The rapid development and increased use of the Internet has many concerned about the impact this is having on both the news industry and society as a whole. As a result, a number of studies have been conducted concerning this topic. This essay will explore three specific areas of this research and in doing so, attempt to answer the following questions: (1) Does the establishment of an e-channel for reporting news mark the beginning of the end for traditional news outlets? (2) What role does credibility play in consumers’ choice to read either traditional or nontraditional news? (3) What changes have there been in terms of the way news is disseminated and what effect is this having on consumer issue agendas?
For the purpose of this essay, traditional and nontraditional news sources are those described by Jonathan Dube in a 2002 LexisNexis Survey. Dube describes traditional news sources as “professional journalists at well-established, popular and mainstream newspapers, magazines, television, radio, etc (and their Internet sites).” This is in contrast to emerging or nontraditional news sources, which Dube describes as “citizen journalists, pundits and organizations who create alternative or Internet-only publications, blogs and podcasts, often with a personal or particular point of view.”
Peter Johnson states in his 2005 USA Today report “Non-traditional Media Gain Ground, Consumers,” that in a typical week, most individuals get their news from four different media outlets: television, radio, newspapers, and now the Internet. Currently, the Internet attracts fifty million Americans everyday. The growing popularity of the Internet is fueled by the ever-expanding growth of broadband connections, which makes downloading stories and pictures quicker and easier than ever. Individuals who access news via the Internet do so to gain specific information and up to the minute breaking news. This is consistent with individuals’ busy schedules and increased pace of life. Overall, online consumers tend to read a fewer number of stories often with a narrower range of topics than those who consume news via traditional media outlets, specifically newspapers. Newspaper readers represent the group of individuals who do have the time to sit and relax. Having the luxury of time, they tend to read a greater number and wider variety of stories, often gaining knowledge and reading stories they never set out to read. However, this is becoming more and more scarce witnessed by the increase in individuals who are accessing news online.