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Blogs and newspapers

 
MEGAFON conduct surveys for academic purposes as well as for commercial purposes. This article is an abstract of the latest scientific work, MEGAFON has contributed to. The assignment was written by Sanni Brandt and Gitte Skydsbæk Hansen at Copenhagen University's department for film and media sciences in 2007. Their work focused on the use of blogs by Danish papers. MEGAFON acted as theoretical and methodological advisor.
 
The focus of this dissertation is newspaper blogs on the internet. In a short period of time blogs have become an important element in the attempt to revolutionize and democratize the communication of news by involving live public opinion and to attract active users instead of passive readers.
 
The starting point of this dissertation was the potential of newspaper blogs as a democratic form of communication and the objective was to examine qualitatively how potential users actually experienced blogs on the websites of Danish newspapers Nyhedsavisen (www.avisen.dk) and Dagbladet Information (www.information.dk). Furthermore the objective was to cover how the reception took place in regards to the sender’s intentions and the theoretical existing democratic potential.
 
Our results of the usability tests, conducted by the thinking aloud method, and the interviews with ten potential users, showed that both the newspapers, in different ways, have difficulties in engaging the users in their blogs. The reception does not occur as intended by the senders and the reasons for this are numerous.
 
In the case of Nyhedsavisen’s website it is primarily basic usability problems, such as a confusing structure of content and blogs on the site, that create aversion among the users. At the same time the general interest of user generated content and avisen.dk’s focus on user participation, in which the users can create their own blogs, is limited.
 
The test users turned out to be dismissive of this kind of democratic communication and they preferred to maintain the familiar hierarchical structure of the news related communication. In this way the original idea behind the site is somehow misunderstood.
 
In the case of Dagbladet Information’s website we found no serious usability problems, however we discovered that Dagbladet Information makes a mistake in the fact that the blogs function as a parallel universe to the newspaper.
 
The communication on the blog site is not tailor-made for the blog genre. Dagbladet Information’s website does not follow the conventions of the genre, but is close to the journalistic approach as it appears in the paper issue of Dagbladet Information. The test users find this confusing, and in addition to this the users think that the website does not live up to its declared purpose of being open and involving the users. Despite the fact that blogging is based on dialogue, Dagbladet Information does not enter into a dialogue on the blog site, and this reduces the users interest in the blog initiatives. This results in the test users doubting the sincerity of the newspapers as well as their dialogical and democratic intentions. On all levels the users have expressed a very conscious attitude towards the construction of and the intentions behind the blog sites. The users do not accept declarations of democracy, dialogue and openness if they are not directly exposed to them on the site.
 
Our results have made it possible to draw some guidelines which the newspapers can use in order to achieve a more optimal reception for their receivers and like this shorten the way to success of the blog sites. It is our opinion that the guidelines we have given is a valuable tool for the newspapers in their efforts to find interested and engaged users of a more democratic way of communication. Yet there is still a long way to go before the communication on the
newspaper blogs can be considered democratic.
 

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