Web 2.0 and News 2.0: Utilizing Real-Time Analytics for Modern News Organizations

Web 2.0 and News 2.0: Utilizing Real-Time Analytics for Modern News Organizations

Kyle Gibson (BostInno, USA) and Greg Gomer (BostInno, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8580-2.ch006


This chapter examines the effects that Web 2.0 technologies have had on traditional news organizations and how those organizations have been forced to adapt their content style, speed of production, and distribution models. It specifically focuses on real-time analytics and how news organizations can utilize new opportunities presented by social media platforms and web usage mining to analyze their audience, the competition, and popular opinions. The chapter will explain in detail how a news organization can compile data from social media and web usage, gain insights from that data, and act upon those insights. To further examine real-time analytics, the chapter presents real examples from BostInno, an online news source, where real-time analytics affected content and distribution. To conclude, the authors will reflect on the impact real-time analytics has on the news industry and how it might affect it in the near future.
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News organizations have historically been the gatekeepers of news content. Up until recently, they were the agencies best equipped to mass produce media and distribute it to a large audience. News organizations operated the majority of industrial presses, radio towers, and television satellites, so they decided what newspapers, radio broadcasts, and television broadcasts went out to their audience. They also got to decide how fast their news media was produced and distributed. Hence, they were the “Gatekeepers of Content.”

Advancements in communication technologies have repeatedly disrupted traditional news organizations’ positions as “gatekeepers.” Either a current form of media will be improved upon or a completely new form of media will be invented, and it will draw consumers away from older media technologies and brands. According to Robles (2015), a disruptive innovation is one “that transforms the complicated, expensive services and products into things that are so simple and affordable that you and I can use them.” (p.123) An example of such an innovation in the news industry is radio news broadcasts. They disrupted newspapers’ business by relaying information quicker and having a one-time cost of buying a household radio.

When these innovations inevitably arise, news organizations have to choose between competing with the new technology or adopting it. The first choice is most likely a losing battle, as Robles (2015) explains:

Disruptive innovations appeal to customers who are unattractive to the incumbents. Although they typically involve simple adaptations of known technologies, entrants almost always beat incumbents at this game because established companies lack the motivation to win. (p. 123)

In other words, consumers will typically adopt the newer technology instead of sticking with the old technology and its established brands, since the newer technology is typically more convenient and consumer-focused.

Recently, traditional news organizations have been struggling to adapt to Web 2.0 and its several disruptive technologies. The term “Web 2.0” is used to describe the transformation of the Internet from a static, read-only medium to a dynamic, open and user-based experience. The Internet became a full platform for business, social connections, collaboration, and more. Tim O’Reilly, who coined the term “Web 2.0” in 2003, described the movement as “the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the Internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform.” Notable examples of innovative technologies that came with Web 2.0 are social networking sites, wikis, forums, and blogs. Facebook, Twitter, and Wikipedia are three success stories from the Web 2.0 movement, each of them being a massive social network with a meaningful international presence.

The new Web 2.0 gives everyone with an Internet connection great potential for communication, collaboration, and education. These technologies were designed with individual consumers in mind, aiming to personalize the Web and empower its users. Mark Zuckerberg (2010), creator and CEO of the social network Facebook, said of social networking: “This flow of social information has profound benefits—from driving better decisions to keeping in touch more easily—and we're really proud that Facebook is part of the shift toward more social and personalized experiences everywhere online.” At the same time as empowering Internet users, these Web 2.0 advancements take away prior advantages that traditional news organizations used to have.

Consider this: a multi-national, muti-billion dollar news company has just as much ability with social media technology to produce and distribute content as every individual person with a simple Internet connection. Just as The New York Times can “tweet” a photo, a person’s grandmother can as well. The grandmother and The New York Times have the same potential to “go viral” and reach a worldwide audience. Social media networks, along with other Web 2.0 technologies, are designed to be completely level playing fields. This makes it impossible for news organizations to be gatekeepers of any content online.

Beyond equalizing content creation and distribution power, Web 2.0 has also greatly improved the number of consumer choices there are for retrieving news. Now, more than ever, individuals can gain worldly or local information through no news organization’s help at all. Instead, they can get their information straight from social media platforms like blogs, Twitter, or Facebook.

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