Internet Adoption and Integration by Network Television News (1997 to 2004)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mass Communications


Dennis F. Kinsey


Agenda-Setting, Gatekeeping, Internet, Network News, Newscast, News Website

Subject Categories

Mass Communication


The focus of this study is broadcast network news and how the "big three" television networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) responded to the Internet over an eight-year period of time, 1997 to 2004. The study measures the networks' coverage of the Internet as a news subject and their incorporation of companion news websites into their respective nightly newscasts. Four Internet-related variables: a) news stories per newscast containing an Internet reference; b) Internet keywords; c) invitational references; and d) URL references were identified and utilized to examine whether changes exist in network coverage: a) over time; and b) relative to changes in the U.S. online population. This study found that historical time was not a significant factor in predicting the inclusion of Internet-related news stories and website references in nightly newscasts. The U.S. online population also had no significant influence on the inclusion of such news stories or Web references. Significant differences were identified among the three networks' coverage of the Internet and their inclusion of website references in nightly newscasts. The findings from this study suggest a series of missed opportunities for the networks to leverage the Internet during its formative years of 1997 to 2004 (as a news subject and as an extension of the newscasts) to benefit the newscasts and their audiences. The Internet and in particular, network news websites, have not received the same attention in gatekeeping and agenda-setting studies as have traditional media. These online extensions of the newscasts warrant additional study based on behaviors reflecting increased online news consumption among the news audience.


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