One of the nascent media to have emerged in the past decade is that of online news, where users can hook up on the internet to catch the latest in the world in politics, economics, sports, and entertainment, and a host of other fields besides.
There has been academic interest and study in the field ever since its origin and the reasons that newspaper companies go for online services are the availability of equipment necessary to provide such services at more affordable rates than ever before to both the news industry and to the news consumer as well as the loss of subscribership in certain traditionally strong markets.(Hansen, Martin, 1998). The general theory behind McLuhan's take on the emergence of new media is striking : ".....in operational and practical fact, the medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium - that is, of any extension of ourselves - result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology".
While the importance of medium is celebrated by those like McLuhan by saying, "The medium is the message" in preference to the content it carries, there are those like Eveland and Dunwoody (2002) who noted the difference in format and content lay out between the new media and the traditional one, in this case online news and print media. We can add context to online news and its use by considering the household where this media is used, as a moral economy, where the economic activities of its members are informed by a set of cognitions, evaluations and aesthetics, which are themselves defined by the histories, biographies and politics of the household and its members(Silverstone, Hirsch, Morley, 1992). Schultz (2000 )has shown the contextual relevance of news to society, and the imperatives that drive it with regard to democracy, business and politics.
Still others like Wacjman(1994) refute technological determinism and hold that new technology arises from the old, is an intrinsic part of the society from which it arises, in answer to its economic needs, especially the need for profit of the big business corporations, and we need to study this aspect of online news. Althaus and Tewksbury (2002) held that the agenda-setting effectsof news is reduced in the case of online news readers compared to readers of the print news version. Web news produces smaller learning effects than print news, as demonstrated by Eveland and Dunwoody (2002). These differences could be due to increased selectivity in online news consumption(Klapper, 1960). and this recognised aspect of media consumption applies to online newspapers as well.
Also important for an understanding of online news , and its situation in the ecology of media are the studies on interactivity carried out by Fredin and David (1998) who developed a model called the Hypermedia Interaction Cycle (HIC), with three stages: namely, preparation, exploration, and consolidation. The concept of remediation as studied by Bolter and Grusin(1999) also becomes relevant to online news as we see it emerge from the shadows of the print media, and take on some of the characteristics of television through the use of technologies like webcasting and video