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5.1. Changes in information methods since the emergence of new media

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With the Internet the information business was completely shaken up. A lot of information sites have emerged and are now part of the daily life of many persons in Switzerland and in the world. Those information sites are at the same time close and different to the traditional information media. Close because they deal with the same contents but different because they do it in very different methods.

The main changes that are brought by the information sites are the speed, the interactivity and the instantaneous reaction time(34). There are many different types of information sites(35): the first categories are all online versions of a traditional newspaper, like for instance. Sometimes they offer content that is on the print version, sometimes they just offer short news, and sometimes they offer an e-paper that you have to pay in order to have access. Another sort is all the sites of the press agencies, like AFP (Agence France Presse). This particular agency proposes a flow of telegrams on-line. The next categories are sites that did not exist in any form before the Internet. The examples that were just cited had a business before the Internet; they just had to respond to its emergence to stay in competition. Those information sites were created from scratch and in general do not depend from a media agency. A site like is a good example.

It was created by former journalists from Libération. Such sites are called “participative”, because the users can generate content as well. A last big category is information portals, like Google News. These do not create information on their own, but they just get the information on a page and then redirect you to other sites, which deliver what you are looking for. Another model is the blog, which is often used by single individuals to convey on a particular type of information, like politics for instance. They are popular because they are very simple to create but few of them attract a very large audience.

The characteristics of those sites are the following(36): they are categorized in different sections, like economy or sports. An important goal is always to draw interest for the reader. Unlike the daily newspapers, there is not an edition of the morning or the evening, but the information is constantly flowing, 24 hours a day. Another characteristic that is one of the strength of the information sites is the interactivity. With the Web 2.0 comes the possibility of reacting to the information. The readers can interact with the author of an article by telling if it contains mistakes, if they liked it nor not or add details that were forgotten. The interaction can be between users as well and this is often the case.

As just seen, the participative sites have emerged in the last few years. They offer the possibility for the reader to take the place of the journalist. A site in France like is a good example(37). The users pick a subject that interests them and then they start collecting data on it. Once the site has enough data from the users a journalist collects, organizes and summarizes it to create an article. That is one of the ways readers become citizen journalists. But there are other methods, for instance when somebody posts a video of an event on-line as soon as it happened or when somebody else writes an article by himself on an event that was not much talked about.

The speed is another relevant factor when speaking about new methods of information. This aspect was briefly covered when speaking about the advantages of the new media over the newspapers.

It can be added that the speed in which the information is available changes the dynamic of consumption. Now people do not have to wait for their newspapers in the morning or an information flash on the radio to be informed. They can access the information they are looking whenever they want to. This makes a huge difference. This is the main reason why people use more and more the media in general. Tools like the smart phones enable to access the information at any time of the day and to top it off, most of the time the content is free.

Today users are fond of all these possibilities that are offered by the information sites. They consume in specific channels, the ones that they prefer. With all the different offers, everybody finds sites that match their expectations. In addition to the selection of channels, the users pick the content as well. Now most people are only interested in specific aspects of the global information and they inform themselves only on those precise subjects. They do not want to have an entire information report on a multitude of topics, just what they are interested in. Of course it would be an extrapolation to say that this is the case for everybody. Lot of people still like to read their entire newspaper or watch their evening information news on television in order to have an overview. But the general tendency is going in the direction of looking for targeted information in both channels and contents.

34 Polomé, p.12
35 Polomé, p.12
36 Polomé, p.13
37 Polomé, p.20-21

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