US newspapers don’t appear to be making the most of multimedia. A study from Missouri Western State University presented at the Convergence and Society conference in South Carolina found that the US press lagged behind the UK.
The study, by Prof Robert Bergland, together with his students, Lisa Crawford, Sarah Noe, & Melody Ellsworth, studied 360 newspapers in the US, chosen at random.
Here’s what they found:
- Video: 65% (97% for largest newspapers)
- Audio: 52% (70% for largest newspapers)
- Podcasts: 4%
- Interactive graphics: 3% (7% in largest newspapers)
- Photo galleries: 70%
- Audio slideshows: 47% (70% in largest newspapers)
- Games: 42%
The researchers said they were surprised by the low use of interactive graphics, attributing this to the complexity and steep learning curve of Flash.
The lack of podcasts was also surprising, with the researchers wondering if this had increased since the study was conducted in 2007.
Some of the use of multimedia seems heavily influenced by the available technology. The availability of a program like Soundslides makes it easy to create audio slideshows without needing to know any Flash.
It is unsurprising that the largest newspapers were more active in multimedia, as they are likely to be better resourced.
The Missouri Western State conducted a similar survey of UK newspaper websites this year and found that the British press was making more use of multimedia.
The question is whether the US media has caught up over the past 12 months, or whether there are other reasons that explain how and why the American press is behind the UK.