Al-Sawt al Hurr issued its report No. 14 about media situation, including study about the factors that the news websites are using to attract internet users.
This study comes after a research included in report No.13 about media situation, in which Al-Sawt al Hurr conducted a survey about the news websites in Egypt, in terms of their characteristics, popularity and classification. And in its study No.14, Al Sawt al Hurr has asked the managers of the prominent news websites for their views on current developments at their websites which they are managing and the additions which they are seeking to realize in the future. And comparing their vision with the theory on media development as is presented at the Faculty of Mass Communication-Cairo University by Prof. Mahmoud Alam el Din. The study aims at recognizing the methods and strategies used by the prominent news websites to find and attract audience and increase their market share.
For conducting this study, five news websites were chosen, including three websites evolved to complement already established newspapers: ‘ al Ahram’, ‘al Watan’ and ‘al Masry al Youm’ and two websites that firstly developed in electronic form: ‘ Youm7’ and ‘Vetogate’, in addition to a website does not have a newspaper: ‘ Dotmasr’.
The report found that the respective news websites turned to studying the target audience in two stages: First, by making an extensive study before the launch of the website and second by measuring the audience’s interests and preferences after the beginning of the actual work on the website.
‘Vetogate’ is keen on making a daily report about the audience’s interests during one day, while Mahmoud Saad al Deen, Youm7’s managing editor, said that they commissioned a research center to conduct periodic measurements for the audience’s preferences and views about the published information/material on internet, and the audience’s behavior in dealing with the written and visual information, in addition to periodically measuring the audience’s views about the website through using social media, and the deployed field reporters across the governorates. However, Saad al-Deen thinks that waiting for the results of studies, is not practical all the time, therefore they depend on their professional senses in identifying the audience’s interests.
Managers of ‘al Ahram gate’ and ‘al Masy al Youm’ find that the analysis based on measuring the number of readings for specific topics is adequate to identify audience’s preferences, Ahmed Ragab, the managing editor of ‘ al Masry al Youm’ and Hisham Younes, the managing editor of ‘ al Ahram gate’, use “ Google Analytics” service to identify the most widely read topics, then analyze the content to know the values which were included in the article and were attractive to the audience. Al Watan’s managing editor agreed with them.
The vision of the managing editors varied concerning the audience’s preferences, as Vetogate’s managing editor saw that the audience’s interest in politics decreased after June 30 and the subsequent events. Managing editors of ‘ al Ahram gate’, ‘ al Masy al Youm’ and ‘ al Watan’, said that the audience’s interest in politics did not decrease, but the quality of the news itself has changed with the decline of the news about demonstrations and clashes and the political trials’ news became repeated and unattractive to the audience.
Managing editors of ‘Veto gate’ and ‘al Watan’ agreed on that economic news related to housing, investment certificates and projects attracts wide range of audience, while the managing editor of ‘ al Masry al Youm’ saw that the economic news is not attractive to the non-specialized audience at all.
Most managing editors agreed on that the audience’s interests are changing during the course of the day and the week. They as well agreed on that the highest percentage of their visitors comes via social networking sites especially ‘Facebook’ and ‘Twitter’, and the search engines come in the second place and then visits via mobile applications.
So basing on the managing editor’s vision the study predicts that there will be more focus in the future on developing the services provided by the news websites via smart phones. The news websites commenced in developing the content through the ‘Breaking news’ service through which the news websites publish the news in one line until the rest of details are completed. And this service began in Youm7.
The websites have worked on presenting other services like ‘interactive files’, as ‘al Watan’ set up a new section specialized in interactive files depending on number of graphic designers, while other websites did not follow its steps because the designers are highly paid according to the study.
Concerning the video journalism, the study found that most news websites have already set up sections for video journalism but they were not able to expand the audience base for this content. Most production of these websites from video was oriented to documenting events that Egypt has experienced during the last four years. While several websites gave special attention to the video to produce a distinctive qualitative content like ‘ Dotmasr’ through its experience with ‘Dot TV’ which depends on innovating different ideas irrelevant to news.
As for the citizen journalism, the managing editors showed their skepticism of it, fearing of lack of credibility and reliability of the information that may be contained, but the managing editors of ‘al Masry al Youm’ and ‘al Ahram gate’ welcomed the citizen journalism, asserting that new services will be launched soon on their respective websites basing on the citizen journalism. Al Masry al Youm has already launched a new service called ‘sharek’ (share), aiming at motivating the audience to share their articles, photos, videos…etc, depending entirely on the citizen journalism.
To download media development report No.14 click here
To download the study about news website and audiences in Egypt click here