New Communication Interactivity

The Australian newspaper was first released by Rupert Murdock on July 15, 1964. Its release instigated a change in the way news, in particular, the printed press, was communicated within Australia. By becoming a national newspaper and attempting to capture a slice of the traditional newspaper markets, The Australian was seeking to express its ‘passion for change and improvement.’ Http://,5746,About+this+paper^^TEXT,00.html (2002). The Internet has come about through the continued development of new communication technologies. The Australian saw advantages of the Internet as a way of increasing its exposure and distribution. With the creation of The Australian News web site , a new level of interactivity between the newspaper and the reader developed. The following paragraphs will critically evaluate The Australian’s web site and assess how it has extended The Australian’s traditional form of communication being it’s printed newspaper.

The web site greets us with the usual mast head that we are familiar with on the front page of their news paper, but there are a number of small additions. Most noticeable is the animation within the advertising. Advertising plays a large part of any newspaper. With the eye catching stimulation brought about by movement, the ability to subconsciously avoid advertisements in newspapers is hindered within the web site. Another part of the mast head displays the words ‘News Interactive’. The Australian has made attempts to interact with the reader to a greater extent in its web site, compared to the newspaper. With the newspaper you can interact by writing to the editor, responding to and submitting advertisements, filling in the crosswords, etc. The web site takes interactivity a few steps further by giving the reader greater freedom and choice to articles and options, creating an interaction between the reader (which becomes the user) and the web site (which provides the options). The newspaper on the other hand gives limited options that ultimately limit the interactivity.

There are many methods or tools that the web site utilises to create an interactive environment. New conventional codes and icons that are widely accepted throughout the Internet are being used within The Australian’s web site. Blue underlined text has become an accepted convention to inform the reader of a hyperlink. Web pages such as this one are constructed with hypertext, which is text, be it in the form of a sentence or just one word that contains hidden code creating links to other web pages or other hypertext. Bolter (1991) gives us a definition of hypertext as “the interactive interconnection of a set of symbolic elements.” With this the reader has the option to surf to related or expanded information. On the left side of the web page, there is a red menu bar. These options are hyperlinked also. A third form of a semiotic approach to hyperlinks that this web site utilises is the drop down menu. With a newspaper, much time can be taken up locating required articles, that is, if the newspaper actually contains the required information you are seeking. The Australian web site on the other hand, gives the reader options to locate archived articles and should you require extra information, links you to related web sites. Linking and searching is performed at a fraction of the time it would take for you to locate required articles in the newspaper edition.

The dimensions of interactivity that I have meantion so far are all options and choices presented to the reader. There is another dimension that may not be presented to the reader and may be occuring without the reader’s knowledge. The Australian web site uses cookies. Enzer (1999) tells us that cookies refer to pieces of information that is placed into the memory or the temporary Internet folders in your computer. Cookies contain information regarding your visit and can be used to gather information about which advertisers you click on and hyperlink to. The Australian has a privicy statement located in a hyperlink at the bottom of the web page.

References The Australian: About This Paper Online, 2002. Available: ://,5746,About+this+paper^^TEXT,00.html Accessed 14 March 2002 Bolter, Jay David (1991), Writing Space: The Computer, Hypertext, and the History of Writing, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc., New Jersey.

Enzer, M. 1999, Glossary of Internet Terms Online. Available: Accessed 3 March 2002