Journalism and Mass Communications, College of


Date of this Version



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts Major: Journalism and Mass Communications Under the Supervision of Professor Mary Kay Quinlan Lincoln, Nebraska May, 2010 Copyright 2010 Ryan F. Love



Ryan F. Love, M.A.

University of Nebraska, 2010

Adviser: Mary Kay Quinlan

The Internet initiated profound changes that are difficult to contextualize. Having grown up with the Internet, young people are particularly likely to perceive the wired world as a given condition, rather than the result of a developmental process. To understand and shape our society, people must see how the Internet has transformed it. After an introduction, this thesis contains three more chapters, focusing on electronic research and Wikipedia, social networking sites, and journalism. The text provides contextual understanding by describing the revolutionary changes that brought these areas to where they stood in May 2010.

The introduction discusses various uses of the Internet, describing how major Web tools functioned at the time of writing. It also explains four principals that detail how the Internet effects change.

The research chapter compares the revolution of the printing press to the Internet’s effects. The benefits and drawbacks of electronic research are explained. The chapter provides guidance for how to search for sources and evaluate their credibility. Finally, the chapter discusses Wikipedia’s evolution through peer production and its quality.

The chapter on social networking sites discusses their brief history and focuses largely on Facebook and Twitter. Controversies discussed include the sites’ effects on offline communication, privacy issues, and cyberbullying. The political and marketing uses of social networking sites are also explored.

The chapter about journalism explains the history of news on the Web and how the Internet has transformed journalism. Topics covered include the impact of the 24-hour news cycle, audience segmentation, blogs, news aggregation, citizen journalism, and the search for 21st century business models that can sustain newspapers.

This introductory text provides overviews of these topics. The author, a professional educator, explains complex issues in everyday language and provides concrete examples to demonstrate concepts. The text assumes no prior knowledge on the part of the reader and will prove useful for readers of any level—be they high school or graduate students.