Thursday, March 10, 2011

MTV News (keeping digital news in check)

Mass communications professors emphasize media ethics as a common axiom to their students who are pursing employment in the media community; they stress the gravity of media ethics and the responsibility industry professionals have to uphold them throughout their careers.

This is because many people who watch//read/listen to news on traditional outlets such as radio or television, accept that what they are reading is a collection of facts because it is coming from what they believe to be an official source. This can be dangerous or misleading especially when media ethics are not applied. Because of this, many government organizations have been set up to create and enforce laws to protect the media channels and the content broadcasted to the masses. For instance, it is against the law for a journalist/reporter to make up and report a false story.

However, digital technology has changed the playing field dramatically heralding both negative and positive attributes. Thanks to the Internet, online news is more diverse, timely, accessible, and interactive. On the other hand, because of the size and functionality of the Web, it is almost impossible to regulate and therefore it is very difficult to know the credibility of online news stories as even journalists are expected to self-police.Luckily there are several things you can check for when evaluating whether or not a website is a credible source of information.

For example, let's take a closer look at the MTV news website and evaluate their credibility based on the site's content, authority and presentation.

The site definitely looks professional and complete (no signs of undergoing construction). The title of the page is listed as, "Breaking Music, Celebrity, Entertainment, Movie and World News/MTV". I couldn't find anywhere on the site where it listed the date the site creation date, but I went to a website called, "The Way Back Machine" that logs site caches and their first record of the is on December 6, 1998.

They are very good about keeping up with their content as news and blogs are updated multiple times a day. I did notice that their terms of use was updated on November 28, 2010 and at the foot of the page, the MTV Networks copyright is updated for 2011 (located in the footer of the page).

The content appears to be targeted at a younger audience but seems versatile enough to also appeal to an older audience. My best guess would be males and females ages 16-30 with the bulk being in between. The articles do not seem to have an obvious slant or bias which is great when a young impressionable audience is considerably involved in the content.

There are other sources of information available from the site that appear in the form of links and tags. I did notice that while they had many links for each article in the site, a vast majority of them were internal or some of the "external" links were to other websites that belong to the MTV network; I looked over quite a few articles and I did find about 3 or 4 external links. I had no problems with their links as they all seemed to be working and the outside sources definitely supported the information that I found in the MTV articles which is a big plus in terms of credibility.


I couldn't find who created the page although it does say it is owned by Via Com (MTV networks) but there weren't any other credentials available.

Each article has the author's name, twitter ID and link to their e-mail address. Furthermore, at the end of each story, readers are encouraged to comment on the article.

There aren't any clear associations or affiliations with other companies except when you scroll to the very bottom of the page and under the "corporate" list, there's a link to the MTV corporate partners. The only sponsor they had listed was and it was clearly listed as a sponsor and even mentioned that it was an ad. The domain name tells us that it is a .com so it was a purchased domain name. I think the site is accurate because I read through several of their news stories and then went to other sites that are known for their credibility (i.e. and all the information matches and appears to be accurate.

As I mentioned before, there aren't many external links for references which is why I decided to see if their news content matched what other news sources reported. I didn't see that there was an offline web version available but they do have a MTV news app for mobile platforms.  

The site is very professional looking and free of any grammer, spelling and punction errors; furthermore, the writing style is very topic appropriate. 

The site's navigation is impeccable as the format makes the site very simple despite having so many subcategories and information on the site. They also make great use of their headings (very similar to those of newspaper articles).

The MTV news website rather impressively incorporates internalized images and sounds and videos to keep the audience involved and entertained so they can spend more time on their site. Videos and pictures bring each of the stories to life and draw attention to the articles (I don't think they need to be edited at all, there is a lot of content without being overbearing with it). 

I used to watch MTV when I was younger (and it was actually all about music and the people who made it) but I remember after TRL (Total Request Live), they had a quick minute or so news report and at the end of it the reporter would direct views to go online for more information; so I typed in and sure enough, it was there. I also searched for it on Google to see if any other site information came up, but the first listed site was indeed the one I had already found. 

It was nice to see that the few ads they did have on the site were clearly presented as ads (one banner ad and one small internet ad on the far left side of the page; the ads were not camouflaged as editorial content.

When I looked at the source code for the site, the meta tags were used appropriately (i.e: "breaking news, music, entertainment") nothing seemed to speak against the site's credibility.

The MTV news website is credible and offers what appears to be valid news stories on music, movies, entertainment, and celebrities according to the credibility checklist. I was encouraged by their display of professionalism and application of the same media ethics that traditional mediums are held accountable to.

I think they do a great job to make the writers accessible especially now that you can even speak to the authors directly either by e-mail or twitter. I do think the sight should utilize more external sources and links to their site to add to their credibility and also because MTV seems to build walls around their domain, trying hard to keep audiences within their site; but once people use the site as a trusted source for news they'll usually come back to browse again later... Linking to other sources builds further credibility and they could also look further into relevant partners (companies that would appeal to the same intended audience) which might drive more traffic from partner sites as well. 

All in all, the site is very professional, it has fantastic headlines and a navigation system, and I was most impressed with their use of multimedia tools which encourages interactivity which in turn adds to the credibility of a website. They are a trusted brand that effectively reaches their target audience without deceitful media tactics that are easy to get away with thanks to digital technology. 

No comments: