From Rigidity to Exuberance: Evolution of News on Online Newspaper Homepages

future internetSince their emergence in the mid-90s, online media have evolved from simple digital editions that merely served to dump content from print newspapers, to sophisticated multi-format products with multimedia and interactive features.

In order to discover their visual evolution, this article conducts a longitudinal study of the design of online media by analyzing the front pages of five general-information Spanish newspapers (elpais.com, elmundo.es, abc.es, lavanguardia.com, and elperiodico.com) over the past 25 years (1996-2020). Moreover, some of their current features are listed. To this end, six in-depth interviews were conducted with managers of different online media outlets. The results indicate that the media analysed have evolved from a static, rigid format, to a dynamic, mobile, and multi-format model. Regarding the language used, along with increased multimedia and interactive possibilities, Spanish online media currently display a balance between text and images on their front pages. Lastly, audience information consumption habits, largely superficial and sporadic, and the increasing technification and speed of production processes, means that news media have lost in terms of the design part of the individual personality they had in their print editions. However, they maintain their index-type front pages as one of their most characteristic elements, which are very vertical and highly saturated.

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