Research Article


DOI :10.26650/CONNECTIST497463   IUP :10.26650/CONNECTIST497463    Full Text (PDF)

Reading Digital News: Hypertextual Usage Habits and Learning Practices Among U.S. Communication Undergraduates

Bilge Narin

Hypertext as a nonlinear, computer-based or digital text that is now used along with conventional, linear printed text and can be described as a relatively advanced text type. Moreover, hypertextuality is among the characteristics which differentiate online news from printed news. While digital writing has become more advanced with hypertextuality, its impact on users’ reading habits has gained importance as an underlying matter. In this context, the present research aims to provide an analysis of users’ experiences of reading digital news in the context of hypertextuality. This study begins by summarizing the studies on hypertextuality and news users. Following this, a case study is presented to analyze newspaper users’ reading habits in a digital setting to propose empirical evidence for the theoretical ideas of poststructuralist thinkers on hypertextuality. This part focuses on the hypertext reception practices of UMASS/Amherst Department of Communication undergraduate students through analysis of their news consumption patterns via an online survey. Based on the findings, this study contributes to the literature regarding journalism, technology, and digital writing by identifying the advantages and disadvantages of reading digital news. Although hypertextuality invites both writers and users to think in a nonlinear and cooperative way, it also leads to polarized opinions and newly emerging ethical issues. 


EXTENDED ABSTRACT


The Internet is extensively based on hypertext, a nonlinear, computer-based or digital text that is now used along with conventional, linear printed text as a relatively new text type (Voss et al., 2009, p. 62). Moreover, hypertextuality is among the characteristics which differentiate online news from printed news (Heinonen, 1999). While digital writing has become more advanced with hypertextuality, its impact on users’ reading habits has gained importance as an underlying matter. In this context, the present research aims to provide an analysis of users’ experiences of reading digital news in the context of hypertextuality. This research examines how the department of communication students read, interact with, and learn from digital news in the context of hypertextuality. The students were allowed to identify their digital reading habits with an online questionnaire rather than through experimentation. Users were also questioned about their methods of dealing with fake links while reading online news within the context of hypertext ethics.

This study begins by summarizing the studies on hypertextuality and news users. Following this, a case study is presented analyzing newspaper users’ reading habits in a digital setting to propose empirical evidence for the theoretical ideas of poststructuralist thinkers on hypertextuality. This part focuses on the hypertext reception practices of UMASS/Amherst Department of Communication undergraduate students through analysis of their news consumption patterns via an online survey. Interested participants, solicited through an open-call email, were prescreened for the study by completing the questionnaire. The sample of the present study shares similar features with the population of the Department of Communication / UMass (which has 1000 students) in terms of average age, average education, and attendance. A total sample of 152 undergraduate students participated in the study through random sampling in January and February of 2018. 

Based on the findings, this study contributes to the literature regarding journalism, technology, and digital writing by identifying the advantages and disadvantages of reading digital news. Although hypertextuality invites both writers and users to think in a nonlinear and cooperative way, it also leads to polarized opinions and newly emerging ethical issues.

Although the students preferred to read news online, their preferred text type was basic linear text. Additionally, students were reluctant to share news by adding their comments. For this reason, it was observed that the students did not practice reading cooperatively. Most of them are neither cowriters or rewriters as poststructuralist thinkers’ claimed. Additionally, hypertextuality did not prevent semantic closure as predicted by poststructuralist thinkers. On the contrary, it has become a form of technology that only accelerates the circulation of certain ideas. 

Those participants who paid a lot of attention to visual digital news items were not interested in the zoom and color features– features that are especially useful to people with disabilities and senior citizens in helping them access digital news. Since the digital divide is beyond simply having access to technology, it is considered that the topics of critical media literacy may include themes related to the principles of universal design and web accessibility.

Furthermore, even though mainstream media may be mostly unreliable and may even make up facts, it is still seen as reliable by a considerable amount of communication students. In addition, social influence is still influential in the debate on the truth of the news.

Lastly, it was determined that hypertextuality does not cause opinion polarization at the moment of choosing a link to click. Rather, an interesting topic and a reliable source are more important factors in the participant’s choice. However, students tend to share links that often support their own views, rather than balanced news that covers all perspectives. This shows the relationship between the echo-chamber effect and hypertextuality that allows the news to be easily disseminated through the sharing of links.


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APA

Narin, B. (2018). Reading Digital News: Hypertextual Usage Habits and Learning Practices Among U.S. Communication Undergraduates. Connectist: Istanbul University Journal of Communication Sciences, 0(55), 143-169. https://doi.org/10.26650/CONNECTIST497463


AMA

Narin B. Reading Digital News: Hypertextual Usage Habits and Learning Practices Among U.S. Communication Undergraduates. Connectist: Istanbul University Journal of Communication Sciences. 2018;0(55):143-169. https://doi.org/10.26650/CONNECTIST497463


ABNT

Narin, B. Reading Digital News: Hypertextual Usage Habits and Learning Practices Among U.S. Communication Undergraduates. Connectist: Istanbul University Journal of Communication Sciences, [Publisher Location], v. 0, n. 55, p. 143-169, 2018.


Chicago: Author-Date Style

Narin, Bilge,. 2018. “Reading Digital News: Hypertextual Usage Habits and Learning Practices Among U.S. Communication Undergraduates.” Connectist: Istanbul University Journal of Communication Sciences 0, no. 55: 143-169. https://doi.org/10.26650/CONNECTIST497463


Chicago: Humanities Style

Narin, Bilge,. Reading Digital News: Hypertextual Usage Habits and Learning Practices Among U.S. Communication Undergraduates.” Connectist: Istanbul University Journal of Communication Sciences 0, no. 55 (Feb. 2024): 143-169. https://doi.org/10.26650/CONNECTIST497463


Harvard: Australian Style

Narin, B 2018, 'Reading Digital News: Hypertextual Usage Habits and Learning Practices Among U.S. Communication Undergraduates', Connectist: Istanbul University Journal of Communication Sciences, vol. 0, no. 55, pp. 143-169, viewed 24 Feb. 2024, https://doi.org/10.26650/CONNECTIST497463


Harvard: Author-Date Style

Narin, B. (2018) ‘Reading Digital News: Hypertextual Usage Habits and Learning Practices Among U.S. Communication Undergraduates’, Connectist: Istanbul University Journal of Communication Sciences, 0(55), pp. 143-169. https://doi.org/10.26650/CONNECTIST497463 (24 Feb. 2024).


MLA

Narin, Bilge,. Reading Digital News: Hypertextual Usage Habits and Learning Practices Among U.S. Communication Undergraduates.” Connectist: Istanbul University Journal of Communication Sciences, vol. 0, no. 55, 2018, pp. 143-169. [Database Container], https://doi.org/10.26650/CONNECTIST497463


Vancouver

Narin B. Reading Digital News: Hypertextual Usage Habits and Learning Practices Among U.S. Communication Undergraduates. Connectist: Istanbul University Journal of Communication Sciences [Internet]. 24 Feb. 2024 [cited 24 Feb. 2024];0(55):143-169. Available from: https://doi.org/10.26650/CONNECTIST497463 doi: 10.26650/CONNECTIST497463


ISNAD

Narin, Bilge. Reading Digital News: Hypertextual Usage Habits and Learning Practices Among U.S. Communication Undergraduates”. Connectist: Istanbul University Journal of Communication Sciences 0/55 (Feb. 2024): 143-169. https://doi.org/10.26650/CONNECTIST497463



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Submitted19.03.2018
Accepted05.10.2018

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