The shifting temporalities of online news: The Guardian’s website from 1996 to 2015

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As much as news websites news can be characterised by speed and immediacy, they are also recognisable online periodicals, which accumulate preceding news items. This is, as with the constitution of time in general, linked to relations between change and continuity. This article aims to understand how the temporalities of online news have developed since the first news sites in the mid-1990s. The analytical starting point for this is that such temporalities must be understood as a complex interplay between textual elements on different and overlapping levels of the webpage. This article consequently employs a framework for webpage analysis that primarily focuses on the syntactical level where temporalities emerge as relations between textual elements that change at very different intervals. This framework is applied to examples from the different stages of The Guardian’s webpage from 1996 to the present retrieved from the Internet Archive (www.archive. org). The shifting constitutions of time that emerge through these analyses point towards how journalistic practices have interacted with and adopted the possibilities of the digital. Due to an inbuilt instability between textual elements on stored websites (as well as other characteristics of online archives), the construction of the empirical base stands in a complex relation to the analytical framework applied. As much as the article is a historical analysis of the temporality of online news, it, thus, also offers a range of methodological considerations as well as thoughts on avenues for further study of how journalism constitutes time within different institutional settings and on different media platforms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-74
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2018


  • Online news
  • temporality
  • website analysis


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