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News as Product - News Life Cycle

Team Members

Ana Serrano Tellería

Zhao Jing

Rosa Arroyo


1. Introduction

2. Initial Data Sets

3. Research Questions

4. Methodology

5. Findings

6. Discussion

7. Conclusion

8. References

Summary of Key Findings

During the three days we employed Digital Methods Initiative tools, we were able to achieve our main objective: to observe the life cycle of the main new selected within the media deployed as object of study. Thus, we may conclude that bearing in mind “news as product”, the life cycle of the new analysed lack of a planned strategy to manage the balance between immediate and slow journalism and its interface design. Also, we were able to describe how media managed the life cycle of the new stablishing as criteria and parameters for: the level of speed, engagement, updates, followers’ interactions, etc. as principal ones. Therefore, we may propose as guidelines: to deep into the information treatment, its contextualization and required updates; to group and organize them by information architecture, semantic web and interactivity strategies like hashtags, mentions, links, tags, etc; and to improve its interface design and usability.

1. Introduction

The internet has had a fraught relationship with news. Whilst initially posing as an opportunity for reinvention in the 1990s, in the 2000s and beyond it forebode but also became a symbol of its apparent decline. Advertising left newspapers for search engines and later social media, but news gradually reinstated some control over its distribution with paywalls. Epistemologically, first the blogosphere challenged news through crowdsourced fact-checking, followed by Facebook as a platform where so-called fake news outperformed mainstream stories. Newspapers in particular have tried to use the new media spaces, from the web and the blogosphere to social media, as opportunities for innovative publishing and for feedback from readers. Some news is also increasingly tailored or personalised for its consumers. News as a product is one that is not just personalised but also fresh or continually refreshed so that it remains at the top of alerts and engine returns. The questions often asked these days concern the extent to which news is a product of the media platforms in terms of the kinds of stories that do well there, earning high engagement scores.  (Richard Rogers, 22.4.2019: “News as product”).


From the beginning of journalism, news has been considered a commodity to be shared and exchanged in a transnational market, adopting several forms according to the use of technologies. In the industrial society, the most widespread use to put such a commodity in the market has been and is the collective work, just to employ a legal category which is, in our opinion, central for our research. News, at the same time, has been an advertisement support to reach massive audiences. When the World Wide Web appeared, in the decade of 1990, in a post-industrial society, this media suffered a deep crisis and entered a constant mutation. As it happened to some other cultural industries, such as the musical record industry, research studies (see, i.e., Boczkowski and Anderdon, 2017; Boczkowski and Mitchelstein, 2013; Meikle and Redden, 2011) reveal how clearly the consumption of news is not preferentially based on the offer of the collective works produced by media industry, but on news items themselves as unities (Díaz Noci, 2018).

Several strategies, like cross/multi/transmedia (see Serrano Tellería, 2016, 2017a, b, and c, 2019), or the publication of user-generated contents (see, i.e., Díaz Noci, 2015), sometimes derivative works (another central legal concept, in our opinion) tend to present those news items as flexible, modular, hyperlinked, cross/multi/transmedia and interactive products. They are/were produced, modified, derived and disseminated by many agents, including active audiences and informative sources themselves as well; as we ourselves have studied in previous research project of what this is a natural continuation, previously needed of the intermediation provided by media which is now supplied by digital platforms.

Our proposal is based on the crisis, for better or worse, of the concept of news as a commodity, and of the industry which until this point has been in charge of its compilation, elaboration and dissemination: the mass-media industry, now known as legacy media. It is our purpose to analyse how the so-called Hybrid Media System has appeared (Chadwick, 2017), and which is the place within it for those legacy media, in a moment of more than occasional crisis for that industry and for its production system, including the crisis of journalism (and of journalist as an organized profession) as well (Shoemaker and Reese, 2014) .

Through the prism of the transformation of news we intend to explain which is its life-cycle in the digital environment (the very concept of scoop is being compromised by the speed and accuracy of digital media) and, more properly, in the Hybrid Media System, following, for instance, some public issues. We intend to explain how media industry behaves in this Hybrid Media System and which are the attitudes and strategies in Spain. Issues such the lobbying activity of that industry in favour of their interests (for instance, the active and finally successful campaign to achieve a so-called press publishers' right, art. 11 of the Directive of Copyright in the Digital Single Market, approved by the European Parliament in September 12, 2018), the treatment of their own crisis published in their own media, the implementation of paywalls, the testing of new business models will be monitored and examined, alongside with interviews with people from those media to examine their attitudes and opinions.

All this, to explain which are the reactions: resilience and adaptation movements of the Spanish media system in a changing landscape in which a whole business model and a profession, journalism as we know/knew it, that have been essential in the construction of Western societies during the latest four centuries, is mutating.

This general previous contextualization is part of the overall national project “News, Networks and Users in the Hybrid Media System (Newsnet). Transformation of News and Media Industry in the Post-Industrial Era”, coordinated as principal investigators by Associate Professor Ana Serrano Telleríaand Full Professor Javier Díaz Noci of the Spanish R+D+I calling ‘Challenges of Society’, subproject title: Reference: RTI2018-095775-B-C43. Three years: April 2019-April 2022. Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities.

As for the Digital Methods Summer School 2019, we concretized this overall project into the one week “news as product” - "news life cycle" one where we embraced (give thanks for) Richard Rogers’ suggestions. In this sense, our collaboration for this project has proved to be enriching, fruitful and successful at all levels.

2. Initial Data Sets

These include four Spanish newspapers that offer both print and online editions:

ElPaís (Prisa), El Mundo (Unidad Editorial), ABC(Vocento) and La Vanguardia (Grupo Godó) and two strictly digital natives (El Confidencialand

Research related to social media platforms will concentrate mainly on Instagram, Twitter and Google (out of Spain, where Google News does not exist). Telegram may be considered as well.

3. Research Questions

First research questions:
1. How media allow, deploy and manage strategies (both planned and spontaneous) to handle its “news as product” (commodities) between its webs and Social Media?
2. How “news as product” (commodities) behave itselfs? And Social Media with them?
3. How / to what extent news is a product of the media platforms in terms of the kinds of stories that do well there, earning high engagement scores?

Afterwards research questions, we focused on the following to be developed in three days:
4. How/What is the 'News Life Cycle' of a news article based on:
5. How to understand the 'News Life Cycle' of a news article (bearing in mind also the '15 minutes of fame')?
6. How do platforms accommodate the constant movement of news?
7. What does the position of a news article tell us?
8. How do platforms manage architecture, hierarchy, interactions, rhythms and structure?
9. How / to what extent news is a product of the media platforms in terms of the kinds of stories that do well there, earning high engagement scores?

4 Methodology

Due to the size (three members) and the time available (three days) to deploy the project, we decided to focus on two main media, one legacy El País and other native digital Thus, we captured full screen image shots of both and of their social media for three hours (13.15h.-16.15h.) every ten minutes.

El Pais:

El Diario:

We experienced some constraints to obtain the shots, mainly with Instagram and Telegram, also with Twitter. Main problem was that, on the one hand, Instagram “protected” images, on the other, images were absent.

5. Findings


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During this short period analysed, we were able to obtain the following first impressions related to which were the fastest platforms, which ones deployed most engagement, which ones were more updated and which ones had more interactions. Thus, the methodology employed were proved as a suitable one.
  • Speed of change rated from fast to slow: 1st Web, 2nd Twitter, (3rd Telegram), 4th Facebook, 5th Instagram
  • Engagement from high to low: 1st Facebook, 2nd Instagram, 3rd Twitter, 4th Web, (5th Telegram)
  • Based on updates: Few (lack of) changes, refreshments, etc.
  • Based on followers: Few interactions (likes, sharings over comments)
  • “15 Minutes of fame”: ‘Engagement span’ rather than ‘quality content’
Thus, media analysed published the new on its web and then share it through its social media. Few changes or updates were observed in the new. Then, media published a new one with the updated content. seemed to deploy some strategies to organize/hierarchy the information


After this first approach, we suggested the following issues to delve in and, therefore, to be improved:
  • Lack of a planned strategy to manage the rythms between immediate and slow journalism
  • Information Architecture: Key words, hashtags, interactivity, links, usability
  • Interface Design: Colour & typography, rhythms & slides of information

6. Discussion

Bearing in mind the first impressions obtained, we appreciated a tension that should be improve and solve by media studied, the tension between immediate and slow journalism and, thus, how to better deal with it. The following lines summarize the main key areas identified as the ones media should focus on:
  • In five hours, main news in both media stayed almost the same
  • Both initial nodes/front pages stayed as well almost the same
  • Lack of simple meaningful strategies: To link, to organize, to update
  • Lack of in deep information treatment: To contextualize
  • Few semantic web strategies (f.e. hashtags, tags, etc.), interface design and usability ones.
We propose as further (cross) methods to be applied with the aim of delving into content analysis:
  • Field Analytics (M. Stevenson) + Query Design (R. Rogers) + Highlighted terms
  • Working with text (B. Rieder)
  • News’ lifecycle (impact) on other platforms (f.e. remix on Youtube)

7. Conclusion

Preliminary conclusions pointed out that media deployed a basic use of platforms consisting on sharing the news through the different ones and lacking meaningful planned strategies regarding how to deal with it. This highlighted conclusion was mainly observed by the predominance of immediate over slow journalism and reflected in the fact that the news analysed lack of contextualization, an in deep information treatment. So, the life of these news consisted on being posted, shared and commented (few) by media and users.

As preliminary guidelines, we propose the following strategies to be developed, implemented and tested:
  • Short term: Keywords/hashtags/mentions/tags - Semantic web – Group the content
  • Long term: Meaningful updates - Re(tweet-share) - Group news
  • Interface Design: To highlight colour/typography, …& Information Architecture: Rhythms & slides, links, …

8. References

Anderson, C. W. (2013). Rebuilding the News. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Boczkowski P. &; Anderson, C. W. (2017). Remaking the News. Essays on the Future of Journalism Scholarship in the Digital Age.Cambridge, MA. The MIT Press.

Boczkowski, P.; Mitchelstein, E. (2013). The News Gap. When the Information References of the Media and the Public Diverge. Cambridge, MA. The MIT Press.

Chadwick, A. (2017). The Hybrid Media System: Politics and Power. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Carson, A. (2015). “Behind the newspaper paywal - lessons in charging for online content: A comparative analysis of why Australian newspapers are stuck in the purgatorial space between digital and print”. Media, Culture & Society 37(7): 1022-2041.

Díaz Noci, Javier (2015). “Copyright and News Reporting. A Comparative Legal Study of Companies', Journalists' and User's Rights”. In: Koldobika Meso; Irati Agirreazkuenaga; Ainara Larrondo (eds.). Active Audiences and Journalism: Analysis of the Quality and Regulation of the User Generated Contents.1 ed. Bilbao: ServicioEditorial de la Universidad del País Vasco; p. 183-210.

Díaz Noci, Javier (2018). “Authors’ Rights and the Media”. In Pérez Montoro, Mario (ed.). Interaction in Digital News Media. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 147-173.

Freedman, D. (2010). “The Political Economy of the ̒̔New̕ News Environment”. In: N. Fenton (ed.). New Media, Olds News. Journalism & Democracy in the Digital Age (pp.35-50). London: Sage.

Meikle, G.; Redden, G. (eds.) (2011). News Online. Transformations & Continuities.Houndmills: Palgrave McMillan.

Rogers, R. (2019). Doing Digital Methods. SAGE. ISBN: 9781526444714.

Shoemaker, P. J., & Reese, S. D. (2014). Mediating the Message in the 21st Century: A Media Sociology Perspective. New York: Routledge.

Serrano Tellería, A. (2016). “Transmedia Journalism: Exploring Genres and Interface Design”. Tripodos 38: 67-85. URL [].

Serrano Tellería, A. (2017a). “Innovations in Mobile Interface Design: Affordances and Risks”. EPI, El Profesional de la Información. V. 26, n. 2. ISBN: 1386-6710.

URL [].

Serrano Tellería, A (2017b). “Transmedia Journalism within Mobile Devices”. In: Canavilhãs, J; Rodrigues, C. Jornalismo móvel: linguagem, géneros e modelos de negócio (Mobile Journalism: Language, Genres and Business Models). Covilhã, Portugal: Labcom, Universidad de Beira Interior. 547-582. ISBN: 978-989-654-369-3. URL [].

Serrano Tellería, A. (2017c). Between the Public and Private in Mobile Communication. Routledge Studies in New Media and Cyberculture. ISBN: 978-1-138-22555-8.

Serrano Tellería, A. (2019). “Transmedia Production: Key Steps in Creating a Storyworld”. In: Deuze, M; Prenger, M. Making Media. Production, Practices and Professions. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press Academic.

-- JedeVo - 25 Jul 2019
Topic revision: r3 - 29 Jul 2019, JedeVo
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