The development of a model to examine critical information needs on local television news

Becker, Allison
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University of Delaware
Critical information needs (CINs) are essential areas of public concern about which citizens should know in order to function in their daily lives, both on the individual and community level. In large measure, people turn toward local television news to fulfill those needs. Currently, there is no mechanism that can evaluate to what extent, if any, local television news addresses CINs. This thesis developed such a model. The "Broadcast News CIN Model," includes two crucial variables, information level and CIN category, which together assess if a news story fulfills a critical information need. Using content analysis, the model was tested in the Columbia, South Carolina television market. The findings from this research, while illustrative in its specifics, demonstrate the validity of the "Broadcast News CIN Model". The development of this model adds to media policy theory, has wide and immediate policy implications on media consolidation, and is a tool for policymakers and citizens, alike, to assess effectiveness of local television news in addressing critical information needs across the United States.