It tells a lot about the overloaded publication schedule of quality journals that today’s article by Daniela Dimitrova and Matt Neznanski only appeared in vol. 12. of the JCMC in 2006, although it analyzes the state of online journalism through the case study of the first 3 months of the 2003 Iraq war.
But even if it is likely that a snapshot taken today would be quite different to that of 2003, the study is still quite interesting, and comes with a model can accommodate further research too.
Building on previous literature, the authors create a three-plus-one-stage conceptual model of online news reporting, classifying online media organs into one of the stages based on the technologies they use in conveying information. Stage 1 is “shovelware” – recycling previously released textual news items. Stage 2 is adding pictures and hyperlinks to the text. Stage 3 is the stage of convergence: news items are enhanced by streaming audio and video, and users are offered various ways to give feedback. (Stage “plus one” incorporates all the future stages.)
Surveying 26 online newspapers from 17 countries, the study found that online journalism at that time (again, 2003) had not yet reached the stage of “convergence”, but clearly surpassed the stage of shovelware. As for the differences between U.S. and international online media organs, the former were more likely to include photos, audio and interactive elements, but no significant differences were found between the two groups as for the use of hyperlinks and digital video.