Media Text Of A City Online Newspaper: Functional Capabilities

Abstract

The purpose of the study is to identify new media text functions under a situation of communication condition global changes, when one and the same message of the city’s Internet newspaper’s website turns out to be both a formal capture of the event, transmitting news, and a polyfunctional text that responds to various requests from the audience. First of all, the request for a safe image of the place in which they live, which forms the ideas of contemporary reality, affecting the value system and worldview. Secondly, that responds to the request of an organized territorial identity of a reader. That responds to the request of an organized territorial identity of a reader. The functional of the media text in the digital environment is analyzed on the example of the content of the Big Village (Samara) and the Paper (Saint-Petersburg). The main method of analysis is structural-functional. The authors explore the structure of the urban Internet newspaper and its functional paradigm to identify the relationship of the compositional model of the publication and its texts with the behavior of the reader. Multimedia technologies allow to build the model as a complex multi-level structure: atomized, due to its presence on various Internet sites, on social networks, and at the same time networkizated. The authors conclude that modern media text, with a clear matrix structure, performs not so much an informational, but as a function of cartographic behavior of a reader

Keywords: Media textcity online newspapercartographynetworkizationpolyfunctionality

Introduction

Polyfunctionality is a typological characteristic of a media text. The digital environment not only actualizes the traditional functions of the journalistic text, including those that were not so obvious in the pre-digital era, but also forms new / specific ones. Modern researchers point to the formation of a new media paradigm: “a user is part of the communicative process, content is the media personality, multimedia is the new universal language, here and now is the only time available, hypertext is the new grammar, knowledge is new information” (Boguslavskaya, 2019, p. 52). Boguslavskaya believes that there is a generation of users who "respond quickly but think slowly." This may be due to the transformation of the text as the “highest unit of communication,” primarily the change in the functions of the media text as the main unit of communication, as the most important tool for making up the agenda (McCombs, Shaw, & Weaver, 2014). The endless production and duplication of texts that can be “consumed” at a convenient time in a convenient place changed the audience’s request to a format that is convenient in all senses. Gradually, a new structure of journalistic text is being created, designed to generate socially significant meanings, which stimulates a reader to quick reactions. The opportunity to participate in the formation of content and to change the position of the addressee to the position of addresser, through comments, reviews, posts, and other features of new media, is also no less significant.

Problem Statement

The past few years have presented a clear trend in Russian city newspapers: traditional city periodicals like Sant-Petersburg's Smena or Vecherny Peterburg have been replaced by urban media (City and Media, 2018). The new media provide citizens with universal information around the clock in the form of a continuous stream. The Moscow Internet newspaper TheVillage , which researchers as a rule present as the first of the kind, which format is copied by all other city newspapers, in 2013 ranked the city's online newspapers (Polishchuk, 2013) and singled out the following: Downtown.ru (Voronezh), Paper (St. Petersburg), Province (Irkutsk), It's My City (Yekaterinburg), Chё (Sterlitamak), Vladivostok-3000 (Vladivostok), Sib.fm and Siburbia (Novosibirsk), Nn-today (Nizhny Novgorod), InKazan (Kazan), Big Village (Samara), Barnaul.phm (Barnaul), Feelmore (Chelyabinsk), V Times (Kirov). To this list, we could add Ryadivka (Smolensk), newsvo.ru (Vologda), Volgograd Reporter (Volgograd), and many others. Most of them appeared in the last five years.

However, there is still no precise definition of “urban media” that would suit all researchers (Abashev & Pechishchev, 2017). The emergence and successful existence of this communication format is one of the reasons for revising the traditional categorical-conceptual apparatus of the theory of journalism, Vartanova (2018) states: “Today media have become an important institution of modern society, a medium of communication, social and individual life of many people, state and social structures at the national and global level” (p. 165) . It is necessary to introduce and justify new definitions and terms.

Both journalists and city media researchers are devoted to the issue. Nigmatullina (2016) believes that the media are experiencing the emergence of the daily urban Internet newspaper “typological phenomenon”. A city's online newspaper is most often created by an autonomous editorial team (as a rule, a founder of the periodical), and a large proportion of the content is produced on its own. According to the researcher, the emphasis is carried on exclusive and original information. Highlighting the typological specificity of this phenomenon, Nigmatullina (2016) points out its features: 1) “the audience involved in the network activity of users who are united by an interest in the urban information agenda”; 2) a balance between socio-political and leisure-entertainment topics; 3) hard structured resource (“thematic-compositional model”). At the same time, the structure of such newspapers is limited up to five or six regular headings and the “Special Projects” section, which allows publications, depending on the requirements of the current moment, to expand the scope and format of the publication.

However, it should be noted that the structure of the urban Internet newspaper includes not only the website. A periodical expands its theme and format not only due to the “Special Projects” heading, but also due to the social networks activity: social networks enable active dialogue among readers, primarily due to comments that are avoided on the main website of the periodicals. The actual question is how the structure of the texts of the daily urban Internet newspaper and their functionality are undertaking changes. It is equally important to determine whether there is already sufficient reason to talk about the emergence of a special mode of addressee existence in this type of periodicals.

Research Questions

Text structure in a city online newspaper and reader strategies

A special mode of existence of the reader is scanning information, surfing the web, rules of functioning of the digital environment and communication protocols. In modern media it is complemented by the necessity to keep a track of the same material on different resources (on the website, on Instagram, on Facebook, etc.). This largely changes the structure of the same journalistic material, including genre, logics, grammar, lexical-semantic approach (Vyrovtseva, 2018). The text, by its nature being a “peculiar island of organization” (Galperin, 2006), becomes dynamically structured, as if torn between different content formats. On the main page (Fig. 1. Screenshot of the Big Village pages) the journalistic text is a hyperlink-announcement on the materials, which leads to the page with the expanded article. At the same time on Instagram, the photo with the editorial’s signature appears with user comments. This discreteness, being principle immanent feature of any text along with integrity and coherence, reaches a level that we are already talking about atomized content - fragmented into “atoms” (sites, pages in social networks, posts in news feeds), specially organized including visually.

Figure 1: Screenshot of the pages of Big Village “Main February 19, 2019” and "Performing artists never complain" (https://bigvill.ru/city/69974-artisty-nikogda-ne-zhaluyutsya-my-tak-vospitany-uchastniki-truppy-liliputov-o-zhizni-i-lyubvi-pod- kupolom-tsirka/
Screenshot of the pages of Big Village “Main February 19, 2019” and "Performing artists never complain" (https://bigvill.ru/city/69974-artisty-nikogda-ne-zhaluyutsya-my-tak-vospitany-uchastniki-truppy-liliputov-o-zhizni-i-lyubvi-pod- kupolom-tsirka/
See Full Size >

Therefore, the problem of the functioning of this text type comes to the fore, when its multivariate, pragmatic and flexibility give the addressee reading vectors. On the one hand, for example, the Saint-Petersburg Internet newspaper Paper (https://paperpaper.ru/) offers users a choice on the main page: one can scroll the news on the main page and restrict oneself to that. One can choose a slightly different route through the site, changing the location: by clicking on a heading to examine the event / situation / problem / process in more detail. In this case, informative navigation always denotes the genre of a new location: an interview, a plot, bookmarks, answers, a list, facts, etc. Thus, the editors set up the addressee for the perception of the text, but along with the traditional genres (interviews, storyline, lectures, stories) new formats are being developed there (gallery, affiliate material, expats). On the one hand, it forms a range of “its own” readers, who are the residents of this particular city, who are dedicated, not by chance. That is the reason why many researchers view new media as a means of constructing urban identity (Kablukov, 2018; City and Media, 2018; Schwartz & Halegoua, 2014).

On the other hand, the new formats make periodical Papers publications multifunctional, provided that the recipient did not limit oneself to scrolling the news. Many media researchers associate the presentation of information with its functions (Sukhodolov & Kuznetsova, 2017). The information function is complemented by other functions, such as: 1) critical, which means that facts are evaluated and interpreted; 2) educational, that is new knowledge about history and / or modern reality introduced and disseminated; 3) recreative, what includes fascinating reading or entertaining illustrations, which allow one to escape from problems; 4) organizational and pragmatic understood as specific pieces of advice, recommendations, invitations. Multimedia, hypertextuality, interactivity provide modern media text, in fact, with universal and unique features.

Publications of TheVillage , Papers, Big Village and other periodicals of the type at the same time confirm and refute the conclusions of Boguslavskaya. The conclusion is that the Internet newspaper “has only content: information and posts, no longer any thoughts. The triad “concept - meaning - text” becomes “Melchuk’s new formula”:

what is grasped (meaning) – that is immediately written (text)”. Posts in social networks, lasting less than a minute, confirm the thesis about the meaninglessness of information as such. Understanding disappears, thanks to which (together with comprehension and application) information used to become a piece of knowledge. (Boguslavskaya, 2019, p. 52)

If we consider news feed of most Internet publications from this point of view, we have to agree with the fact that they really give the impression of “what is grasped (meaning) – that is immediately written (text)”. However, thanks to multimedia technologies and its “multi-presence” on various Internet sites, the texts of the urban Internet newspaper turn out to be multi-level and multifunctional, and the degree of immersion in the text begins to depend on the recipient user.

This completely new property of the media text makes it necessary to review both the professional tasks of the journalist (Vyrovtseva, 2015) and the communication methods of the author and recipient, the editorial staff and the audience. These very media turn out to be the most important tool for stimulating the informational potential of society, to make actual knowledge, axiological and behavioral resources.

Mapping an urban space

Changes in the subject matter and content of texts, in fact, make up a new structure of the Internet publication organization. That is the object of research in modern media. Obviously, all the mentioned editions speak out one common aim: to create an image of a place (DeFazio, 2011), which is good for living, which you don’t need to leave for a better one (no matter – abroad, to the capital city). These are found in the “Team” or “About the Edition”, “About the Site” sections of the city newspapers. Bigvill provides the slogan "Website about Samara, the city where it is interesting to live" (https://bigvill.ru/); Paper states that: “the periodical is about why Petersburg is the best city on earth” (https://paperpaper.ru/contacts/); TheVillage state a metropolis "as a comfortable city" (https://www.the-village.ru/pages/about). For example, It’s My City - that “Yekaterinburg people love their city more than others.” The objectives of the urban Internet newspaper are to create a positive image of the place (city) and the sense of the participation of citizens in the city.

The headings of the newspaper set the boundaries of the image of the city and, as a result, the limits of the reader’s existence in the space of this city. All Internet newspapers first of all create an image of today, as the hourly chronicle is usually placed on the main page (at Bigvill - at the top of the main page, at Paper - in the right-hand column). Permanent headings exist on Monday, presenting current information for the current seven days. Project headings have broader timing: they are relevant, but their relevance is not limited to strict binding to dates.

The content structure is also defined by spheres of life that define a permanent “map” of city life: people in the city eat in cafes and restaurants, work, go shopping (corresponding sections in Bigville are: “City and Heroes”, “Food”, “Career”, “Lifestyle”), events take place in the city, people have lunch, attend cultural events, have a wish to find out some facts about themselves (corresponding sections in Paper : “Stories”, “Guides”, “Tests”). The reader of an online newspaper gets into the constructed space of the city, wanders around it, like through the space of a sandbox game built by the team of the newspaper, and sometimes by the reader, if one becomes a man of a column or an interviews; either comments on publications via social networks (Barashkina & Maslenkova, 2018).

It is important that there is a positive image of the city, where troubles occurs, but can be solved. And this clearly distinguishes this type of media from the official city portals, criminal reports and yellow editions (see Fontanka or 63.ru ).

Purpose of the Study

Thus, the purpose of the study is to identify new media text functions under a situation of communication condition global changes, when one and the same message of the city’s Internet newspaper’s website turns out to be both a formal capture of the event, transmitting news, and a polyfunctional text that responds to various requests from the audience. First of all, the request for a safe image of the place in which they live, which forms the ideas of contemporary reality, affecting the value system and worldview that build up the territorial identity of the reader.

Research Methods

The functional of the media text in the digital environment is analyzed on the example of the content of the Samara periodical Big Village, which, according to the version of the Mediator, not for the first time entered the top of the most readable regional thematic media (https://mediator.media/ru/awards/2018/q3/ ), as well as the Saint- Petersburg Paper, the leader of different ratings (for example, this is the most visited site according to SimilarWeb). The public and professional recognition of the periodicals allows to consider them successful and typical examples of urban Internet newspapers. Their examples demonstrate the features and capabilities of the Internet newspaper type.

The main method of analysis is structural-functional: the structure of the city’s Internet newspaper and its functional possibilities have been investigated in order to reveal the interrelationships of the structure of the publication and its texts with the reader’s behavior.Please replace this text with context of your paper.

Findings

New city online newspapers present themselves as communicative platforms designing an urban space. At the same time, the leading communicative strategy of urbanistically oriented media is the journalism of complicity (the term belongs to Vlasova (2018)). Tactically, complicity (in the case, performed by readers) is implemented, among other things, through the updating of various communicative functions of the media text. So, texts-stories of the characters (citizens), which can significantly affect the life of the city are typical for the city media. To provide a vivid example, Samara edition of Big Village published the material, based on three stories of domestic violence, titled “I lived with an abuser” (https://bigvill.ru/city/68948-ya-zhila-s -abyuzerom-3-istorii/). The story has become the leader among readers during the first months of 2019. Public comments on the material denote all the typical negative reactions to the topic of violence: the experience depreciation, the victim accusation, the lack of violence awareness, the aggressor stigmatization, and other. Anastasia Babicheva, the creator and leader of the volunteer project “Knowledge will stop gender-based violence”, after the release and the discussion, considered it her professional duty to discuss readers' reactions to the publication, “so that negative and painful remarks are not left without any sensible answer” (https : //vk.com/project_help_stop). This case convinces, in our opinion, that a media text brings up to date its communicative potential. The potential, which lies in an ability to organize a dialogue / discussion. Moreover, a media text cannot exist without different forms of a dialogue.

In addition, urban media stories can also be viewed as narrative social practices, which are based on the idea that each person builds his life, on the bases of the stories we have told and perceived. And this is not necessarily existentially important topics (such as an abuse), but also everyday needs, such as lunchtime snacks or making coffee (January 31, 2019 “Preparing coffee like in a coffee shop” - https://bigvill.ru/food/69374-instruktsiya-gotovim -kofe-kak-v-kofejne/). It is important that the reader is somehow present in all these materials. For example, in the article “Eleven New Institutions of January and How They Are Appraised by Petersburgers” (January 31, 2019, https://paperpaper.ru/photos/odinnadcat-novyh-zavedenij-yanvarya-i/), the text contains reviews about the establishments from social networks, and in the material “Three socks and a heater on the passport: how Samarans survived without heating” (January 24, 2019, https://bigvill.ru/city/69101-troe-noskov-i-obogrevatel-po-pasportu-kak-samartsy- vyzhivali-bez-otopleniya /) fragments of interviews - most of the material posted.

The discreteness and structuredness of the modern media text is manifested at different levels of its structure: “atomized” formats and genres (cards, lists, timelines, etc.), rigid compositional frames of the news feed, informational compression of photos. The system of hyperlinks in this material structure begins to play the role of a navigation system in this discreteness.

It can be assumed that such forms streamline information flows. The forms are becoming routers for a surfing the Internet reader. Thanks to this navigation, the forms are appealing to the audience: if the reader likes certain content, then one is looking for it through other Internet spaces, where this post is present. The search is possible, especially, if the publication allows a reader to participate in the attractive content creation. In our opinion, it is possible to talk about the modern media text with a clear matrix structure, which is implemented not only (and maybe not so much) by its information function, as the reader’s mapping behavior, but, precisely, due to information navigation, or “digital calligraphy” (for terminology see: Mansurova, 2017).

Not only the text itself becomes attractive, but the reader’s behavior model that is offered in the format of the publication. The German researcher Bolz (2011) introduces the concept of networkization of a text. The term is defined as a situation for them when “the main thing becomes not so much the information content, as the communication act about the information” (p. 43). At the same time, the key point in social networking is social nets, which present to any user an opportunity and conditions to choose those pages (people) with who one will maintain online contacts. Moreover, these contacts become a part of a user's personal page in the form of his news feed, and it does not matter - it is a question of networks like VK.com or Instagram. Web surfing is becoming a part of the personal web-mapping (Schwartz & Halegoua, 2014). Subscribing to the newsletter, to the page of an online newspaper on a social network becomes inevitably a part of a personal story, and at the same time allows a reader to “assign” content and participate in its production (we noted new identity and social networks corporality of a user in this regard, see: Barashkina & Maslenkova, 2018).

The publication becomes a map of the social space of a city online and offline. The city events and inhabitants are always presented on regular bases in columns like: “Food” and “Residents” in Bigville ; “Interviews” and “Facts” in Paper . The headings media texts cause readers’ activity, redirecting them to the mass media pages and communities, for example, on Instagram. Posting materials from reader accounts (see, for example: https://paper.ru/gorod-pogruzilsya-v- gory-gryaznogo-sne /), turns a reader into a resident of the positive-online-newspaper-city.

Conclusion

City online newspaper becomes a map of the new urban space. Multimedia technology allows to build a newspaper model as a complex multi-level structure. It is atomized, due to the presence on various Internet sites, social networks, and at the same time it is networkizated. Networkization is a set of routes for the reader behavior of the, who chooses the degree of the text immersion. Therefore, it can be said that a modern media text, with a clear matrix structure, performs not so much information as cartographic behavior of a reader.

Media text becomes as open as possible, dialogue is transformed into interactivity, polyphony is enhanced by multimedia and hypertextuality. The result is an increase in the role of the addressee both in creating the media image and in constructing (media) reality. Moreover, today the addressee and the addresser are constantly changing places. The consumer (no longer just an audience), being an active participant in media communication (chooses content, sets up, subscribes / unsubscribes, comments), develops a text that turns into an effective tool for organizing an urban, and if desired, any other community.

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07 August 2019

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Maslenkova, N., Virovtseva, E., & Barashkina*, E. (2019). Media Text Of A City Online Newspaper: Functional Capabilities. In & Z. Marina Viktorovna (Ed.), Journalistic Text in a New Technological Environment: Achievements and Problems, vol 66. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 515-523). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2019.08.02.60