Information Needs and Sources

Topics: Journalist, Reporter, Journalism Pages: 37 (12497 words) Published: April 27, 2013

by Lisa Chinn

A Master's paper submitted to the faculty of the School of Information and Library Science of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Library Science.

Chapel Hill, North Carolina April, 2001

Approved by:

___________________________ Advisor


Lisa A. Chinn. The Information Seeking Behavior and Needs of Journalists in Context. April 2001. 49 pages. Advisor: Claudia J. Gollop.

The advent of technologies introduced into both newsrooms and the American culture –– in the past ten years has changed the needs and habits of print and television journalists. The proliferation of information on the Internet, the diffusion of communication technologies such as cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDA) have increased journalists capabilities at both seeking and gathering information for their work. This paper describes a day in the life of three different journalists and their information seeking needs and behaviors throughout the course of that day. The paper analyzes the journalists’ behaviors and needs using a model created by Nicholas and Martin (1998) that characterizes information needs. The journalists participating in the study used new technologies such as the Internet, PDAs and cell phones at varying levels, depending upon their personal preferences and their views regarding the most efficient and reliable means of reporting the news.

Headings: Information needs – Case studies Information needs – Evaluation Information needs – Special subjects - News


Table of Contents
I. II. III. IV. Introduction Literature Review Methodology Case Studies a. Chris, Sports Reporter b. Gina, Education Reporter c. Mary, Crime Reporter V. Results a. Information Seeking Needs and Behavior Analysis b. Barriers to Retrieving Information VI. VII. VIII. IX. Conclusion Bibliography Appendix A Appendix B 4 6 13 16 16 24 27 31 31 42 45 47 48 49


Petroglyph, papyrus, printing machine, radio and television. Scribe, town crier, gossip, reporter, journalist. This is the evolution and revolution of sharing information. Although archeologists and anthropologists have broken down prehistoric human roles to hunters and gatherers, surely there was somebody painstakingly scratching rocks and recording information. That role of sharing and recording information continues to this third millennium. Journalists, by the nature of their profession, are information gatherers. Throughout the past century they have gathered information from primary sources and obtained information via word of mouth -- usually through face to face or telephone interview. These patterns can change depending on a number of factors, including the journalist's training, personal preference, the organizational culture where the journalist lives and works, etc. They also differ among differing reporting areas, sometimes called "beats," such as sports, crime, education, foreign affairs, and entertainment. However, in recent years, the "information revolution" has changed in a way that is light years away from the technological advances of the past. By the end of the 20th century, the adoption of digital archives, the internet, and desktop accessibility to a range of databases for most reporters in the newsrooms of metropolitan dailies was complete (Semonche, 1996). These changes allow journalists access to information they may not previously have enjoyed, and allow it within the space of a few moments.


Have those changes altered reporting needs and methods? Do journalists' information needs match their information gathering behaviors? Is there a gap that is evidenced by emerging technologies? Should news library/research departments adjust their services to meet new or changing needs? Most of the research done on the information seeking or gathering...
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