Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Mass Communications

Major Professor

Kenneth C. Killebrew Jr., Ph.D.

Committee Member

Timothy E. Bajkiewicz, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Randy E. Miller, Ph.D.


Gatekeeping, Convergence, Shovelware, Local news, Content analysis


The Internet provides the opportunity to develop a new way to present journalism, but many scholars say newspaper Web sites do nothing but mirror their print parents. This study used content analysis to compare the content of stories in five newspapers with their Web counterparts, and it examines whether reporter affiliation or a story's geographic emphasis has a relationship with the story's amount of contextual elements. These elements could include photos, graphics, or multimedia or interactive components online. This approach applied gatekeeping theory to publications that have editions in two media.

This study examined the five largest newspapers in the South over 14 days, collecting a sample of 635 stories on the front pages and metro section front pages of the papers. Nearly all stories in the sample appeared on the newspapers' Web sites, and story content was the same 96% of the time. The study found that 85% of print stories were published with at least one contextual element, but only 58% of online stories had at least one such element. About a third of the sample had at least one contextual element in common between print and online versions of a story, while about 20% of the sample had entirely unique sets of contextual elements in print and online. Newspapers are no more likely to publish additional contextual elements with local stories than any other type of content. This effort focused on storytelling components; it examined whether print and Web editions of newspapers tell stories differently---whether they are complementary or competitive.