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They never made it to the end: Reader uses of a multimedia narrative

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How does an audience respond to the structure, visual design and narrative flow of a multimedia narrative? Are readers following the course that an author-driven linear reading path suggests? This study investigates these questions through an eye-tracking experiment. In research within news websites that employ eye-tracking experiments the case in this study represents a new phenomenon for investigation, the longform multimedia feature. It is also especially interesting to explore how the readers interact with this type of narrative because the narrative is constructed as an author-driven embedded multimedia story and thus resemble what Dowling and Vogan describe as the ‘urtext’ of the multimedia longform genre. The findings of this study indicate that readers navigate according to the authordriven narrative flow within a chapter/part. But the readers in this study missed or misunderstood the navigational options between story parts. The ongoing digitalization in media outlets and the experimentation and developing of journalistic products might benefit from research addressing multi-methodological approaches.
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Keywords: eye tracking; feature journalism; multimedia; narrative flow; news journalism; visual design

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 July 2018

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