Comparative Online News Journalism Analysis:ABC News and Buzzfeed’s news story on New Zealand’s gun law

A row of guns lined up in a collector's home. Image: ABC News, Sam Clark

The shooting, which happened in two mosques in Christchurch in New Zealand, has caused 40 deaths and more than 20 serious injuries. I analysed the stories about the country’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern determining to change the gun laws in New Zealand published by ABC and Buzzfeed.

Biographical information about ABC and Buzzfeed

ABC is one of the larger public television stations which was established in 1932 in Australia. It organized and operated in the same way as the British BBC, funded by the federal government. At the same time, although ABC is reviewed by Congress, it still has the independence of producting and editing contents. In addition, compared with other public media, ABC has the responsibility and mission to provide service minority group who are in sparsely populated areas. It publishes digital born journalism which is edited by professional and experienced journalists rather than businessman or users.

According to ABC annual report 2018 and Alexa, ABC’s target audience has a wide range of ages, including the Australians from 18 to 75 years old. In addition, compared with other commercial media, ABC is more effective in providing information to regional and rural area. In other words, the people living in reginal and rural area are all the target users of ABC.

The screenshot of ABC’s audience geography. Source: Alexa

Google analytics shows that the audiences aged 25 to 34 occupy the highest proportion (33.5%). The second highest proportion of audience’s age range is from 18 to 24. The proportion of male and female user is almost half to half (the number of men is slightly more than that of women). The ABC users’ interests mainly focus on sports.

The screenshot of the age of ABC’s audiences. Source: Google analytics
The screenshot of the gender of ABC’s audiences. Source: Google analytics
The screenshot of the interest category of ABC’s audiences. Source: Google analytics

Buzzfeed is a news aggregator website which is established in 2006 in US. It focused on publishing viral content which could attract a large number of viewers and increase the click-through rates in a short term. In 2012, Buzzfeed started to develop the traditional forms of reporting, trying to established the image that it has the ability to post breaking news and in-depth reports. In summary, Buzzfeed usually publishes participatory journalism which is also known as citizen journalism with subjective style. In fact, BuzzFeed attracts most of the visit traffic by creating content that is shared on social media. 75% of BuzzFeed’s traffic comes from external social media, including Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook.

According to Alexa, the target users of Buzzfeed are mainly from US, Japan, UK, Canada and Australia.

The screenshot of Buzzfeed’s audience geography. Source: Alexa

According to Quantcast, in Australia, Buzzfeed’s female users are three times as many as male users. These users’ age is concentrated at 18-24 and 25-34. They include the people of all income levels. Most of Australian Buzzfeed’s users have higher education, above bachelor degree.

The screenshot of the gender and age of Buzzfeed’s audience. Source: Quantcast,
The screenshot of the income and education level of Buzzfeed’s audience. Source: Quantcast

The content that users are most interested in is art & entertainment, food & drink, relationships and style & fashion.

The screenshot of the interest of Buzzfeed’s audience. Source: Quantcast

Story comparison

ABC online news: New Zealand shooters’ lobby gearing up to fight Jacinda Ardern’s gun laws in wake of Christchurch massacre

The headline perfectly played its role. It is attractive and clear to show the readers a unique perspective about New Zealand shootings that have recently sensationalized the world. It not only gives the reason that Jacinda Ardern advocates changing the gun law, but also indicates that there is a group of people are opposed to her decision. However, according to Pickering (2018), the lesser-known people need to be identified.  Therefore, the only thing needs to be improved is that there should have added the position, Prime Minister, in front of the name, Jacinda Ardern, in case some readers who are not familiar with New Zealand feel confused.

Fair, Balanced, Accurate

There are no emotional words in the story. The author uses direct quotes for NZFF spokesman Miles Anderson and Nicole McKee, the spokesperson for COLFO in order to ensure their views have not been tampered.

The journalist gives some conclusive sentences to provide explanations and help readers understand the news. For example, it mentions that National Party and the NZ Federated Farmers promised its support. There is no doubt that this helps readers recognize supporters and opponents.

Multimedial, Hypertextual and Interactive

According to George (1992), Hypertextual usually means hypertext or hyperlinks. When users click the link, they could jump to other pages and obtain more content. The text includes two links which also displayed at the beginning of the article, above the keywords. These two links could provide more details about this event and New Zealand’s old gun and new gun law. However, as the users click, these links will be opened directly on the same tab page, which means they would forget that they have not finished reading the previous report. Moreover, each title of the images and video are linked to the original URL.

It is worth noting that a video of Ardern’s announce about gun law is embedded in the report, which means audiences could watch the video without leaving the page. The video is not only high-quality with clear audio and vision, but also fast to load. In addition, it also provides sign language translation which could helped disabled people to watch the video easily.

The screenshot of ABC’s delivery: Jacinda Ardern announces details of gun ban

Although, there is no comments area that users could express their own opinion or capture others’ opinion, users can find the buttons of ‘print’, ‘Email’, ‘Facebook’, ‘Twitter’ and more social media options at the top and bottom of the page. Users could also copy the link and share it on any other media. According to ABC’s note, cooperating with third-party media platforms could engage and attract more new audiences and provide them with more content in a changing world. It could also ensure ABC to perform its responsibility of providing fair, balanced and accurate information.

Functional and Accessible

The page is highly functional. Every links could be opened. The images not only have titles and captions, but also are linked to the original sources.

The text is well-organized. Each quote is marked out in light blue and larger fonts so that it could be distinguished with one glance. Key information is well summarized and placed in a prominent position.

Buzzfeed online news: “Our Gun Laws Will Change,” New Zealand’s Prime Minister Says After Mosque Attacks

The content of this story is also about Jacinda Ardern’s decision of changing the gun law. It is different from ABC’s report that this story states in a clear but plain way without any group of people’s attitudes towards this decision.

The headline contains a quote, “Our gun law will change”, which is attractive to those audiences who concerned about and familiar with the mosque attacks. However, it might be confused that whether the Mosque attack happened in New Zealand, or New Zealand’s prime minister realized they need to change the gun law after a shooting incident happened somewhere. It could be improved through adding the specific location where the incident occurred, “’Our gun law will change’, the prime minister Jacinda Ardern says after mosque attack happened in New Zealand”.

The expressions of some numbers in the text are inconsistent, which makes the report not professional enough.

The screenshot of Buzzfeed’s delivery: inconsistent expression of numbers
Multimedial and Hypertextual

Two links are embedded in the text. The first one provides the evidence that 49 people were killed and more than 40 injured and the current situation of this shooting. The second link refers to BBC’s report to claim that gun owners are required to have a license. The journalists could improve this part through linking the New Zealand’s gun law rather than the reports from other news sites. Two journalists’ image and name blow the headline are also set to hyperlinks so that readers can follow their other articles posted on Buzzfeed. In addition, some links that some readers might be interested in are placed below the story as recommendations.

When these links are clicked, they will be opened in the new tab. Compared with ABC, it ensures that readers could complete both the original report and linked reports.

There is no video content embedded in the article. The text only contains two images which have little relevance to article content. ABC’s post effectively uses the image to intuitively reflect the attitude of a gun club president to the audience. In contrast, the photos of Prime Minister’s speech and local policeman holding guns posted by Buzzfeed cannot provide more useful information to the readers.

The screenshot of ABC’s delivery: One gun club president said his members were “suffering” over something that wasn’t their fault. (ABC News: Adam Kennedy)
Highly Interactive

Buzzfeed provides more opportunities to communicate with the journalists and other users. The three buttons (Twitter, Facebook and copy link) are not only placed under the headline, they are also displayed in the menu bar at the top of the page as the mouse scrolls.

As Alexa’s data shows that Buzzfeed has the largest number of users in the United States, followed by the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, comment area, compared with ABC, Buzzfeed has comment area to encourage people from every corner of the world post their own opinion, ask questions or answer questions. Interactive could be understand that individual participant in a responsive communication which is held in a sense of place with flexible timing (Downes & McMillan,2000). Downes & McMillan (2000) also mention that interactivity focus on information exchange. Therefore, the highly interactivity of Buzzfeed is reflected in the setting of comment area. The only problem should be noted is that rude speeches and insulting words are also posted in the comment area.

The screenshot of BuzzFeed’s comment zone: rude speeches and insulting words are also posted in the comment area
Functional and Accessible

The text is highly functional and accessible. All the links work and are marked clearly.

Conclusion

These two news stories report the same event. On one hand, ABC selected a more detailed angle to report. On the other hand, Buzzfeed only stated the incident to the readers. As Bradshaw (2017) mentions that news should tell a story rather than repeat the headline. Although Buzzfeed provides more opportunities of communication, it lacks of professionalism. The last three paragraphs of the article are not even related to its headline. (1666)

Reference

Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983. (Austl.).

ABC Annual Report 2018,

https://about.abc.net.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/AP18_Vol2_FINAL_3new.pdf

Baer, S. & Mack, D. (2019). “Our Gun Laws Will Change,” New Zealand’s Prime Minister Says After Mosque Attacks. Buzzfeed News. Retrieved from https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/skbaer/new-zealand-gun-laws-mosque-attack

Bradshaw, P. & Rohumaa, L. (2017). Writing for the Web. In the Online Journalism Handbook: Skills to Survive and Thrive in the Digital Age (2nd ed., pp. 72-98). Routledge. doi:978-1-315-76142-8

Buzzfeed News. About BuzzFeed News. From https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/buzzfeednews/about-buzzfeed-news

Downes, E. & Mcmillan, S. (2000). Defining Interactivity: A Qualitative Identification of Key Dimensions. New Media & Society, June 2000, Vo2(2), pp.157-179.

Knignt, B. (2019). New Zealand shooters’ lobby gearing up to fight Jacinda Ardern’s gun laws in wake of Christchurch massacre. ABC news online. Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-24/new-zealand-gun-law-reform-christchurch-shooting/10933132

Note on the ABC on Third Party Sites.

https://about.abc.net.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/ABCThirdPartySitesGDE.pdf

Pickering, I. (2018). Headlines, quotes and pictures. Writing for news media: the storyteller’s craft. London: Routledge, 2018. Web. Doi: org.ezproxy1.library.usyd.edu.au/10.4324/9781315622262

About Chelly Wang 5 Articles
I major in Media practice in USYD. Twitter account: @chelly_chelly02. Email: xwan2837@uni.sydney.edu.au

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