Current Research Projects. Print and Online Newspapers in Denmark

Niels Ole Finneman
2007 Nordicom Review  
was a quite ordinary day. Among the news of the day only few appeared in all the major newspapers across Europe. The most widely reported story told that the film star Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected as Governor in California. The same day a minor, but unusual event was performed by a group of scholars who collected and archived a number of print newspapers and online news sites from 16 European countries. The aim of these coordinated efforts was to provide comparable sets of materials, which
more » ... could form the basis for studying the relation between print-and online news media. To do so a codebook including a detailed list of definitions of thematic units were generated and a test case was performed in the preceding year. Afterwards the archived materials was described and analyzed quantitatively and finally the data were put back into the different social and cultural contexts from which they originated. The overall project and the findings are now published in Richard van der Wurff & Edmund Lauf (eds.) Print and Online Newspapers in Europe, 2005. In the following I will address some of the questions intrinsic to projects of this sort and try to put the project into perspective by discussing the Danish case. The project was developed within one of the working groups in the COST Action 20 on "The Impact of the Internet on the Mass Media in Europe" running from 2001 to 2006. The overall framework of the Action was the -at the time -rather moderate idea that the mass media in Europe were large-scale economic and social institutions that would not immediately be replaced by, or converge as a result of, the rapid development of the Internet. Instead it was assumed that "the processes of social change involved would be relatively protracted, and that there were major issues of economic viability and social inscription that would require time to resolve". (Final Evaluation Report p. 3). Within this wider framework the point of departure for the working group on newspapers and their online editions was taken in the assumption "that the presence of online newspapers not only added to the quantity and quality of the available news supply, but also initiated changes in the supply, production, management and use of traditional offline newspapers. We were interested in how these changes affected the viability of the newspaper industry in general and online newspapers in particular, the availability of different types of information, and the vitality of the public sphere". (Final Evaluation Report, p. 7). During the first years a more elaborate set of assumptions and hypothesis for study were developed. Among the research questions was questions on the -competitive or non-competitive -relations between off-and online newspapers; the online papers use of interactiv features, hypertext, multimedia and other features considered to be characteristics of digital media; to what extent online newspapers add value by offering high-quality breaking news and revitalizing the public sphere; or whether the most significant impact of the internet was on the mindset of the publishers, who found themselves compelled to experiment with new online possibilities while keeping costs low? Given the arduous character of international comparative research, a limited focus for the overall study was also required. For this reason it was decided to limit the scope to study a) major quality newspapers and their online editions plus the most important online only news sites in each country, b) the content of front pages and the pages referred (or linked) to on these front pages and c) one day only. Still, a lot of work was needed to synchronize and specify not only the research questions but even more the notions and concepts to be studied. How for instance, do we label different sorts of linking within a website? How do we label the various sorts of textual units on a print front page in a uniform way but still allowing us to identify different structures and patterns? How do we describe the many Current Research Projects
doi:10.1515/nor-2017-0205 fatcat:cf4z3y32zfg6doeksapgskzqci