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Web 25

Histories from the First 25 Years of the World Wide Web


Edited By Niels Brügger

Web 25: Histories from the First 25 Years of the World Wide Web celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Web. Since the beginning of the 1990s, the Web has played an important role in the development of the Internet as well as in the development of most societies at large, from its early grey and blue webpages introducing the hyperlink for a wider public, to today’s multifacted uses of the Web as an integrated part of our daily lives.

This is the first book to look back at 25 years of Web evolution, and it tells some of the histories about how the Web was born and has developed. It takes the reader on an exciting time travel journey to learn more about the prehistory of the hyperlink, the birth of the Web, the spread of the early Web, and the Web’s introduction to the general public in mainstream media. Furthermore, case studies of blogs, literature, and traditional media going online are presented alongside methodological reflections on how the past Web can be studied, as well as accounts of how one of the most important source types of our time is provided, namely the archived Web.

Web 25: Histories from the First 25 Years of the World Wide Web is a must-read
for anyone interested in how our online present has been shaped by the past.

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Chapter Seven: Born outside the newsroom: The creation of the Age Online (Sybil Nolan)


chapter seven

Born outside the newsroom

The creation of the Age Online

Sybil Nolan


Twenty-five years after the birth of the web, the newspaper industry in the West appears moribund, at least as an industry that produces newspapers. In the USA, the Pew Research Center has documented how, in the space of just two decades, the financial value of once-robust newspaper groups like the Boston Globe and the Philadelphia Inquirer declined by up to 95% (Mitchell, Jurkowitz, & Guskin, 2013), thanks to falling advertising revenues and declines in circulation. In May 2016, the Tampa Tribune, once the 36th largest daily newspaper in the country, was bought by its rival and closed (Gillin, 2016). A decade earlier, it had been selling almost 240,000 copies daily and more than 300,000 on Sunday (BurrellesLuce, 2007). In Britain, the Independent, after massive falls in sales was transformed into a web-only publication in March 2016 (Duke, 2016; “Independent becomes the first national newspaper”, 2016). In Australia, Fairfax Media, the nation’s second largest newspaper group, excised key digital assets from its newspaper business, and announced a A$989 million write-down of the legacy assets (Fairfax, 2016). It also confirmed that its major mastheads would ultimately cease to be printed on weekdays (Hywood, 2016).

As Keith Herndon noted in his study of the decline of American newspapers, many critics argue that newspapers took too long to change their business model and adapt...

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