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Home | DTI | 2006–07 funded proposals | Sauman Chu, Nora Paul, Laura Ruel, Monica Moses, Will Tacy

Initiatives in Digital Technology: 2006–07 Funded Proposals

Sauman Chu, Nora Paul, Laura Ruel, Monica Moses, Will Tacy

Digital Story Effects Lab: Research into the Effects of Alternative Digital Story Designs on News Audiences

The maturation of the “fourth medium” for news delivery requires the crafting of forms of storytelling unique to the digital space. Much of the current content online is a replication of the content designed for legacy media channels. A wide array of options exists for the crafting of digital stories, however little is know about the effects on users of different treatments of the same information.

This proposal outlines an industry — university collaborative research project to identify, design, and test key news content forms to determine the impact of different digital design combinations on the news audience. The publication of online news has enabled experimentation in new news features: visually rich slide shows, animated graphics, links to additional material to add context to news stories. News organizations have been designing a variety of these types of story features, but there is little information on which form best engages, informs, and involves the user.

Through a three-pronged research approach - pre- and post- exposure surveying, eyetracking, and usability testing — we will be able to gauge the effects of different design approaches.

As more and more news consumers turn to the Internet for their news and information and wider broadband penetration enables fast data-rich downloads the news industry needs a better understanding of digital design and how well it serves audience needs. This research will continue the work of examining the evolution in digital storytelling begun by the Institute for New Media Studies with the “Elements of Digital Storytelling” and the work of the Digital Story Effects Lab project.

This project will partner the Star Tribune, the Institute for New Media Studies, the University of Minnesota’s department of Design, Housing, and Apparel, and the University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication.