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The World's Largest Study on User-Generated Media Materials

A research group at Halmstad University, together with seven newspapers, carried-out the world's largest survey. Through responses from almost 10 000 readers, the newspapers have now a gold mine of information so that their digital material can be adapted to the committed readers wishes.

The major challenge for newspapers today is to find their way in the digital world and to be active in social media on the terms and requirements of the users.

"If you not interesting enough and do not manage to engage the readers - or user - they will go to another site that gives them what they want," says Carina Ihlström Eriksson, senior lecturer of informatics at Halmstad University.

Carina Ihlström Eriksson has been project manager for the recently concluded research project LoCoMedia, which was conducted in collaboration with, e.g., seven newspapers and the media group Stampen.

Carina Ihlström Eriksson, Maria Åkesson, Janne Nilsson, Mikael Hammeltz and Esbjörn Ebbesson, the research group at Media IT

Through a large number of surveys, interviews, and probably the world's largest survey of nearly 10 000 responses, the project has gained a unique and very valuable knowledge of user-generated content and reader involvement.

"We believe it is the world's largest study," says Carina Ihlström Eriksson. "We have not been able to find anything else that has had more respondents. The survey focused on what readers think about user-generated content. Employees of newspapers have also responded to a questionnaire, however, we asked them what they thought their readers had responded. It showed that their views differed somewhat."

The investigations have been made both nationally and internationally, for example, in Africa, the Middle East and the United States, in order to compare results. In parallel studies, the participating newspapers conducted experiments with user-generated content together with readers.

"It has been about involving readers in various experiments in the form of services, sites or areas of newspaper websites. Throughout the process, readers participated with ideas, comments and suggestions for how the experiments can develop," says Carina Ihlström Eriksson.

The LoCoMedia project shows that user-generated content is needed and performs an important function. This is something that everyone is agreed upon, however, it is difficult to do it in a good way, so that readers will be satisfied and actually use it.

"This is a lesson in itself that it is difficult to make interactive services based on user-generated content", says Gunnar Springfeld, Development Manager at Stampen, and advocates more LoCoMedia experiments. "LoCoMedia has, however, shown that it is possible, just as long as the idea is good enough and fills a need. In order for Swedish newspapers to retain its strong position, it is a must to follow the users and readers in to the digital world - on their terms."


Footnote. The participating media companies in LoCoMedia are: Helsingborgs Dagblad Nya Medier AB, GöteborgsPosten Nya AB, Mediabolaget i Halland AB (Hallandsposten and Hallands Nyheter), NAtidningar AB / Promedia (Nerikes Allehanda), Sydsvenskan AB, VLT (Västmanlands Läns Tidning) and Västkustmedia AB (Bohuslänningen).



The research group Media IT at Halmstad University has cooperated with the newspaper industry since 1999. LoCoMedia is the third major research project that the Media IT group has carried out in close collaboration with Swedish media companies. The first was DigiNews, a European project on e-paper and the future´s digital newspaper (2004-2006). Seven Swedish and a couple of European newspapers participated. In the project, a number of prototypes of future e-paper newspapers were compiled and possible business styles was discussed. See www.diginews.seexternal link.

The second project, UbiMedia (2006-2008), funded by the Knowledge Foundation, focused on future media services. Nine Swedish newspapers participated. Various working groups focusing on strategy, browser behavior, technology and design worked together to create a vision of the future. The vision was translated into three short films. See www.ubimedia.seexternal link.

LoCoMedia is the short name for the two-year project "Local newspaper 2.0 - with committed readers", which in turn is the third major research project Media Technology group at Halmstad University has carried out in close cooperation with Swedish media companies. It was funded by the Knowledge Foundation.  

As part of the research project, the research group have produced the magazine "LoCoMedia" - a magazine about the readers involvement in the news media.

Updated 2018-02-21