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Contemplating on my disseration question May 12, 2006

Posted by lsalama06 in Dissertation.
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My Dissertation topic is about Personalisation of news media websites.

Now originally I wanted to write something about how media is affected by the new technology. Ofcourse this was too vague of a topic. So I had to narrow it down.

Through some readings and attending a couple of lectures at Bournemouth University a couple of weeks ago, listening to the guest speakers helped in molding and narrowing my topic. The guest speakers were Nik Gowing BBC’s main presenter on the news programs re-launched in April 2000 and a regular presenter for the BBC’s Dateline London and Helen Boaden, BBC’s director of news. They both talked about how journalism is changing and how journalistic skills is changing and accommodating to new global trend such as community journalism – also known as civic journalism or public journalism. July 7th bombings is a real live proof of such changes. According to Boaden, after few hours of the explosions, the BBC had alot of images sent from the public.

Now what was interesting for me was how the BBC filtered through such images and made sure that these images were for real?

And what also intrigued me was the abundance of information. Nowadays media outlets not only have information from their journalists but also from citizens, and all such information is filtered (for credibility) and fed into the website. Thus, the web has become a news jungle that requires some kind of moderation.

Now the challenge here is for new-stream media to maintain managing attention of their users and help users filtering through the information that is significant to them. According to Nielsen (2000) users want quicker access to information.

Traditional information-processing agencies, from newspapers to television networks such as the CNN, the Guardian and BBC, have implemented various methods to manage attention and present information to their users (i.e.: using headlines, interactivity, feedback).

Nowadays a buzz word in the media and marketing field is PERSONALIZATION. (actually personalization is one of the main characteristics of the Web 2.0, the other characteristic is interactivity).

Personalization of news and information services have been around since early 1990s when PointCast offered to send out customised news to individuals. In the beginning of 1996, web portals followed the lead by launching personalised services such as My Yahoo, My Excite. Personalisation has also been implemented in commercial websites such as Amazon.com. Also some social websites offered personalisation features, an good example is MySpace, which was recently bought (at a cost of $580 million) by Rupert Murdoch.

A few media websites have followed the lead such as the Washington Post, the Guardian, and CNN. Another example is BBC’s recent revamping process of its website to include “more personalisation, richer audio-visual and user generated content”.

My original proposal question which I submitted to Joe yesterday was: Have media news models fulfilled personalization’s ultimate goal, which is to deliver news that is valuable and meaningful to the individuals? if not why not? what are the challenges.
I feel this is too vague.

So I am narrowing my question down to:
Will personalisation work for mainstream news website to manage attention of the users?

Further questions I would like to investigate in my MA dissertation.:
And are people welcoming technologies like this, which aim to filter the world on their behalf?
If a media uses its knowledge of users behavior to feed back more of what it knows users already like, then where is the element of surprise?
Are people willing to give up their information for this service?
If people only read news they select, wouldn’t this create a risk of social fragmentation?
Will Personalisation actually work for media outlets, is it profitable? how advertisers react to this? (mmmmm maybe this would be another dissertation topic)

Research Methodology:
To complete this project, I will not only depend on secondary resources but I will conduct interviews with media organizations such as the BBC, Guardian. Also I will interview journalists and web consultants.

I would really appreciate your comments.

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