News now: exploratory study of digital news story organization and structure

Larez, Joanna E., author
Zimmerman, Donald, advisor
Switzer, Jamie, committee member
Paschal, Dawn, committee member
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Newspaper publication has expanded beyond the printed format to digital formats to attract readers using iPhone apps, Facebook, Twitter and other outlets. Some apps will open the full story and others link to the full story on the newspaper's website. My exploratory research sought to explore different digital platforms by investigating Washington Post headlines written for the iPhone Application, Facebook, and Twitter. While these platforms limit the information available before linking to the full story on the website, each digital platform provided enough information to identify organizational patterns and sequences of who, what, where, why and how — the key concepts in the journalistic inverted pyramid writing organization. My research investigated the Washington Post's digital headlines in the summer of 2012. The research questions were RQ1: Which questions are answered most frequently in news story headlines on the iPhone app, Facebook newsfeed, and Twitter tweets? RQ2: What are the question sequences presented in the headlines on the iPhone app, Facebook newsfeed, and Twitter tweets? RQ2A: Is there a difference in organization of questions sequences in the headlines of story topics present in one of each of the following platforms: iPhone app, Facebook newsfeed, and Twitter tweets? For my content analysis of the Washington Post digital headlines, I created a sample of a constructed week and took screenshots of headlines. For analysis, I coded all stories (n = 216) published on at least one other platform. I developed a codebook, and one additional coder and I coded every headline in the sample. Despite some variables receiving lower Krippendorff Alpha results than suggested for publication for intercoder reliability (ranging from 0.33 to 0.83), most variables achieved acceptable percent agreements from 84.7% to 95.8%. Because of the exploratory nature of my study, I proceeded with data analysis. Patterns emerged related to information sequences in headlines. "Who" and "what" were used in 77% (n = 22) as leading information in the headline sequences. "Where" was the only other variable included at the beginning of sequences. While 22 different organizational sequences emerged, 50% were used only once. Research Question 2A investigated organization of question sequences. The variable "what," a main action, was included in 100% (n = 27) of the headlines in a portion of the sample using a single headline for each platform about one story. The sequence (who, what) was included in 22% (n = 9) across all three platforms. Other story topics provided additional variables on different platforms.
2017 Spring.
Includes bibliographical references.
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Associated Publications