Date of Award

Spring 5-2015

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Committee Chair

Dr. Fei Xue

Committee Chair Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Committee Member 2

Dr. Mary Lou Sheffer

Committee Member 2 Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Committee Member 3

Dr. Chris Campbell

Committee Member 3 Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Abstract

The news industry has come under tremendous pressure in the last decade. None more so than the newspaper industry, which has seen all aspects of its operation: readership, revenue, staff, distribution and reputation decline dramatically. This study uses content analysis to examine the reading habits of news consumers from nine newspaper-based websites from the Advance Publishing chain. The samples were the stories in the “most popular this hour” list, examined every 5 days from August to September, 2014. These stories were separated into categories such as news, sports, business, etc., and further coded based on their proximity to the news organization. The goal is to understand what stories people are reading and discover any trend in their behaviors. This study is guided by niche theory, and the results show the theories at work as readers of these sites overwhelmingly gravitated towards two niche categories: local news and sports, and disregard the other offerings on the websites.

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