by Mohammad Yousuf

Institution: University of Oklahoma
Year: 2016
Keywords: Media Economics; Media Ecology; Online News and Informational Media
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2067704
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/11244/33708


The digital technologies and the Internet have transformed the media ecosystem from mass into networked (Castells, 2009; Chaffee & Metzger, 2001; Lowrey & Gade, 2011). Before the rise of the Internet, a small number of media organizations produced content for the mass audience and controlled mediated communication. The networked media ecosystem has numerous online media outlets, and cannot be controlled by the media organizations or content creators alone. Online media users, who are also able to create and publish content online, play an important role in determining how content is produced and consumed online (Mitchell, 2014; Tewksbury & Rittenberg, 2012). Making sense of this changing media ecosystem has remained a challenge for scholars and media firms. This dissertation defines the networked media ecosystem, particularly the domain of news and information, by examining the perspectives of both content creators and users. Guided by the Theory of the Niche (Dimmick, 2003), the dissertation created a framework that explains how numerous online news and informational media position themselves in the networked media ecosystem, and how the users perceive these media types fulfill user needs. The dissertation proposed a typology of online news and informational media, based on who create news and informational content. The typology has four media types—the Mainstream media, the Institutional websites, the Alternative media, and the User-generated media. The typology was tested through a content analysis that examined 700 units of content with 175 units from each media type. The data support the typology substantially, except in the case of the Institutional websites. The content analysis found a primary functionality of three media types—Mainstream media, Alternative media, and User-generated media. The data did not find the primary functionality of the Institutional websites. The content analysis also identified the extent to which the media types are similar and different. It is worth noting that the typology does not account for social media. To understand the user perspectives, the dissertation conducted a national survey (N=1103) of the residents of the United States who use Internet. The survey examined the extent to which four media types, as perceived by users, provide a range of gratifications and a range of gratification opportunities (Dimmick, 2003). The data identified niche breadth of each media type, niche overlaps among the media types, and superior media type on each gratification dimension. Taking both studies together, the dissertation begins to explain the domain of news and information in the networked media ecosystem. The dissertation demonstrates that each of the four types of online news and informational media carved out a position in the networked media ecosystem, which was once dominated by a few mass media organizations. The results indicate strong competition in the market of news and informational media. However, the media types appeared to be differentiating their niches, which would… Advisors/Committee Members: Gade, Peter (advisor), Craig, David (committee member), Yoon, Doyle (committee member), Steyn, Elanie (committee member), Meirick, Patrick (committee member).