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Abstract

The Internet provides the online journalist with a vast range of new opportunities for feedback, customisation of content, instant publishing, archiving, (hyper)linking, the use of audio and video, etc., all of which can have serious implications for online media production and in particular online news presentation. This study examines how online journalists take advantage of the ‘added values’ of the Internet: interactivity, hypertextuality and multimediality. After a discussion of these key features of online media, the article presents a general profile of online journalists in Flanders (the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium) as well as a first understanding of their perceptions of their role. A Web survey was conducted in spring 2001 among 73 Flemish online journalists. The survey results show, among other things, that most respondents believe that the future of online journalism lies in interactivity, hypertext and multimedia. Building on this suggestion, a second study explores the ways in which 20 Flemish news Websites actively use the added values of the Internet. A checklist was developed to analyse the use of the aforementioned Internet-specific facilities by Flemish online media professionals. The main conclusion is that there is a gap between the (perceived) potential and actual use of the Internet's added values in online news production.