Websites of traditional media: copy, extension or totally new creation?

As a budding journalist, it is clear that the new online technologies will be part of my future work. On one hand I feel a bit sad and already nostalgic thinking of the possible print media’s extinction. Yes, maybe I still belong to an (too?) old generation. But on the other hand I am absolutely excited about all the web’s possibilities.

What is the relationship between traditional media and internet? Is it a fight as suggested by Mark Fiore (whose political cartoons were awarded the 2010 Pulitzer Price)?

Indeed, print media and internet don’t have the same challenges. But let’s see now how the traditional media use their internet webpage. I’ve decided to choose a specific theme to lead this short analysis. A subject that every Swiss citizen and inhabitant should have followed last October: the federal election. I wanted to know how the Swiss French speaking media used the internet and the social media to speak about this very important political event. I will look for that into some examples of print media but also TV and radio. Is their website only a copy of the main media? An extension? Or a totally new creation?

I would award the first price for the use of internet to the public TV and radio, TSR and RSR (together the RTS). They built up together a special feature on internet, still available and a link to it was visible on the first screen of tsr.ch or rsr.ch. That means the political event was visible at once for everybody that connect on one of the two websites. On the 23rd of October, the public media proposed also a link to Twitter on the first page of the feature:

So the website’s visitor could follow the last developments live. Here is an example of the tweets people could read:

Many daily newspapers are also present on Twitter (and not only for special events). For example 24heures, still on the 23rd of October:

24heures –like other newspapers- proposed during the day real time “articles” that looked like tweets and allowed the reader to follow the election’s day on their website:

On the other end of the use of the new online technologies we have the daily reference newspaper Le Temps, that is not on Facebook or Twitter but only propose a RSS flow. If you are interested in it, you have to find it in the tiny scriptures on the very top or bottom of the first internet page.

After clicking on RSS and choosing Swiss news, here one example of what I could read during the afternoon of the 23rd of October:

I have still to say that almost all other daily newspapers have a Facebook account. But for the case of an election day, I think that Twitter is much more relevant, because the aim of this social media is precisely to pass information in real time.

Most of the traditional media have in fact social media accounts. But you have to go down on the screen to finally find in the middle of all the articles’ titles a link to social media. This is the case for www.24heures.ch, www.lematin.ch, www.laliberte.ch for example. On www.20minutes.ch we can find easily the RSS and Twitter logo, on the same line as the themes:

Let’s see a last example for the election’s day: the regional TV la télé. It was interesting to see how they illustrated the use of online technologies in the direct broadcast (available also on internet) about the event: one of the journalists had a laptop in front of him and the other an iPad. We can only guess how they really used these technologies, probably to follow the last figures. The TV channel used –and use- deeply the online technologies. The channel is available live on the web page, application for iPhone is easily visible on the page, as well as the links to the social media.

Here a screen copy during the 23rd of October:

In general, the websites of Swiss traditional media don’t have yet innovative features. They are exceptions: for example the one about the election on tsr.ch and rsr.ch. For the others – and this is the case also for la télé- I would say they are a copy of the main media for what concerns the informational content and propose an extension to internet specificities (videos on the webpage for print media, social media accounts, applications for iPad and iPhone for example).

Another interesting media issue was the hostage-taking covered live by the French online media Rue89. On the 17th of last October, the journalist Pierre Haski, co-founder of the website, was directly called by the hostage taker and tweeted his conversation with him at the same time (Rue89 webpage about the event and the explanation of that media issue by the RSR program Médialogues). This shows the first power of the web: the immediacy. The event twitted by Pierre Haski was the most read of the day. And the specificity of the immediacy allowed by the new online technologies is probably the biggest challenge for traditional media.

Julie Liardet

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