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Audience

Web-based news can be tailored to each person, whereas television, radio, and print are limited to targeted demographic groups. The Web creates opportunities, as well as possible limitations. Although readers can specify exactly the kinds of news they would like to read or receive, they also might be limiting their exposure to news outside their immediate areas of interest. As Andrew Shapiro observed in a review of online news, the result can be a further Balkanization of information, where we no longer have communities that share common experiences and sources of information, and we splinter off into small communities that do not fruitfully interact with one another.

Your challenge is to select not only the information your readers want, but also the high-quality information they do not know about that you want them to read. Your decisions are critical because your customers are looking for a guide when they come to a site with lots of information. With virtually unlimited “rack space,” the volume of news can be overwhelming. Traditional media provide stories in a hierarchical manner. You need to make similar decisions about how you display the news, on the basis of what you know about your readers and their interests. One way to prioritize the information on a page is by screen placement and type size, as illustrated by cnn.com (see Figures A2.1 and A2.3).


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