Date of Award

8-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Communication and Information

Major Professor

Erin Elizabeth Whiteside

Committee Members

Ronald E. Taylor, Catherine A. Luther, Jennifer Ann Morrow

Abstract

This dissertation employs a uses and gratification approach to investigate users’ motivations for reading live blogs, their attitudes toward this journalistic format, and participation in live blogging. A survey instrument was utilized in the study to obtain responses from 339 volunteer participants about the ways they use live blogs in the changing media ecosystem. Building upon the argument that new media can gratify a broader set of users’ needs compared with legacy media, the study combined traditional with contemporary gratifications of media to determine what gratifications users seek in live blogs. The study results showed that immediacy, which is a gratification native to the digital media ecology, plays a critical role in live-blog consumption, as it emerged as the key predictor and main motivating factor for reading live blogs. This finding suggests that digital media users expect of news organizations that operate online to continuously update them with the latest information about events. Additionally, it calls scholars to rethink traditional approaches in assessing media consumption, and employ new variables to explain how people use media in the digital environment.

Another important finding of the study is that social utility, passing the time, entertainment, and transparent presentation of information drive millennials to read live blogs, while the same motivating factors were not identified as important among non-millennials. Furthermore, the study found that readers nurture positive attitudes toward live blogs. According to the results, readers enjoy live blogs because they deliver information about events in real time and provide a multitude of opinions and multimedia items.

With respect to participation, the dissertation findings are in line with previous studies about participation in debates and storytelling online, which showed that the capacity of online platforms to accommodate participation did not necessarily imply that citizens would be willing to participate. Even though the respondents expressed positive attitudes toward the participatory nature of live blogs, majority of them were not personally interested in participating in live blogging.

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