Document Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2014

Capstone Advisor

Robert Kucharavy

Honors Reader

David Rubin

Capstone Major

Public Relations

Capstone College

Public Communications

Audio/Visual Component

no

Capstone Prize Winner

no

Won Capstone Funding

no

Honors Categories

Professional

Subject Categories

Public Relations and Advertising

Abstract

In order to communicate effectively with a target audience, public relations professionals must understand the news media their intended public consumes and trusts. In recent years, media polls and surveys have shown the trust Americans place in the news media is declining. The purpose of this study is to examine the news media habits of Syracuse University students and the trust students place in news information.

This study is based off responses from 254 Syracuse University students who agreed to participate in a voluntary response survey. The seventeen question survey was designed to examine students’ daily news consumption patterns and the levels of trust they placed in a variety of media institutions and spokespeople. The aim of this study is to better understand: which media sources and outlooks SU students viewed, what individuals and spokespeople SU students considered to be the most reliable, how trustworthy SU students considered various news channels and media sources and what role social media played in SU student’s news consumption.

Findings indicate that Syracuse University students spend far less time consuming news information each day than do older generations. Results also show that traditional news sources including national newspapers, television broadcast news, and television cable news are the most consumed and trusted among students. Students also tend to place a great deal of trust in academic researchers and traditional company figureheads such as Chief Executive Officers and Chief Financial Officers.

This study also examines the ways in which the internet and social media have influenced students’ news consumption. Although most students agree social media has had a positive effect on their ability to consume and share news, most students are still hesitant to trust these mediums as a credible source of news information. Students also indicated a low level of trust in other news mediums that exist purely online, such as blogs.

The results expressed in this study can greatly aid public relations practitioners targeting Syracuse University students. By forming a more comprehensive understanding of a public’s news habits and placement of trust, PR practitioners can more effectively pitch stories and plan media campaigns. In the age of the internet, the news landscape is in constant flux and the success of the profession of public relations depends on the ability of practitioners to understand how their intended public is responding to these changes.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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