Magazines include online news sites

Online news offers compared

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

2 Basic information on news offers on the Internet

3 Categorization of news websites

4 Construction of the criteria catalog
4.1 Criteria of the investigation
4.2 Problems in applying the criteria

5 print media websites in comparison
5.1 Formal framework
5.2 Use of the catalog of criteria
5.3 Summary

6 television station websites in comparison
6.1 Formal framework
6.2 Application of the criteria catalog
6.3 Summary

7 Final comparison: print vs TV

8 Conclusion or -the perfect news website-

List of abbreviations

List of figures

literature

1 Introduction

After the events of September 11, 2001 at the latest, news websites have become more and more important. At that time, the news websites functioned as an important secondary medium behind the medium of television, and access to online news was the highest ever. Because of this event, the importance of news websites has grown immensely. According to a study by the Multisearch agency, there is also a current trend[1] to the point that online newspapers in particular are increasingly establishing themselves as part of daily media use. On the many different news pages on the web, the user can quickly get an overview of the current news situation and also use a wide variety of services. Up-to-dateness and background information as required are just two of the properties that are most valued in such online news offers. But despite the euphoria, there are also disadvantages that the user has to accept. Poor design and a problematic demarcation between advertising and content are among other things. In addition, as was confirmed in the study, the use of such offers has so far been rather hectic and cannot be compared with leisurely reading the newspaper at the breakfast table. There is also still no ideal way to finance such offers at all. A US study on online journalism[2] showed that the refinancing of these web offers has not yet been sufficiently secured, so that necessary investments in the content and thus an improvement in it cannot be guaranteed one hundred percent.

The following work deals with various news offers on the Internet. First, a brief overview of the various categories of news offers is given. In the second part, selected websites from the categories named above are compared with one another. For this purpose, a comparison tool is constructed that includes different criteria. In the course of the comparison, some of the above points will be highlighted, for example the financing of the different types of news sites. The aim of the work should be to show the strengths and weaknesses of different websites and, if possible, to create a ranking. Finally, an attempt will be made to give an assessment of what makes the perfect news website.

2 Basic information on news offers on the Internet

In the present work websites are to be categorized and examined, which publish general and current news from Germany and abroad. The news websites must also contain news from various topics such as politics, business, sport and daily news. The following work excludes those pages which primarily contain news from a certain category (e.g. computers, finance). The great importance of news websites for internet users can be illustrated by the ARD / ZDF online studies. In all of the studies, the most frequent use of online content is the use of news offers or daily updated information. The ARD / ZDF online study 2003 came to the result that 28% of online users use the Internet to get “current information about Germany and abroad” (ARD / ZDF online study 2003). According to Kranz & Stiller, the target group of the news sites is rather unclear and relatively broad. The users of such sites are more familiar with the Internet and on average 10 years younger than, for example, the readers of daily newspapers. In addition, they would primarily look for national information, where they would then primarily read the short reports and headlines.

Research is underway with regard to the development of online journalism and news websites in general[3] assume that the events of September 11th acted as some sort of key event. In 2001, 38.8% of Germans aged 14 and over were online[4]. As a news medium, however, according to Steven Geyer, the Internet was still in its institutionalization phase. After the events of September 11th, Geyer said, a massive rush began on the news websites. Tagesschau.de, Spiegel Online, n-tv.de etc. increased their access numbers many times over - the access numbers never fell back to the previous level after September 11th. According to Geyer, the Internet has been taken much more seriously as a news medium since then. Other important and surprising events such as the beginning of the Iraq war or Möllemann's death also saw increased access to news websites. According to Geyer, online journalism reached a new qualitative level due to the key event mentioned above. Relevant experience has been gained on how the online editors react to surprising events and which additional services they should then offer their users.

The peculiarities of the publication of news on the Internet are - for example Matthias Zürn - initially in their availability. Internet users can access them at any place and at any time. Furthermore, according to Zürn, there are a number of ways to link the texts published online with other multimedia elements such as photos, videos or audio files. Hyperlinks could also be used to link the news from your own website to other internal or external sources on the Internet. Another advantage of the Internet is the multitude of communication options; Zürn mentions chat rooms and discussion forums as examples, but also virtual communities, newsletters, etc. are among them. Another advantage, according to Zürn, is the fact that information on the network can always be kept up to date and that the user can also access archived information at any time.

The next chapter is an attempt to categorize the various news websites in order to facilitate comparison afterwards.

3 Categorization of news websites

In the following I show different categories into which news websites can be classified. The listing of the respective websites of the individual categories is not based on completeness, that would go beyond the scope of this work. They are just examples for the individual categories. In addition, with a few exceptions, I am referring to German websites.

All online activities of print media fall into the first category. This includes, first of all, the online activities of regional and national newspapers.

Category 1 news pages in the print media

National newspaper websites are as follows:

- faz.net (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)
- fr-aktuell.de (Frankfurter Rundschau)
- sueddeutsche.de (Süddeutsche Zeitung)
- taz.de (taz daily newspaper)
- waz.de (West German General Newspaper)
- welt.de (Die Welt)
- bild.t-online.de (Bildzeitung)

Regional newspaper websites:

- berlinonline.de/berliner-zeitung (Berliner Zeitung)
- lvz-online.de (Leipziger Volkszeitung)
- ostsee-zeitung.de (Ostseezeitung)
- otz.de (East Thuringian Newspaper)
- tagesspiegel.de (Tagesspiegel)

The websites of news magazines fall into this category.

News magazine websites

- spiegel.de (mirror)
- stern.de (star)
- focus.de (Focus)

A second category of news web sites are television company news program pages. This category must also be further subdivided into public and private news broadcasts as well as the online offering from traditional news channels.

Category 2 news pages from television news programs or news channels

Public service news broadcast websites or news websites:

- heute.t-online.de (today Journal ZDF)
- tagesschau.de (Tagesschau ARD)
- mdr.de/mdr-aktuell (MDR Aktuell)
- dw-world.de (Deutsche Welle)

Private news broadcast websites:

- rtl.de/news (RTL news)
- sat1.de/nachrichten (Sat1 18.30)

Classic news station websites

- n24.de
- n-tv.de

A third category includes radio station websites that contain news:

Category 3 Radio station websites

- deutschlandradio.de

The fourth category comprises the online news offering from news sites that also act as providers:

Category 4 provider news pages

- t-online.de
- yahoo.de
- aol.de
- msn.de
- web.de

In the fifth category, all other news sites that do not belong to a television station, radio station or print medium are now summarized.

Category 5 Other news websites

- netzzeitung.de
- news.google.de
- netzeitung.de
- reuters.de

A categorization is of course also possible according to other criteria. For example, a division into tabloid offers on the one hand and serious news websites on the other is conceivable.

4 Construction of the criteria catalog

In the following chapters, exemplary selected news websites from the individual categories are examined according to certain criteria and compared with one another. From the category of newspapers and magazines, the high-traffic websites faz.net, sueddeutsche.de and spiegel.de were compared with one another. Sueddeutsche.de received the Lead Award in the category of news online magazine of the year in 2003, spiegel-online in 2003 and 2004. From the category of TV providers, the page heute.t-online.de will first be examined as the online offer of a public broadcaster. In return, the pages rtl-news.de and n-tv.de are being examined as offers from private television channels, with n-tv also covering the sub-category of traditional news channels. The pages heute.t-online.de and n-tv.de were rated by users as part of a study by Horizont, the website trend, along with four other news websites. Today.t-online.de is in second place, followed by n-tv.de in third place. However, the front runner is also here spiegel.de in first place. Tabloid offers are not included in the study, they would have to be presented separately Comparison with other tabloid offers should be made in order to achieve meaningful results.

4.1 Criteria of the investigation

Since there has hardly been any theoretically well-founded work on the comparison of news websites and a classic content analysis of the websites would lead too far in this work, I will only limit myself to first naming certain criteria for which I will examine the individual websites and which I am interested in then allow the websites to be compared with one another. Before the actual comparison of the websites is carried out, the formal framework must first be examined, which should illuminate why the online offer exists at all or which factors make its existence necessary. Furthermore, the financing of the online offer should be considered. At this point, the websites are also ranked or classified according to their access numbers, depending on the possibility. The investigation of the formal framework should help to better classify the results of the direct comparison in order to subsequently draw the corresponding conclusions. The actual direct comparison only begins in the next step.

In the first step of the comparison, the user-friendliness of the websites is to be examined. Because the user friendliness of a news site, as Kranz & Stiller also see it, is decisive for its success. However, if colors and shapes are unclear and this is also reflected in the user guidance, according to the authors, it would be possible that the website visitor would also become suspicious of the content. In the worst case, he could consider the website dubious and thus not even look at the content. With regard to the usability and usability of a news page, the following factors must be examined:

1. Structure of the homepage

According to Nielsen & Tahir, the homepage is the most important page of a website, as it is the starting point from which the user can access the website's content. It is therefore viewed more often than the other pages. This is all the more true for news pages: The user wants to get an initial overview of the news on the homepage and then, without detours and with easy access, call up individual news items in order to read them in more detail or to obtain additional information. "The basis of every functionally effective news homepage is therefore a clear and well-structured design" (Kranz & Stiller 2003: 90). In the first step, the clarity of the homepage should be examined in order to find out how well and quickly the user can get an overview of the current reports or receive more detailed information. One of the questions that must be asked here is whether the content is factually organized or whether the content has been weighted, which, according to Kranz & Stiller, is only possible on the homepage. The sorting should be done on the homepage according to the authors from top to bottom, primarily according to topicality and importance and only then according to the individual departments.

[...]



[1] Study by the Munich market research institute Marketagent.com/Multisearch 2004, summarized by Lorenz, Mirko. "Study: online media are gaining in importance"

[2] Results of the study The State of the News Media 2004 as part of the Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ), summarized by Hitz, Martin. "Epochal Change in the Media World - A Study of the Sensitivity of Journalism"

[3] Development of the “key event” concept by Christoph Neuberger and Holger Hespelein

[4] ARD / ZDF online study 2001

End of the reading excerpt from 38 pages