Senior Honors Projects, 2010-current

Preferred Name - First Author

Jacob, Molly

Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Department

School of Communication Studies

Advisor(s)

Dr. Yeonsoo Kim

Abstract

The Daily News-Record is a local daily newspaper located in Harrisonburg, Virginia, a city with a population of about 52,000. The Daily News-Record's print circulation is 26,000, while its digital circulation is 800. The paper also houses other local publications, such as the Rocktown Weekly, a free weekly publication that covers local news and the local music scene. James Madison University is a mid-sized public university also located in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The researcher wanted to understand JMU student awareness of local news sources, student consumption of news sources, student intention to read the local paper and whether there was a relationship with student community involvement, and student perception of campus opinion leaders. The survey research resulted in these major findings: 1) JMU students were mostly unaware of local news sources, but among local news sources, were most aware of the Daily News-Record; 2) students rely on online sources the most (Internet, Facebook, etc.) for gathering news; 3) students trust professors most as campus opinion leaders; 4) very few students had newspaper subscriptions, but when they did, their purpose of having one was to receive local news; 5) students were, by a very small margin, more likely to read and subscribe to the Rocktown Weekly compared to the Daily News-Record; 6) students more involved in the community were more aware of and more likely to read the Daily News-Record and Rocktown Weekly; 7) students more involved in the community had a higher intention to read and subscribe to the Daily News-Record and Rocktown Weekly; and 8) students who rely on print newspapers and print newspaper websites had a higher intention to read and subscribe to the Daily News-Record and Rocktown Weekly. Based on these primary research findings, goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics were created for a potential future campaign for Daily News-Record staff members to implement. A key public that would be targeted in this campaign was identified as a result of the research findings. This public has been named the Community Oriented Traditional Media Consumers (COTMC). This student public consumes more traditional forms of media, such as newspapers and newspaper websites, and is heavily involved in their community. Members of this public are more likely to read and subscribe to both publications, and students overall were more likely to subscribe to the Rocktown Weekly, so the COTMC public would be targeted in a campaign to increase their readership of the Rocktown Weekly. JMU students as a whole would also be targeted in this campaign, but because their intentions to read and subscribe to the publications were low, they would be targeted in a campaign to increase their overall awareness of both publications.

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