In 1994 journalists made their first tentative steps onto the internet. Just a few years later online journalists were are the cutting edge of news reporting both during and after the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11 2001. As that crisis unfolded Telegraph.co.uk serviced 600 page requests – per second. In just one decade online journalism had become central to peoples’ lives. To mark that achievement, Journalism.co.uk has created a timeline that plots the development of online news. It is not a comprehensive list of every success and failure. Instead, it tracks many of the events and debates that have shaped the craft of online journalism in the UK since 1994.
Created by Journalismcouk on 08/01/2009
Last updated: 12/03/10 at 10:12
With the launch of Knol, Google enters the combat about the grace of all curious web users doing research. Some critics say that Knol, being a possible concurrent for Wikipedia, will automatically take in an advanced position in search engines; Google spokesmen deny that. The opinions over this issue are divided.
The Online News Association add the category of Online video journalism to their 2008 Online Journalism Awards.
On the occasion of local elections, Liverpool Daily Post sets up a live blog in which signed-in readers can publish and follow current extrapolation results. Because of its success, this project is continued permanently under the name "Cover it live" - not exclusively for elections.
Ofcom calls on the public to take part in a debate on its proposals for a new public service publisher that can compete directly with the BBC. It made the proposal in December as part of its review of public service broadcasting.
The BBC’s Welsh language enjoys a surge in traffic after the introduction of VOCAB – a new open source language learning tool. The service offers instantaneous translations of Welsh words as users view the site.
At the Web 2.0 conference, Tim O'Reilly coins the phrase of 'Web 2.0'. It describes the new era of internet in which the user has got more possibilities to contribute to the websites' content.
Associated New Media managing director Andrew Hart accused internet search firms of being parasites that may eventually kill growth in the online publishing industry. He said neutral searches were being distorted by big companies that could afford to pay consultancies to improve their ranking. "This kind of complex distortion is only made available to the big players and will make business in the long term impossible for small firms," said Mr Hart. Lorraine Twohill, director of European marketing at Google, disputed that big firms benefit most from Google by paying for technical tricks to improve their ranking in search results. "Search is driven by complex algorithms. Small sites are often more successful in search results because their content is simpler to index," she said.
The British Home Office responds to a request from the FBI and seizes the servers of the UK Indymedia site. This brings down 21 of the Indymedia’s 140 sites. The servers were taken from the site’s hosting company Rackspace. The hard drives were returned after six days without an explanation. A few weeks after this process being finished, key media organisations in the US were accused of failing to stand up for the rights of free press by ignoring the plight of Indymedia sites at the hands of the FBI. John Hanrahan, reporter and former executive director of the Fund for Investigative Journalism said that the story would not have been ignored if the FBI had brought down NYT.com. The International Federation of Journalists and the National Union of Journalists condemned the action. "I suspect that this may be because as far as big media are concerned, this is just an insignificant radical website and it is not really important what happens to it," he told journalism.co.uk. "Big US media outlets generally do not stand up for smaller media, and I can only conclude that they just don't care unless their own ox is being gored." The Home Office refused to give any explanation for their seizure.
Professor of Photojournalism at San Francisco State University Ken Kobré tells journalism.co.uk that most leading news sites are no better at using pictures than magazines were in the 1920s. Kobre – author of the photojournalism bible 'Photojournalism: The Professionals' Approach' – said most sites use pictures just to break up long grey columns.
Microsoft launches a trial news aggregator service called Newsbot using a database of around 4,800 news sources.
UK webblogging firm 20six says webbloggers are meeting the demand for independent, reliable web-based news. 20six hosts more than 15,000 weblogs and attracts around 250,000 unique users every month.
The Guardian publishes figures showing that 39 per cent of readers of guardian.co.uk are based in the US. The site saw a surge in traffic form the US after the September 11 attacks and during the Iraq war.
The British Press Awards are criticised for having failed to offer an award for UK internet journalism.
The Daily Mail finally announces its plans for the launch of a new website. "We had the courage to wait," Avril Williams,
editorial director for Associated New Media told journalism.co.uk. "The Mail is our most precious brand and we wanted to be sure that our audience is ready, our advertisers are ready and that it will be
The actual launch takes place in May 2004; Mail on Sunday launches its site at the same time.
The Guardian starts a four week trial of its new digital edition which is an exact copy of its print edition.
In its submission to the official review – known as the Graf review - of the BBC, ITN calls for more restriction on BBC’s commercial activity. It also objects to the expansion of BBC Online Services. A few weeks after, UK’s regional newspapers call for stricter control of the BBC’s online service. They see a risk for competition in BBC's expansion on local topics.
Interactive Narratives is launched by professor of journalism at San Francisco State University. The site is a portal for the best interactive journalism on the internet.
The European online journalism ommunity meets in Barcelona for the one-day 2003 NetMedia conference. The theme of the conference is "making online digital media pay its way".
EMAP announces that some of its key digital brands are turning in profits. Web sites for titles including Kerrang and Smash Hits helped the company record an operating profit of £3 million in the financial year ending March 2003. This report is followed by many more positive ones, including NYTimes.com. The US newspaper's profit has risen for two consecutive years.
The Wall St Journal pumps $28 million into its online edition in a massive redesign project. The online version has a massive 625,000 subscribers.
The gulf conflict leads to a surge in traffic to news sites in the UK and the US as office employees log on to track events while at work. According to Nielsen/NetRatings, preliminary data suggests that between the 13 and 20 March 2003 (the first full week of the war in Iraq), the numbers of users accessing news sites rose by around 40 per cent.
Journalists and experts in the US predict that news feeds will re-shape the way online news is published. Senior editor of Online Journalism Review According JD Lasica said: "News feeds give news organisations another way to reach that most elusive of creatures: the wired, tech-savvy professional. And you can bet that within a year or so, students will be latching on to RSS subscriptions in a big way."
Spain’s largest daily paper – El Pais – becomes the first European national daily paper to charge for access to all of its web content. It is followed by similar movements; nevertheless most of the other daily newspapers (as e.g. GuardianUnlimited in 2003) only charge for parts of their content.
Journalism.co.uk reports figures that cast a shadow over the move to the subscription model. Six months after it began charging for premium content, FT.com has just 25,000 paying users out of a readership of more than 3 million. The Irish Times, which started charging in 2002 year, has attracted only 6,000 paying users from an online readership of around one million.
The guardianunlimited site comes under fire from a star webblogger for attempting to appropriate the movement with its national blogging competition. The Guardian claimed the competition would 'promote and reward the cream of British bloggers', but Tom Coates - winner of the European Blogger of the Year competition for plasticbag.org - called it "a bloody stupid idea".
The New York Times becomes the first newspaper to digitize its entire archive. The whole archive, dating back to 1851, is to be included in a searchable database.
The notorious Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bills is put on ice by the British Government. Home Secretary David Blunkett, who claimed the measures were introduced to combat terrorism, conceded that the government had underestimated people's fears about the possible infringement of their privacy. Many journalists had voiced concerns about the effect such a law would have had on their ability to do investigative work.
A French study finds that local newspapers with websites have healthier circulation figures than those that don’t. The report, from editorial consultancy Pressflex, says: "While conventional wisdom suggests that newspaper websites cannibalise print circulation, this analysis shows no such effect. These French figures validate previous US readership surveys that suggest newspaper web sites generate significant marketing benefits. Newspapers with weak circulation can cross the internet off their list of suspected culprits."
A small e-mail newsletter publisher based in Brighton gains the first ABC Electronic audit of distribution. The company, Headstar, set the benchmark with its six-year-old ‘e-government bulletin’. It had a fully opt-in distribution of 6,864.
Irelandclick.com, internet site of the Belfast Media Group, moves to a full subscription model. Editor Martin O'Muilleoir told journalism.co.uk: "Our papers are world and fill a vital niche; we offer great columnists as well as an Irish language service. So why aren't they worth paying for? And if someone in Belfast has to pay, why not someone in Belarus or Boston? When you pay for something it is perceived as having greater value."
Following the September 11th attacks in the US online editors are advised to plan ahead to build systems that can cope with surges in demand.
IPC Media announces that it is to abandon three of its web magazines with the loss of 90 jobs. The site for the men’s magazine Loaded and the recently revamped beme.com are among those closed. Sly Bailey, chief executive of IPC Media, blamed "changes in the media landscape" for the move. She said: "Two years ago, investment and confidence levels in the internet were over-inflated. Now, the reality is very different and media organisations are adopting greater commercial realism in their forward plans."
The destruction of the World Trade Center in New York stuns the world and news sites fold under the weight of demand. Some sites, such as telegraph.co.uk that had built in extra capacity see massive surges in demand reaching 600 service requests per second. The current editor of telegraph.co.uk says that online journalism entered a new era when the Twin Towers were attacked.
New Media consultant Steve Yelvington said there were signs of recovery from the dot.com slump. He said there were examples of local news sites in the US that were thriving. He said that while some sites had collapsed, internet usage was rising.
BBC News Online and Guardian Unlimited dominate the European Online Journalism Awards but key categories are won by other competitors with tiny budgets. For example, the best overall journalism service went to Aftenposten Multimedia for their Oslopuls website. Fotball Spesial scooped the sports prize and Norwegian sites were nominated for two other awards. Internet Journalist of the Year was picked up by Dave Green of ntk.net - the hugely successful and disrespectful news column that tours the new media looking for interesting anecdotes.
IPC Media revamps its beme.com portal for women and integrates content from its Marie Claire and Now titles. The refocused site is now aimed at ABC1 women aged 20-35. Commercial director Sarah Fitzgerald said: "Our strategic focus on this key target audience includes the online development, though BEME, of two of our major brands, firstly Marie Claire, followed by Now."
The new Scottish daily newspaper, Business AM, announces a massive investment in its online version. A new fully searchable archive and other interactive features are to made available free of charge to registered users. Business AM ceased publication in 2004.
Charles Sinclair, chief executive of the Daily Mail and General Trust, said he did not believe the internet was the place for breaking news. Speaking before the UK's culture, media and sport select committee, Mr Sinclair said: "We think niche sites are a much better way of using the web than taking the whole paper and transferring it onto the internet... We have no belief that newspapers will transfer themselves onto the Internet." Three years later the Mail’s site went online.
The Online News Association (ONA) joined forces with other media organisations to defend hyperlinking to third-party content in the face of a US legal threat.
Circulation figures show that broadsheet newspaper sites are far more popular than tabloid sites. This month the guardianunlimited received 25.9 million hits, while the Sun reached just one-third as many.
The International Herald Tribune launches a radically redesigned site. The site enables users to flick over page turns and store headlines for viewing later. The redesign is widely praised.
22,000 jobs have been shed by the dot.com sector since end of 1999 in the US.
The huge demonstration aimed at disrupting the IMF and World Bank meetings in Prague spark enormous interest in the Indy Media Centre network of sites. The IMC phenomenon was kick started with the anti-capitalism protests last year followed by the demonstrations in Seattle against the WTO and World Bank. The UK IMC says the interest in independent media was "triggered by discontent with the mainstream media and supported by the widespread availability of media technologies; groups all over the world are creating their own channels of information and distribution in order to bypass the (mainstream) corporate media".
The interactive publishing consultancy concludes that the online newspaper has proven to be a failed business model. ‘It is
not too early to make that judgement,’ it said. "No web server upgrades, no new middleware enhancements, no site redesigns in the foreseeable future are going to fundamentally improve web newspapers' on-site times, frequencies, and pages viewed," the company said.
A survey of 1,000 people finds that the British public will never turn to the internet as their first choice for news. Just 1 per cent of those surveyed said the internet was their most important source of news. The survey was commissioned by the business news provider just-sites.com.
The winners of the European Online Journalism Awards are spread across the continent although the BBC wins four of the 19 categories. Miroslav Filipovic from the highly rated Institute for War and Peace Reporting won Internet Journalist of the Year. His son Sacha accepted the award on his father's behalf as Mr Filipovic has been arrested for his reporting of the Kosovo conflict.
Usability guru Jakob Nielsen says email newsletters are often too long and take too much time to read. 'Users are incredibly stressed when processing their inboxes: they have to get to the urgent messages from their boss, customers, spouse, etc., so they typically don't have time to read much,' says Nielsen.
The Hampshire Chronicle becomes the first British Newspaper to publish in an e-book format.
The number of people regularly using the internet in the UK jumps to 12 million a study finds.
The massively over-hyped WAP technology platform is widely condemned as unreliable while the influential technology site useit.com says it has ‘miserable usability.’ It-director.com said 'operators like BT Cellnet, in a series of ludicrous adverts, have completely over-positioned this new technology and raised user expectations far beyond a level attainable by anyone at the present time'.