EMERGING TECHNOLOGY AND ITS IMPACT ON THE PRODUCTION AND QUALITY OF LOCAL TELEVISION NEWS
scanlon, jason lawrence
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Technology is an integral part of journalism. Journalists use computers, IP-based servers, and digital gear as instruments to gather, process, and distribute news regarding events that impact our lives. Beyond the basic tools of the trade, the use of technology can dramatically influence the process of producing news. This project examines how the use of this technology impacts the collection, analysis, production, and quality of local television news. The study also addresses how technology is redefining the role of newsworkers in local television newsrooms. The methods of data collection include a survey and focus group of journalists with experience at local and national news networks, a content analysis of sixty local newscasts, and interviews with television news workers. The research questions address the impact of technology on the production and quality of local television news. I ask, among other questions, whether the increased number of required daily tasks has affected quality and whether news professionals say they see such effects; how, and to what extent, digital technologies such as IP-based store-and-forward technology, smaller portable newsgathering gear, and cellular-based transmission methods have affected production, and whether journalists say they see negative effects; that the use of network-affiliate and subscription-based news services have changed how local television news is produced. Overall, I conclude that the role of a local television journalist has changed and a new hybrid editorial/technical role has emerged. These hybrid journalists are required to perform more technical tasks, resulting in time diverted away from traditional tasks such as story research, news analysis, and script writing. My research aligns with existing literature in proposing that these changes are contributing to a decline of quality in local television news. This is an indirect result of using newer technology. The use of these tools has made the collection and distribution of content more efficient, but the speed and ease of this technology have resulted in more tasks being performed by individual journalists, which leads to less locally generated content. In addition, the increased need to supply original content to station websites and social media platforms has also negatively affected quality.