When compared to traditional newspapers, electronic newspapers are self-contained, reusable, and refreshable versions of the same that acquire and store their information electronically. (The electronic newspaper should not be confused with newspapers that provide an online version of their publication on their Web site.) Researchers expect to have a working prototype of the technology available as early as 2003. E-paper (electronic paper) will be the primary component of the near-future technology. Through the use of a wireless Internet connection, the information to be displayed will be downloaded. A number of different versions of the future technology are currently being developed, but there are two frontrunners: Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) is working on a newspaper that would consist of a single sheet of their e-paper (called Gyricon), and Lucent, in partnership with a company called E Ink, is working on a multi-page device that would consist of a single sheet of their e-paper (called E Ink) (also called E Ink).

A change that is more than a change in degree

Editors were not concerned with the day-to-day message of a newspaper — the content — when they first established an online presence in the early to mid-1990s. They had the content down pat; the only difference between them and online was the time scale, not the actual content. However, they were unaware that changing the time scale imposed its own message, and that going from a daily to an hourly publication made it different, rather than just quicker.

In part because the online newspaper is never “put to bed,” and is never completely finished so long as there is news to report (or readers logging on at various hours of the day and night to receive that news for the first time), the individual stories do not represent the overall message of the online paper. Instead, the message is conveyed through the overall “look and feel” of the design. The news must be presented in an approachable and visually appealing manner to be effective. Readers must be persuaded of the value of the content by the overall look and feel of the website rather than by the actual news.

Reporters Issue

Reporters disappear from the internet, victims of postmodernism. The stories on the front page of a newspaper are neatly bylined, with a description of the writer’s relationship to the newspaper, such as “Staff reporter,” “Special to the…,” or “AP wire report,” among other things. As Michael Schudson points out in his book Discovering the News, it wasn’t until the 1930s that most newspapers adopted the practise of bylined writing throughout the publication. While the byline was intended to increase the credibility of the newspaper and the accountability of the writer, it actually changed the way many people read newspapers, and this continues to be true today. Knowledgeable readers (particularly those who remember Watergate) may be more likely to read and believe a storey bylined “Bob Woodward” than a storey bylined “Janet Cooke” or by a freelance writer who is identified as “Special to The Washington Post,” among other things.

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