is pushed at the user rather than having a lot of heavy user involvement. And then interactivity is a dialogue in a sense about a story in which the user is a very potent part of the conversation (T. Kennedy, personal communication, October 18, 2002). There are different levels of interactivity, the simplest of which is hyperlinks, which are clickable features that allow readers to go beyond daily news to view other information on related subjects or background information (Peng et al., 1999). Hyperlinks allow users to read background information or side stories on related subjects. In an
21 experimental study by Ketterer (2001), users spent more time with stories with four links of related information than groups with two or no additional links. They were significantly more satisfied with the amount of information presented than they were with stories with no links. Vargo, Schierhorn, Wearden, Schierhorn, Endres and Tabar (2000) studied readersâ€™ preference for the display of hyperlinks to related stories, or sidebars, and found readers prefer a hyperlink to a sidebar that is off to the side with a headline and a short abstract versus a related hyperlink that is inside a main story, which readers considered â€œdistracting,â€ or one with a headline and short secondary headline. This extra information allows the reader to decide if they want to read the story or not, giving the reader a choice. In stories with several multimedia features, hyperlinks often are placed off to the side offering users choices on how and in what order to read a story. They also allow users to click through the steps of an interactive map or illustration or follow a photo slideshow. Feedback and forums are other forms of interactivity. But communication should be continuous to generate interactivity. Schultz (2000) interviewed 100 readers who posted messages on online forums on NYTimes.com, and three-fourths of them could not remember receiving feedback from the New York Times staff. The communication stopped at two-way, with the news site offering a forum and the readersâ€™ posting comments to the staff. The news staff, according to most of the respondents, did not continue the dialogue. The Pew Internet & American Life Project (2002) examined Web sites archived between Sept. 11, 2001 and Dec. 31, 2001 for structures created for online actions concerning 9/11. Researchers analyzed news sites and sites by government agencies, corporations, portals, advocacy groups, religious groups, education, charity and
22 relief organizations and individuals acting on their own behalf. Researchers found that four in 10 Web sites hosted forums that allowed users to join other users in expressing their feelings. Ha and James (1998) cited five dimensions of interactivity that are capable of fulfilling communication needs â€“ playfulness, choice, connectedness, information collection and reciprocal communication. Ha and James attribute playfulness and choice dimensions of interactivity to self-indulgers and Web surfers who are fulfilling self-communication and entertainment needs. For task-oriented users, the connectedness dimension satisfies their informational needs. Information collection and reciprocal communication dimensions allow expressive users to have conversations with Web site staffs or people of common interest online. Playfulness, choice and connectedness can be applied to multimedia storytelling because they are more audience-oriented and allow the user more control in the communication process. Playfulness encompasses the desire to figure something new out or demonstrate competence. An example of playfulness is the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.comâ€™s touch-screen voting machine in which users can try out South Floridaâ€™s ATM-like voting machines ( http://www.sun-sentinel.com/extras/graphics/news/vote/ ) while also learning. Another example is MSNBC.comâ€™s baggage screening check in which the user looks for possible deadly weapons under an X-ray machine ( http://www.msnbc.com/modules/airport_security/airsecurity_front.asp?launch=/modules/airport_security/screener/ ). Choice comes from the unrestricted navigation that one chooses to follow on the Web (Ha & James, 1998). Giving users a choice of which plug
23 in they prefer to use when watching a multimedia story may make users feel empowered and not at a disadvantage, which may keep their interest in clicking on a multimedia link. Connectedness allows users to feel closer to the outside world (Ha & James, 1998). It is bringing the outside world to oneâ€™s screen. A college student can connect to a library in another state without leaving home. Information collection or data gathering is a primary need of the communicator (Ha & James). Knowing the audience can help online staffs tailor content toward interests. Web user information can be collected voluntarily from the user or by downloading cookies, or pieces of information generated by a Web server and stored on usersâ€™ computers to monitor usersâ€™ visits. Reciprocal communication allows for the site visitor and Web site staff to create dialogue (Ha & James, 1998). More newspapers are catching on to the ability of the Web and including emails next to their bylines or at the end of stories. Multimedia journalists also can connect with readers in storytelling. An example of this is a multimedia package that chronicles the journey of New York Times photographer Tyler Hick in Afghanistan as he personally tells and shows with photographs how life changed in one year after 9/11 ( http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/international/20021008_JOURNAL08/index.html ). The user can see and hear him and view the photographs that he discusses. These nontextual cues add to the communication experience. Photographersâ€™ journals allow users to get inside the journalistsâ€™ world, a relationship that began with email exchanges and chat room discussions between online users and journalists. Interactivity, in a multimedia sense, is a new way of communicating. Readers can respond to the journalist via a feedback button about what they just experienced.
24 Newhagen and Rafaeli (1996) recognize the importance of interactivity to communication. Newhagen writes Interactivity is critical to the communication process and, ironically, the aspect which communication technologies have had the least success in implementing. Beyond the hype, the real promise of the Net as a communication technology may be in its ability to capture and even amplify this dimension. Inaccuracies of Hits on News Web Sites There is no independent entity, such as the Audit Bureau of Circulations for newspapers, to keep tabs on thousands of newspaper Web sites and their hits (Stempel & Stewart, 2000). News sites record hits in different waysâ€“some will count hits for the site, others use page views and others look at numbers for specific stories on the page. And what about unique visitors vs. repeat visitors? Terminology also is a factor. What one site considers multimedia packages another news site may call special packages or interactive features. Currently, multimedia journalists use email feedback and recorded hits, which are requests made of a Web server by a user, to measure how well a multimedia feature is received. The situation news sites are in now is similar to the situation the newspaper industry faced a century ago with suspect circulation figures (Stempel & Stewart). Recording hits has been criticized as an inaccurate way to measure online news readership (Peng et al., 2000; Kirsner, 2002). Hits include every request made of a Web server, which includes the pages themselves, images, sound, video, search requests, etc. For example, a visitor who visits the homepage of Washingtonpost.com will generate five requests (or hits) to the siteâ€™s server log file. One request is the actual page, the second is for the large image that has the dayâ€™s headlines and photo and the subsequent requests are for advertisements on the page (Kirsner, 2002). Records of hits also are not all calculated the same way on sites.
25 Some sites will have figures for the site and others will have figures for page views, which tally only the pages seen by a user without including images and other components on the page. Still other sites may have figures for specific items on pages, some record only unique visitors and others record every hit as a separate visitor. Adopting something new Rogers (1995) defines rate of adoption as the â€œrelative speed with which an innovation is adopted by members of a social systemâ€ He describes five attributes of innovations based on past research. The five attributes are relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, triability and observability. Rogers describes relative advantage as the degree to which the innovation supersedes the existing idea. Past investigations show that relative advantage of an innovation is positively related to its rate of adoption. Compatibility is how well the innovation is perceived to be consistent with previous values, experiences and the needs of adopters. Does it fit in smoothly with the personâ€™s life? Are online newspapers compatible with print formats? In Sundarâ€™s study (2000), users gave less positive evaluations to sites with audio and video versus text and picture-only sites, a finding that suggests maybe users were disappointed at the quality of the downloads because they differed from the quality they are used to getting from mainstream broadcast media, or maybe they were just used to print media. Some automatic habits that involve print, such as reading a newspaper over breakfast or on the subway, may be difficult to replace with a computer screen. However, a survey by Len-Rios and Bentley (2001) suggests that users are starting to form habits while reading electronic newspapers. Users tend to access electronic newspapers from the same
26 physical location while doing similar tasks, according to the study, although the time of day that a person accesses the news is not consistent. While users may be becoming comfortable with reading online (Len-Rios & Bentley, 2001; DeFleur M. L., Davenport, Cronin & DeFleur, M., 1992), online news consumers have not abandoned traditional print formats (Chyi & Lasorsa, 1999; Stempel, Hargrove & Bernt, 2002; Peng et. al, 1999). Chyi and Lasorsa asked readers, â€œImagine that you are provided with both print newspapers and electronic newspaper with the same news content and at the same price, which would you prefer?â€ Three fourths of the Web users (N=209) surveyed said print. And the print format was preferred across every age group. However, regular use of local and TV network news has declined (Stempel et al., 2002; Pew Research Center, 2002). A study by Stempel et al. showed that Internet users are more likely to be newspaper readers and radio news listeners than non-Internet users. Online newspaper readers are more likely to expand the circle of newspaper readers, not shrink it (Peng et al., 1999). College students are more likely to read their campus newspaper than either a national or local newspaper (Bressers & Bergen, 2002). But in this same study of 400 college students, online newspaper reading among students was almost nonexistent (Bressers & Bergen). Complexity is the degree to which an innovation is seen as complicated to learn or use. Triability is the degree to which an innovation may be experimented with on a trial basis. New ideas that can be tried out first without risk are generally adopted more rapidly. Along with triability comes curiosity. A reader who has never tried a multimedia feature online may be somewhat curious as to how it works. And finally, observability is the degree to which the results of an innovation are visible to others.
27 Learning theories and other media People who are interested in media information to provide gratifications are likely to learn more than those who express little interest (Graber, 1984), and motivation to continue learning about a topic in an informal context is central to learning itself (Eveland & Dunwoody, 2001). For example, consumers who have a low interest in reading news may be unable to focus their attention on textual stories. Learning theories can guide studies on story recall using different types of media, such as audio, pictures, text and video. The redundancy theory suggests that information presented in several different ways, such as text and audio or text and photographs, contributes to remembering a story because of cognitive rehearsal. However, redundancy also can lead to â€œclosure,â€ in which the mind ignores the news story or the lessons that the news story teaches (Graber, 1984). Studies have shown that readers recall more story information from text versions than other media, such as audio or video, or combination of these mediums (Sundar, 2000; DeFleur et al., 1992). Sundarâ€™s experimental study on multimedia effects on processing and perception of online news suggests readers remember and favor more text-only stories and text-with-pictures stories over text with audio or video. The study suggests that readers looking at a textual story with video remember fewer details about that story than a reader who reads a text-only story, a text with photo story or a text with photo and audio story. DeFleur et al. tested subjectsâ€™ memory of story details presented via newspaper, computer screens, radio and television and found that readers remember more information from newspapers. However, Berry (2000) found no significant difference in recall of stories with sites that had solely plain text and sites with multimedia features.
28 The cue-summation theory suggests that images placed alongside of text act as learning cues to help the reader understand the story (Severin, 1967). Learning is increased when more cues, or sound and/or visuals, are added. Increasing the number of cues increases the likelihood that a user will find one â€œparticularly suited to a given individualâ€ (Severin). Griffin and Stevenson (1992) tested subjectsâ€™ memory of story detail by providing readers with a print version of an international news story with and without a graphic pertaining to that story. The participantsâ€™ scores suggest that adding a visual component with background information may help a reader in understanding international news better. With multimedia features, users can choose how they want to consume the news with more communication options. However, using more channels can result in interference, which occurs when receivers perceive the second channel as having no relation to the first (Severin). Severin defines interference between channels as â€œthe simultaneous transmission of information in two channels in which the cues in the second channel are not relevant to the cues in the first channel and result in information loss.â€ But if the channels are relevant to each other, and the second channel, such as audio, provides additional news, users will process the news using schemas in which individuals will take bits and pieces that they deem important to what they already know (Graber, 1984). Schema processing places the news in a meaningful context. For multimedia packages, it is a Catch-22. By leaving out redundancy, multimedia packages may be open to errors in understanding because of the uncertainty or unfamiliarity of the news, plus a user may enter a story through the multimedia feature without reading the text first. By keeping redundancy in multimedia packages, no new information is given, which wastes time, money and ultimately wastes the readerâ€™s time.
29 However, understanding, not learning, is the ultimate goal (Graber, 1984). Multimedia packages often offer users several ways to experience a story, perhaps even in a nonlinear way. Too many options, however, may disorient readers and make them feel lost. This disorientation will increase the cognitive load required to successfully navigate the story (Eveland & Dunwoody, 2001). Cognitive load is defined as the amount of mental effort required to locate information and understand this information and how it pertains to the overall story or site (Eveland & Dunwoody). In addition, multimedia features require additional effort because multimedia links are often separate from the related text story. The â€œwantâ€ for something more than likely has to be there for users to make the effort to click on audio, video or photo slide shows. For this and several other reasons that this study will attempt to explore, multimedia features have not fully been â€œcomfortablyâ€ adopted by society. But computers are becoming comfortable to use (DeFleur et al., 1992; Len-Rios & Bentley, 2001). While participants in the 1992 study by DeFleur et al. remembered more story details from a newspaper than other mediums, the computer screen was a close second, followed by radio and TV. These researchers suggest that print media and electronic media require similar cognitive processing skills, a sign that shows the adoption of reading news online may correlate with familiarity with reading print.
CHAPTER 3 PRELIMINARY STUDY Before this study, seven multimedia editors were interviewed by phone to gain background knowledge about multimedia storytelling and to gather a list of possible motives for what they believe are readersâ€™ reasons for clicking on and not clicking on multimedia features and packages. Drawing from previous studies that focused on motives for using the Internet, a set of open-ended questions was devised to guide the interviews, each of which lasted between 45 minutes and two hours over a four-week period (see Appendix A). The open-ended interviews allowed for the discussion of ideas, stories of reader responses, predictions about the future of the field, on-the-spot thinking about the reader and recounts of on-the-job experiences. All seven interviewees are online journalists who work with multimedia every day. Deuze (1999) defines an online journalist as a professional performing journalistic task, which includes one of the four selected journalistic â€œcoreâ€ activities: news gathering/research, selecting, writing/processing and editing, within and for an online publication. Seven multimedia journalists were chosen using a snowball method in which one journalist would name another online journalist to speak to next. The multimedia journalists were Tom Kennedy, director of photography and design at Washingtonpost.com; Joe Weiss, multimedia producer at MSNBC.com and former multimedia editor at the Herald-Sun in Durham, N.C.; Jane Stevens, freelance multimedia journalist and multimedia lecturer at UC-Berkeley; Mark Adams, an 30
31 independent multimedia producer and former staff photojournalist at the Sun News in Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Naka Nathaniel, multimedia editor at NYTimes.com; John Vandewege, manager, editorial multimedia at LATimes.com; and Scott Horner, assistant graphics director at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Travis Fox, a multimedia editor at Washingtonpost.com also was interviewed, but his interview could not be used because of audio difficulties. The journalists work on large staffs to one-person staffs. Each journalist had to be involved in the brainstorming of ideas, producing, editing and/or the teaching of multimedia storytelling on a daily basis. This qualitative study collected inductive data to analyze for themes and ideas (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). While the uses and gratifications approach guided this study and helped shape the questions, typically considered deductive data analysis, the interviews were broken apart into units and then divided into smaller units and categories. The uses and gratifications approach was used in the â€œperceivedâ€ sense. For example, these journalists were not asked why they click on multimedia features. Instead, they were asked what they perceived to be the reasons why users click on multimedia. The drawback to using the phone versus face-to-face interviews is the lack of nonverbal communication. Also, how open these journalists were during the phone interviews was harder to grasp. Over the phone, the rapport is more difficult to build without seeing the person face-to-face. Despite these challenges, phone interviews were the most cost-effective for gathering background knowledge, and observation was not necessary for this study. Because this qualitative study would be used to develop a survey for Internet users, four main questions guided the interviews: 1. What is the definition of multimedia
32 packages? 2. What is the No. 1 reason users click on multimedia? 3. What is the No. 1 reason users do not click on multimedia? 4. What can users get from multimedia that they canâ€™t get from reading simply text? The first question was asked to get a clear definition of what â€œmultimedia packageâ€ means to avoid confusion in the rest of the interview. Table 3.1 shows the various themes and categories that emerged from the interviews. Some questions are specific groups while other questions were combined under one group. Other questions did not fall under any category and were used as supporting material for the findings. Findings and Discussion What is a multimedia feature? Multimedia features include text, pictures, audio, video and graphics, which were listed by the seven multimedia editors. These editors also included interactivity as a multimedia feature. Would an interactive geographical map without sound be considered multimedia? Would a photo slideshow without audio be defined as multimedia? Using real examples of what is assumed to be multimedia allowed for applied thinking on the spot. The purpose of this question was to get a strong understanding of what constitutes a multimedia feature. The answers show uncertainty. Journalist 1: If you are talking about [a map] just by itself, just clicking on the thing, I think thatâ€™s one of the elements thatâ€™s used in multimedia. But by itself, but I guess, yeah. If you just had a map that you could click and move in on I donâ€™t think Iâ€™d call that multimedia. Itâ€™s more just an interactive map. But it can be a component within a multimedia presentation. Journalist 2: [The map] would be, say if you had, it would be part of it. Journalist 3: Yeah, I think so. [The map is] probably one of the more cruder forms of it, but yeah. Journalist 4: I probably would if we were just sort of delineating the work of the world for a contest or something. I probably would consider [the map] multimedia. But again, I guess I would consider that.
33 Figure 3-1. The definition of multimedia package Journalist 5: Since anything that almost falls under my realm of what I consider to be multimedia, in this case, I would have to say yes. I mean, technically, itâ€™s not, technically, itâ€™s just one thing. Why the uncertainty? The field still is too new and there are no clear boundaries or definitions. All seven agreed that multimedia storytelling still is in the early stages of development. And these answers represent more opinion than facts because there is no strict guidelines to what makes something multimedia. But most summed up their answers by explaining that an interactive map without sound or photo slide show without sound are a part of a multimedia package. The term â€œmultimedia packageâ€ on news sites means using at least one featureâ€”text, audio, video, graphics and photographsâ€”in combination with interactivity, audio, video and/or Flash to tell a story in a nonredundant way (see Figure 3-1). 1 What is the No. 1 reason users click on multimedia links? The answers were as varied as the uses of multimedia. The top three answers were to understand a story better, entertainment and having the technology to use multimedia. But there was no 1 This definition was formed by combining definitions from the seven multimedia journalists interviewed.
34 Table 3-1. Groups and Criteria Groups Criteria Multimedia term The answers to, How would you define multimedia packages? Understanding of multimedia Applied thinking to two questions: Would an interactive map without sound be multimedia? Or a photo slideshow without audio? Readersâ€™ motives for clicking on multimedia The answers to, What is the no. 1 reason you perceive readers click on multimedia features? Readersâ€™ motives for not clicking on multimedia The answers to, What is the no. 1 reason you perceive readers do not click on multimedia features? Multimedia added uses The answers to, What can multimedia provide that text canâ€™t? â€œGoodâ€ multimedia The answers to, What makes a good multimedia package? Compiled a list of adjectives used to describe good packages and formed a practical checklist. Difficulties References to the word â€œdifficult,â€ â€œchallengeâ€ or â€œhardâ€ when referring to their job. Competition References to other online sites and other types of media, such as TV, radio and newspapers. Online sites were one category. These were divided into three groups: positive, neutral and negative references. Positive responses were coded by positive adjectives used to describe what someone else was doing; Neutral responses mentioned sites but gave no opinion on what they thought of these sites; and negative responses were coded by negative adjectives used. Other media were a second category. These were divided into three groups: advantage other media, neutral and advantage Web, similar to tennis scoring. In the advantage other media group, descriptions of other media were positive in comparison to the Web. The neutral had no strong opinion attached when discussing another medium versus the Web. The advantage Web group had descriptions that positively described the internet over other mediums.
35 Table 3-2 (continued). Groups Criteria Feedback Answers to, How much feedback do you get from readers and also anytime the word â€œfeedback,â€ â€œreader response,â€ or â€œemailsâ€ were used. This group was divided into three categories: 1. The first was positive, negative and neutral. Each of these was based on the adjectives used to describe what readers said. 2. The second category was which type of feedback, negative or positive, was mentioned first. 3. The third category was what did the feedback say. This was categorized by summing up the answers with one word. Success Answers to the questions, How do you know when a multimedia package is a success? How do you know when a multimedia package is unsuccessful? This group was divided into two categories â€“ stated successful criteria and stated unsuccessful criteria. Direction of multimedia Answers to, What direction is multimedia heading? Also used all references to problems relating to technology, staffing and time restraint on the production end. The first two categories help define multimedia and multimedia packages and the second two categories provide a base to build questions for a survey that asks Internet users their perceived motives for clicking and not clicking on multimedia features. consensus overall. Other reasons included: getting that extra bit of information, getting what text canâ€™t provide, receiving richer content, experiencing that â€œcoolnessâ€ factor, getting more out of the story than just text, having an interest in the content or processing information better with multimedia. One reason no prominent motive was suggested could be because these multimedia journalists receive little â€œusefulâ€ feedback from readers on what they like. Online
36 departments also may not know their readers well. When asked to describe the typical user who clicks on multimedia links, all seven said they would be guessing. Ages predicted ranged from 13 to 67, with a heavy emphasis on the 20-45 range. Vandewege, a multimedia producer at the L.A. Times, says Iâ€™m guessing between 25 and 45. An interesting note about that. We thought the age group would be much older. Then we ran that series on â€˜Who Killed Tupac Shakur?â€™ And the Times makes people register now for the Web and as a result of that series and the video package we put together for the Web site they had tens of thousands of people registering just to specifically see that story and thatâ€™s a whole different group of readers that weâ€™ve never been able to tap into before (J. Vandewege, personal communication, October 23, 2002). Regardless of how a user spends time on the site, multimedia journalists acknowledge that viewers Have little time to wait for large downloads; Must be grabbed within the first few seconds; Need to know why a story is important to them right at the start; and Be able to navigate a story easily What is the No. 1 reason users do not click on multimedia links? The consensus here was technology and prior â€œbadâ€ experiences in using multimedia. Only one person did not mention either of these two and instead focused on the user not knowing the multimedia presentation was there, a promotional issue raised several times throughout the interviews. Other reasons offered include: not having the right plug-in, watching poorly edited audio or video, slowness of download, finding no usefulness in the multimedia presentation and the uncertainty of getting what you are seeking. Frustration with multimedia was implied over and over, especially with downloading. The content not being useful also was repeated.
37 What is alarming here is that if users base their judgment of multimedia on previous experiences with trying it out, they may have been experimenting at a time that multimedia journalists were and still are experimenting. The medium is in a â€œprimitiveâ€ stage for multimedia journalists, similar to most beginning stages of media. Stevens, a multimedia lecturer at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley and a freelance multimedia journalist, offers her interpretation. Sometimes I show my students one of the first newscasts from , Douglas Edwards with the news,â€™ which people look at and they laugh at because that was before videotape. It was before they had field crews; it was before they had satellite. They didnâ€™t have any computers then. I mean, it was just the most basic stuff you could imagine and laughable. So we forget how long a medium takes to evolve, and weâ€™re just in the very beginning stages of this one. Itâ€™s going to be probably another 10 or 15 years before the technology matures (J. Stevens, personal communication, October 25, 2002). Users also may be comparing audio and video on news sites with their nearest modelsâ€”FM radio broadcast and TV. Video and audio quality on news Web sites has not reached the level of quality of radio and TV. What do users get from multimedia that they canâ€™t get from text? Again, there was no unanimous answer here. The top answers were multimedia allows readers to connect with a story better, offers another way to learn for users who learn better verbally or visually, and shows certain strengths that text simply doesnâ€™t have, such as showing a plane crash. Other answers include: To gain a fuller understanding of the story, draw better conclusions of the story, have a well-rounded selection of stories on that topic within that package, experience something and approach the story in a nonlinear way. When does multimedia work? A more practical way of summing up these answers is forming questions with them. The responses to this category came from the question, How do you know when to use audio? Or video? Or a photo slide show for a
38 presentation? By pinpointing exact words they used in their answers to the question, multimedia journalists can ask themselves the following questions: Will this feature enhance this story? Make it better? More real? More impact to viewers? Will it extend what is being reported? Contribute to and compliment the story? How big a story is this? Does the story merit this feature? Weiss, multimedia editor at MSNBC.com and former multimedia editor at the Herald-Sun in Durham, S.C., says the decision will be obvious. I did a story about an Elvis impersonatorâ€”or an Elvis tribute artist, he doesnâ€™t like to be called an impersonatorâ€”but that had to be done in video. I mean, I couldnâ€™t see that any other way. You had to see this guy move. And so, in a lot of senses, it doesnâ€™t feel like itâ€™s actually a decision, you know, it just sort of feels like â€˜well, thatâ€™s the way I should have done itâ€™ (J. Weiss, personal communication, September 27, 2002). The difficulties. There was one word in the intervieweesâ€™ answers that addressed the difficulties multimedia journalists face, â€œchallenge.â€ What frustrates multimedia journalists the most on the job? The challenges described were not in one easy-to-define category within the â€œdifficultiesâ€ group. Most of the challenges discussed were not personal challenges these journalists faced at their job but they were implied difficulties that most multimedia journalists in general face everywhere. The use of â€œIâ€ within the stated challenges was often left out. To sort of try to engage people in a way, in a completely new way, is very difficult (J. Weiss, personal communication, September 27, 2002). One of the challenges is to figure out just how interactive viewers are willing to be (S. Horner, personal communications, October 10, 2002). Other challenges include improving multimedia download times, promoting stories, allowing more staff time to produce these multimedia stories, production itself and improving video storytelling.
39 These answers reflect this commonality that multimedia journalists â€œfeelâ€ they share and can speak on behalf of multimedia journalists in general. As their answers to the feedback question suggest, these journalists are in a small group, or community, who talk about their challenges on the jobs. They share stories and frustrations about their jobs. This is a way to feel like theyâ€™re not alone and that what they are experiencing is common with this â€œnewâ€ job that is difficult to define. This community of shared interests and frustrations creates a feeling of, â€œIâ€™m not aloneâ€ and can boost confidence to experiment knowing that others are experimenting too. Thereâ€™s a group of us who are always trying to get better and we watch what other people are doing and talk about things we can do differently. Weâ€™re really concerned about advancing this medium because we think itâ€™s a great medium to tell stories in, the best yet (J. Stevens, personal communication, October 25, 2002). Looking at the competition. While one question specifically asked how much the competition is considered when producing a multimedia package, all references to online competition and other media were included in this category. The answers to online competition were coded separately from all other mediums. For the online competition category, the answers were divided into three categoriesâ€”positive, neutral or negativeâ€”when referring to the competition. Overwhelmingly, the answers fell into the positive category, three times more than the negative responses. In this grouping, multimedia journalists remembered specific stories that were handled well by others, such as the NYTimes.comâ€™s 9/11 coverage. Neutral responses reflected only that staffs did look at other sites. All of the negative responses dealt with video, either poor editing or news gathering. These findings could be skewed because the interviews were recorded. Speaking on the record about other sites may make online journalists feel uncomfortable, so they may not have wanted to criticize other sites. One way around this could have
40 been to preference the question by asking them not to mention names but to be honest about how they think about competition and specific sites in general. The sites repeatedly referred to were MSNBC.com, NYTimes.com, Washingtonpost.com and CNN.com, in that order. Interestingly, neither of the editors from the NYTimes.com or the Washingtonpost.com, which are sites that are looked at for ideas, mentioned specific sites that they look at for ideas. A follow-up question could have been, do these two sites know they are models, both good or bad, for multimedia? Both NYTimes.com and Washingtonpost.com acknowledged the staff resources they have to getting a story. Washingtonpost.com has 12 full-time staffers and four part-time staff members who deal with multimedia versus the L.A. Timesâ€™ two-person staff or the Herald-Sunâ€™s one. Nathaniel, a multimedia editor at NYTimes.com, recognized the paperâ€™s investigative reporting as an advantage over others. Just because of the circumstances with the [New York] Times, we are oftentimes so far out ahead of the story just because we do have so many fantastic journalists who work for the organization that they often come across stories long before anyone else does or the quality or the nature of the stories that weâ€™re able to provide the coverage that other news organizations just arenâ€™t handled to do right now (N. Nathaniel, personal communication, October 17, 2002). While not everyone mentioned a specific site they look at, every person interviewed said they do look at what others are doing, not necessarily during the process of putting together a package, but after the fact or between projects to get ideas. These journalists tended to look at other mediums in a modeling sense and for the advantages and disadvantages of online versus other mediums in delivering the news. In the â€œadvantage other mediumsâ€ category, journalists referred to TV, radio and newspapers as having advantages that the Web doesnâ€™t have right now. These included references to superior TV quality, effortless involvement with TV, the familiarity with
41 TV, the I-know-whatâ€™s-important design of newspapers and more time to work on stories with newspapers. Because of stated time and staffing restraints, there was almost a slight jealousy on how â€œeasierâ€ it is for other media to produce news stories. The neutral category contained no responses that leaned one way or another when it came to superiority of a particular medium in delivering news. An example: People use the Web differently than they use the newspaper. A newspaper, itâ€™s information and itâ€™s news, but people are used to using the Web to balance their checkbook to get times for [movies] to get work done. So people use the Web differently than they use a newspaper and because of that I think there is sort of a different level of engagement going on (J. Weiss, personal communications, September 27, 2002). The advantage Web category produced the most results, almost twice as many as the â€œadvantage other mediumsâ€ group. However, these journalists may have been trying to convince the researcher that what they do is better than other mediums, selling their work almost. Maybe it stemmed from an automatic defense mode that a few of the journalists mentioned occurred when supervisors questioned their job productivity at the early stages. However, there was not a question in any of the interviews that specifically asked about other types of mediums, but an overwhelming number of responses mentioned TV, radio and newspapers, making it its own category. These multimedia journalists naturally question why various forms of media are successful for modeling purposes or to understand how online journalism is different and how to play off its strengths. The superiority qualities of the Web in the advantage Web category were the non-formulaic design of presentations, the unlimited space to tell a story in-depth and up-to-the-minute news coverage ability. This non-formulaic design idea of Web storytelling was mentioned by all seven journalists at various times during the interviews. While a few explained the idea of templating and how having templates in place is necessary at
42 times for quick turnaround, the medium still is in an experimental stage. In a sense, these journalists are contributing to writing the rules of multimedia by finding out what works and what doesnâ€™t through trial and error. I have great guy I work with here, our graphics editor Geoff McGhee We sit across from each other, across the desk here in my office and I say I want to do this and heâ€™s like â€˜aaaaahh.â€™ And he comes up with the answer and often times what will happen is weâ€™ll put the template into play and then after a while Iâ€™ll learn the intricacies of it and then Iâ€™ll break it in one way or the other and then heâ€™s like â€˜oh well we could have done it this wayâ€™ and it gets fixed on top of that and we just go back and forth on that sort of stuff (N. Nathaniel, personal communication, October 17, 2002). Feedback. The feedback category was evenly split between negative and positive, with only two journalists not mentioning both positive and negative experiences. The second category was chosen to see what these journalists remember off the top of their heads, similar to stream of consciousness. This was a way to see what type of feedback has stuck with them, a positive experience or a negative one from a user. This category also was a way to double-check this studyâ€™s methodology to make sure the journalists were being honest by not stating all positive scenarios. This category produced split answers favoring positive feedback first. The amount of feedback that these multimedia journalists get range from no feedback to 500 emails for one particular photographerâ€™s journal on the New York Times site. Overwhelmingly, the top negative feedback received is that the user could not get the multimedia feature to work. A close second was the issue or story itself bothered the user. This could be a polarizing issue, such as politics, that incites people to write. The top positive feedback issue was the story was a strong emotional experience for the user, followed by how the user liked how the story was enhanced. Thereâ€™s two major flavors, one is â€˜I couldnâ€™t get it to work,â€™ which really doesnâ€™t happen that often and we sort of freak out, not we, I freak out when I see those.
43 Actually Iâ€™m in a small enough town the number of people actually doing that I can pick up the phone and call each one of them, and if need be I can probably drive over their house and I donâ€™t have a problem with that. And the other group really is the group that either has never had an emotional experience with the computer before. Which those are the best. I got this email before that said, â€˜Iâ€™ll never look at a computer the same way again.â€™ And I was like, thatâ€™s staying with me for six more months, just because (J. Weiss, personal communication, September 27, 2002). When asked if readers even care about multimedia, all seven journalists said yes because of feedback or page view numbers. The good and the bad. With such a new medium to work in, how do multimedia journalists know what makes a good multimedia story and what makes an unsuccessful one? How can they really know? All seven journalists do have some sort of measuring stick. By comparing the answers that referred to â€œsuccessfulâ€ packages with the answers of â€œunsuccessfulâ€ packages, polar opposites were found. For example, if a successful multimedia package meant there were no technical problems, the unsuccessful one would mean that there were technical problems. Overall, the one way to measure a successful multimedia package is if everything comes together â€“ the video, the audio, the text, pictures and interactivity â€“ the quality of the story. Whereas an unsuccessful multimedia package is when the overall multimedia project doesnâ€™t come together or something is missing. It doesnâ€™t have the right â€œfeelâ€ as Adams, a former staff photojournalist at the Sun News in Myrtle Beach, S.C, describes. Most of what I've seen in multimedia presentations that fail to make an impression on me is when the particular presentation's goals or purpose isnâ€™t delivered to the audience in a way that the viewer understands. Itâ€™s too easy to get bogged down in fancy multimedia showmanship. The presentation must snap. It has got to engage the viewer and hold their attention (M. Adams, personal communication, September 29, 2002). The back-to-back order of what makes a successful and unsuccessful multimedia package could have influenced these polar answers.
44 Direction of multimedia. The predictions given in this category produced six different responses. More interviews could have created similar themes, but upon closer analysis the answers given reflected the problems or issues that particular journalist was facing at his or her job. To come to this conclusion, three subcategoriesâ€”staffing, time and technologyâ€”were examined. These subcategories were formed by how the journalists spoke about these issues. Not one question directly addressed one of these issues. When asked toward the end of the interview where they see multimedia heading, they leaned on previous responses earlier in their interviews, which could have been because the interview lasted a while and it was fresh in their minds, or maybe these issues were indeed something they continued to think about. For example, Vandewege mentioned toward the beginning of his interview how his staff is sometimes called in during â€œmop-upâ€ mode to make a finished print version of a story a multimedia presentation. His prediction for where multimedia is heading: Being able to go out with reporters and photographers and really doing these in-depth pieces (J. Vandewege, personal communication, October 23, 2002). Horner mentioned earlier in his interview that he balances his job between putting out graphics for the print product and then turning around and making it interactive for the online version. His prediction for the future: You would have people dedicated to just producing the high-end multimedia stuff. Thereâ€™s a lot of high end stuff going on right now itâ€™s just that itâ€™s, the people producing it, thatâ€™s not their sole purpose, just like us, itâ€™s not our only thing that weâ€™re tasked with. And itâ€™s not on a regular basis (S. Horner, personal communication, October 10, 2002). Conclusion This study tapped into multimedia storytelling in a way that academic texts could not. These journalists provided background knowledge about multimedia features on
45 news sites and an insidersâ€™ perspective on producing packages for readers. The findings were used to help build a Web-based survey that asked Internet users what their motives are for clicking on multimedia features. Multimedia is a difficult term for these multimedia journalists to define. The top three perceived reader uses for multimedia features are to understand a story better, entertainment and having the technology to use multimedia. These journalists agree the top perceived reason users do not click on multimedia features is previous bad experiences using technology. These journalists also talk to one another about the difficulties of advancing this young technology and often speak as â€œweâ€ instead of â€œI,â€ which shows a sense of community. When they speak about each other, most of them speak highly of other sites and other multimedia features and packages that they see. However, when they are producing a story, they do not think about competition, and instead look at what other sites produced only after their multimedia packages have been launched. They inevitably compare the advantages and disadvantages of the Web to other media, such as radio, print and television, for modeling purposes and to understand the strengths of delivering news online. One strength is instant feedback from readers, which all seven receive, but none could pinpoint the exact age of their readers. While they all agree multimedia is in an infancy stage, the direction of multimedia storytelling for these journalists depends upon where their staff can take it at their particular news site. This preliminary study showed that there still are no rules, exact definitions, shared idea of uses or a solid measuring stick for success. This community of multimedia journalists is essentially designing in a vacuum, learning as they go from their own work and each otherâ€™s. More research is needed to explore usersâ€™ reasons for clicking on
46 multimedia features and multimedia packages prior to moving on to the next stage of online storytelling. The following study attempts to examine these motives.
CHAPTER 4 METHODOLOGY A nonrandom sample (N=5,000) was selected from a population of Internet users who posted messages on Yahoo!Groups, a site composed of thousands of groups for a variety of general and specific interests. This study required that a user has viewed a news Web site in the past 14 days and experienced viewing or listening to a multimedia feature. The variables, exposure to news sites for news and information and exposure to multimedia features, are essential to this study and combined account for six of the nine research questions. Internet users can post, read postings and reply to postings on the bulletin boards of Yahoo!Groups. When users post messages on Yahoo!Groups, a link to their Yahoo ID, or Yahoo profile, appears next to their message. These Yahoo profiles contain usersâ€™ preferred email address contact, which also can be non-Yahoo addresses (see Figure 4.1). Users also can select not to have their email address displayed, in which case the word â€œPrivateâ€ appears. This method of compiling public email addresses was based on a 1996 study that used Usenet newsgroups obtained via a â€œgopherâ€ search on the Internet (Witmer, Colman & Katzman, 1999). Whether this method represents a broad demographic range of users is debatable (Witmer et al., 1999; James, Wotring & Forrest, 1995). James et al. studied the demographics of electronic bulletin board users and found respondents to be higher educated, wealthier with more prestigious occupations than the general U.S. population, but they found no evidence of the assumption that younger users use bulletin boards. Because there is no list of public email addresses (Stempel & 47
48 Figure 4-1. These screen shot images show how public email addresses can be collected in Yahoo!Groups. Stewart, 2000; Mann & Stewart, 2000), this method was chosen because it was available rather than because it was representative of the Internet population. An informal email was sent to 5,000 Internet users inviting them to participate in a 17-question Web-based survey, which took no more than 15 minutes to complete. The survey was tested on both PCs and Macintosh computers and Explorer 5 and 6 and Netscape 6.2 browsers. Drawing from literature and preliminary study interviews, the survey focused heavily on exposure to news sites, exposure to multimedia features, perceived motives for clicking and not clicking on multimedia features and past experiences using multimedia features. Some data collected did not apply to the research questions asked and were not analyzed for this study. The survey consisted of nine screens with no more than four questions on a screen. Answers to completed surveys automatically were sent to a Microsoft Access database directly from the Web. Two sets of emails were sent over two weekends in January 2003. The first set consisted of 3,000 emails and a second set of 2,000 was sent the following weekend. Completed surveys
49 were no longer counted after February 17, 2003. The time frame for the study portion was exactly one month. How Yahoo!Groups Work Yahoo!Groups is comprised of 16 subjects of general interest in which Internet users can post messages, similar to bulletin boards. Each of the 16 general interest subjects is broken into special areas of interest within that general subject. These special areas of interest are further broken down into specific groups. As Table 4.1 shows, users who would like to know how to make bath soap could start their search for a Yahoo!Group inside â€œHealth and Wellness,â€ which is one of the 16 general interest subjects. Inside this subject area, a user could select â€œbeautyâ€ as the special area of interest. The user could then peruse a list of public and nonpublic groups dedicated to specific beauty topics under all â€œBeautyâ€ groups or narrow the topic to specialized groups. Either choice will offer a user a list of groups and a brief description about each group. The user could search for one that discusses soap making, such as â€œBath and Body,â€ a group dedicated to posting information about hair care, skin care, bath products, soap making, candles, etc. To join a Yahoo!Group, a user must have a Yahoo ID. This is not an email address but a free member ID. With this Yahoo ID, users can then join a Yahoo!Group by filling out a short form that asks them for their Yahoo ID and a preferred email address. There are two types of Yahoo!Groups, public and private. Anyone with a Yahoo ID can join a public group by filling out a short questionnaire that asks for usersâ€™ Yahoo ID, email address and how they want to be contacted with bulletin board postings. To join a private group, users request to join the group and then a third party receives the email and
50 Table 4-1. Example of how to find a group in Yahoo!Groups General Subject Area Interest Area: Health & Wellness Beauty Groups First 14 Groups under all Beauty Groups Business & Finance Advice All Groups Essentialbeauty Computers & Internet Alternative Medicine Cosmetics Goodforulist Cultures & Community Beauty Nail BeautyfromNature Entertainment & Arts Childrenâ€™s Hair Shelley Family & Home Drugs & Medications Skin Care Bath_and_Body Games First Aid DoritBaxter2000 Government & Politics Fitness & Nutrition 1Tolietries Health & Wellness Health Care Mom_milk Hobbies & Crafts Menâ€™s BeautyNewsletter Music Other MKBeelievers Recreation & Sports Professional NatureSoapDish Regional Reproductive BellyButton Religion & Beliefs Seniors SkyRiver_in_OKC Romance & Relationships Stress Management Anniefans Schools & Education Support Science Teens Womenâ€™s Pet Health This table shows how users would navigate through Yahoo!Groups to find a group dedicated to soap making. either accepts or rejects the request via email. Discussions in private groups are moderated. For purposes of this study, email addresses from public Yahoo!Groups only were selected. Inviting Users to Participate in the Web-based Survey Internet users who posted messages on Yahoo!Groups in 2002 and January 2003 were sent an informal email inviting them to take a Web-based survey (see Appendix B). In the email, participants were told the purpose of the research â€œis to find out why you click on multimedia features, what you like and do not like about them.â€ The email also narrowed the sample of Internet users down to only those who met the following two requirements: A user must have visited a news Web site within the past 14 days and the user must have clicked on a multimedia feature on a news Web site before. If users met
51 the requirements and were interested in taking the survey, the email directed them to a link for the first page of the survey, which was a consent form. The informal email also provided users with a UserID to take the survey by stating that the UserID was the first seven characters of their email address. By requiring a UserID, the sample could be controlled. Internet users who stumbled across the survey and did not receive an email inviting them to participate could not take the survey. Also, a list of email addresses was maintained to double check that the UserIDs matched those who received an email and to ensure a person did not take the survey twice. Selecting Participantsâ€™ Email Addresses While this study did not select a random sample of Internet users, certain requirements were developed to select groups and email addresses to organize the process of picking emails. Users must have posted a message in 2002 or January 2003; Some profiles required adult access by logging in with a YahooID. These email addresses were selected. Every second special interest group was selected starting with the first one shown. If a public email address contained the words, â€œ@freesexypersonalsâ€ or â€œ@forbiddenphotos,â€ they were not selected as part of the survey. It was assumed that these emails were strictly for online personal ads. A group must have had at least 300 users to be selected. If a single email address dominated the discussion board, this group was not selected from which to pick email addresses. If a group did not provide profiles with public email addresses within five screens, the group was not used. If within 900 deep of postings and a scarce amount of public email addresses, such as 10, were found, the search for more email addresses in this group stopped and the next group was selected.
52 Occasionally, hypertext YahooIDs would stop appearing in early 2002 postings and the search for more email addresses in this group stopped. If a userâ€™s profile was written in a language other than English, the email was not selected. The survey was sent only in English. Before sending out the informal email inviting users to participate in the survey, a pilot study was run in which five journalists, two of whom are online journalists, took the survey and pointed out potential problems with two of the questions. Prior to the pilot study, users were required to fill in â€œotherâ€ perceived reasons for clicking and not clicking on multimedia features. The survey was reworked to allow users to skip this question if they could not think of other reasons not listed on the survey. The Participants Of the 5,000 emails sent, 319 emails generated mailer-daemon and automated system-administrator replies that indicated respondents were not able to receive emails, most of which were Yahoo addresses that were either discontinued or over their quota for incoming mail. Another 319 emails were sent to new addresses inviting users to participate in the survey. From this group, 18 bounced back and another 18 were sent an email. A total of 337 emails (6.7%) bounced back with undeliverable addresses. A total of 100 users took the survey, a response rate of 2 percent. On Feb. 1, 2003, the Columbia space shuttle broke apart, a news event that prompted Internet users to watch and listen to multimedia features online. There was not a strong indication that this news event affected the response rate for the survey between the dates of Feb. 1, 2003 and Feb. 17, 2003, when the survey submission was cut off. Five surveys were completed during that time frame. Of the 100 surveys submitted, 16 users stopped taking the survey mid-way. Nine respondents finished the survey but typed â€ for the number of multimedia features they
53 had viewed or heard on a news site before. One respondent did not answer the question of how many hours were spent on news sites in a typical week. Therefore, a total of 26 surveys were not used, which left a usable 74 surveys. Of the 74 respondents, 55 were male (74 %) and ages ranged from 14 to 70 with a mean age of 38 years (s.d.=12.25). Fifty-two of the respondents (70 %) were from the United States and 10 respondents (14 %) from Europe. There were two respondents each (total of 11 %) from Asia, Canada, Middle East and South America and one respondent each from Australia and South America. The majority of respondents were white (72%), followed by Hispanic (7%), Asian (5%), black (3%), Indian (1%) and â€œotherâ€ race (10%). Two respondents did not answer this question. Overall, respondents were reasonably experienced in Internet use. Participants were asked to type in how much time they spend on the Internet in hours and minutes in a day. The times ranged from 30 minutes to 18 hours with a mean of 4 hours and 33 minutes (s.d.=3 hours and 30 minutes). Over half of the respondents (58 %) indicated that they used a fast connection the majority of the time that they are on the Internet, 22 respondents (30 %) used dial-up and six did not know their modem speed. Because the education question did not include international education equivalents to U.S. education degrees, this question was not used for background purposes. Research questions The purpose of this study was to examine the perceived motives for clicking on multimedia features on news Web sites and how these motives correlate with exposure to news sites, exposure to multimedia features and reliance on news sites for news and information. Why do users click on multimedia features? Why do they skip past them?
54 Have usersâ€™ past experiences viewing multimedia features been negative or positive? Because there are varying degrees of exposure to both news sites and multimedia features, this study separated these variables into exposure to news and information from news Web sites and exposure to multimedia features on news sites. Both variables are treated as the backbone of this study to which perceived motives and past experiences can be compared. The following question measures the relationship between exposure to news sites for news and information and how many multimedia features a person has viewed or heard. RQ1: What relationship exists between exposure to news Web sites for news and information and exposure to multimedia features? Perceived motives for using multimedia features stated in the survey were based on previous research on uses and gratifications for using the Internet and other media and perceived motives stated by multimedia editors in the preliminary study. Respondents were asked to rate statements that emphasize the following perceived motives: curiosity, entertainment, technology, understanding, enjoyment, connectedness, interest and information. These perceived motives attempted to answer the question: RQ2: What is the No. 1 reason users click on multimedia features? This study examines several perceived motives for not clicking on a multimedia features. These perceived motives were based on suggestions by multimedia editors in the preliminary study. Respondents were asked to rate statements that emphasize the following motives for not clicking on multimedia features: quality of feature, technology, usefulness, redundancy of information, awareness of features and no interest. These perceived motives attempted to answer the question:
55 RQ3: What is the No. 1 reason users do not click on multimedia features? By using the perceived motive statements in research question 2, the next two questions attempt to measure if exposure to news sites for news and information correlates with perceived motives for clicking on multimedia features and if there is a direct correlation between the number of multimedia features that users have been exposed to and their perceived motives. RQ4: What relationship exists between exposure to news from news Web sites and perceived motives for clicking on multimedia features? RQ5: What relationship exists between exposure to multimedia features and perceived motives for clicking on multimedia features? Heavy reliance on the Internet for news from news sites could have a significant relationship with usersâ€™ motives for clicking on a multimedia feature. A personâ€™s desire for information from the media is the â€œprimary variable in explaining why media messages have cognitive, affective, or variable effectsâ€ (Ruggiero, 2000). Reliance on the Internet for news may be positively or negatively associated with perceived motives for clicking on multimedia features. RQ6: What relationship exists between perceived reliance on the Internet for news from news sites and perceived motives for clicking on multimedia features? The number of multimedia features users have experienced in the past may have a significant relationship to whether their experience(s) was positive or negative. The following question attempts to measure whether the more multimedia features a person has viewed or heard results in more positive or negative evaluations of multimedia features.
56 RQ7: What relationship exists between exposure to multimedia features and past experiences after reading a story and clicking on a multimedia feature related to that story? At the time of this study, multimedia packages remained fairly new to readers. Multimedia packages on news sites use at least one featureâ€”text, audio, video, graphics and photographsâ€”in combination with interactivity, Flash, audio or video to tell a story in a non-redundant way. This study focused mostly on single multimedia features coupled with text stories. Perceived motives for viewing and not viewing multimedia packages were based on suggestions by multimedia editors in the preliminary study. Motives for clicking on these presentations include: entertainment, information, understanding and passing time. Motives for not clicking on these packages include: technology and effort. The last two research questions examine usersâ€™ exposure to multimedia packages and perceived motives for viewing and not viewing them. RQ8: What relationship exists between exposure to special multimedia presentations and perceived motives for viewing multimedia packages? RQ9: What relationship exists between exposure to special multimedia presentations and perceived motives for not viewing multimedia packages? The variables A. The first major variable, exposure to news Web sites, was measured by asking respondents to type in how much time they spend on news Web sites in hours and minutes in a typical week. B. The second major variable, exposure to multimedia features, was measured by asking users to type in the number of multimedia features they click on, on news Web sites in a typical month.
57 C. Reliance on news sites for news and information was measured using 0-10 scales, with 10 meaning very much and 0 being not at all. Participants were asked to indicate on those scales how much they rely on news Web sites for news and information and how much they would miss news Web sites if there were not available. Responses to these two questions were summed and combined to create the reliance variable. Cronbachâ€™s alpha revealed acceptable levels of internal consistency (alpha=.72). D. Perceived motives for clicking on multimedia features also was measured on 0-10 scales, with 10 being very much and 0 being not at all. Respondents were asked to rate each of the following motives for clicking on a multimedia feature: Curiosity To be entertained I have a fast connection To understand a story better To get more information after reading text I enjoy hearing or seeing what Iâ€™m reading about I have an interest in the story I learn better with audio and/or video To hear or see what I missed E. Perceived motives for not clicking on multimedia features was measured on the same 0-10 scales, with 10 being very much and 0 being not at all. Respondents were asked to rate each of the following motives for not clicking on a multimedia feature: Slow download Quality is typically poor Donâ€™t know if I have the right plug-in for it to work It isnâ€™t useful to me It is never what I want It typically offers no more info than the text I do not see these multimedia links on sites I have no interest in the stories that have them
58 F. Past experiences after reading a story and clicking on a multimedia feature related to that story also was measured on 0-10 scales. Users were asked to indicate on a scale of 0-10 with 10 being very much and 0 being not at all the extent to which they think each of the following statements describe their past experiences after reading a text story and then clicking on a multimedia link pertaining to that story on a news site: I understood story better I got additional information about story I connected with story Redundant information I enjoyed hearing or seeing the story I just read about Better than expected Waste of time Not useful G. Exposure to multimedia packages was measured by asking users to type in the number of multimedia packages they have clicked on, on a news Web site prior to this survey. H. Perceived motives for viewing multimedia packages was measured using a series of four Likert scales. Users were asked if they strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly disagree or have no opinion regarding the following statements: These multimedia packages make receiving news more enjoyable These multimedia packages offer more information than text These multimedia packages help me understand a story I enjoy passing time by watching these multimedia presentations I. Perceived motives for not viewing multimedia packages was measured using three Likert scales. Users were asked if they strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly disagree or have no opinion regarding the following statements: These special multimedia packages take too long to download When I am told I do not have the right plug-in, I do not watch the multimedia presentation.
59 A story divided into parts requires too much work for the reader. Data analysis A. Research Q2 asks, what is the No. 1 reason users click on multimedia features. To measure the most prominent reason listed for clicking on a multimedia feature, the means of nine statements were compared. B. Research Q3 asks, what is the No. 1 reason users do not click on multimedia features. To measure the most prominent reason listed for not clicking on a multimedia feature, the means of eight statements were compared. To test relationships among variables, Pearson product moment correlations were used in the following seven research questions. C. Research Q1 asks, what relationship exists between exposure to news Web sites for news and information and exposure to multimedia features? This was analyzed by comparing exposure to news Web sites for news and information and exposure to multimedia features. D. Research Q4 asks, what relationship exists between exposure to news from news Web sites and perceived motives for clicking on multimedia features? This was analyzed by comparing exposure to news from news Web sites and perceived motives for clicking on multimedia features. E. Research Q5 asks, what relationship exists between exposure to multimedia features and perceived motives for clicking on multimedia features? This was analyzed by comparing exposure to multimedia features and perceived motives for clicking on multimedia features. F. Research Q6 asks, what relationship exists between perceived reliance on the Internet for news from news sites and perceived motives for clicking on multimedia
60 features? This was analyzed by comparing reliance on the Internet for news from news sites and perceived motives for clicking on multimedia features. G. Research Q7 asks, what relationship exists between exposure to multimedia features and past experiences after reading a story and clicking on a multimedia feature related to that story? This was analyzed by comparing exposure to multimedia features and past experiences after reading a story and clicking on a multimedia feature related to that story. H. Research Q8 asks, what relationship exists between exposure to special multimedia presentations and perceived motives for viewing multimedia packages? This was analyzed by comparing exposure to multimedia presentations and perceived motives for viewing multimedia packages. I. Research Q9 asks, what relationship exists between exposure to special multimedia presentations and perceived motives for not viewing multimedia packages? This was analyzed by comparing exposure to multimedia presentations and perceived motives for not viewing multimedia packages.
CHAPTER 5 RESULTS Respondents spent an average of 4 hours and 33 minutes a day on the Internet (s.d.=3 hours and 30 minutes) and an average of 14 hours and 21 minutes (s.d.=19 hours and 47 minutes) on news Web sites in a week. When asked to list two news sites they visit most often, respondents listed a range of sites from Yahoo and Google to ESPN and The Weather Channel (Appendix D). Respondents also indicated that they would wait an average of 1 minute and 18 seconds for a multimedia feature to download (s.d.=1 minute and 8 seconds). R1.Relationship between exposure to news Web sites for news and information and exposure to multimedia features: The first variable, exposure to news Web sites for news and information, produced a range of responses from 10 minutes to 100 hours a week. However, half of the respondents spent five hours or less on news Web sites in a typical week. The second variable, exposure to multimedia features, resulted in a mean of 11 multimedia features (s.d.=16.48) with 59% of the respondents having clicked on one to five multimedia features (see Table 5.1). Pearson product-moment correlation revealed no relationship (r=.08, p=.49) between exposure to news Web sites and exposure to multimedia features. R2. What is the No. 1 reason users click on multimedia features? Of the nine comments provided, the statement â€œI have an interest in the storyâ€ produced the highest mean of 7.32 (s.d.=2.26) and suggests a prominent reason listed for clicking on multimedia features by these respondents. The statement â€œto get more information after 61
62 Table 5-1. Frequencies of multimedia features # of multimedia features N % 1 7 9.5 2 10 13.5 3 7 9.5 4 4 5.4 5 13 17.6 6 2 2.7 8 2 2.7 9 1 1.4 10 8 10.8 15 4 5.4 17 1 1.4 20 4 5.4 30 2 2.7 50 3 4.1 60 1 1.4 100 1 1.4 Total 70 94.6 Missing 4 5.4 Note: 56% viewed between one to five multimedia features reading textâ€ resulted in the second highest mean, 6.47 (s.d.=2.78), followed by â€œto understand a story betterâ€ with a mean of 6.19 (s.d.=2.68). The other statements were rated by their means in the following order: curiosity (M=6.15, s.d.=3.04); I enjoy hearing or seeing what Iâ€™m reading about (M=5.72, s.d.=2.82); To hear or see what I missed (M=5.03, s.d.=3.34); To be entertained (M=4.68, s.d.=2.86); I have a fast connection (M=4.58, s.d.=3.44); and I learn better with audio and/or video (M=4.43, s.d.=3.15). Table 5.2 shows all nine statements from highest to lowest mean. R3. What is the No. 1 reason users do not click on multimedia features? Of the eight comments provided, the statement â€œSlow downloadâ€ resulted in the most prominent reason with a mean of 2.51 (s.d.=3.39). The values on the ratings of these statements were reversed because they are negative statements regarding perceived motives.
63 Table 5-2. Perceived motives for clicking on multimedia features Statement M s.d. I have an interest in the story 7.32 2.26 To get more information after reading text 6.47 2.78 To understand story better 6.19 2.68 Curiosity 6.15 3.04 I enjoy hearing or seeing what Iâ€™m reading about 5.72 2.82 To hear or see what I missed 5.03 3.34 To be entertained 4.68 2.86 I have a fast connection 4.58 3.44 I learn better with audio and/or video 4.43 3.15 A list of perceived motive statements, their means and standard deviations. Table 5-3. Perceived motives for not clicking on multimedia features Statement N % Slow download 2.51 3.39 Quality is typically poor 3.89 3.07 It isnâ€™t useful to me 4.35 3.44 It typically offers no more info than the text 5.20 3.20 It is never what I want 6.04 3.04 Donâ€™t know if I have the right plug-in for it to work 6.22 3.55 I have no interest in the stories that have them 6.35 3.28 I do not see these multimedia links on sites 6.91 3.43 Agreement with negative statements will have low number means. The statement â€œQuality is typically poorâ€ ranked second with a mean of 3.89 (s.d.=3.07) followed by the statement, â€œIt isnâ€™t useful to meâ€ with a mean of 4.35 (s.d.=3.44). Users, on the average, disagreed with the statement â€œI do not see these multimedia links on sitesâ€ with a mean of 6.91 (s.d.=3.43). The other statements were rated by their means in the following order, from most agreed with to least agreed: It isnâ€™t useful to me (M=4.35, s.d.=3.44); It typically offers no more info than the text (M=5.20, s.d.=3.20); It is never what I want (M=6.04, s.d.=3.04); Donâ€™t know if I have the right plug-in for it to work (M=6.22, s.d.=3.55); and I have no interest in the stories that have them (M=6.35, s.d.=3.28). Table 5.3 shows all eight statements from the most agreed upon to the least.
64 R4. Relationship between exposure to news Web sites for news and information and perceived motives for clicking on multimedia features? A Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient revealed a significant positive relationship between the motive statement, â€œI learn better with audio and/or videoâ€ and exposure to news Web sites for news and information (r=.26, p=.03). There were no relationships found between exposure to news sites for news and information and the following motive statements: curiosity, to be entertained, I have a fast connection, to understand a story better, to get more information after reading text, I enjoy hearing or seeing what Iâ€™m reading about, I have an interest in the story and to hear or see what I missed (see Table 5.4). R5. Relationship between exposure to multimedia features and perceived motives for clicking on multimedia features: A Pearson product-moment correlation revealed a significant positive relationship between the motive statement â€œI have a fast connectionâ€ and exposure to multimedia features (r=.35, p=.003). No relationships were shown between exposure to multimedia features and the following perceived motives: curiosity, to be entertained, to understand a story better, to get more information after reading text, I enjoy hearing or seeing what Iâ€™m reading about, I have an interest in the story, I learn better with audio/video and to hear or see what I missed (see Table 5.5). R6.Relationship between reliance on news sites for news and information and perceived motives for clicking on multimedia features: A Pearson product-moment correlation revealed no relationships between reliance on news sites for news and information and the following perceived motives: curiosity, to be entertained, I have a fast connection, to understand a story better, to get more information after reading text, I
65 Table 5-4. Correlations with exposure to news sites and perceived motives Statement R Curiosity -.06 To be entertained -.17 I have a fast connection .02 To understand a story better .15 To get more information after reading text .12 I enjoy hearing or seeing what Iâ€™m reading about .03 I have an interest in the story .11 I learn better with audio and/or video .26* To hear or see what I missed .21 * Significant at .03 level (2-tailed) Table 5-5. Correlations with exposure to multimedia features and perceived motives Statement R Curiosity .10 To be entertained .06 I have a fast connection .35* To understand a story better .10 To get more information after reading text .18 I enjoy hearing or seeing what Iâ€™m reading about .16 I have an interest in the story .08 I learn better with audio and/or video .20 To hear or see what I missed .23 * Significant at .003 level (2-tailed) enjoy hearing or seeing what Iâ€™m reading about, I have an interest in the story, I learn better with audio/video and to hear or see what I missed (see Table 5.6). R7.Relationship between exposure to multimedia features and past experiences after reading a story and clicking on a multimedia feature related to that story: A Pearson product-moment correlation revealed no relationships between exposure to multimedia features and the following statements after reading a story and clicking on a multimedia feature related to that story: I understood story better, I got additional information about story, I connected with the story better, redundant information, I enjoyed hearing or seeing the story I just read about, better than I expected, waste of time and not useful. The values for these negative statements were reversed.
66 Table 5-6. Correlations with reliance on news sites and perceived motives Statement R Curiosity .02 To be entertained -.13 I have a fast connection .16 To understand a story better .08 To get more information after reading text .05 I enjoy hearing or seeing what Iâ€™m reading about .09 I have an interest in the story .05 I learn better with audio and/or video .12 To hear or see what I missed .16 No relationships were revealed at the <.05 level (2-tailed). Table 5-7. Correlations with multimedia features and past experiences Statement R I understood story better -.04 I got additional information about story .23 I connected with story .16 Redundant information .05 I enjoyed hearing or seeing the story I just read about .16 Better than I expected .23 Waste of time .11 Not useful .13 No relationships were revealed at the <.05 level (2-tailed). (see Table 5.7). R8.Relationship between exposure to multimedia packages and perceived motives for viewing multimedia packages: The first variable, exposure to multimedia packages, produced a range of answers from 0 to 9,999, with four missing responses. Four responses were not used and treated as no responses. These outliers were 10,000, 9999, 9999 and -5. Of the remaining responses (N=66), the range was 0 to150 with a mean of 11.56 (s.d.=22.8). A significant percentage of respondents (24.3%) had never viewed a multimedia package. This percentage corresponds with the range of â€œno opinionâ€ answers on each of the six motive statements measured. Between 16% and 27 % of â€œno opinionâ€ responses appeared on each listed statement, which suggests that these
67 Table 5-8. Correlations with exposure to multimedia packages and perceived motives for clicking on multimedia packages Statement R These multimedia packages make receiving news more enjoyable .19 These multimedia packages offer more information than text .23 These multimedia packages help me understand a story .20 I enjoy passing time by watching these multimedia presentations .18 No relationships were revealed at the <.05 level (2-tailed). respondents may have been the ones who have never viewed a multimedia package and/or had no opinion. A Pearson product-moment correlation revealed no relationship between exposure to multimedia packages and the following perceived motives for viewing multimedia packages: These multimedia packages make receiving news more enjoyable, these multimedia packages offer more information than text, these multimedia packages help me understand a story better and I enjoy passing time by watching these multimedia presentations (see Table 5.8). R9.Relationship between exposure to multimedia packages and perceived motives for not viewing multimedia packages: A Pearson product-moment correlation revealed a significant positive relationship between the motive statement â€œThese multimedia packages take too long to downloadâ€ (r=.26, p=.04) and exposure to multimedia packages. There was no relationship shown between exposure to multimedia packages and the statements, â€œa story divided into parts requires too much work for the readerâ€ and â€œWhen I am told I do not have the right plug-in, I do not watch the multimedia presentationsâ€ (see Table 5.9). Table 5-9. Correlations with exposure to multimedia packages and perceived motives for not clicking on multimedia packages Statement R These multimedia packages take too long to download .26* When I am told I do not have the right plug-in I do not watch the presentation .04 A story divided into parts requires too much work for the reader .18 * Significant at .04 level (2-tailed)
CHAPTER 6 DISCUSSION This exploratory study attempted to examine Internet usersâ€™ perceived motives for clicking on and not clicking on multimedia features. It is imperative to note that this sample is not the typical norm of Internet users. These participants all have indicated they visited a news Web site within the past 14 days and have clicked on a multimedia featureâ€”two requirements to take the survey. The respondents in the study are heavy users of the Internet, spending an average of 4 hours and 33 minutes a day on the Web. The respondents also are heavy online news consumers with more than half (54%) spending between five to 60 hours a week on news Web sites. In comparison, 35% of Americans go online for news at least once a week (Pew Research Center, 2002). Together, these data suggest these users are fairly comfortable using the Internet and news sites and finding information. More than half (57%) has viewed five multimedia features or more. Much can be learned from studying these high-end users because they are the ones who repeatedly click on multimedia features for some purpose(s). Their motives for listening to or viewing multimedia features are attempting to gratify needs or wants, which are either being continuously met or partially met in some cases. The results show that the more exposure to news sites does not necessarily mean more exposure to multimedia features, which is a surprising finding considering these are high-end users. One reason for no relationship between exposure to news sites and exposure to multimedia features could be the type of sites from which users are getting their news (see Appendix D). For example, every day, MSNBC.com carries some type of 68
69 multimedia feature whereas other sites, such as Boston.com , do not feature multimedia consistently on a daily basis. When respondents were asked to name two news Web sites they get their news from, answers ranged from Sa lon.com to Yahoo.com to the NYTimes.com . When there is a multimedia feature on a news site, these users typically know these links are there as their disagreement with the motive statement â€œI do not see these multimedia links on sitesâ€ ranked the highest (in disagreement) of the eight perceived motives listed for not clicking on a multimedia feature. The two prominent reasons listed for not clicking on multimedia features were â€œslow downloadâ€ and â€œpoor qualityâ€ of the multimedia feature, both of which point to bad past experiences with technology. While technology is bringing news to usersâ€™ fingertips, it also is pushing some users away from news that uses audio, video or Flash because of download speed and poor quality. Not all users understand that multimedia still is in its infancy and the quality will not be like the sound quality of radio or the picture and sound quality of TV. The expectation for quality online broadcasts, technology-wise, is exceeding the quality that technology can currently give users. And users are basing their opinions on multimedia features during a time when multimedia journalists still are experimenting with technology. Multimedia journalists know that quality and speed are frustrations that stay with readers and they are attempting to mend the problem, temporarily, by producing multimedia features, or multimedia packages, in several ways to match sound and video quality with modem speed. This temporary solution will soon disappear as more users move to fast-speed connections and sites start to follow the lead of bigger sites that are already starting to abandon dialup users, such as LATimes.com (N. Nathaniel, personal communication, October 17, 2002) and
70 ESPN.com, which redesigned its site in February 2003 to include video newscasts and story features that â€œrequire a high-speed connectionâ€ (ESPN.com). When users do connect to multimedia features, there is a connection between the user and the message. These respondents listed the statement â€œI have an interest in the storyâ€ (M=7.32, s.d.=2.26) as a prominent reason for clicking on a multimedia feature, followed by â€œto get more information after reading textâ€ (M=6.47, s.d.=2.78). Both of these motives suggest that the user is involved in the story, moved almost, to continue learning by digging deeper. This finding also is supported when users were asked to rate perceived motives for not clicking on multimedia features. Respondents, on average, did not agree with the statement â€œI have no interest in the stories that have themâ€ (M=6.35, s.d.=3.28). Assuming that multimedia features can satisfy a personâ€™s interests, how are they doing so? Two user-driven reasons could explain this: experimentation and the â€œrealnessâ€ effect. Audio, video and Flash presentations on the Web may still be in what Rogers (1995) refers to as the triability stage, when new ideas are tried out. Typically, triability is tied to curiosity, but the respondents in this survey did not rate the motive statement â€œcuriosityâ€ significantly high (M=6.15, s.d.=3.04). The subject matter is what draws these users into clicking on multimedia features, not necessarily curiosity. Interest linked to online content tied to new technology is what sells. The â€œrealnessâ€ effect is another reason multimedia can satisfy a personâ€™s interest. For some users, a news story does not seem â€œrealâ€ until they see the images or video or hear sound relating to the story. News about 9/11 is a prime example. Two questions in this survey attempted to test this theory when participants were asked to rate how much they agree with the motive statement â€œI enjoy hearing or seeing what Iâ€™m reading aboutâ€
71 and the past experience statement â€œI enjoyed hearing or seeing the story I just read about,â€ the latter statement specifically tests their evaluation of a past experience of reading a story and then clicking on a multimedia feature. This statement attempts to measure if multimedia features are satisfying the want of bringing â€œrealnessâ€ out of a story. No relationship was found between exposure to multimedia features and past experience(s) of enjoying â€œhearing or seeing the storyâ€ after reading the text and clicking on a multimedia feature (r=.16, p>.05). This finding suggests that there may be other interfering variables involved, such as usersâ€™ expectations of what they will experience or quality issues because of modem speed. Respondents also did not rate the motive statement â€œI enjoy hearing or seeing what Iâ€™m reading aboutâ€ significantly high (M=5.72, s.d.=2.82). This finding could be sample-related. The words â€œI enjoyâ€ connote entertainment, which these respondents did not rate as a prominent reason for clicking on multimedia features on news sites (M=4.68, s.d.=2.86). These respondents are information-seekers, as shown by their top two perceived motivesâ€”I have an interest in the story and to get more information after reading text. Perhaps a larger sample is needed to test this â€œrealnessâ€ theory. When usersâ€™ interests match online news content, a connection is made between the user and the message. But can online news content produce interest? The assumption that applying relevant multimedia features to a story might pique the interest of someone who may or may not be moderately interested in the story has not been proven, and success could simply be attributed to chance. The statement â€œI learn better with audio and/videoâ€ produced the lowest rating of perceived motives (M=4.43, s.d.=3.15), but had a significant positive relationship with
72 exposure to news Web sites (r=.26, p=.03). This finding suggests that those respondents who visited more news sites may indeed learn better by listening and watching multimedia features. This understanding of self and oneâ€™s learning style comes from successful repeated behavior. While this finding does not pinpoint how these respondents learn better, it could have valuable implications for audio and visual learners upon further examination. An experimental study that addresses learning theories on redundancy and cue-summation with multimedia on news sites could directly test this relationship. This finding, however, does not show what these users are watching or listening to on these sites. Respondents listed a handful of sites, such as AOL, Yahoo, Google News, ESPN and The Weather Channel, that provide anything from movie trailers and storm watch video forecasts to live animated baseball games and music videos. The term â€œnews Web siteâ€ was not defined for the respondents in this survey. What is a news Web site? What is news? The answers change from person to person. Upon closer examination, eight specific sites listed by the respondents did not contain news stories written by journalists (see Appendix D). This survey could have specifically named news sites and asked only those users who had visited these sites to take the survey. But by specifying news sites, the survey would have limited the sample demographically by region, the scope of multimedia features and packages produced and experiences with multimedia, the latter of which have not really been documented by researchers. A significant positive relationship (r=.35, p=.003) was found between the statement â€œI have a fast connectionâ€ and exposure to multimedia features. This finding shows that a fast connection is a motive that leads to more experiences with multimedia. While â€œfastâ€ was not defined in this statement, more than half of the respondents (58%) indicated that
73 the majority of the time they spend on the Internet is on a DSL or cable modem connection at home or the network at school or work. Interestingly, technologyâ€”slow download and qualityâ€”was rated as the top motive for not clicking on a multimedia feature, yet technology can increase exposure to multimedia features. If technology is pulling users away from multimedia features on news sites because of download time and quality, then maybe a fast connection is one solution to bringing them back. In sense, a faster connection, with the right plug-ins, pushes users past that hesitation point of â€œhow long am I going to have to wait?â€ or â€œwill the audio stop and start throughout?â€ that was created from unsuccessful past experiences with multimedia features. A faster modem speed is the green light users need to feel comfortable using multimedia features. Once the user is listening to or watching the multimedia feature, the gratifications obtained rely on the content provided by the multimedia journalist and, ultimately, the user. The â€œcoolnessâ€ factor is another reason users with high-speed connections may click on more multimedia features at this time. Just as multimedia journalists are experimenting with technology, users are experimenting as well. As multimedia journalists continue to experiment and figure out software, they have a user-novelty advantage working for them. The equivalent would be a user getting a digital camera and â€œshowing offâ€ the photographs online. Once this novelty wears off for users, multimedia journalists may have reached another dimension of multimedia storytelling with which users can experiment. A future research survey could ask users who have switched over to a faster connection why they did so. Was it for improved video and audio capability? Multimedia Packages At the time of this study, multimedia packages on news sites were fairly new to readers. The last two questions of the survey asked users about their exposure to
74 multimedia packages on news sites and perceived motives for clicking and not clicking on them. Within the instructions of the exposure question, users were told that multimedia packages were stories that include several mediums, such as a combination of audio, video, pictures and/or interactivity about a particular news story. The story is often divided into sections to allow users to choose the path they want to take when reading, hearing, or watching a story (see Appendix C). Almost a quarter of the respondents (24.3%) indicated that they had never viewed a multimedia package, which is evidence of how young this feature is. Of the six perceived motives listed for clicking and not clicking on a multimedia package, the statement â€œThese multimedia packages take too long to downloadâ€ had a significant positive relationship with exposure to multimedia packages (r=.26, p=.04). This finding suggests that the more multimedia packages these respondents have clicked on, the more these respondents became frustrated with the download time involved for each one. Interestingly, some users who had never viewed a multimedia package answered this question as well with only 21% marking â€œno opinion.â€ This finding points to usersâ€™ assumptions that these packages with mixed multimedia features take too long to download. Again, technology may be causing hesitation in clicking on multimedia packages with these respondents. There was no correlation found between exposure to multimedia packages and the perceived motive â€œWhen I am told I do not have the right plug-in, I do not watch the multimedia presentationsâ€ (r=.04, p>.05). A possible reason for the high-end multimedia respondents not agreeing with this statement could be that the more multimedia packages they have clicked on, the more plug-ins they have acquired. A possible reason for high-end multimedia respondents agreeing with this statement is that the more they do not
75 click on a multimedia package because of the absence of a plug-in, the more they will continue to be told they do not have the right plug-in on subsequent attempts, which confirms their frustration with plug-ins. An experimental study that allows users to navigate through a handful of multimedia packages might aptly show evaluations of usersâ€™ experiences with multimedia packages and in turn hint at perceived motives to further investigate. Problems with Study The response rate, recruitment of participants, the hypothetical questions of perceived motives and the mixing of â€œperceivedâ€ and â€œpast experiencesâ€ in the question format are major concerns of the validity and reliability of these findings. The response rate for this survey (2%) could be a primary reason for finding no relationships between variables and the weak relationships that were uncovered. The sample size undoubtedly limited the possibility of findings in exposure to multimedia packages and perceived motives for clicking on them because of the percentage of users who had never viewed a package. Most notably, the email narrowed the sample down to only those who say they have visited news Web sites in the past 14 days and have clicked on a multimedia feature before. The number of users who considered taking the survey but did not fit the criteria is unknown. A purposive sample would have improved the response rate here. Most importantly, because the selection probabilities are unknown, it is impossible to make inferences to a general population. There is a lack of solid research on response rates for electronic surveys (Witmer et al., 1999). Response rates for Web-based surveys are not consistently high enough to generalize to any population, similar to
76 mail surveys prior to the 1970s (Fricker & Schonlau, 2002; Sills & Song, 2002) 1 , and the population of Internet-based survey research often results in inadequate levels of participation (Witmer et al.). Internet users who received the email inviting them to participate in this survey may not check their email regularly, may have changed their email address, may have started Yahoo! or Hotmail email accounts for a one-time only use and never used them again or may not have received the email, for only emails with over-quota incoming mail and discontinued Yahoo addresses bounced back. Users may never have taken an online survey, know how to fill one out or thought the email was junk mail or spam and deleted it. The process of hitting a delete key to get rid of an electronic survey versus the time it takes to throw away a paper survey is one disadvantage between Internet and mail surveys. It requires very little effort to delete an email. A follow-up email and a multiple modes approach for delivery, such as mail and Internet surveys and/or telephone follow-up, may have improved the response rate for this study (Schaefer & Dillman, 1998; Fricker & Schonlau, 2002; Sills & Song, 2002). Also, including incentives, such as electronic gift certificates or simply sending respondents the survey results via email after the survey is complete, also could increase the response rates (Schonlau, Fricker & Elliott, 2002). In the survey, respondents were asked about their perceived motives for clicking and not clicking on multimedia features in the abstract. Asking a user if the statement â€œto 1 In 2002, Fricker and Schonlau conducted a content analysis on published literature of surveys that used survey response modes that were Web-based only, assigned to users or gave users a choice on how to respond. The study showed the response rates increased as respondents were given more choices of a response modes. For Web only response modes of probability samples or census, response rates ranged from 8% to 42%. For studies that allowed respondents to choose a Web or mail response mode, the response rates ranged from 37% to 77%. For studies that assigned one of two or three response modes, response rates for mail were higher than Internet-based surveys in three of the four studies.
77 understand a story betterâ€ is a prominent motive for clicking on a multimedia feature is a hypothetical question that produces a hypothetical answer. The questions on perceived motives to clicking and not clicking on multimedia features were framed in the future tense. These were â€œwhat do you perceive to be a reason you would click on a multimedia feature?â€ and â€œwhat do you perceive to be a reason you would not click on a multimedia feature?â€ Inevitably, users will think back to their past experiences, and in some cases only one experience, with multimedia features and base their answers on these experiences. For inexperienced users of multimedia features, the answers are based on little experience, which may not be enough to make valid judgments about perceived motives. One single motive does not fit all scenarios of clicking on multimedia features. For example, a user who has clicked on a music video clip may have done so because of interest, not necessarily to get more information. By basing perceived motives listed in this survey on only this one experience, the user may rate other perceived motives lower. Also, users may have based their responses on a single experience with a multimedia feature that may have had poor quality, slow download or useless information, therefore skewing the results. Responses to real multimedia features and packages in an experiment are recommended (Stempel & Stewart, 2000). Researchers using a uses and gratifications approach tend to use survey methods versus more qualitative approaches or experiments that observe individualsâ€™ actual behavior instead of self-reported typologies that rely on a personâ€™s interpretation of lifestyle and attitude variables of which people may not be aware (Ruggiero, 2000). Self-reporting may not measure a personâ€™s behavior but only their awareness or interpretation of that behavior, as exposure numbers to multimedia
78 features and multimedia packages show. If a user has clicked on only a few multimedia packages, the number will probably be more accurate compared to a user who has clicked on several. Three respondents indicated that they had viewed over 9,000 multimedia packages; their responses were not used. Outliers for exposure to multimedia packages such as 150 and 65 may have skewed this finding. Maybe a clearer definition for multimedia packages is needed. With the capability of Web-based surveys, examples of multimedia features and multimedia packages, created specifically for the survey, may have helped users visualize what they are. Respondents may have been prompted to think about past experiences using multimedia features because of the question format. The question statements were problematic because â€œperceivedâ€ statements were mixed with implied â€œpast experiencesâ€ statements, which forces users to think back. In the question that asked users to rate motives for not clicking on a multimedia feature, the implied past experience statements include slow download, quality is typically poor, it is never what I want and it typically offers no more info than the text. By framing these statements without a reliance on past experiences, truer reasons could have been collected. Also, the three questions that specifically involved past experiences using multimedia features, two of which were not used in this study, could have been eliminated from the survey and used in a future survey to shorten the number of questions. This study was mostly concerned with perceived motives for clicking and not clicking on multimedia features on news sites, not so much past evaluations, or gratification obtained.
CHAPTER 7 CONCLUSION Technological difficulties are slowing the advancement of multimedia features on news sites, yet fast connections lead to more exposure to multimedia features. Overall, usersâ€™ interest in stories could override slow connections. Respondents rated slow download and poor quality as two prominent motives for not clicking on these features, yet the more multimedia features these respondents clicked on, the more a â€œfast connectionâ€ as a motive played a role. Download time also becomes more of a motive for not clicking on multimedia packages with more exposure to these packages. A faster connection may be the answer to getting past these technology issues. Having a fast connection may prompt users to experiment with technology more during this triability stage. Regardless of a fast connection or dialup, more exposure to news sites does not necessarily mean more exposure to multimedia features on news sites. These respondents visit several news sites but may not go to ones that consistently have multimedia features, as evidenced by some of the news sites listed by the respondents. But respondents in this survey do know these features are on news sites and will click on them if they have an interest in the story, which was rated as the prominent reason for clicking on multimedia features. When a userâ€™s interest matches the content provided, a connection is made between the user and the message. Interest is what drives users to keep learning more about a topic, which was rated as the second prominent reason for clicking on multimedia features. A significant positive, but weak, relationship was found between learning better with audio and video and exposure to multimedia features, which could have valuable 79
80 implications for audio and visual learners with further research. However, the study does not show what types of multimedia features these respondents listen to or watch on news sites, a finding that should be further explored through experimental studies. By exploring usersâ€™ motives, this study attempted to examine the moment of decision when a user sees a multimedia feature link and then clicks on it. By understanding the motives behind usersâ€™ actions, multimedia journalists could attempt to satisfy usersâ€™ wants and needs better. While interest alone does not determine news selection, it does play a large role in persuading users to take that extra step of clicking on a multimedia feature or package link. Multimedia journalists cannot cater to the tastes of every user, but they can explore how to make stories more interesting to the user. But first, multimedia journalists must understand their usersâ€™ motives and the gratifications they are seeking. Currently, multimedia journalists are producing multimedia features and multimedia packages in a vacuum. They do not fully know usersâ€™ wants or needs, and are relying on the inaccuracy of hit counts and sporadic feedback emails to evaluate whether users are satisfied with multimedia features. The gratifications that users obtain from multimedia features do not rest solely with the content news sites provide. Motives are what persuade users to click on multimedia features in the first place, and by studying these motives, multimedia journalists can equip themselves with knowledge about usersâ€™ wants and needs to advance this young technology. Future Research Internet surveys have the potential to be a far-reaching, practical and cost-effective resource for researchers, but more exploratory studies, such as this, need to be attempted to find ways to gather email addresses, generalize to the population and improve response
81 rates. Currently, there is no directory of email addresses similar to a phone book. Critics point to low response rates, lack of generalizability and questions of validity and reliability as the primary stumbling blocks for Internet survey research. Future studies that try to survey news consumers may want to collaborate with news sites for purposive samples of subjects and access to their email addresses. Also, interviewing an entire purposive population on the Internet may help with representativeness. It is not possible to email everyone who has posted a message on Yahoo!Groups because more email addresses are private than public. In examining multimedia features, future studies could examine whether users tend to click on a multimedia feature after reading a story or skip the story and click on the multimedia feature first. Another study could examine whether prominence of a multimedia feature on a page plays a significant role in the likelihood a multimedia feature will be clicked. Future research might consider expanding the range of communication needs. As more news sites venture into live video streams, traffic jams on servers for bigger episodic events, such as 9/11, must be considered. Eventually, the issues of plug-in availability and modem speed will be replaced by how to transfer multimedia features over to cell phone browsers, personal digital assistant browsers or TV-based browsers, as the battle for audience attention and participation will continue as Web use grows (Deuze, 1999). A typology of motives for multimedia, which this study attempted to make, is a base for future studies. In Closing The solution to technology difficulties lies with what is pushing users to click on multimedia featuresâ€”a faster connection. Perhaps a future experimental study could examine usersâ€™ evaluations of multimedia features with dial-up modems and fast
82 connections. News sites still are too hesitant to switch over to producing features only for fast-speed connections for fear their users will go elsewhere for news and information. Multimedia journalists should take this leap and lead users to faster connections. Loyal readers will undoubtedly follow their lead. With an understanding of usersâ€™ motives for clicking on multimedia features and packages, multimedia journalists can continue to experiment with technology and advance to the next stage of delivering news online, a level that understands usersâ€™ motives and keeps the usersâ€™ interests in mind.
APPENDIX A INTERVIEW QUESTIONS [These open-ended questions guided the interviews of seven multimedia editors.] Can you tell me a little about your job as a multimedia editor? What do you do on a daily basis? How would you define the term â€œmultimedia package?â€ What online features fall under the category of multimedia? What stage would you say online journalism is in right now in regards to multimedia packages? How do you decide when a story should have audio? Video? Photo gallery? What qualities must the story have? Why do you think readers click on multimedia packages? Why do you think some readers do not click on multimedia packages? How is your staff dealing with this issue? What do readers get from multimedia packages that they canâ€™t get from simple text? Can video online compete with TV? How popular are photo galleries? What makes a â€œgoodâ€ multimedia package? Have you had any unsuccessful multimedia packages? Describe. In the newspaper business, the lead must grab a reader. How is this different with multimedia packages? How do you keep the audienceâ€™s attention without them closing the video or audio? What kind of feedback to you get from readers in regards to your multimedia stories? What direction is multimedia storytelling heading? 83
84 What would you say is the No. 1 reason readers click on video? Audio? Photo galleries? What would you say is the No. 1 reason readers do not click on multimedia packages? Do you ever wonder if readers even care about multimedia packages? How do you know multimedia packages are a success? Or can you really know? How much is competition considered in your decision-making of what stories get multimedia? Like writing for a newspaper, online reporters must keep the audience in mind. What questions does an online reporter ask him or herself when creating a multimedia package in regards to keeping the audience in mind? Describe the type of user who clicks on multimedia packages.
APPENDIX B INFORMAL EMAIL TO PARTICIPATE IN SURVEY [This email was sent to 5,000 Internet users inviting them to take the survey.] Hi. I am a journalism graduate student at the University of Florida conducting a survey for my mastersâ€™ thesis on Internet users who visit news Web sites to get news and information. This is not a marketing scheme and the information you provide will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law and used solely for research purposes. This survey does not ask you for your name or private information. To qualify for the survey, ask yourself these two questions: Have I visited a news Web site in the past 14 days? Have I ever clicked on a multimedia feature on a news Web site? Multimedia features can be audio, video, graphics, photo slide shows or Flash presentations. These features sometimes accompany stories. If you answered, â€œyesâ€ to both of these questions, you are the type of person I am looking for to complete this survey. The purpose of this research is to find out why you click on multimedia features, what you like and do not like about them. This survey should take you no longer than 15 minutes to complete and is voluntary. There is no compensation for completing the survey. There are no anticipated risks to you as a participant in this survey. You are free to discontinue the survey at any time without consequence. 85
86 I am not trying to sell you products nor will I share your information with advertisers. It is strictly a survey for research purposes. To participate in the survey, your USERID is the first seven characters of your email address, including symbols. This is your email address at which this email was sent. This will be how you are identified when collecting the data. This is to ensure that a person does not submit the survey twice by mistake. The ID will not be used to identify your answers or associate them with you in any way. If you have any questions about the survey, please do not hesitate to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to take the survey now, go to: http://projects.jou.ufl.edu/azerba/survey.htm Remember, your USERID is the first seven characters of your email address. Thank you in advance for your time, Amy Zerba University of Florida Graduate Student
APPENDIX C WEB-BASED SURVEY [The following are screen shots of the Web-based survey] Figure C-1. First screen of survey: Permission 89
90 Figure C-2. Second screen of survey
91 Figure C-3. Third screen of survey
92 Figure C-4. Fourth screen of survey
93 Figure C-5. Fifth screen of survey
94 Figure C-6. Sixth screen of survey
95 Figure C-7. Seventh screen of survey
96 Figure C-8. Eighth screen of survey
97 Figure C-9. Ninth screen of survey
98 Figure C-10. Tenth screen of survey: Background
99 Figure C-11. Eleventh screen of survey: Thank you
APPENDIX D NEWS SITES LISTED BY RESPONDENTS [Participants were asked to name two news sites they visit most often for news and information.] Table D-3. News sites listed by respondents News site #1 News site #2 MSNBC The Weather Channel Fox NBC MSN New York Times MSNBC Discovery MSN.com Kinshasa Daily CNN.com ABC.com ESPN Yahoo Yahoo KCTV5 Times of India.com Google news USA Today New York Times AOL news site Yahoo news site MSNBC CNN Yahoo Unknown ** CNN.com Bankone * Military.com Ljworld.com http://f23.parsimony.net/forum46830/* http://www.eucosy.org * AOL MSN www.yahoo.com www.cnn.com Space.com www.reconocelos.com www.bbc.co.uk www.cnn.com F1-Live.com News.bbc.co.uk AOL Local News Press Enterprise MSNBC New York Times Yahoo News Top stories of Canada * Boston.com Lowellsun.com America Freedomnews.com Worldnetdaily.com CNN MSN Drudgereport.com Foxnews.com FoxNews CNN www.msnbc.com www.drudgereport.com www.yahoo.com www.thehindu.com NBC Yahoo News.bbc.co.uk www.channel4.com Foxnews.com MSN.com 100
101 CBS news CNN news CNN.com MSNBC.com ESPN Sporting news www.foxnews.com http://www.kxan.com Salon.com Yahoo Salon.com Alternet.org* CNN MSNBC Drudgereport BBC CNN CBS Sportsline http://www.worldnetdaily.com/ www.jpost.com Btinternet Yahoo Yahoo.com WorldNewsDaily.com www.arabynet.com www.bbc.co.uk Yahoo News Fox News News.google.com www.cnn.com None ** None ** www.rediff.com www.ft.com Bbc.co.uk/Persian News.gooya.com http://espanol.groups.yahoo.com/ group/juanbimba2/ * www.geocities.com/paultrr 2000/JOATP.html * CNN.com Bbc.co.uk www.terra.com.br www.uol.com.br CNN MSN Crossdaily.com* Yahoo.com Yahoo NBC Channel 9 MSN CNB AOL.news Washington Post CNN.com News.google.com ABCnews.com Themilwaukeechannel.com Yahoo Iwon Yahoo News Rediff news www.telegraaf.com www.volkskrant.com www.heise.de www.spiegel.de www.yahoo.com www.mfa.gov.il www.cnn.com www.yahoo.com AP Yahoo News.bbc.co.uk Thefreedom.com Reuters Guardian, npr www.yahoo.com www.cnn.com www.wrko.com www.AOL.com Yahoo finance Yahoo weather *These eight sites do not contain news stories written by journalists. ** These were not counted toward the overall number of sites listed.
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Amy Zerba was born in Gainesville, Florida in 1974. She grew up in Jacksonville, Florida and returned to her birthplace to earn three degreesâ€”a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, Bachelor of Arts in English and Master of Arts in Mass Communication. She is a former editor of the Independent Florida Alligator, where she worked for four years. After graduating with her first degree in 1996, she started working as a page designer/copy editor at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. At the Sun-Sentinel, she designed metro and sports covers and special sections for March Madness, NFL Monday, WNBA, College and High School football previews. She returned to the University of Florida in 2001 to finish her English degree while working on her masters. She was instructor of record for a Graphics of Journalism course for two semesters at the University of Florida. Amy admittedly does not read the newspaper every day. Instead, she reads news on Washingtonpost.com and Orlandosentinel.com and believes many 20-somethings also go online for news. Her research interests lie in getting young adults interested in the news. This inspired her thesis idea on perceived motives for clicking on multimedia features on news Web sites. If online journalists could tell a story using audio, video, Flash and/or interactivity, in essence make news come alive, maybe young adults, many of whom are technology savvy and already online, would tune into news stories. Her research interests focus on exploring how the media can reach out to young adults. 108