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Web Journalism
Practice and Promise of a New Medium

Stovall, James Glen
Publisher:  Pearson, Allyn and Bacon, Boston, USA
Year Published:  2004  
Pages:  239pp   Price:  $59.95   ISBN:  0-205-35398-3
Library of Congress Number:  PN4833.S76   Dewey:  070.4- dc 21

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Stovall is the faculty advisor for Dateline Alabama, the news Web site at the journalism school of the University of Alabama's College of Communication and Information Sciences (is this another merger of j-schools with library schools?). It is a journalism textbook, with "discussion and activities" at the end of each chapter. Each chapter also has chapter summaries at the top and bibliographies and notable Web sites at the end.

Stovall takes great pains to show that Web news is not just a newspaper on a screen. He concentrates on what sets the Web apart from other journalism activities, such as its capacity (virtually unlimited), immediacy, flexibility, permanency, and interactivity. And all of these using basic journalistic principles of seeking the news and presenting it in a balanced and fair manner. His good examples include visits inside MSNBC, a 24-hour web news organization. Convergence is still an issue, such as in Tampa Bay, and it is working fine if it is applied right.

But Stovall has little on archiving (there is nothing on doing it, nor on indexing, etc.), a bit on fees or subscription, little on freelancer pay rates and ownership, and absolutely nothing on RSS or XML, the "next big thing" or "killer app". It makes wonder if the copyright notice here is one of those "advanced dating" dates, and the book was physically published in early 2003.

On the positive side, Stovall has sidebars for tips and advice, generally quite good, and plenty of screen shots. Copious bibliographies and Web site listings enhance the book, as does the index. But in the end, this is an American book with American examples and themes, and no Canadian relevance, beyond the global mechanics of Web site construction and usage.

Audience or interest level: students, refresher courses, journalism schools.

Some interesting facts: "The world wide web is a news medium in the sense that all web sites need to post new information to keep visitors coming back"/

What I don't like about this resource: he calls the World Wide Web "a browser"#isn't that what IE or Netscape is?

What I do like about this resource: good examples given of how news media sites try to involve their readers.

Quality-to-Price Ratio: as a college level text, it is a pricey book in Canada, give it an 82.

[Review by Dean Tudor]


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