News sources on the Internet provide us with a plethora of information that helps us stay informed on the happenings around the world. It keeps us up to date on politics, economics, sports, the entertainment world, etc. Furthermore, the Internet is a major platform; it provides us with vast amounts of information for various types of audiences. And each news source is created with a purpose; across the board, their main goal is to present stories that are relevant, timely, interesting, and most importantly, factual. However, each news source does this in a different way; they attract different audiences, write from various perspectives and bias, organize and display their content in a particular way, and all the while, seek to make a large profit. In particular, this blog post will focus on and examine the objectives of The Huffington Post and BBC News.
The Huffington Post is known to be a politically liberal news source on the web. The site is headlined with the words “inform, inspire, entertain, and empower,” which drives the purpose of the news company. It provides readers with breaking news and opinion pieces. Not surprisingly, there have been numerous articles on all things related to the 2016 election. The front page often consists of news on the election and world issues (like climate change) and therefore, it is suggesting that is of utmost importance in the news world today. As seen on the site’s home page, there are separate sections: Front Page News (includes Politics, Business, Sports, etc.), Entertainment, Life & Style, Tech & Science, Voices, and Local News (includes New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and other major cities). The tone and voice is dependent on the writer’s background and beliefs and often changes depending on the topic. News articles often have a more serious tone while entertainment articles are more lighthearted. The site also has what they call HuffPost Live, which are simply live video interviews reporting all sorts of news. For example, an interview is lined up with YWCA America’s CEO Dara Richardson-Heron at 3pm on February 9th, 2016 to discuss Black History Month and the empowerment of women. HuffPost owner, Arianna Huffington, recently announced how the company will combine their separate video units–HuffPost Live, HuffPost News, HuffPost Originals, and HuffPost Rise–into one video platform.
The Huffington Post features content from bloggers, editors, and experts in their field of study and or interest. While HuffPost writers create their own content, many of the articles are sourced from other major news companies (see screenshot below). In fact, front-page editors constantly receive emails from reporters, other editors, publishers, and publicists from various news organizations requesting that they place certain content on their site; then, they must determine what is important and interesting enough to be put up on HuffPost. The headlines are an important part of any article and can be hard to craft; they are short sentences, phrases and or posed questions encapsulating the main point(s) of the article. As on any news site, the headline ought to be interesting and fairly brief in order to pull readers in. For long form reading on HuffPost, the articles are often broken down into smaller, more readable paragraphs. Writing in smaller chucks is more appealing to the human eye and is seemingly easier to read. Here is an example of a long form article on HuffPost about active Black Seniors & the Black Lives Matter movement.
According to Alexa, an online web analytics toolkit, HuffPost attracts college educated or partly college educated people, with the viewing location predominantly in a school setting, which says a lot about the age group that is visiting the site. Also, seventy-percent of visitors to the site are from the United States with a female majority. The New York Times article, The Economics of Blogging and The Huffington Post, from January 2011, discusses some numbers tied closely with the news company. In 2011, AOL purchased HuffPost for $315 million dollars; this triggered a response from the site’s unpaid bloggers. While there are hundreds of blogs on the site, many of the bloggers aren’t getting paid; meanwhile, the writers of the news articles are. As of 2011, The Huffington Post received about 15.6 million views per day, which is a huge amount. It is important to add that there is a large amount of content accounting for those views. In the politics sections, there are about 100 pieces (paid and unpaid) alone and this section only brings in about 15 percent of the site’s traffic.
While the HuffPost is arguably a bit messy, the site is also very interactive and keeps viewers engaged with lots of links to other articles, images, GIFs, and videos. Here is a HuffPost article from February 7th about this year’s Super Bowl halftime show featuring Beyonce, Coldplay, and Bruno Mars; this is a great example of an interactive article from the site. Also, the company’s social media accounts, Facebook & Twitter, are strategically placed at the top of the page in the right hand corner. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and email icons are located on the left side of the page so readers can share HuffPost articles with friends on their social media accounts. The news company uses its social media accounts, especially Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, to distribute their news and to reach as many people as possible. Many of the sites images/GIFs are sourced from Getty Images, professional photographers, Giphy, etc. The ‘Conversations’ section under each article allows for readers to share their thoughts and engage in stimulating conversations; this is how HuffPost makes their news a two-way conversation. However, in order to post a comment, a person has to have an account on the site.
As reported by Incomediary.com, The Huffington Post, owned by Arianna Huffington, earns about $2,330,000 per month and their main source of income is via pay per click (PPC), where advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked on the site. Though ads can generally make a website look messy, less credible, and be an annoyance to readers, they do not seem to be a major nuisance on the HuffPost. Other ways the news source can potentially make money is by arranging special membership privileges and charging a small subscription revenue.
Somewhat similar to the layout of the website, The Huffington Post’s mobile version is very busy. On the iPhone, it is harder to navigate and the plethora of content is a bit too much to handle. I, personally, gave up after browsing for two minutes.
The mass amount of content on HuffPost and its quick news turnover can be attributed to the 24-hour news cycle, which is defined as the investigation and reporting of news in our fast-paced lifestyles. The news is always changing and with the almost lightning speed of the Internet, news websites and their social media accounts are constantly being updated. Long gone are the days where we could pull the “I didn’t know” excuse; with the advanced news cycle today, we are, in a way, expected to know what’s going on in our backyards and in oceans far from us.
The British Broadcasting Corporation, more commonly known as the BBC, is an acclaimed worldwide news source. Their mission, as stated on their website is to “enrich people’s lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain.” By broadcasting via radio, television and the internet in “27 languages,” BBC can reach not only a British audience primarily but also serve as a source for listeners and viewers worldwide. They claim to hold their audience in high esteem, thinking of them first and foremost through each newscast. BBC publishes quarterly reviews of audience satisfaction in quality and content and seek to transparently publish “information held by public authorities” so that paying subscribers know where their money goes and what the news company’s plans for the future are.
Readers can comment on blogs, make a complaint and discuss or contribute to the news by emailing email@example.com or calling 00 44 7624. We can contact the BBC via twitter, instagram and other forms of social media, making it extremely feasible to voice an opinion and have it be heard.
Regardless of how a reader likes to receive their news, there is a forum for them. There are long articles, interactive videos, real-time blogs, live streaming and even more mediums to stay up to date with the latest news. Most articles are not very long and are “skimmable”. The company is extremely adaptable and has revamped their website to accommodate any type of reader.
For even easier access, there is a mobile phone app in addition to the main website and the other forums. I would argue that the mobile app is more consumable and easier to scroll through than the website, which gives access to almost too many articles at a time. It is hard to know where to click first on the website. Because reporters know that most people have easier access to their phone than a desktop throughout the day, “live updates” is the first tab, so that wherever you are you can quickly obtain the newest information on a story.
Have any questions about the policies behind BBC? All of their guidelines and strategies are published online and regularly reviewed by BBC. There is even a specific page entitled “Trust” where a reader can find tons of information about the behind the scenes of BBC.
The University of Southern California published a study saying that “citizen-supplied photographs were often about community events that help the community-building interests of newspapers that do not have the resources to cover such events”, while bigger newspapers rely on staff-photographers to supply photos for more national news. The BBC holds true to these studies, unless of course citizens are on the scene before BBC reporters.
Newspapers and websites tell us what to think about based on the front page and the presentation of the news. For instance, the front page of the BBC is worldly news, like “Syria ‘exterminating detainees’- report”, not a small town robbery. The layout of the tabs tell us the importance of the topic to the BBC; most important being world news on the left and least important being entertainment and health all the way on the right where our eyes scan to last.
Though BBC tells us what to think about, they make efforts to pull from different viewpoints in order to refrain from swaying the reader to believe one thing or another. The reader has all the information they need in order to be a well-informed consumer, but then has the freedom to form their own opinion.
With the switch from print media to digital media, the source of a news provider’s funding has switched from primarily newspaper subscription to online funding. Most of the earnings come from the “License fee” via commercials on their 10 national television channels, 10 national radio stations and another 40 local radio stations in Great Britain and “separate commercial ventures whose profits help fund BBC public services, including BBC Worldwide, and BBC World News.” The shear number of people who subscribe to the BBC boosts their credibility and entices others to join.
A possible reason for why they have so many subscribers and devoted readers is the number of topics they cover. BBC covers world news but also has multiple subsites that cover topics like religion, travel and food. Sometimes the most important news is in fact about entertainment, thus, the BBC will cover it if it has relevance and importance to a large audience.
I found this article on the front page of BBC on February 8th. The BBC tailors their news to accommodate any curious reader- young or old, male or female, or anything else.
BBC presents articles about a serious news break in the same way as the article about “The alley where one kiss brings 15 years of luck”: in a factual, formal voice that ensures credibility with formal photos and a formal font. That is what sets BBC apart from less accredited news sources- whatever the topic, the reporters take the job seriously.
Because the BBC covers so many topics, the site is overflowing with interesting articles, often multiple articles on the same subject. This leads readers to believe that they can find all of the information they need on a single topic on this single website. I barely had to venture from the extensive amount of information I had right on the BBC website… while researching BBC. The outside sources I found about BBC were actually on the BBC website and ensured me that they were reliable.
Blog Post by Julianna Haase & Sally Smith