SOCIAL MEDIA AND WEATHER WARNINGS: EXPLORING THE NEW PARASOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS IN WEATHER FORECASTING A THESIS SUBMITTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL

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1 SOCIALMEDIAANDWEATHERWARNINGS: EXPLORINGTHENEWPARASOCIALRELATIONSHIPS INWEATHERFORECASTING ATHESIS SUBMITTEDTOTHEGRADUATESCHOOL INPARTIALFULFILLMENTOFTHEREQUIREMENTS FORTHEDEGREE MASTEROFSCIENCE BY ADAMM.KLOTZ DR.DAVIDCALL,ADVISOR BALLSTATEUNIVERSITY MAY2011

2 TableofContents ListofFigures... ii ListofTables... ii Acknowledgments... iii Chapter1:Introduction...1 Chapter2:LiteratureReview GrowthinMobileandSocialMedia UnderstandingParasocialRelationships WeatherWarningReactions Chapter3:Methods DiscussionofSubjects DiscussionofInterviews Chapter4:Trust,Weatherforecasting,andSocialMedia Background:FortWayneMediaGeography CriticsofWeatherForecasting Framework:SocialMediaUsers CaseStudy:October2010Storms DiscussionofFindings AudienceandTrust Newparasocialrelationships Weatherwarnings Conclusion Chapter5:OnlinePresence WANE TV ssocialmediastrategy CaseStudy:WANE TV sonlinepresence DiscussionofFindings TVtalentneedonlinepresence Stationsneedtopromotesocial mediapresence Conclusion Chapter6:Conclusion SummaryofFindings Implicationsandrecommendations Limitationsandfurtherresearch Epilogue:Overlytanandperfectteeth,butnow interesting Appendix Appendix Bibliography...89 i

3 ListofFigures Figure Page 4.1October26 th EF1TornadoPath October26 th EF1TornadoDamage aSevereWeatherThread bSevereWeatherThreadContinued WANE TVWebsite WANE TVSiteTools WANE TV stoolbar WANE TV sfacebookscreenshot WFFT sfacebookscreenshot WANE TVTwitterScreenshot INCTwitterScreenshot 71 ii

4 ListofTables 3.1InterviewSubjectDemographics 26 ii

5 Acknowledgments Thisthesiswouldnothavebeenpossiblewithoutmyadvisor,Dr.DavidCall, whoseguidancefromitsinitiallevelallowedmetogainbothadirectioninmy researchandanunderstandingofthetopic. IowemydeepestgratitudetoDr.MatthewWilsonwhosementorshipover thelastyearhasmeantsomuchtomebothacademicallyandpersonally. IwouldliketoshowgratitudetoDr.MariaWilliams Hawkinsforhersupport andinterestthroughoutmycollegiatecareer. Lastly,itisanhonorformetothankmyfavoriteEnglishteacherandmother, TerriKlotz,whosehoursofpeerreviewshavehelpedmythesistakeshape. iii

6 Chapter1:Introduction OnFridayOctober1 st,2010,afternearly24yearsinthefortwayne,indiana, televisionmarket,wane TV sweatherspecialistsandythompsonsignedoffforthe lasttime.thestation sgeneralmanagerdecidednottorenewhercontractbut noted, Shedideverythingweaskedhertodo;shewasagreaton airpersonality andagreatambassadorforwane. Shewasletgobecauseshewasaweather specialist,herdegreebeinginbroadcasttelevisioninsteadofmeteorology.wane s generalmanagerdescribedthedecisionasoneofthetoughestofhiscareer: Sandy spopularitystandsonitsown. Heacknowledgedthatthestationmight takesomehits fromherfans. JessicaKristy*,age38,worksinretailandismarriedwithtwochildren,ages 10and13yearsold.SheisalsooneofthosefansthatWANE TV sgeneralmanager fearedhemightlosewhenhereplacedsandythompson.jessicaisunawarethat Sandywaspurposelyletgo;sheisundertheimpressionthatSandyrecentlyretired. Kristyishavingahardtimedecidingwhomtowatchnow.Whenitcomestimeto choosealocalchannelforweather,sheadmitsthatsheis notsureanymore,ireallyliketheotherpeopleonwane,butthenew weatherpersonat6:00pmisnoteasygettingusedto.so,ihavebeen surfing. *Pseudonymsareusedinplaceofinterviewees namesthroughoutthisresearchpaper.

7 JessicaKristylikedSandybecauseshewascomfortablewithher,andbecauseover thepast24yearsshehasbuiltapseudo relationshipwithher.jessicaliked, herhumor.sheseemedlikeanauntorsomething.itishardtodescribe: Sandywasn tafraidofmakingmistakes;shewouldrollwithit. NowJessicaisleftlookingforanewweathercaster;shefeelsthenewperson atwaneisnot real. Hercomplaintsincludethatheisoverlytanwithperfect teeth,somethingsheequatestoseeming fake. Shecannotpicturethisnewperson withhisfamilyorcomingintoworkwithacold. YearsofwatchingSandyThompsononTVallowedJessicaKristytodevelop whathortonandwohl(1956)identifiedasaparasocialrelationship:theonesided relationshiptheaudiencebuildswithmediapersonalities.shelearnedtotrust Sandy.AccordingtoKathleenSherman Morris(2005),herparasocialrelationship andtrustmeantthatjessicawasmorelikelytotakepotentiallife savingprecautions duringsevereweatherifsandythompsontoldherto.so,withsandy sdeparture, Jessicafindssheis channelsurfing, lookingforapersonwithwhomsheconnects, unknowinglytryingtobuildanewparasocialrelationship.buthowisanew weathercastergoingtobreakthroughtoherandbecomewhatjessicadescribesas real? Theexplosionofsocialmediainrecentyearshascreatedawayofbuilding parasocialrelationshipsthathortonandwohl(1956)neverdreamedof.kathleen Sherman Morris(2005)showedthatstrongparasocialbondsresultinhighertrust 2

8 betweenaudiencesandtheirweathercasters,resultinginanincreasedlikelihood thatviewerswilladheretoweathercasters callstotakeshelterduringsevere weather.socialmediaprovidesawaytoincreasethatparasocialbondandthen communicatewiththeaudiencedirectlyandpersonably,increasingbothwarningreactiontimeandthelikelihoodofviewerstakingpreventativemeasures. Wewillseethatstationsareusingsomesocialmediatacticsinlocalnews andlocalweathercasts,butthisnewmediumisnotfullybeingtakenadvantageof. Potentialexiststhroughsocialmediatocreatemuchstrongerparasocialbondsthan havebeenpreviouslycreated.alongwiththis,alargeportionofthepopulation remainsunderserved.creatinglargersocialnetworkswillgiveweathercasters unprecedentedinfluenceovercommunitypopulations,allowingthemtowarnand mobilizegroupsindangermorequicklyandmoreefficientlythaneverbefore.truly, theparasocialrelationshipbetweenviewerandbroadcasterweatherforecasters hasbecomemorecomplexalongsidedynamicchangesinthemediageographyof localtvmarkets. Toaddresstheseissues,wefirstmustknowtheresearchthathasledupto thisissue scurrentstanding.thenextchapterbeginswithanexplanationofthe longhistorygeographershavehadstudyingweather,climateandenvironmental change.then,furtherwithintheliteraturereview,worksdiscussingthegrowthof mobilemedia,theinternet,andsocialmediaareanalyzedtoshowtheirimportance inallaspectsofdailylife.theliteraturereviewchapterthentransitionsintoa discussionofthehistoryoftheparasocialrelationshipfromitsfirstconceptionby 3

9 HortonandWohlin1956,toitsquantificationin1985byRubin,Perse,andPowell, andthenintotoday scontinuedapplication.next,thechapterexaminesliterature involvingweather warningsystems:whereandhowquicklypopulationsgettheir weatherwarnings,howtheyreacttothewarnings,andhowsuccessfulthewarnings canbeinsavinglifeandproperty.finally,thesethreeareasarebroughttogetherto indentifythegapintheliterature,aplacewherethisstudyattempts,through qualitativeresearch,toexploreandunderstandlocalnewsstations useofsocial mediatodistributesevereweather. Chapter3detailsthemethodologyofthisstudy,beginningwiththegoalsof theresearch.nextthechapterdetailshowtheinterviewsubjectswereselectedand thequestionstheywereasked,howtheinterviewswereconducted,andfinally,the mannerinwhichthedatawasanalyzed. Chapter4beginswithabackgroundandhistoryofFortWayne stelevision media,followedbyadiscussionwithaweathercritictodemonstrateaninsightinto trustinweatherforecasting.followingthisdemonstration,ipresentaconceptual frameworktoassistinanalyzingsocialmediausers.ithenevaluatethisframework usingacasestudyofseverestormsinoctober,2010.usingthiscasestudy,ipresent adiscussionofmyfindings,highlightingpreviouslyunrecognizedsocialmedia pervasiveness.insupportofthescholarlyliterature,iexaminehowaudiences inherentlycometotrusttheirweathercasters.socialmediahasprovidedanew vehicleforthebuildingofparasocialrelationships,and,therefore,trust.finally,in 4

10 chapter4thisstudyclaimsthatviewersnolongerrelyprimarilyontelevisionfor severeweatherwarnings. Thesecondempiricalchapter,chapter5,beginswithadiscussionwith WANE TV sinternetcontentmanagertoillustratethetypicalsocialmediastrategy employedbytelevisionstations.fromthiscasestudyipresentadiscussionofmy findings,highlightingtheimportanceoftalentmaintainingindividualsocialmedia profilesandthestation sneedtobetterpromoteitssocialmediapresence.finally,i revisituserandprofessionalinterviewstounderscorethewaysinwhichsocial mediaisnotbeingutilizedtoitsfullcapability. Chapter6reiteratesthisstudiesfindings.Followedbyadiscussionof researchlimitationsandsuggestionsforfutureresearch. 5

11 Chapter2:LiteratureReview Thisliteraturereviewtakesafocusedlookatliteratureinthreetopicalareas: growingmobileandsocialmediausage,thehistoryandcurrentapplicationof parasocialrelationships,andweatherwarningsandsubsequentpublicreaction. Shortcomingsintheliteraturearetargetedinthisstudyforfurther.Priorto discussingthethreemajorliteraturetopics,wemustfirstbrieflyintroducethe importanceofweather relatedtopicstogeographers. Thereisarichhistoryofdiscussionamonggeographersabouthowweather, climate,andenvironmentalchangeaffectdailypracticesofpeopleworldwide.in recentyearstherehasbeenarejuvenatedinterestinthesetopicsasanew generationofgeographershasbeguntotackleage oldquestions(jankovicand Barboza2009;Rayner2009;Turner2009;Pennesi2009).InUndertheWeather, TomFort(2006)explorestheroleofweatherinthedailylifeandhistoryofGreat Britain.Geographershaveevenprobedtheweatherman sroleinsociety.mark Monmonier sairapparent(1999)examineshowmeteorologistslearnedtomap, predict,anddramatizetheweatherforanaudience. Withthisbriefbackgroundintothehistoricaldiscussionofweatheramong geographers,wecannowreadfurthertounderstandhowsocialmediaand parasocialrelationshipsareaffectingweatherwarnings.

12 2.1Growthinmobileandsocialmedia Becauseofsocialmedia snewness,itsdefinitionvariesdependingonthe source.mostrecentdefinitionsof socialmedia builduponuser generatedcontent thatcanbesharedamongstusers peers.forthepurposeofthisstudy,socialmedia isbestdefinedasacategoryofwebsitethatarebasedonuserparticipationand user generatedcontent.thiscontentcanbevideo,audio,text,ormultimediathatis published,andmostimportantly,sharedinasocialenvironment.sometypesof socialmediaareforums,messageboards,blogs,wikis,andvideohostingsites.the mostpopularofthesesitesincludefacebook,youtube,flickr,twitter,and Wikipedia. Socialmediawebsitesandtheportabilityofthewebhavebecomeapartof thehumanexperience.smartphones,suchastheiphone,offeradvancedpc (personalcomputer) typefunctionalityandfullinternetaccessandaregrowingin popularity(ling,etal.2010).inmanycasesthedesiretobeconnectedtosocial mediahasdriventhesalesofsmartphones(ibid.).theinternational TelecommunicationsUnionprojects5.3billionmobilecellphonesubscriptions worldwideatthestartof2011;ofthese,940millionaresubscriptionsto3g services,thetypeneededforfullaccesstotheinternetandforpc typefunctionality. Accesstothesemobilenetworksisnowavailableto90%oftheworld spopulation in143countries(ibid.).developedcountriesshowanaverageof116mobilephone subscriptionsforevery100inhabitants.thismarketsaturationhasledtoan explosioninshortmessageservice(sms)messaging,thesystemonwhichstandard 7

13 phone to phonetextsaretransmitted.but,smshasalsobeentappedintoby TwitterandFacebook,allowingusers tweetsandfacebookstatusupdatestobe sentouttoanyperson sphoneintheworldthatsubscribes,perhapsexplainingthe ITU sreportofsmsmessagingtriplinginthelastthreeyearstonearly200,000 messageseverysecond. Theincreaseofmobileserviceisamajorcauseoftheadvancementofsocial media,butjustasimportantisthecontinuallyincreasingsizeoftheonline community.accordingtotheitu(2010),in2005approximately1billionpeople wereonline;by2010thisnumberdoubledto2billion.justunderhalfofthe Internetusers,800million,areindevelopedcountries.Whileitisexpectedthat strongergrowthtrendswillcontinuetobeseenindevelopingcountries,continued growthindevelopedcountriesisexpected,asonly65.6%ofpeopleindeveloped countrieshaveinternetaccess.anumberofdevelopedcountriessuchasestonia, Finland,andSpainhavedeclaredaccesstotheInternetalegalright. U.S.basedresearchhasfoundasignificantincreaseinonlineuseandinsocial mediausageinthelasthalf decade(dimmick2003;dimmick2004;jenkins2004; Lehart2009).Wellman(2004)documentstenyearsofInternetgrowth,sayingthe Internetasatoolofsocialcommunicationhas becomeembeddedineverydaylife. Wellmanaddsthatwehaveevolvedfrom aworldofinternetwizardstoaworldof ordinarypeopleroutinelyusingtheinternet. Butwhatareordinarypeople routinelyusingtheinternetfor?in2008billtancer,thegeneralmanagerofglobal researchathitwise,acompanydedicatedtounderstandinginternetusers behavior, 8

14 saysthatsocialmediahasovertakenpornographyasthenumberoneuseofthe Internet.ThemostpopularofthesesocialmediasitesisFacebook,asocial networkingsitethatconnectsitsuserswiththeir friends. Facebookallowsusers tocreateindividualprofilepagesthatallowthemtosharethehappeningsintheir livesbyuploadingpicturesandvideosandbypostingwrittenmessages.thesite recentlypassed500millionusers,morethanthepopulationsoftheunitedstates, Canada,theUnitedKingdom,FranceandSpaincombined(facebook.com2010).In spring,2010,facebookovertookgoogleasthemost visitedwebsiteontheinternet (www.guardian.uk2010).itscreationandastonishingsuccessandgrowthspawned thecriticallyacclaimed,high grossingmovie*thesocialnetwork. MikeElgan(2009),atechnologywriterandformereditorofWindows Magazine,arguesthatsocialmediahavealreadybeguntoreplacetelevision, pointingoutthatmajornewsstoriesabouttheusairwaysflightlandinginthe HudsonRiverandtheterroristattacksinMumbaiwerecommunicatedmuchmore quicklyontwitterandothersocialmediasitesthanontelevision.thisisaslightly presumptuousstatementas98%ofamericanshavetv scomparedto65.6%who haveinternetaccess(itureport).nonetheless,socialmediahavechangedtheway traditionalmainstreammediawork.wrightandhinson(2009)notethatsocial media bypasstraditionalnewsmediaand,assuch,throwamajorwrenchinthe *AsofFebruary1 st 2011TheSocialNetworkgrossed$213,824,288inworldwidebox officesales.http://boxofficemojo.com 9

15 suggestionthatthesetraditionalnewsmediasetanyagendaforpublicthought. Ina 2008study,WrightandHinsonfoundthat89%ofpublicrelationsfirmemployees thinksocialmediahaveinfluencednewscoverageinthetraditionalmedia.only 72%ofrespondentsthinkthattraditionalmediahave,inreturn,influencedsocial media.inthatsamestudy,theauthorsobservedagapinaccuracy,credibility,trust, andethicsbetweentraditionalandsocialmedias.traditionalmediaoutletsshowed, byreceivingupwardsof60%ofthevotes,alargeadvantageinallofthese categories.fewerthan20%believesocialmediaprovidethemostaccurate, credible,ortrustworthyinformation.interestingly,eventhoughsocialmediaisless trustedthantraditionalformsofmedia,56%saidtheyagreethatsocialmedia servesasawatchdogfortraditionalmainstreammedia.still,75%expect mainstreammediatobehonest,totellthetruth,andtobeethical;whereas expectationsforblogsandothersocialmediaintheseareasareconsiderablylessat 44%.Whileresearchdoesnotshowhightrustintheinformationprovidedthrough socialmedia,itdoesshowthatsocialmediahaschangedhowtraditionalmedia outletsdotheirjobs.... UnderstandinghowtheInternetischangingcommunicationisessentialto televisionstationsandweathercasters,especiallyforthepurposeofgettingout severeweatherwarnings.inthebusinessworldquickercommunicationhaskept businessesconsumer focused;84%offortune 500employeessaidthatblogsand 10

16 othersocialmediahavemadecommunicationsmoreinstantaneousbecausethey forceorganizationstorespondmorequicklytocriticism(wrightandhinson2008). Manywebsites(outsideofFacebookandTwitter)arechangingcommunication practicesbyprovidingplacestoinstantlyshareideasandinformationwithlarge audiences.thevideosharingsiteyoutubeclaimssome350millionmonthly visitors.nearly10millionregisteredusershavecontributedtotheuser edited onlinedictionarywikipedia.morethan35millionhavepostedandtaggedmore than3billionphotosandvideosonflickr.(kelly2009). Thosewhoactivelytakepartintheonlinerevolutionofsocialmedia communicateinadifferentwaythantherestoftheworld.inasuburbneartoronto, thetwo thirdsofresidentswhohadalways on,super fastinternetaccessknewthe namesofthreetimesasmanyoftheirneighborsastheirunwiredneighbors.they alsospokewithtwiceasmanyneighborsandvisitedneighbors homes1.5timesas often(hamptonandwellman2003).withnewrulesincommunication,thereneeds tobechangesinthewaythemediareachestheseonlineconsumers. Businesseshavebeenracingtogetrecognizedonlinebythisnewandrapidly growingonlinepopulation,butthereisstillampleroomforgrowth.in2009,ganim (2010)showedthat22%ofFortune500companieswereblogging,alargeincrease fromthe9%reportedbloggingin2007.inaddition,35%offortune500companies haveincludedthesocialnetworkingandmicro bloggingsitetwitterintotheir marketingplans.thesteadyadoptionofblogs,facebook,andtwitterbyfortune 11

17 500companiesexpressesanecessaryandimportantinterestinthegrowingonline audience. Thisgrowthillustrateshowimportantitisforthelocalnewsandlocalnews personalitiestobevisibleinthisgrowingmedium.unfortunately,davidmeerman Scott(2008)says, Onlyasmallnumberofpractitionersareeffectivelyusingblogsandother socialmediawhencommunicatingtothepublic,eventhoughthewebis usuallyfreeasopposedtopurchasingspacethroughothertraditional advertisingmedium. ThevalueofatelevisionpersonalityonTwittermightbebestunderstoodinterms ofdollars.advertisingcompanyad.lyreportsthatreality televisionstarkim Kardashianispaid$10,000perendorsedtweettoherover2.7millionfollowers (NewYorkPost2009).Accordingtoa2004Businessweekarticle,companies includingmicrosoftanddellencourageemployeeblogging,believingthat; Done well,theycanhumanizefacelessbehemoth.theevilempireofredmondcan insteadbecomethehomeof TheSchobleizer, Microsoft smostfamousblogger. Thisissomethingtelevisionnewsstationshavelongrealized;byputtinganchors andweathercasters picturesonbillboardsandparkbenches,theyaresellingthe person,notthefacelesscompany.but,theyhavenotyettakenfulladvantageof howtheinternetcouldhelpthemdothis.ultimatelymakingthetelevision experienceaspersonalaspossiblewillonlyhelpthestationbecause Realhuman 12

18 beingsspeaklikerealhumanbeings,whichissomethingcompanieshaveforgotten howtodo. (Businessweek2004) Insummary,therehasbeenanexplosioninpopularityofsocialmediainthe lastfiveyears.withthis,wemustalsounderstandhowparasocialrelationships haveaffectedbroadcastweatherforecasting. 2.2UnderstandingParasocialRelationships Whiletheshifttowardssocialmediahasbeenquiterecent,overhalfa centuryhasbeenspentexaminingtherelationshipindividualsdevelopwith televisionpersonalities.hortonandwohlfirstrecognizedthisrelationshipbetween viewerandaudience,ortheparasocialinteraction(1956).thisinteractionisalso describedasan illusionofintimacy betweenmediapersonalitiesandtheaudience members.televisionpersonalitiesencourageparasocialinvolvementwithviewers byusingconversationalstyleandgesturesalongwithinformalsettingsthatinvite interactiveresponses(hortonandwohl1956). HortonandWohl sideashavebeenadoptedandexpandedsincetheir conception(rosengren&windahl1972;rosengren,windahl,hakansson,and Johnsson Smaragdi1976;Levy1979;Hedinsson1981).In1985,Rubin,Perse,and Powelldevelopedaconceptualmodeltopredictparasocialinteractionintelevision news.fromthismodel,thefirstempiricalevidenceofparasocialinteraction,orpsi, wasshowntoexistbetweentheaudienceandthenewscaster.since1985,adapted modelshavebeenusedtoshowthatthisrelationshipexistsforanumberofpublic 13

19 mediafiguressuchasathletes(brown2003),televisioncharacters(rubinand Mchaugh1987),newsanchors(Perse1990),radiohosts(RubinandStep,2000), andtelevisionweathercasters(sherman Morris2005). GilesandMaltby(2006)namedthestrongbondsbetweentheaudienceand theperformer celebrityworship. Tomeasurecelebrityworship,GilesandMaltby builtfromtheparasocialinteractionscale(psi)ofrubinetal.(1985)aswellas fromwann ssportsfanmotivationsaleandthecelebrityappealquestionnaire. Wann s(1995)sportfanmotivationscaleidentifiedeightfactorspredictingsport fandom:sourceofself esteem,anavenueforescape,asentertainment,family affiliation,groupaffiliation,aestheticappeal,excitement,andforeconomicreasons. TheCelebrityAppealQuestionnaire(Stever1991)emphasizedtheentertainerasa rolemodel.usinglargeunitedkingdomsamples,threeaspectsofcelebrityworship wereisolated(maltbyetal.2002,maltbyetal2005,maltbyetal.2001).thevast majorityoffansaredescribedas Entertainment social. Thesefansareattracted toafavoritecelebritybecauseoftheirperceivedabilitytoentertainandtobecomea sourceofsocialinteractionandgossip (GilesandMaltby2006).Fansincludedinto thiscategoryagreedwithstatementssuchas MyfriendsandIliketodiscusswhat myfavoritecelebrityhasdone and Learningthelifestoryofmyfavoritecelebrity isalotoffun. Thisone sidedrelationshipbetweentheaudienceandthemediafigures shouldcomeaslittlesurprise.throughouthistorypublicfiguresfromkingsto outlawshavebeenidolized.onlyrecentlyhavewehadaccesstoouridolizedpublic 14

20 figuresthroughsocialmediasuchasfacebookandtwitter.gilesandmaltby(2006) suggestthatcelebritymaybeanextremeformofpopularity.hartup(1996)notes thatwealwaysflocktoattractivepeopleinourimmediateenvironment;evenin preschoolsocialgroupsthereseemtobe stars thatcommandextraattention.but whatisitthatattractsustothesedifferentpublicfigures?accordingtomaltbyetal. (2002),mostfans favoritecelebritychoiceistiedtotheirentertainmentvalue. Favoritecelebritiesarealsoidentifiedhavingqualitiessuchasintelligence,talent, andsocialskillsthatmakethemdeservingoftheircelebritystatus.psihasbeen showntoexistbetweenaudiencepopulationsandavarietyofcelebrities,athletes included. Brown(2003)showedaparasocialrelationshipexistedbetweenlarge audiencesandbaseballstarmarkmcgwireduringhishistoric72 homerunbaseball seasonin1998.brownattributeshigherthanusualstrengthintheparasocial relationshipduetothepublicitythatexposedmcgwiretomillionssurroundinghis homerunchase.hishomerunchasewasafocusofmediaoutsidethesportingworld andwasdiscussedonradio,local,andnationalnewsprograms.sixtypercentof thoseinterviewedinthestudyreportednottofollowbaseballregularly,yetthey stillfollowedhisseason,showingthathisrepeatedmediaexposurewasakeyfactor intheparasocialrelationshipsinvolvingmcgwire. Whilelocalnewsanchorsdonotcommandthenationalattentionofstar athletes,theyhaveotheradvantagestobuildingstrongparasocialrelationshipswith theiraudience.aconversational styleandaface to facesettingmirror 15

21 interpersonalcommunication.productiontechniquessuchasclose upsandcamera zoomsincreaseintimacy(hortonandwohl1956).theregularityoftelevisionnews broadcastshasalsobeenhighlightedasareasonforstrongpsiscores.altmanand Taylor(1973)noticedthatthemoreoftenpeopleinteract,themorelikelytheyare toachievedeepstatesofintimacy.friendshipisalsobased,inpart,onhowothers helpusmeetourneeds(wright1978).televisionnewsanchors,then,provideus withinformationaboutourcommunitiesthatwedesire,meetinganeed.whilenot nationalstars,newscastersoftenbecomecelebritiesinabroadcastmarket, appearingonlocalinterviewprograms,makingpersonalappearances,andbeing topicsofdiscussioninlocalprintmedia(rubin,perse,andpowell1985).while highpsiscoresoftelevisionnewscastershasnotshownanincreaseinknowledge gainbytheaudience,scoresdoaffectemotionalreactionstothenews(rubin,perse, Powell1985).Thus,itfollowsthatthenewscastercaninfluenceviewers behavior tosomeextent. Talk radiohostshavestrongerpsiscoresthanothercelebrities(rubin 2001).Onereasonforthisisthattheperceiveddistancebetweenradiolistenersand theirprogramiscloserormoreimmediatethanforothermedia(rubin2001).talk radioispersonality drivenandofferslistenersanopportunityforconversationand interpersonalinvolvement(rubinandrubin1985).talk radiolistenersoftenpay attentiontohostswhosharetheirsameopinions.sinceaudiencesfinditsatisfying tohavetheirbeliefsandopinionsconfirmed,theaudience hostbondis strengthened.rubinandstep(2000)foundthatinteractingwithtalkradiohosts 16

22 predictedfrequentlisteningtothathost.theyalsofoundthataudiencestreatthe hostasanimportantandcrediblesourceofinformation.thehostinfluences attitudesandactionsaboutsocietalissues,andasthedegreeofpsiincreases, listenersbelievetheirattitudesarestrongerinagreementwiththehost.developing therelationshipincreasesdesireformoreinteractionthroughregularlistening.this highlightstheimportanceofbuildingparasocialrelationships.theybenefitthehost byincreasinghispopularityandjobsecurityattheradiostationwhilegenerating morerevenue.havingthiskindofinfluenceofanaudienceishelpfulforany broadcaster,butespeciallyimportantforweathercasterswhoprovidewarnings duringsevereweather. Recently,theParasocialInteractionScale,orPSIScale,ofRubinetal.(1985) wasusedtotesttherelationshipoflocaltelevisionweathercasters.sherman Morris (2005)measuredPSIintheMemphis,Tennesseemarket.Thesurveyresults indicateastronger than expecteddegreeofpsiwithlocalweathercasterscompared tootherstudiesfocusingontalkshowhosts,sitcomactors,orevenlocal newscasters.sherman Morrissuggeststhehighregularityofinteractionbetween theaudienceandweathercasterandtherelevanceoftheinformationtodaily activitiesasreasonsforthehigherthanaveragepsiscores.sherman Morrisalso concludesthatstrongpsiscoresresultinhighertrust,meaningtheaudienceis morelikelytoseekshelterwhenwarnedbyatrustedweathercaster.therefore, buildingastrongparasocialrelationshipwiththeaudiencecouldincreasesafety. 17

23 Thisliteraturehasshownthatparasocialrelationshipsdogivebroadcasters influenceoveraudiences.tounderstandhowthisinfluencecanaffectbehavior duringseverweatherevents;wemustfirstexamineresearchinvestigatingsevere weather warningreactions. 2.3Weatherwarningreactions Consumers demandforever evolvingweatherinformationisdrivenby always changingaudiences.eveninthenewspaperindustry,weathermapsare continuouslyevolvingtobetterillustratetofutureweatherevents(call2005).itis importanttounderstandhowpersonsreacttosevereweatherwarningssothatwe canappreciatehowthisreactionmightbechangingwiththeintroductionofnew mediaandnewwaysofwarningthepublic.thosewhotaketheproperprecautions followingawarninghavethelowestinjuryanddeathrate(hammerandschimidlin 2002). R.DeniseBlanchard BoehmandM.JeffreyCook(2004)foundthatpeople whohavehadpreviousexperiencewithatornado,especiallyanintenseone,were mostlikelytobepreparedforfuturesevereweatherevents.itmayseemobvious thatbehaviorisaffectedbydirectexperience,butdoesthisapplytoindividuals only,orcansocietyasawholelearnfrompreviousdisasters?craige.coltenand AmyR.Sumpter s(2009)studyentitled SocialMemoryandResilienceinNew Orleans examinesthelessonslearnedfrom1965 shurricanebetsyandhowthese 18

24 lessonswereappliedpriortohurricanekatrinain2005.afterbetsy,plansto completemassiveearthworksandstructuresprotectingthecitywereputintoplace. Thesestructuresweretobefinishedby1978,buttheyremainedunfinishedwhen Katrinastruckin2003,asthemoneyneededtocompletetheprojectwasspent elsewhere.betsyalsodemonstratedthateasternneworleanswasatthegreatest vulnerabilitytoflooding,yet20,000homeswerebuiltbelowsealevelduringthe40 yearsfollowingthehurricane.betsyalsoshowedthatpost flooding,waterwouldbe slowtoleaveandsitinthecitylikewaterinabowl.nonetheless,whenkatrinahit NewOrleans,thecitywasnotpreparedtopumptheresultingwateroutofthecity, andwaterstoodforweeks.coltenandsumpterfoundthatasasociety,new Orleansdidnotlearnitslesson,andtheypointouttheimportanceforfuture generationstolearnfromkatrina sdestruction. MontzandGruntfest(2002)claimthatnewertechnologiesandincreased warningtimeshavenotaffectedfloodlosses.accordingtoa2005study,scientists oftendisagreeonfloodpredictionbecauseofthe complexityofmeteorologicaland hydrologicalprocesses (Downtonetal.).Beyondthecollectivesociety smemory andincreasedwarningtimes,whatisitthatmakesindividualsadheretosevere weatherwarnings? Studiesshowvaryingresponsesduringsevereweather.DuringtheMay3 rd, 1999,OklahomaCityTornado,65%ofresidentslefttheirhomeswheninstructedto dosothroughvariouswarningsystems(hammerandschimidlin2002).according toa2010study86%ofrespondentswerenotconcernedaboutfalsealarmsorclose 19

25 callsreducingtheirconfidenceinfuturetornadowarnings.thissamestudyshowed thatoverhalfofrespondentswouldtakeshelterfromatornadounderahighway overpassiftheyweredriving,indicatingthatpeopleneededucatedandwarnedon thedangersofusinghighwayoverpassesasshelterfromsevereweather(schultzet al.).overpassescreateawindtunnelmeaningwindspeedswillactuallybehigher underneaththemduringtornados. A2005studyshowedthatnearly90%ofthesevereweatherwarningsare discoveredthroughthetelevisionmedium(sherman Morris2005).Sherman Morris alsodiscoveredthatduringsevereweatheronauniversitycampus,textmessage alertswerethemosteffectivewayofalertingthestudentbodyandfacultyofa tornado.facultyoftenknewthatsevereweatherwascomingfromhavingseeniton localnewscoveragepriortoitsarrival,whereasstudentswerelessofteninformed. However,asthestormapproached,morestudentsthanfacultysaytheylearnedofit fromtelevision.intheconclusionofthestudy,respondentswereaskedwhich wouldbethebestwayofcommunicatingstormwarningsinthefuture.students overwhelminglychoosecellphonemessages,whilethefacultypreferred s. A2010studybySilverandConraddocumentedHurricaneJuan sstrikeofthe AtlanticCanadacoastonSeptember29,2003,andshowedthepublic s unpreparednessforsevereweatherevents.fifty eightpercentinterviewed indicatedthattheycheckedtheforecastatleastonceperday.non government Internetsourcesrankedasthemostreliablesourcesforweatherinformation.The mostcommonlyusedmediabyrespondentsoverage60yearswaslocalnewsand 20

26 radio,whereasthemostcommonformofmediaforrespondents ages20 40was theinternet.fromthis,researchersconcludedtheimportanceofunderstandingthat differentagegroupsobtaintheirsevereweatherinformationindifferentways, emphasizingtheimportanceinthefuturetodevelopforecastsforalltargetgroups. Thislackoftailoredmediacoveragecoincideswiththerisinguseofsocialmedia, especiallyinportablemobiledevices,leavingtheperfectopportunityforlocalmedia toprovideaneededandprofitableservicetothepublic.oncewarned,teachersand studentsbothsearchoutmoreinformationaboutthestorm.otherliteraturehas confirmedsimilarbehavior.a1995studyshowedthatonly8%ofwesttennessee residentsconstantlylistenedtonoaaweatherradio.thatpercentageraisedto nearly25afterhearingofapproachingsevereweather(redmond1995). Sherman Morrisstudiedhowtheparasocialrelationshipbetweenthe weathercasterandviewerisstrongerthananyotherpreviouslydemonstratedpsi relationship(2005).shealsowasabletodemonstratehowthisrelationshipgives theaudiencemoreconfidenceinthesevereweatherwarnings.butstill,in2005,the majorityofpeoplesurveyedhadlearnedofthesevereweatherontelevision.since thistime,theaboveliteraturehasshownthattherehasbeenanincredibleupsurge insocialmediaapplications.howthisupsurgeintheuseofsocialmediaaffectsthe relationshipbetweentheweathercasterandtheaudiencehasyettobeexplored. Norhasitbeenexploredhowandifthesetrustedlocalweathercastersusingsocial mediatoalertaudienceshashelpedpopulationstakeheedtowarningsmore quickly.furthermore,itisnotyetfullyknowniflocalnewsstationsor 21

27 weathercastersaretakingfulladvantageofthesocialmediaattheirfingertipsto reachanaudiencethatisrelyinglessandlessontelevision.theseareallquestions thatthisstudywillexplore. 22

28 Chapter3:Methods Togainanunderstandingofhowrespondents growinguseofsocialmedia andotheremergingmediahaveimpactedtherelationshipwiththelocaltelevision weathercasterandhowthisgrowingusehasultimatelychangedhowpeoplereceive weatherwarnings,respondentsinthisstudyparticipatedinasemi structured interviewdesignedtoexplorethefollowingtopics: Understandamountoftimespentonsocialnetworkingsitessuchas Facebook,Twitter,YouTube,MySpace,Bloggs,etc. Understandhowsocialmediasiteshavechangedwhererespondents hearaboutbreakingnewsandhowtheypassalongthatinformation Understandtherespondents attitudestowardtheirweathercaster andiftheyusesocialmediatostayconnectedtothatweathercaster Learnwhererespondentsturnduringsevereweatheraswellas wheretheyfirsthearit.alsoiftheyfeeltheyarealertedinatimely manner. Respondentswereselectedthroughanon probabilitysamplingtechnique, knownassnowballsampling,inwhichexistingresearchsubjectshelprecruitfuture subjectsfromtheiracquaintances.othernon probabilitysamplingtechniques consideredincluderelianceonavailablesubjectssampling,judgmentsampling,and quotasampling.availablesubjectsamplingstopsrespondentsatagivenlocation. 23

29 Thiswasnotselectedbecauseitisoverlyusedandariskysamplingmethod(Babbie 2008).Quotasamplingisthemostthoroughsamplingtechnique,resultingin demographicsthatbestmimicthatoftheentirepopulation.thisnon probability samplingtechniquewasnotusedbecauseoftimeandexpenseconstraints. Judgmentalsamplingallowsmoreexactsectionsofapopulationtobetargeted.This wasnotproperforthisstudybecausesuchexactsectionsofthelargerpopulation weredifficulttoidentify.snowballsamplingismostlikejudgmentalsampling,butin snowballsampling,onlyasmallnumberofthedesiredpopulationmustbe identified.thoseidentifiedthenledtootherrespondents.onceinitialsnowball samplerespondentswereidentified,theywereprovidedwithinformationalsheets describingthestudyasseeninappendix1. 3.1Discussionofsubjects Twointerviewsubjectswereselectedspecificallyasexpertsindifferent areas,mitchmanning,ceooftherrrgroup,andjoeljackson,internetcontent manageratwane TV.TwomoreintervieweeswerefoundthroughWANE TV s Facebookfanpage.Thesesubjectswerecontactedbasedonthehighqualityofthe commentstheyhadpostedonathreaddiscussingtheoctober26 th tornados.these intervieweesthenhelpedrecruitadditionalsubjects,andthosesubjectshelped recruitmoresubjectsuntiltheinterviewquestionsnolongerreceivedpreviously unmentionedresponses. 24

30 Sixofthesubjectsarewomenrepresentingalldifferentages(seeTable1). JessicaKristy,describedearlierasa poweruser, issearchingforanew weathercasterafterherfavorite,sandythompson,wasfiredatwane TV.Kristyis marriedwithtwochildrenandworksinretail.the38 year oldkristyisoneoftwo femaleresearchsubjectsthatarenoteducatedbeyondhighschool.theyoungestof thewomenis22 year old,single,withahighschooleducation.thenextoldestisa 23 year oldcollegestudentwhoprovidedauniqueperspectiveintotheuseofsocial mediaassheisamarketingmajor.anotheroftheyoungersubjectsisa25 year old marriedwomanwhorecentlysettledjustoutsideoffortwayneafterfinishing graduateschool.anotherfemalesubjectisa38 year oldwifeandmotheroftwo. Shehastakensomecollegecoursesbutneverfinished.Currentlyshehasherown onlinebusinesssellingjewelryshemakestopeoplearoundtheworld.theoldestof thefemalerespondentsisa54 year oldnurse.sheismarriedandhasadult children. Unintentionallybutfortuitously,thissubjectpoolhadsubjectsrepresenting everylevelofeducation,fromthehighschooldropouttodoctoraldegree.the youngestofthemenisahighschooldropout.the25 year oldsinglemangrewupin TennesseebutmovedtoFortWayneayearago;heremainsunemployed.Theonly interviewsubjectwithaweatherbackgroundwasthehighschool educated,retired firefighter,a60 year olddivorcee.duringhistimeasafirefighter,hevolunteeredas astormspotterforthenationalweatherserviceinnorthernindiana.henowlives 25

31 nextdoortooneofhistwoadultchildren.thelastoftheinterviewsubjectshashis DoctorateinVeterinaryMedicine.Heis65,marriedandhasadultchildren. Table3.1 InterviewSubjectDemographics Respondents Gender/Age Education MaritalStatus Employment #1JessicaK. Female/38 HighSchool Married RetailSales #2MarieM. Female/22 HighSchool Single Unemployed #3BrendaA. Female/23 InCollege Single Full TimeStudent #4JennaF. Female/25 GradSchool Married Athomemother #5PattyS. Female/54 College Married Nurse #6KatieJ. Female/38 SomeCollege Married SelfEmployed #7MattS. Male/25 SomeHS Single Unemployed #8DavidD. Male/60 HighSchool Divorced Retired #9RajivK. Male/65 Doctorate Married Veterinarian 3.2Discussionofinterviews Interviewswereconductedintwodifferentmanners.Onseveraloccasions, tripsweremadetoft.wayne,wherein personinterviewswereconducted.these interviewstypicallylastednomorethanthirtyminutesandwererecordedbyhandwrittenfieldnotes;adigitalrecordingdevicewasnotusedduringtheseinterviews. AnotherportionoftheinterviewswasconductedwithanInternetchatservice, 26

32 GoogleChatorFacebookChat.Theseinterviewstookmuchlongertoconduct, slightlyoveranhourinmostcases,butlesstimewasspentsummarizingthe interview,astheentireconversationcouldbecopiedandsavedintoamicrosoft Worddocument. Subjectswereinterviewedwithalayoutof12questions.Questionsevolved duringeachinterview;respondents answersledtonewquestions.anoutlineofthe questionsaskedcanbefoundinappendix2.inanattempttounderstandthesocial attitudetowardsweathercastersandsocialmediainfortwayne,therespondents wereaskedtoprovideinformationaboutthemselves.thisprovidedacomposite pictureofthegroupthattheindividualinformantsrepresent.thereisnowaytobe certainthatnon probabilitysamplingdemonstratestheattitudeoftheentire population,butitdoesprovideastartingpointforunderstandingtheinfluenceof socialmediawhenitisusedbytelevisionweathercasters. Interviewfieldnotesandtranscriptswereanalyzed;themeswere indentified,separated,andreorganizedaccordingtotheirplaceinthestudy.todo this,transcriptsofallsubjectinterviewswerereviewedandcodedaccordingto theme.thethemesidentifiedare Pervasivenessofsocialmedia. Trustinweatherforecasters. Perceivedsocialmediaawarenessoftelevisionstations. Informationgatheringbehavior. 27

33 Changingparasocialinteraction. Reactionstosevereweather. Codedresponseswerethenpulledfromoriginaltranscriptsandputinto separatedocumentsbasedonthemes. Inconclusion,theuseofthenon probabilitysnowballsamplingmethod allowedoriginalrespondentstorecruitnewrespondents.twelvesemi structured questionsledtointerviewresponsesthatwerecodedbythemesandusedtogainan understandingofhowrespondents growinguseofsocialmediaandotheremerging mediahasimpactedtherelationshipwiththelocaltelevisionweathercasterand howthishasultimatelychangedhowtherespondentsreceiveweatherwarnings. 28

34 Chapter4:Trust,WeatherForecasting,andSocialMedia Trustiscentraltounpackingthecomplexityoftherelationshipbetween weatherforecastingandnewsocialmedia.assherman Morrisargues,parasocial relationshipsandtrustareinterrelated.highermeasuresofparasocialinteraction equatetohigherlevelsoftrust.however,sherman Morris sworkislimitedinat leasttwoways,whichthischapterseekstoaddress.firsthermethodisquantitative andcannotfullyexplorethenuancesofaudiencetrustinweatherforecasting. Second,herstudiesdonotconsidertheroleofsocialmediaincontemporary parasocialrelationships.therefore,thisresearchemploysqualitativeinterviews withbothprofessionalsandviewerstounderstandthecomplexrelationship betweenweatherforecastingandsocialmedia.thisargumentissituatedbythefort Wayne,Indiana,mediageography.AccordingtoNielsen(2011),FortWayneisthe 107 th largesttelevisionmarketinthenation,makingitamedium sizedmarket. Inproceeding,thischapterbeginswithabackgroundandhistoryof televisionmediainfortwayne,followedbyadiscussionwithaweathercastercritic, whichillustratesanexampleoftheissuesoftrustintelevisionweatherforecasting. HisinterviewprovidesbothinsightintosocialmediauseinFortWayneandmakes assumptionsaboutweathercastersthatarelateraddressedinthefindings. Followingthisillustration,Ipresentaconceptualframeworktoassistinanalyzing socialmediausers.ithenevaluatethisframeworkusingacasestudyofsevere

35 stormsinoctober,2010,demonstratingtheimportanceoftrustinviewers responsetosevereweatherwarningsbyweathercasters. Fromthiscasestudy,Ipresentadiscussionofmyfindings,highlighting previouslyunrecognizedsocialmediapervasiveness.insupportofthescholarly literature,iexaminehowaudiencesinherentlycometotrusttheirweathercasters. Socialmediahasprovidedanewvehicleforthebuildingofparasocialrelationships, andtherefore,forbuildingtrust.finally,thisstudyclaimsthatviewersnolonger exclusivelyrelyontelevisionforsevereweatherwarnings.inconclusion,ireturnto theweathercastercritictounderlinethewaysinwhichtrustisadynamicand shiftingrelationship.indeed,theparasocialrelationshipbetweenviewerand broadcastweatherforecastershasbecomemorecomplexalongsidedynamic changesinthemediageographyoflocaltvmarkets. 4.1Background:FortWaynemediageography Toproperlyunderstandtherelationshipamongweathercasters,the audience,andweatherwarnings,wemustfirstunderstandthemediageographyin thefortwaynetelevisionmarket.thecityofjustover250,000residentsishometo allfourofthemajornetworks.nbcaffiliatewkjg TV,nowWISE TV,becameFort Wayne sfirsttelevisionstationin1953.oneyearlater,cbsaffiliatewink TV,now WANE TV,joinedWISE TVtobecomethecity ssecondtvstation.in1957wpta 30

36 TVbecameABC sfortwayneaffiliate.wfftlaunchedindecemberof1977asan independentstation.itwasnotuntilthedayoffoxnetwork slaunch,october6 th, 1986,thatthestationWFFT TVbecameitsaffiliate. FormostofFortWayne stelevisionhistory,therehavebeenthreelocaldaily broadcastnewsprogramsfromwhichtochoose.thatfactremainsthesametoday, butthechoiceshavechangedovertheyears.forthemajorityofthelast50years, WISE TV,WANE TV,andWPTA TVallofferedlocalnewscoverage.OnApril6 th, 2009,WFFT TVlaunchedanighttimehour longnewsprogram,foxfortwayne NewsFirstat10.Currentlytheyproduceonedailyone hourshowthroughtheweek. Otherstationsproduceatleast4showsdailythroughtheweek,alongwithweekend editions. EvenwiththeadditionofWFFT TVtothemarketplace,viewersonlyhave threenewsteamsfromwhichtochoose.inwhatremainsoneofthemostunpopular movesinfortwaynetelevisionmediahistory,nbc swise TVnewsdepartment wasmergedwithabc swptain2005.intheprocess,57employeeswerefired, includingon airandproductionstaff.onlytheleadanchorfromwise TVwas integratedintothewptanewsproduction.themovetocombinestationswas wildlyostracizedbythepublic.fortwayne snews Sentinelbecameafashionable placeforviewerstovoicetheircomplaints.nothingangeredfansmorethanthe releaseofwise TV sleadmeteorologist.seizingtheopportunity,cbs swane TV quicklyhiredtherecentlyfiredweathercasterandputhimtoworkontheweekday morningandnoonforecasts.accordingtonielsenmediaresearch,wptaand 31

37 WISE TVimmediatelysawadropinratingswhileWANE TVtookoverasthe market snewsleader(2005). JustastheNBCandABCaffiliatesnowsharenewsstaff,theyalsosharea website.thesiteprovidesavideooftheweatherforecast,alongwithawritten7 dayforecast.tabsontheweatherpageofferviewerslinkstoliveskyviewcameras, interactiveradar,andinformationonschoolclosings.cbsaffiliatewane TVcan alsobefoundonline.thewebsiteprovidesmoreweatherinformationandtools overthewebthananyoftheircompetitors.thesiteofferscurrentconditionsfor surroundingareas,videoforecasts,weatherblogsfromstaffmeteorologists,live satelliteandradarfeeds,andanumberofotheroptions.fortwayne snewestnews team,wfft,residesatfortwaynehomepage.net.thesiteincludeslivelocalradar, schoolclosings,andaweatherwarningspage. Allthreeofthenewsteamshavecreatedatleastsomekindofsocialmedia identity.leadingthewayinthatcategoryseemstobewane TV.Theyarebyfarthe most liked televisionstationfanpageinthefortwaynemarket.whenfacebook usersvisitwane TVoranyotherfanpage,theyhavetheoptionof liking that page.iftheychoosetodoso,theywillbeinformedwhenthatisupdated.wane TV sfanpagehadbeen liked by6,856peopleinlate2010(october18 th TVisthemostactiveofthe stationsinupdatingitsfanpagewithstoriestheyarecoveringontelevision.from theirfacebookpage,theyoftenlinktostoriesontheirownwebsite,bringingthem highertrafficandmorepossibilityforaddrevenue.fromtheirfacebookpage,one 32

38 canalsofindalinktotheirstation runtwitteraccount.areviewoftheirtweeting historyinlate2010shows1,084followers(october18 th attendedtoasactivelyasthefacebookpage.anoverviewofindiana snews Center s(wptaandwise TV)Facebookpageshowswhatappearstobethemost well thoughtoutandmostupdatedofallofthefanpagesinthetelevisionmarket. Updatesareveryfrequentontheirfanpage,andthenumberofpeoplecommenting ontheirstoriesisequaltothosecommentingonthepostsofwane TV.Yet, Indiana snewscenterhadonlybeen liked by2,909peopleinlate2010(october 18 th welltosendpeopletotheirstationswebsite.thefacebookpagealsoconnectsfans totheirtwitteraccount.1,272arefollowingthem(october18 th ofdaysduringwhichnoupdatesaresentoutatall.finally,theyoungeststationin themarkethasleftthesmallestsocialnetworkfingerprinttodate.asoflate2010, WFFT sfanpagehadatotalof590followers(october18 th appearontheirfollower swalls.linksintheirupdatesguidetraffictotheirown webpage.alinktoanytwitterprofileismissingfromboththefacebookpageand thestationwebpage. Missingfromallofthestations socialmediaprofilesareconnectionstothe individualreporters,anchors,andweathercasters.nowherearetwitteraccounts 33

39 forthetelevisionpersonalitiesdisplayed,noraretherewaystofriendthetelevision personalitiesonfacebook.thereisagiveandtakebetweenthestationandthe audienceonfacebookwalls,butnotbetweentheaudienceandthepersonalities whoareonthenewseveryday.ifstationswishtotakeadvantageofparasocial relationships,theywillneedtopromoteandrequiretheirtalenttomaintainsocial mediaprofiles. 4.2Criticsofweatherforecasting InterAmericaIncorporatedisacompanybasedinFortWaynethatis responsibleforhostinghundredsofblogs.therrrgroupisaconstructofthelarger InterAmericaInc.Thissmallergroupisresponsibleforsomeofthecompany smost importantblogs.oftherrrgroup s300 someblogsrangingonalltopics,twelveare updateddaily.noneismoreimportanttothebusinessthanfortwaynemedia Watch,awatchdogblogthateditorializesonthequalityofcoveragebyFortWayne mediaoutlets,primarilytelevisionstations.accordingtointeramericainc.ceo MitchManning,MediaWatchhasbeenpublishedfor21years,firstasafax sendand thenasawebsitein2001.mediawatchisnotbelovedbyfortwaynemedia.even whilemakingenemieswithfortwaynemediaoutlets,mediawatchremainsa powerfulvoiceinthecity.asmanningdescribestheblog, We reoftenmean,but everyonereadsit,despitewordstothecontrary. 34

40 ManningisanexpertinbothFortWaynemediaandtheuseofsocialmedia suchasblogging.startinginadsalesatasmallpaperinmichigan,helaterbecamea reporterformellusnewspapersandthenforthedetroitnews.manningthenspent severalyearsasaradiohostatdetroit swlin FMbeforefinallyworkingforthe RRRGroup.Throughoutthe1980 s,heandhisteamattherrrgroupworkedas newscorrespondentsforfortwayne sthenews Sentinel,theIndianapolisStar,the ToledoBlade,andtheFortWayneTelevisionstationWANE TV.Inthelasttwo decades,manningandtherrrgrouphavemadeanameforthemselvesamong televisionbroadcastersinfortwayne. AspartofhisdutiesatMediaWatch,Manningrecordsandviewsallofthe televisionbroadcastsfromallofthestationsonadailybasis;andasmightbe expectedfromsomeonewhomakesalivingandnameforhimselfasacriticwho holdsthemediatothehighestofstandards,manningisnotfullofcomplimentary statementsaboutfortwaynetelevision.ofhiscomplaints,perhapsheishardeston weatherbroadcasting. Mediamanagersintelevisionthinkofweatheras entertainment,abreakbetweenhard corenewsandsports, saysmanning. The moregadgetsandglitzthatthesegmentcanincorporatethebetter;(thatway) viewersthinktheyaregettingavaluableservicefromthestation. MediaWatch CEO slackoftrustinweatherforecastingdoesnotstopthere;hecontinues, The stationmanagerspretendtohavethepublic sconcernsasapriority,but,ifyoucan getthemcandid,you llhearjustwhati mtellingyou. AccordingtoManning, viewersareonlyconcernedifitwillbehotorcoldorifthereareany caveats on 35

41 theday sdrivetowork.heputsevenlessimportanceonweatherwarnings, They arenotlocalespecificandareonlyagambler sguesstowherebadweathermight hit. Manningpointsoutthat,inmanycases,astation sfrequentuseofweather warningsisdoingmoreharmthangood: Generictornadowarningsmerely increase,unnecessarily,theanxietyoftheviewers,andwhenstormsdon tactually followthosealerts,viewersloosetrustinfuturewarningsandalerts. Manning believes, It samatterofcryingwolfbythetvstationsandissuchamatterof practicethatmanyviewers,mostperhaps,takesuchalertswithagrainofsalt. And asforlocalweathercastersbeingabletowarnaudiencesintimeforthemtotake action,manningclaims, Indianaweathercastershaveneverpredictedasituation thatispreventative;theyhavealwayspresentedscenariosthataretoolittle,too late. Whilepessimisticoftheweathercaster sabilitytocorrectlyidentifysevere weatherintimetohelpaudiences,manningdoesfeelthatsocialmediahave shortenednotificationtime.hesaysthatthestationsinfortwayneareeitherjust starting,oratleastplanning,tosendwarningsandotherinformationviafacebook andtwitter.henotesthatdoingsowill, certainlyprovideacachetfortvstations, andwillallowadrevenuetobeaccruedbysuchpractices. Butcurrently, weathercastersareoverlookingthepossibilitiesofsocialmedia;forthemostpartit isonlythestationasawholeandnotindividualtelevisionpersonalitiesthatis startingtotrytotakeadvantageofsocialmediatofurtheritscause.manningsays thattvpersonalitiescanattain cachet byhavingfacebookand/ortwitter 36

42 accounts, althoughmostremainaloof. Manningbelievesthatsocialnetworking humanizestelevisionpersonalitiesthatstationshavebuiltuptobecelebrities.he says, Theyreallythinktheyarestarsorcelebrities,whichTVstationshavefostered overtheyears,butfacebookandtwitterhavehumanizedtvpersonsandtaken themdownapegortwoasfarasegogoes. Manningpointsoutthatsocial networkinghasforeverchangedlocalmedia.hearguesthatthesesiteshave democratizedmedia.tomanning,thiscanbebothagoodandabadthing.hesays, Mediacanbecomemorelikablebutlosesstatureintheprocess;thatis, mediabecomeslessaustereattheexpenseofprofessionalcachetor credibility. Manningisclearlyskepticalofthetrustworthinessofweathercastersinany mediumorsmallmarket.however,heisquicktopointoutthepossibilitiesthat socialmediasitesoffertolocalstationsaswellastolocaltelevisionbroadcastersof alltypes.forpersonalitiesthemselves,heseesfacebookandtwitterasawayto humanizethemselvestotheaudiences.manningbelieves,however,thatindoingso, credibilityisgoingtobesacrificed.onewouldimaginethen,thatalackincredibility wouldresultinlowertrustbetweenthetelevisionpersonalityandtheaudiences. Hisopinionisincontrasttoresearchthatsuggeststhatstrengtheningparasocial relationshipsbetweenweathercastersandtheaudienceresultsinhighertrust,and ultimatelyinfasterreactiontimesduringsevereweatherevents(sherman Morris, 2005).TheissuesraisedbyManningwillberecurringandaddressedlaterinthis chapter. 37

43 4.3Framework:Socialmediausers Interviewsofthenineparticipantsinthestudyshoweddifferentlevelsof socialmediausershipandcompetence.fromtheinterviews,iwasclearlyableto definethreedifferenttypesofsocialmediausers: powerusers, socialusers, and newusers. Powerusers arethemostcomprehensivesocialmediausers, spendingupto5hourseachday. Socialusers usethesitetoconnecttofriendsand spendaroundanhoureachday. Newusers havebeensocialmediausersforless thanayear.theyonlyspend15minutesadayconnectingtofriendstheyotherwise wouldnoteversee. PowerUsers: Powerusers spendthemosttimeonsocialnetworkingsiteseachdayby far(upto5hoursinseveralcases).often,butnotalways,theyspendagood portionofthattimeloggedonthroughasmartphone.theseusersseesocial mediaasaviablewaytocommunicate,justaseffectiveasphones,texting, and . Powerusers moreoftenhavesocialnetworkingaccounts beyondfacebook,includingtwitter,youtube,personalblogs,andlinkedin. Theseusersdependonsocialmediatokeeptheminformedofthe happeningsoftheirworldonaday to daybasis. Powerusers gooutand 38

44 activelyfindsourcesthatcanprovidethemwiththisinformation;theythen subscribetothesesources,checkingbackwiththemfrequentlytobe updated. Powerusers donotstopatpassivelytakinginformationin;they insteadhaveamuchmoresymbioticrelationshipwiththeirsocialmedia. Theygivebyfindingstoriesthataffecttheirlivesandcommunitiesand sharingthemwiththeirfriends,family,andcollegesviasocialmedia.they usethesesitestoactivelynetworkwithpeople,tomakebusiness connections,andtomeetclients. Powerusers mosteffectivelymakesocial mediaworkforthem. SocialUsers: Socialusers spendsignificantlylesstimeeachday(usuallynomorethan anhour)onsocialnetworking.justlike powerusers, theseusersseesocial mediaasaviablewaytocommunicate.theseusersarelesslikelytohavean accountoutsideoffacebook;thosewhodomostoftenhaveaccountswith Twitterthattheypaylessattentionto.Whileonsocialmediasites,these usersspendthemajorityoftheirtimelookingthroughfriends photosor readingstatusupdates.theseuserswillreadarticlesandlinkspostedby theirfriends,butrarelytaketheinitiativetoshareanarticleorinformation ontheirownwalls.theseusersarealsolesslikelytoactivelypursuesources ofinformationavailabletothemoversocialmedia,yetarestilljustaslikely 39

45 tofollowinformationsourcesiftheproviderisofferedtothemwithoutthe effortoftheirownsearching.ultimatelytheseusersviewsocialmediaasa waytoconnectwithfriendsandfamilyanduseitonlyinasmallwayto gatherinformationandtoshareinformation. NewUsers: Theseusersspend15minutesorlessonsocialmediaeachday.These new users areoften,butnotalways,newtosocialmediaasawhole.themajority oftheseusershavehadfacebookaccountsforlessthan6months.unlikethe powerusers and socialusers, theseusersdonotusesocialmediato communicateinthesamemanner.theseuserslimitsocialmedia based communicationtothosewholivegreatdistancesawayorthosetowhom theyhavenottalkedinmanyyears.theothertwogroupsofusersarejustas likelytoshareinformationwithsomeonearoomaway.theseusersrarely,if ever,havesocialmediaaccountsoutsideoffacebook. Newusers donot sharearticlesandinformationthroughsocialmediasites.these NewUsers areoftensurprisedtodiscoverthattheycanreceivealertsandupdatesfrom newsorganizations.thisgroupofpeoplewillnotactivelyhuntdownsources ofinformationonsocialmediasites.nonetheless,thisgroupisvery importantbecausemyinterviewssuggestthisisarapidlyevolvinggroup. Nearlyallwilleventuallybecome socialusers andsomewillbecome 40

46 powerusers. Asaresult,thisgroupisstillinthebeginningstagesofsocial mediauseandneedstobemoreaggressivelysoughtoutbythemedia entitiesthemselves. Interviewsshowthat powerusers havestrongerconnectionstospecific weathercastersthaneitherofthetwousergroups.thissuggeststhatparasocial relationshipsarebeingbuiltprimarilyorevencompletelythroughsocialmedia, somethingthathasyettoberecognizedbyotherstudies. 4.4CaseStudy:October2010storms AcasestudyofstormsmovingthroughFortWayneprovidsacontextto evaluatehowrespondentsinteractwithsocialmediaandhowtheyrespondedtothe severeweatherwarningsassociatedwiththatstorm. OnOctober26 th, 2010,awell documentedandforewarnedwidespread weathereventthatwasunusualforthattimeofyeartookplaceacrossthemidwest; thiseventchallengedtheparticipantsofthisstudytomakedecisionsaboutwhere toturnforpotentiallylife savinginformation,howtosharethisinformationwith familyandfriends,andultimatelyhowtoputthatinformationintoactiontoprotect themselvesandtheirlovedones. 41

47 AccordingtotheNationalWeatherService,arecord breakinglow pressure systemoverminnesotapushedastrongcoldfrontthroughthelowermidweston themorningofoctober26 th.thiscoldfrontaidedinthecreationofalineofstrong thunderstormsknownasasquallline.intheearlymorninghours,thesquallline developedandstretchedfromnorthernwisconsinthroughillinoisandinto Missouri.Thislinethenpushedeast,eventuallyaffectingIndiana,Michigan, Tennessee,Kentucky,Mississippi,Alabama,Georgia,andOhio,beforebreakingup overtheeastcoast.thesqualllineproduced50 60mileperhourwindswithgusts recordedatover75milesperhour.inadditiontostrong,straight linewinds,storms producedtornadosinwisconsin,illinois,indiana,andohio. ThislineofstormspassedthroughnorthernIndianaduringthemid to late morninghours.televisionstationsinfortwayneputthewatchandwarning graphicsontotheirregularprogrammingearlyinthemorning,allowingample warningforthosewhocheckedthetelevisionforupdates.additionally,twoofthe threestations,wane TVandIndiana snewscenter,providedlivecut insfrom regularlyscheduledprogramswithmoredetailedweatherupdates.at8:37am, WANE TV smorningmeteorologistspostedinformationandvideoonwane TV s Facebookfanpageconcerningthecomingsevereweather.Thatwastheonly warningbyanyofthestationssentoutviasocialmediapriortothestorms arrival. ConversationsdiddevelopamongFacebookusersonthefanpagewallsofallthree stationsaboutwhatwashappeningduringthestorms. 42

48 Ultimately,theareacoveredbyFortWaynetelevisionmedia,northeastern IndianaandnorthwesternOhio,receivedthebruntofthetornados,with13 confirmedbythenationalweatherservice.ofthe13confirmedtornados,8were classifiedasef1andtherestwereclassifiedasef0ontheenhancedfujitascale, whichratesthestrengthoftornadosintheunitedstatesbasedonthedamage caused.windsinef0tornadosrangefrom65 85milesperhour,whilewindsinEF1 tornadoesrangefrom86 110milesperhour. TherewerenodeathsorinjuriesasaresultofthestormsonOctober26 th, buttherewasasignificantamountofpropertydamageacrosstheregion.oneef1 tornadothattoucheddowninallencountyleftaseven miledamagepathuptoa half milewideinsomeplaces(figure4.1).asaresultofthe95mileperhourwinds associatedwiththetornado,moderatedamagetomanystructureswasobservedto. Numerousbarnswerecompletelydestroyedaswell.Similardestructionwasseen throughouttheregion(figure4.2). 43

49 Figure 4.1 October 26th EF1 Tornado Path Figure 4.2 October 26th EF1 Tornado Damage 44

50 4.5Discussionoffindings Theparticipantsofthisstudywerebrokenintothreegroupsofsocialmedia users: powerusers, socialusers, and newusers. Literaturehaspointedoutthat theonlinepopulationhasdoubledfromonetotwobillionusersinthelastfiveyears (Ling,Bjelland,Canright,Engo Monson2010),andwealsoknowthatFacebook recentlysurpassed500millionusers(facebook.com,2010).still,onemightassume apopulationofsocialmediauserstobeayoungergeneration,perhapsbetweenthe agesof20 30,butthisisnotthecase.Perhapsevenmoresurprisingisthatagedoes notplayaroleastowhichofthethreegroupsparticipantsfellinto.twoofthe strongest powerusers weremiddle agedwomen,onewomannear40yearsold withpreteenchildrenandtheotherawomananempty nesterjustover50.bothof thesewomenspendoverthreehoursadayonfacebookandothersocial networkingsites.thissomewhatsurprising poweruser demographichas discoveredthepowerofsocialmediaand,asaresult,hasputittoworkforthemin theirpersonallives,savingthemtime,money,andgivingthemmoremobility. Iamafanofdifferentnewssites;Igettheirnotifications.Dependingon whatitis,imayjointheconversationandimayrepostit.sinceigotmy smartphoneinapril,idon thavetospendasmuchtimeonmycomputer andidon twatchasmuchtelevision. Patty Middle Aged PowerUser 45

51 Anotherparticipant,David,aretiredvolunteerfirefighter,isnowdisabled.Beinga socialnetworking poweruser hasallowedhimtomaintainasociallifewhen gettingoutisincreasinglydifficult.theself proclaimedweatherjunkiespendsover 4hourseachdayonFacebook,connectingwitholdfirefightingfriendsandkeeping trackofhisdaughters,becauseaccordingtodavid, Ikeeptrackofmyfamilywith Facebookbecauseitisjustsoeasy. Andofcourse,asaformerpublicservantand weatherjunkie,davidlikestopostweatherwarningsastheycomeout,sothatallof hisfriendsfromtheareacanseethem.jokinglydavidadds, SometimesIthink peoplegetsickofmepostingwarnings,butlikeitbecausetheywanttobeableto takecover. Noneoftheparticipantsgraspthepowerofsocialmediaquitelikethe23 year oldseniormarketingstudentwhospendsupto6hoursconnectedtosocial mediaeachday.again,thesmartphoneisacommonfactoramongtheseusersandit keepsthemmoreconnectedandmoremobilethantherestoftheinterview population. Ifsomethingbigwashappening,I dbecheckingtwitter,becauseit sso instant.ialwaysknowwhatishappening.iget sfromabctellingme aboutbreakingnews,andidon thavetowaitforatvtofindoutwhat s happeningintheworld. Theparticipantswhofellintothe socialuser and newuser groupsdidnotfollow astereotypicalgroupdemographiceither.twooftheyoungerparticipantsfellinto 46

52 the newuser category,showinglessofanunderstandingofsocialmediathan manyparticipantsmucholderthanthemselves. Ofcourse,thepervasivenessofsocialmediausebythemembersofthisstudy waslargelyinfluencedbytheself selectionofthoseparticipating.presumably,those whodonotusesocialmediaofanykindwouldnothavefoundthetopicinteresting andthusnotvolunteeredtotakepart.still,itwouldbesuspectedthatthosewhodid volunteeroftheirownfreewillwouldhavebeenofasimilardemographicagewise. Thisprovednottobethecase,asparticipantsinallstagesoflifeshowedvarying levelsofsocialmediasophisticationandaptitude Audienceandtrust Justaspervasiveinthesubjectpopulationastheuseofsocialmediaisthe inherenttrustparticipantshaveintheirlocalweathercasters.despitemediawatch CEO sassertionthat sophisticatedviewersdonotacceptweathercastsasbon afide, interviewssuggestthatahighleveloftrustisgiventotheweathercaster.all oftheparticipantsindicatedthattheyvaluethepredictionsmadebyatrusted weathercaster.thisholdsespeciallytrueduringsevereweather,whenevery intervieweeagreedthatheorshewouldtakecoveriftoldtodosobyhisorher televisionweathercaster.oneparticipantsaidshetrustswarningsfromtelevision weathercasters,butshetrustsinternet,coworkers,andfriendswarningsjustas much.thiswasnotthecaseformostoftheinterviewpopulation.further 47

53 questioningshowedthatthiswasnotatrusttiedsolelytothethreatofdangerous severeweather,butinsteaditwasatrusttieddirectlytothefactitwasprovidedby aweathercaster.oneparticipantsaidshehasgottentothepointwhereshedoesnot trustthetornadosireninherneighborhoodanymore.duringthesevereweatheron October26 th, shewasfollowingthetrackofthestormswithherfavoritelocal weatherstationwhilethetornadosirenwassoundingoff.thetelevisionshowed thattornadoswerenotathreatinherarea,yetherneighborhoodsirenwasgoing off.sheneverdoubtedthatthetelevisionweathercasterwastheproviderof accurateinformation,andshewascorrect.thereisnodoubt,duringsevere weather;consumersdotrustthepredictionsofweatherforecasters. Evenwithhightrustintelevisionweathercasters,citizensareturningto differentlocationstoreceivethetrustedweatherwarninginformation.previous studieshaveshownthattelevisionprovidesamajorsourceofwarninginformation duringsevereweather(hammerandschmidlin,2002;legatesandbiddle,1999, Pauletal.,2003).Subjectsinthisstudydisplayedrelianceontelevisionforsevere warningsalso,butpeopleareturningtoothersourcesoutsideoftelevisionfor information,primarilytosecondaryinformationsources.literaturehasshownthat peopleexhibitalevelofdependencyonmassmediaandtelevisiontofulfillcertain needsduringnormalconditions(ball Rokeachetal.,1985),butonceanevent occursthatchallengesnormalexpectations,peoplebegininformation seeking behavior,creatingastrongerdependencyonmassmediaduringthesetimes(mileti anddarlington,1997).interviewssupportthispreviousliterature:allofthe 48

54 interviewsubjectsrecallsearchingoutsecondarysourcesofinformationafter hearingoftheapproachingsevereweatheronoctober26 th.itappears,however, thatfirstandsecondarysourcesarechangingduetothewideapplicationofsocial andmobilemedia.televisionremainsanimportantpartoftheprocess,butitisno longerthebiggestcomponentininformationgatheringforthepublic.media consumersnowturntotheinternetastheirprimarysourceofweatherinformation duringsevereweather.seeinganonlinealertmayleadconsumerstoturnonthe televisionforsecondaryinformation.oneparticipantlabeledasa poweruser who stillreliesontelevisionasanimportantinformationsourcehadthistosayaboutthe stormsonoctober26 th : IgotthealertonmyphoneandthenIturnedontheTVbeforegoingabout myusualcookingandcleaning.icontinuedtogettextsfromfriendsand familytalkingabouttheweather.ireadalotof(weatherrelated)facebook postsaboutwhatwasgoingoninotherareas.iwasgladwhenigotanother alerttomyphonethatthewarningwascancelledandthestormwas dissipating.ipassedthatinformationontomyparentsandbrotherwhohad lostpowerandonlyhadtheircellphonestokeepuptodatewiththings whiletheyhidintheirbathrooms. Buildingontheliterature,theseinterviewssuggestmorepeopleareturningto onlineandmobilesourcesfortheirsecondaryinformation.eventhosewhoheardof severeweatherthroughtelevisiongenerallystillwenttotheinternetformore information.anumberofrespondentssaidtheyloadedaradarloopfromeithera localornationalwebsitetofollowtheweatherontheirown.overhalfofthe subjectsvisitedthefanpageoftheirfavoritelocaltelevisionstationtopost 49

55 commentsandtojointheconversationofhowtheweatherwasaffectingdifferent people(figure4.3aandfigure4.3b). Figure4.3 SevereStormThread 50

56 Figure4.4 SevereStormThreadContinued 51

57 The23 year oldmarketingstudentspentoctober26 th atherworkplace whereshehasaccesstoacomputer. Isatonthecomputeratworkonthe(television)station swebsiteandkept clickingrefresh.iwasonfacebookandtwittertheentiretime.iwasseeking moreinformationaboutthestorms.iknowitskindoflame,butidon twant todie Newparasocialrelationships Thisincreasingimportancetotheaudienceofonlinesourcesofinformation haschangedthenatureoftheparasocialrelationshipinthelastfiveyears.taking advantageofsocialmediaallowsweathercasterstobemoreaccessibletothepublic thaneverbefore,givingthemanewavenuetobuildtheparasocialrelationshipthat hasprovedtoincreasetheirvalueacrossaspectrumofmediaoutlets(hortonand Wohl,1956;Rubin,2001;amongothers).Thepotentialforsocialmediainbuilding parasocialrelationshipsisjustnowbeginningtobetakenadvantageof,anditis alreadymakingadifferenceforsomeviewers.themajorityofthoseinterviewed saidtheyhadaspecificweathercastertheyenjoyedthemost.onepersonhadthis tosaywhendescribingwhyshelikesaparticularweathercaster: Heismorepersonablethanothermeteorologists.Ifeellikeheistalking directlytome.heisfunny,too. Fromearlierinthepaper,JessicaKristydescribedherfavoriteweathercasterwith similarintimacy; 52

58 Ilikeherpersonalityandherhumor.SheseemslikeshecouldbemyAunt.It ishardtodescribebutsheisnotafraidofmakingmistakesandjustrolling withit. Kristy scomplaintofotherweathercasterswasthattheyappearedmoreartificial andthattheywerenotrealpeople.unknowingly,kristyhasbuiltthetextbookcase ofaparasocialrelationshipthatwasfirstrecognizedbyhortonandwohl(1956) andfirstdescribedasarelationshipwiththeillusionofintimacybetweenaviewer andaudience.hortonandwohlalsopointedouttelevisionstations promotionof suchrelationshipsbymanipulatingcameraangles.kathleensherman Morriswas thefirsttopointoutthisrelationshipamongweathercastersandaudiences(2005). Theadventofsocialmedia,however,hasbeguntochangethenatureofthe relationshipentirely.whilethemajorityofthesubjectshavesocialnetworking connectionstoanewsorganization,onlyonesubjecthasbuiltsocialnetworking connectionswithparticular personalities atastation.theintervieweethathas madetheconnectionappearstobemoreattachedtothatweathercasterthanthose whoserelationshiphasbeenbuiltsolelythroughwatchingtelevision.the intervieweetalkedfondlyofseeingherfavoriteweathercaster spostsonthe station sfacebookpage.sheenjoyslookingatthepostedpicturesofthepumpkinhe designedforhalloween.thisseeminglyintimatesharingledhertonamehimasher favoriteweathercasterbecause It sfuntoknowsomeonewhoisregularlyontv. 53

59 Interviewsshowthatthereisanewwaytocreateastrongerparasocial relationship,buttelevisionstationshavefailedinusingsocialmediatodowhatthey havebecomeexpertsindoingthroughtraditionalformsofmedia.socialmedia campaignshavefocusedsomuchongettingviewerstonoticethestation sonline presencetheyhaveforgottentopromotethe talent thattheyworksohard encouragewithtelevisionandprintadds.thenextchapterexploresandpostulates aplanthatcanhelpbetterutilizesocialnetworkingwebsitestocreatestronger parasocialrelationships Weatherwarnings Finally,thisstudyismeanttostudyhowpeoplereacttosevereweather warningsinanageinwhichpeopleareincreasinglygettingthosewarningsfrom differentsources.also,wewanttofurtherunderstandhowgettingwarningsfrom favoriteweathercastersviasocialmediamightchangereactionsduringsevere weatherwarnings.literaturefromkathleensherman Morrisin2005hasalready shownthatastrongpsi,parasocialinteraction,resultsinhighertrustandahigher probabilitythatviewerswilltakecover,butshedoesnotlookathowthesocial mediainfluencesthisdecisiontotakeheedtowarnings. Theseinterviewsshowedthatrespondentswhofellintothe powerusers groupwerethemostlikelytotakeactionwhentoldtodosobyatrusted weathercasterwithportablesocialmedia.theserespondentsproactivelysought 54

60 outtrustedinformationandthenfollowedinstructions.oneofthe powerusers tookcoverinalowerlevelhallway,bringingwithherhersmartphonecontinuallyto beupdatedonwhenitwouldbesafetoresumehernormalresponsibilities. Anotherrespondentwholivesinatrailerparkfollowedthestormontelevisionand Facebookallmorning.Thisrespondentisdisabledandthecloseststormshelterisa quartermileaway;hedecidedtotakecoverinthenextbestplace.whenthestorm arrived,heandhisdogsatinthebathroomandrodeoutthestorm.whenitis suggestedonemovestoasaferlocation,literatureshowstrailerparkresidentsare lesslikelythanhomeownerstotakeshelter(schimidlinetal.,2008).another subjectlimitsherweathermediacoveragetotheweatherchannel swebsite.she did,however,knowtherewerelocaltornadosonoctober26thbecauseofpostsshe hadseenfromfriendsonfacebook.shesatandwatchedtheweatheronher computertheentiretimethestormmovedthrough,butshefeltsafeenoughnotto takecoverbeyondthat.whenanotherintervieweeheardofthestormswhile visitingafriend,sheandherfriendheadedstraighttothecomputerupstairs.she signedonfacebookbutdidnotseeawarningfromher liked newsstation.her friendturnedonthetvtobeabletofollowthestorm.shethenkeptoneeyeonthe nationalradarandanotheronthewindow,readytomovetothebathroomif needed. Theseinterviewsfoundthatpeopleindividuallydecidediftheywerein dangerornot,butitwasnotalackofinformationthatkeptanyoftherespondents fromtakingcover.alltherespondentsknewaboutapproachingbadweather. 55

61 Perhapsmoreimportantly,alloftherespondentshadquickaccesstosecondary information.sowhiletherespondentsdidnotnecessarilytakecover,theywereall wellawareofapproachingbadweatherandtookanextrasteptocalculatetheir owndangerbygatheringinformationfromradarsandweathercasters. 4.6Conclusion DespiteMediaWatch smitchmanning ssuggestionthatweathercastersare merelycharlatansandthatsophisticatedviewersdonotgenerallyaccepttheir forecasts,researchsuggeststhisisfarfromthecase.weathercastersare,infact,the mosttrustedmediapersonality(sherman Morris2005).Alongwiththistrustisa relationshipbuiltthroughanumberoffactors,anincreasingfactorbeingsocial media sroleinthenewsroomanditsincreasingimportanceinanindividual s everydaylife.whethera poweruser, socialuser, ora newuser, the pervasivenessandimpactofsocialmediaisinfluencinghowpeoplefirsthearof severewarnings,wheretheyturnforsecondaryinformation seeking,andhowthey sharesevereweatherinformationwiththeworld.duringtheunusuallysevere weatheracrossthemidwestonoctober26 th residentsinfortwayne,indiana turnedtotheirtelevision,computer,andmobilephonestofindinformationthat couldhelpthem.thesourceoftheweatherinformationismoremobilethanever before,butthemessageisstillthesame.thosewhoarewarnedintimeprepare 56

62 themselvesasmuchastheyfeelisneeded.andbecauseofmobilemedia,more peoplearewarnedearlierofsevereweatherthananytimeinourhistory. ThefirstinterviewwithMediaMatters CEOMitchManningtookplacea weekpriortooctober26 th sunusuallystrongstorms.asafortwaynemedia critiqueandblogger,manningwasquicktopointoutthepotentialforsocialmedia asatoolforincreasingthestation sprofitandasawaytoquicklycommunicate duringsevereweather. And; TVweatherwarningsareoptimalwhentheyoccurearlyenoughtogetthe attentionoftheviewersandarepinpointedsothatthoseviewerscantellif theyareinthetornadicpath. TVstations,inFortWayne,planonorarealreadyusingFacebookand Twitterforweatheralerts.SuchusewillcertainlyprovidecachetforTV stationsandwilladrevenuetobeaccruedbysuchpractices. Furthermore,Manningthinksstationshavemoretodobeforetheyperfecttheir socialmediause.otherintervieweesagreedthatstationsarenottakingfull advantageofsocialmedia. Therewasonetopic,wereMitchManning sviewofpublicopinionprovedto beincorrect.manningsays, Igenerallyloatheweatherpeople,andhavesaidsoattheMediaWatchsite andblogs.theyare charlatans inmyestimation. Ourexperienceisthatsophisticatedviewersdonotacceptweathercastsas bonafide. 57

63 Interviewsshowedthatpeopledotrusttheirweatherforecaster.Whenpeoplelearn ofweatherwarnings,theymostoftenturntotheirlocalweathercaster,eitherontv orincreasinglyonline,forconfirmationandadviceofhowtoreacttothe information.literaturehasshownthatthosewhohavehadexperiencewithsevere weatherinthepastaremorelikelytopaycloserattentioninthefuture(blanchard BoehmandCook,2004),andperhapsthiswasthecaseforMitchManning.Ina followupinterviewafterthestormsproducing13tornadosandstraight linewind gustsupto75milesperhour,themoodofmitchmanning,mediawatchand RRRGroupCEO,hadchangedtowardsFt.Wayne sweatherpresentation proclaiming, Theweatherpeopleheredidanexcellentjobwiththestormslastweek, interruptingshowsofcourse,butrightfullyso.whenbadweatherhit, stationshereputontheirmeteorologicalhatsandstoppedthefoolishness. Weatherpeopleareschizophrenicthatway:theycanbesillyandirrelevant butwhenstormsentertheirarea,theybecomeprofessionalanddotheirjobs withgusto. 58

64 Chapter5:OnlinePresence Asdiscussedinthepreviouschapteranddemonstratedthroughinterviews withusersandexperts,understandingtheparasocialrelationshipisanimportant meanstounderstandingtheconnectionbetweenviewersandtelevision weathercasters.thischapterwillarguethatuserswhoareconnectedwithtv stationsthroughsocialmediahaveevenstrongerparasocialrelationshipsthan thoselimitedtotraditionaltelevisionviewershipandthattvstationshavean opportunitytocapitalizeontheseemergingrelationships. Forthepast50years,televisionstationshavepurposelyexploitedparasocial relationships,but,today,thenatureoftheserelationshipsischangingduetotherise insocialandmobilemedia.aprocedurefirstpointedoutbyhortonandwohl (1956),TVstationspromotethisone sidedrelationshipusingcamerazoomsand othertrickssuchasconversationalstyle,gestures,andinformalsettingstoinvite interactiveresponses.itiscommonthattvanchors,reporters,andweathercasters areseeninprintadds,billboards,andtoldtoattendpublicevents,allincreasing theirpublicexposureandultimatelytheirparasocialrelationshipswiththe community(rubinperse,andpowell1985;brown2003,etal.). Italsohasbeenestablishedthatinradio,thehigherthePSI(parasocial interaction),themorelikelythevieweristofrequentthatstationandradio personality(rubinandstep2000).forweathercasters,ahigherpsihasshownto resultinhighertrust(kathleensherman Morris2005),whichultimatelyincreases

65 thelikelihoodthatapersonwilltakeappropriatecoverwheninstructedtodosoby atrustedweathercaster. ThischapterbeginswithadiscussionwithWANE TV sinternetcontent managertoillustratethetypicalsocialmediastrategyemployedbytelevision stations.hisinterviewprovidesinsightintoboththegrowingimportanceofsocial mediatostationsandtheroomleftforimprovementinutilizingsocialmedia.ithen evaluatethisillustrationusingacasestudyofwane TV scompleteonlinepresence, thestationshownthroughcomparisonsinsection4.1tohavethemost comprehensiveonlinepresenceinfortwayne,demonstratingboththestrengths andtheweaknessesintheironlinecampaign. FromthiscasestudyIpresentadiscussionofmyfindings,highlightingthe importanceoftalentmaintainingindividualsocialmediaprofilesandthestation s needtobetterpromoteitssocialmediapresence.inconclusion,ishallreturnto userandprofessionalinterviewstoemphasizethewaysinwhichsocialmediaisnot beingutilizedtoitsfullpotential.indeed,duetotheshiftingparasocialrelationship betweenviewerandweathercastersasdiscussedinchapter4,thereareclear opportunitiesfortvstationstointegratesocialmediainthisemergingmedia geography. 5.1WANE TV ssocialmediastrategy 60

66 Eventhemostwellestablishedonlinestation,WANE TV,requiresnothing fromtheirpersonalitiesonline.thatdutyfallsonlyontheinternetdepartment, whichtakescareoftheonlinecontentforwane.com,aswellasfacebookand Twitteronasecondarylevel.Thestation sinternetcontentmanager,joeljackson, describesthestrategyforsocialmediauseas loose. JacksonhasworkedforWANE TVfor23yearsandfulltimeintheInternet departmentascontentmanagerfornearlyfouryears.hiseducationand backgroundareintelevisionnews.hereceivedhisbainradioandtelevision Broadcasting,nowcommonlycalledTelecommunications.Hebecamethetelevision newsproducerinhisfirstyearsatwane TV,eventuallybecomingassistantnews director,untilfinallyholdingthepositionhedoesnow. Jackson sjobrequiresthatheoverseethecontentonwane.comandits mobileplatformthatcanbeaccessedthroughsmartphones.lessimportantaspects includemanagingthestation sfacebookpageandtwitteraccount.accordingto Jackson,becausehisbackgroundisinnews,heconcentratesonhavingtimely updates, TheInternetcanbecomparedtoalivingandbreathingthingasopposed toanewspaper,whichisdatedthemomentit sprinted. EventhoughWANE TVhasthemostextensiveFortWaynenewsstation socialmediapresence,jacksondescribestheirsocialmediastrategyasasecondary concern.headds, 61

67 Wedon twanttobombardfanswithconstantupdates,justonesthatare criticallyimportant,weather,forexample,oronesthatfanswillfind interesting.youwanttostayawayfromcontroversialtopicsasthe discussionthreadscanturnugly. EvenwiththerelaxednatureofthesocialmediastrategyatWANE TV,Jacksondoes notunderestimateitsimportance,admitting, They(FacebookandTwitter)aredefinitelygrowinginimportanceandas farasthejobgoes,youcan tignoreeitheroneandexpecttokeepyourjob. Indeed,thischapterwillarguethatweathercasterscan tignoreeitheroneand expecttokeeptheirjob.buttounderstandwheremid levelmarketstationssucceed andwherethereremainsroomforimprovement,wemustexaminetheonline presenceofonestation. 5.2CaseStudy:WANE TV sonlinepresence Asdescribedearlier,FortWayne scbsaffiliatewane TVleadsintelevision ratingsandhasthemostcomprehensiveonlinepresenceofanyofthefortwayne stations.becauseofthis,theywereselectedasthebeststationtoexamine,knowing thatallotherstationsinthemarketwouldshowevenmoreweaknessesintheir onlinecampaignthanwane TV. AsdescribedbyJoelJackson,WANE TV sinternetcontentmanager,the Internetdepartment sprimaryconcernisthecontentonthestation swebsite, 62

68 wane.com, and the mobile platform of that website for smartphones. This website is well maintained and updated frequently. A screen shot of the top of the page shown in figure 5.1, then zoomed in on, shows a number of links and options to guide users throughout the website, but not among these are any indications of their social media presence. Figure 5.1 View of Wane.com links along the top of their homepage. Links along the top of the page lead to important content. Note the absence of links to social media sites. 63

69 TofindWANE TV ssocialmedialinksonthemainpage,usersscrollmidway downthepage,and,ontherightside,aboxoftoolsandlinksaredisplayed.(see figure5.2) Figure5.2 WANE TVSiteTools:Foundontherightsidebarmidwaydownwane.com shomepageasite toolsbaroffersseveraloptionsallowinguserstofollowwane TVonlineandontheircell phones. 64

70 Thetoolsinclude(figure5.2) RSSFeedsbutton,whichstandsfor ReallySimpleSyndication andallows userstosubscribetotimelyupdatesinbriefsummariesthatprovidealink backtotheoriginalarticleiftheuserwishestoreadmoreindepth. Mobilebutton,whichallowsuserswithsmart phonestoviewthewebpage inaversionthatcomplimentstheirphonebetterthanthetraditional computer viewedsite. Twitterbutton,linksuserstoWANE TV stwitterprofilewhereuserscan decidetofollowwane TV. SMS/TextAlertsbutton,allowsuserstosubscribetothestationcellphone textmessagingservice. WeatherAlerts,allowsuserstosubscribetoreceiveweatheralerts. Newsletters,allowsuserstosubscribeto ednewsletters. Facebookbutton,takesuserstoWANE TV sfacebookfanpage,where userscanlikewane TVtoreceiveupdatesintheirnewsfeeds. Downloadipulsebutton,allowsuserstodownloadWANE TV sdesktop widgetwhichisasmallapplicationthatwouldbeplacedonauser sdesktop screenandreceiveupdatesfromwane TV. 65

71 This ToolBar boxcanbefoundonanypageofthewebsite,evenonpageswith newsstories,butanewtool boxalsoappearsonthesesecondarypages Thisnewtool boxofferswaystouseandsharethearticleitself.inorderfromleftto rightthebuttonsare Figure5.3 wane.com stoolbarcanbefoundonanypageofthewebsite BookmarkThisandStarIcon,allowsuserstosavethepageintheirInternet browsertoreturntoatalatertime. DiggIconisapopularwebsitethatuserscan Digg websitestheyenjoy. WebsitesthatreceivethisvoteoftengethighertrafficasmoreDiggusersare senttoit. StumbleUponisapopularsitesimilartoDigg,fromwhichusersare directedtohighly liked websitesbasedontheirtastes. Liking thatsite willbringmorestumbleuponuserstoit. YahooIcontakesuserstoYahoo sotheycansharethestory. 66

72 DeliciousisalessknownsitelikeDiggandStumbleuponwhereusersvote ontopsites. GoogleIcontakesuserstoGoogle sgmailtosharethestory. Redd.ItisasitelikeDiggandStumbleupon,muchless usedandknown. WindowsIconconnectstoWindows tosendstory. Thisbuttonuseswane.com tosharestory. *NoticethatthereisnotaneasyFacebookshareorTwittersharebuttonincluded onwane.com stool boxwhichiscommononmanywebsites. OnceonWANE TV sfacebookfanpage(seefigure5.4),oneseesthemost well maintainedfanpageofanyofthefortwaynetelevisionstations.theother stations facebookpagesaverageonly3 4updateseachday.WANE TV spage averagesover10updateseachday,manyofwhichincludevideothatlinks Facebookusersbacktowane.comtowatchthestoryandreadmoreinformation aboutthetopic. Otherpostsincludequestionspostedbyusers,whichappeartobewell attendedtobywane TVwithanswersbeingpostedwithinacouplehours. Questionsarenotalwaysrespondedtoquicklythough;oneinterviewsubject complainedthatshenoticesquestionsthatgounanswered.sheaskedaquestion afterseverestormsmovedthroughthearea,wonderingwhyacertaintornadosiren wentoffwhentornadoeswerenotclosetoherlocation.herquestionwent 67

73 unansweredandmadeherdoubtifshewouldinteractwithwane TVagainvia Facebook.Thisisamajorsinforanyorganizationattemptingtohaveasuccessful socialmediacampaign.ifinteractingwithstationshasallowedconsumerstobuild loyalty,neglectingthatinteractionwillsurelydisenfranchiseconsumerstothat samestation. Figure5.4 WANE TV SFacebookFanPage:Inthisscreenshotweseethemostrecentpost,posted1 hourearlier.also,4 hoursearlieraquestionwaspostedontheirwall,whichwasanswered2 hours later. 68

74 Figure5.5 WFFTFox sfacebookfanpage:inthisscreenshotweseetwopostsinthelast6hours. Noticethelowlevelofuserfeedback.Also,amuchsmalleramountof likes. FromWANE TV sfanpage,onecaneasilylinktowane TV shomewebpage andtheirtwitteraccount.whilewane TVhasalargerfollowingonFacebookthan anyotherstation,theyarebehindindiananewscenter(abc s21aliveandnbc33) inthenumberfollowingthemontwitter.atwane TV,Twitterisgivenmuchless attentionthanthefacebookpage,asupdatesaremuchmoreinfrequent.thereis notthesameconsistencyinupdatesasthereisonthefacebookpage.onsomedays WANEtweets10times,whileothertimestherearethreeandfourdaygaps 69

75 betweentweets.sowhiletheymakeuseofthefeaturesfacebookoffers,theyare neglectingtwitter sabilitytoshareinformationquickly(figure5.5),evenifall WANE TVwantedwastolinkbacktotheirFacebookpage.Still,evenwithan infrequencyofupdatesandasmallerfollowing,wane TVstilltweetsmoreoften thanindiana snewscenter(figure5.6) Figure5.6 WANE TVTwitterAccount:Ascreenshotshowsthemostrecenttweettakingplaceanhour earlier.priortothatthestationposted2tweetsfourhoursearlier. 70

76 Figure5.7 Indiana snewscentertwitteraccount:ascreenshotshowsthemostrecenttweet takingplacethepreviousdaymarch1st.thestationtweetedtwiceonmarch1 st,priortothatthey tweetedfebruary24 th. Asdescribedinsection4.1andhighlightedinthissection,WANE TVis superiortotheotherstationsinfortwayneatpresentingitselfthroughsocial media,yetitstillleavessomeroomforimprovementsthatcouldhavemajoreffects ontheparasocialrelationshipbetweenitsviewersanditsanchors,reporters,and weathercasters.withweaknessesexistingatthetopstationinfortwayne,itisfair toassumethatthemajorityofmid levelmarketstationsacrossthecountryhave roomforimprovementonthisveryimportantfront. 5.3Discussionoffindings 71

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