CEC Theses and Dissertations

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Title

Maintaining a News Perspective Remotely through Online Information Retrieval: Task-based Web Experiences of Foreign News Correspondents

Date of Award

2009

Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Science (DISC)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Steven D Zink

Committee Member

Marilyn Olander

Committee Member

Ling Wang

Abstract

A two-stage mixed methods approach was used to examine how foreign correspondents stationed in the United States use World Wide Web technology to maintain their news perspectives remotely. Despite emerging technology playing an increasingly significant role in the production of international journalism, the subject under investigation has been subject to little empirical research. This is the case even though it is an important topic since what and how the foreign press corps report about the United States to their home audiences affects the way the rest of the world sees America.

Open-ended observations and interviews were used in the first stage to collect qualitative data, which was analyzed to inform the development of a quantitative questionnaire. Six full-time foreign correspondents participated in the first stage and 173 completed the survey in the second stage.

The results of the qualitative data analysis led to the development of seven themes regarding foreign journalists' use of the Web to maintain their news perspectives. They are, "substitution: a goal-specific alternative," "function: few social needs fulfilled," "competency: Internet use," "self-efficacy: a valid perspective regardless of location," "scanning: a major strategy," "intention: actively seeking currency," and "blind spot: further augmentation necessary." Statistical analysis of the quantitative data in the second stage confirmed the existence of these seven themes in reporters' Web use. Bivariate analysis also discovered relationships between seven journalistic characteristics and these seven dimensions. Those who spent more time online, for instance, were found to associate with higher scores in their intention to seek actively currency of their news perspective with the home office. Additionally, an updated portrait of the foreign press corps was also identified through the quantitative data set, including heavier Web use than has previously been documented, suggesting journalists are spending more time online than on the front line. Based on these investigations into foreign correspondence, online activities such as Web information retrievals alone seem insufficient to replace physical proximity in the shaping of the user's overall value structure.

While this research investigated an issue within a specific context, research findings pertain to Web users in general. However, further research is necessary to operationalize these qualitative themes, with findings in such exploratory research as here subject to additional empirical confirmation.

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