This paper reports findings of a longitudinal study of the leading problems identified by journalists using the World Wide Web for newsgathering. Respondents to 1997 and 1998 national surveys listed their perceptions of flaws in the Web as a newsgathering source. Data from additional national surveys conducted in 1994, 1995, and 1996 are also reported. The analysis found growing use of the Web and commercial online services for newsgathering during each of the five years, but use increased the most in 1996 and 1997. Among the leading problems journalists identified in using online sources were verification of facts, sites containing unreliable information, badly sourced information, and lack of source credibility. Web-related problems, based on the technology itself, were not perceived to be as severe. The study found a growing need for ongoing newsroom training and development of online research skills among reporters and their editors.
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