International Journal of Internet Science

A peer reviewed open access journal for empirical findings, methodology, and theory of social and behavioral science concerning the Internet and its implications for individuals, social groups, organizations, and society.

Volume 6, Issue 1 (2011)

The Impact of Online News Features on Learning from News: A Knowledge Experiment
Michaël Opgenhaffen1 & Leen d'Haenens2
1School of Journalism at Lessius Antwerp/K. U. Leuven, Belgium,
2Center for Media Culture and Communication Technology at K. U. Leuven, Belgium

Abstract: This study examines the impact of the use of multimedia, interactivity, and hypertext in Internet news reporting on learning from news. A knowledge experiment (N = 53) reveals that the use of multimedia, interactivity, and hypertext applications in online news indeed have an effect on recognition and cued recall, taking into account the level of difficulty of news content as well as users' Web expertise. Experienced Web users benefit from online features only if the news content is difficult, whereas the presence of online features results in a drop in inexperienced users' knowledge. Inexperienced Internet users benefit most from online features when the news content is easy, whereas in the latter case the scores of expert users tend to fall. This article provides insight into the way online features impact on the cognitive load and attitudes concerning news content and how these variables might mediate learning from online news. Online journalists could put these findings to their advantage when producing online news stories.

Keywords: Online news, multimedia, interactivity, hypertext, information-processing

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