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Eight hundred thousand for research into digitizing the news

01 May 2013

The Centre for Media and Journalism Studies at the University of Groningen and the Journalism Group at VU University Amsterdam have been awarded joint funding of € 790,000 to look into ways of optimizing news reporting in the light of changing habits among the public. The research will be conducted together with newspapers from De Persgroep, the Noordelijke Dagblad Combinatie and NOS News programmes, Nieuwsuur, EénVandaag, Buitenhof, and the EO and NCRV broadcasting stations. The funding has been provided by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research’s Creative Industry top sector programme and the media organizations taking part.

Increasing use of social media and mobile devices is forcing journalists to find new ways of providing relevant news content. Does a newspaper reader want the same from a web application as from a newspaper? Facebook and Twitter are perfect vehicles for making journalism more accessible, but how should journalists use these platforms to optimize the quality of the news they report? Do news consumers have one standard for all journalistic quality, or do their standards vary according to the platform, brand or timing?

Different demands

People’s habits depend on timing, place, situation, time of day, and the chosen device, platform or medium. A person who starts the working day by catching up with yesterday’s news via the ‘Uitzending Gemist’ website makes different demands on news sources than someone who reads a morning newspaper. And someone who checks the latest news on an app before sharing a curious story with his Facebook friends has yet different needs and expectations.

Prof. Marcel Broersma, Dr Chris Peters (University of Groningen) and Prof. Irene Costera Meijer (VU University Amsterdam), are working closely with media organizations on this research. They are deploying new methods to examine the ways that people use news media in their day-to-day life.

Unique

The research is entitled The New News Consumer: User-Based Innovation to Meet Paradigmatic Change in News Use and Media Habits, and is unique in the way that researchers and news editors are working together to discover how digitization could benefit the changing use of news and information. The knowledge generated will be used to develop new, high-quality products, reporting strategies and formats, which can respond to the ever-changing habits of today’s users. The research revolves around questions from the journalistic practice. Furthermore, the researchers are constantly scanning any new news platforms, user options and possibilities to see whether they can be included in the research. They will report their findings every six months, so that they can be put into immediate practice.

The findings will enable journalists and marketeers to tune the supply of news to the preferences and value perception of the different user groups: who wants which news, when, where, why and at what price? They will gain a better understanding of the purchasing and engagement habits of news consumers. What makes them decide to read/watch/check the news? Journalists will be able to modify current practices where necessary, develop new news genres and means of reporting stories, and even sell the formats internationally, in the same way as the BBC and The Guardian do.

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Last modified:09 May 2019 5.35 p.m.
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