Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Graduate School of Journalism


Australian journalists have been using computers to produce news bulletins since the early 1980s and some research on computers as production tools has appeared. Almost no research has been conducted on computer-assisted reporting (CAR) in the context of the Internet's influence on newsgathering. This thesis contributes to new knowledge by presenting the first comparative national studies of the adoption of email and the Web at Australian daily newspapers. Dailies are the country's largest single group of newsgatherers, and they are analysed as two distinct groups: metropolitan and regional.

The Internet diffused widely in Austrália after the introduction of Web browsers about 1994; by late 1998 about a third of adults had accessed the Internet in the previous year. Research conducted in 1997 and 1999 showed that adoption of the Web and email at daily newspapers also rose markedly. During the first research study in mid 1997, Internet adoption at regional dailies was very low. Only a third of the 37 regional dailies were connected to the Internet and usage for newsgathering was minimal. Inadequate training and low management support were the main reasons. Diffusion was more advanced at some large capital-city dailies; noticeably those that had more resources and management.

Adoption had risen markedly by early 1999. Diffusion at regional dailies quadrupled, though from a very low base, while at metropolitan papers it almost doubled. One reason for the increase was the hiring of recent graduates with Internet skills. Survey s of journalism educators in 1996 and 1998 showed they were more aware of the Internet's value than newspaper managers. Ali journalism programs taught some CAR and students at some programs were producing sophisticated news features. This thesis concluded that the Internet's potential as a newsgathering tool would not be realised until newspapers put more effort and resources into training.