عنوان مقاله [English]
نویسندگان [English]چکیده [English]
Received in 03/14/2014
Accepted in 01/04/2015
Introduction and problematic of the research: The paper begins its argument with an axiom on how Internet access and progress of online journalism has caused news websites to do the journalistic duties based on their users’ needs. It has also made journalists aware of their audience more thoroughly than ever. These developments are generally called interactivity. Formation of such interactive journalism has given rise to transferring more roles to its audience than could ever be seen in the past. Nevertheless, it seems that in Iranian news websites, interactivity and elements of interactive journalism are not as common as in countries with strong journalistic traditions.
Lack of interactivity in Iranian news websites could widened the gap between journalists and their audience and it might even decrease the media influences on citizens. It can eventually become even an obstacle to the development of digital democracy. In the 1950s only a handful media were available to the citizens, this is while people now in the 21st century, can use numerous media as various as print media, broadcasting media and/or online media. In a much competitive atmosphere, these media have to meet their audiences’ needs and desires; something that can be seen in interactivity of online journalism and is the best tool so far developed.
Theory and Method: Traditionally, various types of media have had a degree of interactivity level by passing feedbacks on to the journalists. Emergence and convergence of Social media combined with the traditional media platforms and functions has now brought about a milestone of change in communication processes. This is especially true as one observes that such convergence has made possible the interactive relations between journalists and audiences and even between several audiences to become simpler, faster and broader.
On the base of “uses and gratification theory”, we assume that if a news website is more interactive, it could satisfy and then gratify the users and their needs. The extent to which an individual perceives gratification obtained, it could contribute to his/her positive attitudes and direct his/her future intention to seek similar experiences in the same medium. To put it simply, when a website can make more gratification for its users, the users in turn, tend to visit the same website more in the future. Interactivity has important role in this kind of gratification. So more interactive news websites could have more visitors and then would absorb more advertisement. Our argument is that the high or low number of visitors of the Iranian news websites is not related only to one cause, i.e., interactivity, nevertheless it can be said that interactive relations in news websites might have a major role in the rate of visiting them.
Methodologically, in order to assess the rate of interactivity between news websites and users, we selected 80 Iranian news websites that had the highest traffic rate or hyperlinked in other important news websites. Using a content analysis methodology, we then studied them. In content analysis method, we considered 43 parameters as units of observation because they represented each medium’s interactivity and human interactivity.
In this research, interactivity variables and traffic rate for news websites were calculated. Two types of news websites were also considered as follows: 1) formal news websites concentrating on standard news values and formal literature, and; 2- entertaining news websites paying attention to celebrities’ news and informal language.
In this study, as the Chan Yun Yoo proposed in his paper, we defined two types of interactivity index for news websites: 1- human interactivity; and, 2- medium interactivity. We considered human interactivity to mean a two-way communications among users or between users and journalists. In addition, we considered medium interactivity to mean exchange relation between users and contents. After calculating these two indexes, we determined audience interactivity index for news websites by summing up the numbers together.
Findings and conclusion: Descriptive statistics and interactivity indexes frequencies show that Iranian news websites covered in this study, on average use only one-third of online journalism interactive tools. Although some interactive instruments like website email, RSS, last news, commenting, print edition or simple search are popular interactive tools, others such as chat room, forum, reporter email or blog have almost been ignored in Iranian news websites.
“khabaronline.ir”, a formal news website, had the most audience interactive rate, i.e., 28 out of 43 that is the highest numerical rate. The lowest audience index is 5. These findings indicate that even the most interactive Iranian news website does not use one-third of possible interactive tools. Average audience indexes in entertaining news websites amounted to 12.07 and it reached 15.64 in formal ones. Medium interactivity index on average is 6.30 out of 22, the highest possibility in entertaining news websites and 9.19 in formal websites. On the other hand, average human interactivity indexes are 6.33 out of 21, which was the highest possibility. In addition, in formal websites, the human interactivity reached to an average of 6.44 and in entertaining websites, it was 5.76.
Using the T Student Test, we figured out that interactivity in entertaining news websites significantly is different from interactivity in formal news websites: Interactivity in formals is more. Because Pearson Correlation Test between advertisements and interactivity did not show to be significant, we cannot determine if the interactivity in a news website increases, then the amount of its advertisements will also rise. It is hard to recognize the real advertisements in Iranian news websites, so we could not reach the real correlation.
Our hypothesis was as follows: if a news website were more interactive, it would be visited more. For testing this hypothesis, we calculate interactivity indexes and visiting website rates in “Alexa.com”. Spearman correlation test showed that there is a significant correlation between low traffic rates of news websites and high levels of their interactivity. In other words, when Interactivity in a website increases, the number of its visitors will also rise.
Therefore, we can say that although Iranian news websites are poor media in terms of interactivity and that two-third of capacity in this field do not used from journalists, there are some evidences that if a website tries to use more of either medium or human interactive tools, it could hope to be visited by more audiences.
There was not a simple correlation and one-variable relation between interactivity and visiting a website. Factors such as complicated journalism sphere, numerous cultural, economic, social and political causes might have influences on the visiting rate of a news website in Iran. Therefore, we cannot reduce all the causes to only interactivity. However, interactive tools have important role in today online journalism and we suggest that a news website will be more successful if it is more interactive. In this situation, we can raise the interactivity in a news website, in order to increase the audiences’ gratification. This is when, we can make the influence on them deeper and eventually improve the digital democracy weaknesses.