Digital Studies 101: Intro to Digital Studies

DGST 101: Methodology Module (3/4) – Down the Rabbit Hole of Digital Journalism

The Rabbit Hole of Digital Journalism (Not Geocities)

We’ve established that mobile websites, and therefore, pieces of digital journalism, are successful because they adhere to some or all of the following reasons:

  1. Legibility: Provide content in a succinct, easy to navigate manner without the necessity of an app
  2. Tactile Navigation: Ensure that content may be navigated without the need to “pinch and zoom”
  3. Consistency Across Mediums: Provide the same level of content as its desktop companion
  4. Links: Provide hyperlink material that may link users to important information, such as phone numbers, addresses, and other websites, without
  5. Minimal Pop-Ups: Minimize or completely remove the use of pop-ups
  6. Optional: Incorporate embedded content, including images and videos

But going beyond easy-to-navigate websites such as that of Lyft, just how successful, in terms of time spent, can pieces of digital journalism be? In an attempt to test this out for myself, I decided to embark on one of my favorite pastimes.

Enter: The Facebook Videos

That’s right, I watched Facebook videos.

But not just any Facebook videos – the ones that bare some resemblance to journalism, such as videos created by AJ+ or NowThis. If you’re not familiar with NowThis’s desktop website, it’s because it’s more likely that you’ve seen their content on social media, such as Facebook or Twitter. AJ+ and NowThis are forms of digital journalism known in the “Videos with Captions” category, meaning that the bulk of content and text is conveyed through captioned videos, rather than a traditional block of text article. (BBC Labs)

For this “experiment,” if one can even call it that, I decided to click on the first form of digital journalism I found on my Facebook feed. From there, I would continue to watch only the related videos, or rather, the videos that autoplay after the end of the first video you originally clicked on. I created my own set of criteria to assess the effectiveness of each auto-playing as forms of digital journalism, as shown on the table below. I assessed the videos on how interesting they were, what percentage of the video I watched, how closely related they were to the first video, and how informative the video was in terms of content conveyed.

Most importantly though, I chose not to have the volume on while watching videos. I had a theory that successful forms of digital journalism, as they cater to audiences who are often on-the-go or in public areas where they may not have headphones or be able to use speakers. Because short form, captioned videos are so popular, I wanted to see if there was a correlation between how likely I was to consume a piece of digital journalism, and how accessible that piece of journalism was in terms of the use of captions and text to convey a message.

Of course, all of these ratings are simply based on my opinion, so feel free to take them with a grain of salt, and keep in mind that the videos suggested to me are based on a whole slew of personalized algorithmic conditions which will drastically vary the sort of content recommended to me versus other users. And it is also true that yes, some users may be using headphones. But I did not.

Trip Report: Return From the Rabbit Hole

I began watching videos at 10:50 PM on the night of Sunday, October 21st. The first video I came across was a video from Tasty, a recipe website run by Buzzfeed, on how to decorate a cake. I enjoy aesthetically pleasing cake, so I clicked the video. And here we go. I chose to watch ten videos in order to get a good pool to work with.

Facebook Video Reactions (1/2)
Facebook Video Reactions (2/2)

What Did I Learn?

From the tables, you can see that out of the ten forms of digital journalism I viewed, only some were informative, and only some were related to each other. Out of the videos, I was, of course, more likely to watch pieces of digital journalism that were captioned, and these captioned videos typically came from news sources that are experts in the field of digital journalism, such as NowThis.

Thank you for reading!


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