Mass media communication at the beginning of the twenty-first century: Dimensions of change

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This paper identifies and analyses current dimensions of change in mass media communication and in particular changes in mass media news transmitted via the Internet. In comparison with traditional media such as newspapers, Internet mass media products rely increasingly on a hypertext structure and on the integration of different channels of communication (hypermedia). In addition, they seek to convey the impression of personal, almost private communication. Audiences are carefully targeted, and media products can be customised to the personal needs and preferences of individual consumers. Online news media are also more interactive, requiring choices by users who activate some links and ignore others, and allowing users to “talk back” to the producers and interact with other users. The life span of information is changing as information is published as news in increasingly shorter time spans. Reception patterns are also changing: television and radio broadcasts available on the Internet can be received in a selective and asynchronous manner, like newspapers. Finally, online media differ from their traditional predecessors in their immediate world-wide availability, and in a reduction in the fixity of their texts.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Zurich, Switzerland

Publication date: January 1, 2003

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