Monday, September 14, 2015

Newspapers versus CNN.com/NYTimes.com



I remember reading newspapers every weekend as a child in Austin, Texas.  Periodically, my mom would take me to the public library so that I could read the newspapers of other large cities– New York, Boston, Houston and Dallas.  It was such a relaxing time to read the paper casually, flipping the pages to find interesting stories.  Particularly noteworthy articles would be cut out or photocopied and saved for future reference.  It was a relaxed learning experience.

Those days are now a luxury.

News websites, even for those news deliverers that still produce a physical paper version, offer many more features than previously available in the print media.  News can be delivered instantly on the web rather than delayed until the next day when the physical paper would be delivered to customers’ homes.  Rather than a limited number of images per printed paper, a website can deliver multiple images per story, and often times, a gallery of images can be included.  The NYTimes.com website often includes a picture with the story, but the picture can be enlarged if the reader so chooses.  This site, as well as CNN.com, offer stories with extensive photo galleries giving the reader a much larger range of photos for the story.  For example, the New York Times recently ran this photojournalism story about human trafficking in New York.  Seeing so many well-crafted images creates a larger impact that would have been more expensive to re-create in paper editions.  In addition, websites, even for even traditionally print media, offers video for some stories, blurring the lines between print and video delivery.  Check out the video in the left column of this CNN story on the Australian Prime Minister.  Many stories also contain comment sections, such as the comments in this story on college tuition.  Most sites embed social media connections showing readers’ Twitter and Facebook reactions. Websites also allow information-rich infographics to be created, such as this one on European migration in the New York Times.  All of these features created a richer and more dynamic news resource, but usually with a more frenzied pace, than traditional printed media.

While websites offer many features, now many news deliverers offer apps for your smartphone.  CNN and the New York Times offer apps that allow on-the-go access, so that you do not even need to wait until you are at a computer.  You can view news in the three minutes you are waiting for a bus or a train.  If there is breaking news, the apps will push the news to you, sending you an alert.  A challenge created by this instant news is that usually there is not much more information than the tidbit of information contained in the alert.  Clicking on the alert often takes you to a page with little relevant or additional information.  Often times, you are greeted by a “more news coming soon” notice or even just directed to the homepage, because a story has not been written yet.  Like the websites, these apps speed up the delivery of news to readers, but often while losing the luxury of time to create worthy content.

The difference between the internet and the web -  The internet is the physical infrastructure of network and the many different platforms available.  The web is a specific piece of the internet.  It makes available web content served generally over the HTTP protocol.  The CNN.com and NYTimes.com sites are examples of parts of the web.  The internet is the physical infrastructure that delivers the content to the readers.

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