The contribution of online newspapers to the public sphere: a United Kingdom case study

Sparks, Colin (2003) The contribution of online newspapers to the public sphere: a United Kingdom case study. Trends in Communication, 11 (2). pp. 111-126. ISSN 1383-8857


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This article examines the online presence of the U.K. national daily newspaper press. The differences between the offline and online markets for the content of newspapers are examined and the performance of the 10 daily titles is compared in the 2 spheres. It is shown that the success in attracting audiences of the online editions does not reproduce the patterns of offline editions. In particular, the online sites of "quality" newspapers are much more successful than those of "tabloid" newspapers. The possible reasons for this are reviewed and it is concluded that the kinds of material normally found in quality newspapers are enhanced by their presentation in thenewmedium, whereas those found in tabloid newspapers are often provided better online by other specialist competitors. A typology of online newspapers is then proposed, constructed in terms of the relationship between offline and online titles and the implications of the different categories are considered. In conclusion it is noted that, although it might be possible to interpret the data to suggest that the development of online newspapers acts to enhance the public sphere, there are important factors that make an alternative conclusion more convincing. The kinds of material that are most successful online are those that address the concerns of the elite, and the online public sphere will embody the same sorts of exclusions that are present offline, but in a more extreme form.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Online newspapers, public sphere, quality press, tabloids
Subjects: University of Westminster > Media, Arts and Design
Depositing User: Miss Nina Watts
Date Deposited: 12 May 2006
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2010 14:30

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