Date of Award

5-2007

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Communication and Information

Major Professor

Ronald E. Taylor

Committee Members

Michael L. Keene, Sally J. McMillan, Dwight L. Teeter, Jr.

Abstract

The study contributes to the understanding of how technology adoption effects organizations in structural and procedural operations. Specifically, this investigation was motivated by the perceived need to understand how digitization and networking technology is affecting how a community newspaper is produced. At its core, this study seeks to provide a foundation to focus efforts to understand what digitization and networking technologies mean to the practice of community newspapers by first making it clear what is happening. By establishing a framework of distinct identification for the phenomenon, more accurately aimed study of it can begin to occur. This, in turn, can be helpful in shaping the process of studying similar conditions in other professional arenas.

The study provides a detailed qualitative analysis of the practical effect of digitization and computer networking technology on community newspapers. To guide this process, the study established clear working definitions for the key components; community newspaper, digitization and networking technology and effect. The study defined a community newspaper as any print news publication organization, regardless of circulation size or geographic location, which does not publish on consecutive days and which has as its primary editorial and advertising focus local content. Digitization and networking technologies were seen to encompass the range of technologies that exist to render information into digital form and to facilitate its transfer in digital form from one point to another. Effect was considered distinctly practical, the results of the technology on the process of producing the newspaper. The study reveals the currently limited scope of research related to digitization and computer networking technology and community journalism.

The study explores three individual cases to understand accurately and in detail the effect of digitization and networking technology on each community newspaper studied. Analysis of the data collected from each case study established the actual presence and identity of the digitization and networking technology in the community newspaper, and a detailed understanding of the observable effect of this technology on the processes of producing the newspaper product. Strong commonality in the findings of the three cases suggested that technology adoption has an effect on organizational structure as well as performance processes for incorporated participants.

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