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The Harvard International Journal of
                       Press/Politics
                                               ...
10.1177/1081180X03259819   ARTICLE
                           Lipinski, Neddenriep / Using
                           Pres...
8      Press/Politics 9(1) Winter 2004

have demonstrated the appeal and the increasing importance of this new
medium for ...
Lipinski, Neddenriep / Using “New” Media                           9

they will court the national media because they need...
10      Press/Politics 9(1) Winter 2004

members along with committee memberships and party leadership lists” (Davis
1999:...
Lipinski, Neddenriep / Using “New” Media                              11

How the Internet Serves Journalists
   While the...
12      Press/Politics 9(1) Winter 2004

national, local (to each legislator), local Washington, and specialty news (such ...
Lipinski, Neddenriep / Using “New” Media                              13

journalists could encounter by happenstance. As ...
14        Press/Politics 9(1) Winter 2004
Table 1
Features inside online newsrooms
Feature                                ...
Lipinski, Neddenriep / Using “New” Media                              15

public function or during official business in C...
16        Press/Politics 9(1) Winter 2004
Table 2
Presence of online newsrooms by chamber
                                ...
Lipinski, Neddenriep / Using “New” Media                                          17
Table 3
Presence of online newsrooms ...
18        Press/Politics 9(1) Winter 2004
Table 4
Presence of online newsroom by age in Senate
              ≤ 39 Years   ...
Lipinski, Neddenriep / Using “New” Media                              19

American Politics and Citizenship at the Univers...
20        Press/Politics 9(1) Winter 2004

Callahan, Christopher. 2002. A Journalist’s Guide to the Internet:The Net as a ...
Lipinski, Neddenriep / Using “New” Media                              21

Address: Department of Political Science, Univer...
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Lipinski & Neddenriep 2004 Using New Media To Get Old Media Coverage

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Lipinski & Neddenriep 2004 Using New Media To Get Old Media Coverage

  1. 1. The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics http://hij.sagepub.com Using quot;Newquot; Media to Get quot;Oldquot; Media Coverage: How Members of Congress Utilize Their Web Sites to Court Journalists Daniel Lipinski and Gregory Neddenriep The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics 2004; 9; 7 DOI: 10.1177/1081180X03259819 The online version of this article can be found at: http://hij.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/9/1/7 Published by: http://www.sagepublications.com Additional services and information for The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics can be found at: Email Alerts: http://hij.sagepub.com/cgi/alerts Subscriptions: http://hij.sagepub.com/subscriptions Reprints: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.nav Permissions: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav Downloaded from http://hij.sagepub.com at University of the West of Scotland on October 7, 2008
  2. 2. 10.1177/1081180X03259819 ARTICLE Lipinski, Neddenriep / Using Press/Politics 9(1) Winter 2004“New” Media Using “New” Media to Get “Old” Media Coverage How Members of Congress Utilize Their Web Sites to Court Journalists Daniel Lipinski and Gregory Neddenriep The Internet is often viewed as a replacement for “old” modes of communication, a tool used by news seekers, including public officials, to bypass traditional news media. However, the authors show that the arrival of this “new” media has not caused offi- cials to forsake journalists and abandon traditional media. Instead, they are utilizing the Web as a new method for seeking coverage from the old media. By conducting a content analysis of the official Web sites of every member of the U.S. Congress, the authors reveal that about three-quarters of these legislators explicitly employ their site to try to attract journalists and traditional reporting. In addition, the authors examine the types of features that are included to make congressional Web sites “media friendly” and the extent to which each of these is used by members. Finally, they discuss some of the factors that explain the variance among legislators in regard to their use of Web sites for this purpose. Keywords: Congress; journalists; Internet; media; Web sites The Internet is often viewed as a replacement for “old” forms of mass communi- cation, a tool used to bypass traditional news media and communicate directly with the public. For example, political actors can use this new medium to cir- cumvent journalists who may filter their strategic messages to the public. While this capability makes the Internet especially appealing to public officials, the implications for representative democracy can be troubling. If the need for news coverage is obviated by the net, journalists will have a much more difficult time serving as the necessary watchdogs of the political system. While other scholars Press/Politics 9(1):7-21 DOI: 10.1177/1081180X03259819 © 2004 by the President and the Fellows of Harvard College 7 Downloaded from http://hij.sagepub.com at University of the West of Scotland on October 7, 2008
  3. 3. 8 Press/Politics 9(1) Winter 2004 have demonstrated the appeal and the increasing importance of this new medium for direct mass communication by government officials, it is essential to remember that coverage by the traditional media is still vital to these individuals. In fact, to witness the continued importance of old media to public officials in this new media era, we need only examine the same Web sites being used to communicate around journalists. We demonstrate this through our analysis of the Web sites of members of the U.S. Congress. In this article, we first reveal the extent to which representatives explicitly use their sites to garner traditional news coverage. Next, we show the types of features that are included on these sites to make them “media friendly” and facilitate the work of journalists.1 Finally,we discuss some of the factors that explain the variance among legislators in regard to the extent to which their Web sites are media friendly. The Need for Traditional Media Coverage by Members of Congress Members of the U.S. Congress are usually assumed to have three main goals: reelection, good public policy, and power (Fenno 1973). In pursuit of these goals, especially the primary goal of reelection, legislators attempt to communi- cate strategic messages to the public. To win reelection, they transmit messages designed to build the support of constituents in their district/state whose votes they need. When members pursue their policy goals, they may try to rally sup- port for a cause by expanding the scope of conflict (Schattschneider 1960) or by using an “outside strategy” where they encourage citizens to pressure other rep- resentatives to endorse their legislation (Davis 1992). This requires communi- cating to the public outside of the district/state represented to garner support for certain policies. When pursuing policy in this manner, legislators are often simultaneously advancing their goal of power inside the institution. The pursuit of power on the outside involves attempting to gain support from citizens who may vote for the representative as a candidate for a higher office such as governor or president. Sending messages through the news media is one important way that many members of Congress seek to communicate with the public to achieve their goals. Whether they seek local or national news coverage at any particular point in time depends on the goal they are pursuing. When pursuing reelection, many seek coverage by local news outlets because they are targeted at the member’s constituents, and, according to some commentators, the local news coverage is more predictable (Davis 1992) and less trenchant (Robinson 1981). It is, there- fore,not surprising that press secretaries in the House prioritize local media out- lets over national ones (Cook 1988; Hess 1991). While some senators may seek coverage from national news media as they search for reelection, local news is of critical importance. When members pursue their policy and inside power goals, Downloaded from http://hij.sagepub.com at University of the West of Scotland on October 7, 2008
  4. 4. Lipinski, Neddenriep / Using “New” Media 9 they will court the national media because they need to influence a larger audi- ence. In seeking higher office, legislators may want local and/or national cover- age depending on the office they are aspiring to win. While communication through the news media is an efficient way to reach a large audience, it is not an ideal method for members who are trying to get their messages out. One problem is that members, especially those in the House, receive little coverage from local (Vinson 2002) or national (Kimball 1994) news media.Even when they appear in the news,they may not receive the type of coverage that they want. The job of a journalist is not to act simply as a conduit for officials’ messages to the public, but, instead, journalists are supposed to mediate by choosing which stories to cover and how to cover them.2 Thus, mem- bers have an incentive to embrace direct communication so they can control the information that they are sending. Techniques such as mailings, member- controlled public-access cable television programs, speeches, and other public appearances by members are important ways that messages are communicated in an unmediated fashion. These communication opportunities (many of which they provide for themselves with official expenses) are sometimes credited with giving incumbents a significant advantage when running for reelection. Some members of Congress have little interest in using the news media to advance policy and power goals, and they are satisfied that their direct communi- cation does enough to virtually ensure reelection. The members who fit into this category do not put much effort into garnering media coverage, but most mem- bers do seek coverage because unmediated communication has some drawbacks. First, direct communication is not very useful in sending messages to those out- side of a member’s district/state because public funds can be spent only to facili- tate communication with constituents.3 Second, and more important, all forms of direct communication lack the legitimacy that is instilled when messages are conveyed by an unbiased third party.4 Sophisticated audiences may perceive a politician’s direct communication as self-serving, while they are more likely to trust information coming from journalists who are ostensibly neutral. The tradi- tional media provide members with legitimacy that they cannot achieve through unmediated self-promotion. Thus, despite the considerable resources put into direct communication, most members still have an incentive to put significant effort into attracting news coverage. Use of the Web for Communication by Members of Congress Since the 1990s, the Internet has provided representatives with a new way to circumvent the news media and directly communicate with the public. The House of Representatives joined the Internet revolution in the 103rd Congress (1993–94) when it set up a gopher site to provide information such as “listings of Downloaded from http://hij.sagepub.com at University of the West of Scotland on October 7, 2008
  5. 5. 10 Press/Politics 9(1) Winter 2004 members along with committee memberships and party leadership lists” (Davis 1999: 123). At the same time, a few senators established their own gopher sites. With the Republican takeover in 1995, the House “took major strides toward using the Internet as a tool for disseminating political information” (Davis 1999: 123). Today, every member of Congress (except one, noted below) has a Web page that can be accessed through the House or Senate Web site and is main- tained with official (government) funds. A few good analyses have been performed on the content of congressional Web sites.One of the earliest works examined Web sites that existed in 1996 and found that members used them to advertise themselves as “attractive, approach- able, and helpful public servants” but presented “no discussion of legislation” (Owen et al. 1999: 25). A study conducted the following year—when many members still did not yet have a site—explored the variance among members in whether their office took advantage of this new technology. In this seminal work, Adler et al. (1998) demonstrated that young Republicans representing affluent districts had a greater likelihood of maintaining a site. However, neither senior- ity nor vote margin were significant predictors of whether a member had a site.5 Other studies have analyzed congressional sites and rated how valuable their content is to constituents. Two extensive studies by the Congressional Manage- ment Foundation (2002, 2003) examined every personal, standing committee, and leadership site and gave each a grade from A to F. The earlier study tended to criticize the content and noted a great disparity in the quality of sites, while the follow-up study in 2003 cited vast improvements and complemented Congress on its remedial efforts. The cumulative grade-point average for all congressional sites rose from 1.76 in 2002 up to 2.30 in 2003, but Republicans maintained higher marks than Democrats in both years. These studies demonstrate that use of this technology is still in its infancy; as would be expected, the sites are getting better, but they have significant room for improvement. While research on Congress and the Internet has revealed how members use this medium as a new way to send messages to constituents, the findings show that employment of this technology has by no means eliminated the use of some traditional methods of direct communication. The content of the Web sites demonstrates that mailings, speeches, and public appearances remain impor- tant. What the Web does is enhance and expand the use of these traditional methods. Savvy members, for instance, can advertise their upcoming appear- ances online so the political functions they plan to attend receive more attention; after the event, they can post carefully selected highlights—in text, audio, or video—to convey a certain message. Newsletters that were sent through the mail or speeches that had been carried on C-SPAN can be placed on Web sites so that constituents have another opportunity to see them. The Internet has not replaced these old forms of communication. Downloaded from http://hij.sagepub.com at University of the West of Scotland on October 7, 2008
  6. 6. Lipinski, Neddenriep / Using “New” Media 11 How the Internet Serves Journalists While the Internet is often viewed as a threat to traditional media and hence to journalists, it can also serve as a valuable tool in the practice of journalism. In journalism schools today, students learn how to take advantage of the Internet (e.g., see Callahan 2003). Most journalists have to work under tight deadlines; they need to get a story and get it quickly. Surfing the Web can be a quick and cost-effective way to obtain necessary information. Given that journalists report having heavier workloads and receiving less assistance when compiling their sto- ries (Public Relations Tactics 2000), it is not surprising that they are turning to the Internet to ease their burdens. One recent survey conducted by the firm of Middleberg and Ross found that 91 percent of editors at daily newspapers and magazines reported that either they or their staff used online services to research articles (cited in Hachigian and Hallahan 2003: 44). Similarly, a poll by the Con- gressional Management Foundation (2002) suggests that journalists who cover Congress rely heavily on the Internet. Almost all respondents to the survey had visited a congressional site in the past year; most said they used such sites more than 20 times while 35 percent indicated that they used them more than 100 times (Congressional Management Foundation 2002: 70).6 Corporations and public relations firms have acknowledged this trend among journalists and are reaching out online by doing things such as shifting the place- ment of their advertorials from print publications to the Internet (Brown and Waltzer 2001). The Norman Nielsen Group recently conducted a study that reflects corporate America’s awareness that it is important to create Web sites that are media friendly (Coyne and Nielsen 2003). In assembling their study, the group interviewed journalists about how they used the Web to gather informa- tion about companies.They found respondents visited Web sites to (1) locate the name and phone number of a contact person, (2) verify basic facts, and (3) learn about the company’s “spin” on events (Coyne and Nielson 2003: 3). Journalists did not frequent sites to find new stories, but they went there to fill out stories that were already in progress. Corporations that failed to provide this informa- tion in a simple, easy-to-access format risked not receiving the favorable cover- age they desired. Many respondents agreed that “poor website usability could reduce or completely eliminate their press coverage of that company” (Coyne and Nielson 2003: 1). Journalists covering Congress are likely to visit members’ Web sites for similar reasons, but there is little empirical evidence on this point. In the 2002 Congressional Management Foundation survey, reporters were asked what type of information they were seeking from congressional sites. The study found reporters were looking for press releases, photos from events, sum- maries of national issues, lists of the members’ accomplishments, and press con- tact information. It is also important to recognize that Congress is covered by journalists work- ing for a wide variety of outlets that focus on different types of news, including Downloaded from http://hij.sagepub.com at University of the West of Scotland on October 7, 2008
  7. 7. 12 Press/Politics 9(1) Winter 2004 national, local (to each legislator), local Washington, and specialty news (such as trade publications). Another important distinction is between different media such as television, radio, and print publications. Depending on the outlet for which they work, journalists will have varying informational needs. A local jour- nalist, for example, is likely to search congressional sites so she or he can develop interesting local slants to national events. Such a person might be concerned with how her or his particular representative voted, why the lawmaker voted the way he did, and how the outcome will affect the district. In contrast, a national journalist might try to identify which members are exceptionally active on an issue or how one of these high-profile members reacted to a vote implicating his cause (e.g., John McCain’s reaction to a vote affecting campaign finance). In these instances, it is unlikely that Web sites will be the only place that journalists will look, but a site with crucial information may mean the difference between a representative being included or excluded from the story. Web sites usually will not serve as the only connection between a representative and a journalist, but they are more likely to be the motivation for the journalist to personally contact the member or someone in the member’s office. Analysis We performed a content analysis of all the official Web sites maintained by individual members of Congress in October and November of 2002. To ensure the sites we viewed were indeed the “official” ones, we accessed them through links posted on the House and Senate Web pages. At the time of the study, all the members maintained such a site with the exception of Representative Jesse Jack- son Jr. (D-IL) (who instead relies on a private site that the House neither subsi- dizes nor regulates.)7 Employing an approach similar to that of Brown and Waltzer (2001) and Callison (2003), we first coded each of the 531 sites for whether it contained a section (usually a separate link) specifically labeled as being intended for members of the news media. These “online newsrooms,” according to some public relations firms (e.g., Vocus, Inc. 2002), are the best way to reach journalists because they provide a wealth of news-oriented infor- mation in an organized format. We found that members were using thirty-six different labels to identify this section, including titles such as “Breaking News,” “Media Services,” and “Press Gallery.”8 If an online newsroom existed, we recorded the various features placed on that site to help journalists write a story about the member. It is important to note that we coded only for media-friendly features found inside the online newsrooms and disregarded those located in other areas of the Web sites. We used this coding scheme because we were concerned with members’ overt attempts to attract the news media rather than the inclusion of information that Downloaded from http://hij.sagepub.com at University of the West of Scotland on October 7, 2008
  8. 8. Lipinski, Neddenriep / Using “New” Media 13 journalists could encounter by happenstance. As one scholar put it, “Scattering materials throughout a Web site does little to make a journalist’s life easier” (Callison 2003: 35). Since we believed that many members would be using their Web sites to attract traditional media coverage, we expect a high percentage of members in both chambers to have a section intended specifically for journalists. Our analy- sis reveals that about three-quarters of the members (391 out of 531, or 73.6 percent) utilize online newsrooms to attract journalists. While use of this tactic is not ubiquitous, as was mentioned previously, it has never been the case that all members seek media coverage. Therefore, the large percentage of members who maintain this section on their Web sites demonstrates that members still seek news coverage and they are using their Web sites to try to garner it. We next examined the content of these online newsrooms. Our coding reveals that twenty-nine different features appeared within the online news- rooms (see Table 1). Each newsroom varies to a significant extent in regard to the number of different features available for journalists. The number found inside any single newsroom ranged from one to fifteen. Only a handful of the newsrooms were near the top of the distribution, with only one containing fif- teen features followed by two with eleven features. It was much more common for the number of features to fall somewhere toward the lower end of the range, as members tended to rely on a small number of key items they believed would be useful to journalists. The mean number of features inside the newsrooms was 3.38, while the median and mode were 3 and 1, respectively.In short,journalists visiting the online newsrooms will encounter helpful materials presented in an organized format, but they most likely will not be able to find a smorgasbord of items. The thirty-six different labels used for online newsrooms, the twenty-nine assorted features within the newsrooms, and the disparity in the number of fea- tures utilized by each member demonstrate that there is not a uniform way in which members construct online newsrooms. One explanation for this finding would be that members and their staffs do not have a considerable interest in learning and providing the type of information that journalists seek. This could lead one to question the real importance of these online newsrooms and hence the significance of our findings. However, we are not surprised by the lack of standardization considering the results of the Congressional Management Foun- dation studies. Since the content designed for constituents is generally poor and varies significantly in quality, we should expect the same for the content intended for journalists. We suggest that this is a sign that these online news- rooms, along with congressional Web sites in general, are still at an early stage of development. As time goes on, we expect that staffers in congressional offices will gain experiences that will help them find a more consistent set of features Downloaded from http://hij.sagepub.com at University of the West of Scotland on October 7, 2008
  9. 9. 14 Press/Politics 9(1) Winter 2004 Table 1 Features inside online newsrooms Feature Frequency Percentage with the Feature Press releases 377 96.4 Text of speeches 151 38.6 Columns or op-ed pieces 141 36.1 Links to other Web sites 78 19.9 Audio or video clips 64 16.4 Newsletters 59 15.1 The official photo 54 13.8 Photos of people and events 53 13.6 Press contact information 52 13.3 Articles about the member 51 13 Sign-up for online newsletters 46 11.8 The member’s biography 32 8.2 Official statements 25 6.4 Updates on recent events 23 5.9 Public appearances 18 4.6 Calendar of events or schedule 17 4.3 List of positions on issues 13 3.3 Sponsored legislation 10 2.6 Letters to colleagues 9 2.3 Reports or documents 9 2.3 Interview transcripts 8 2 List of accomplishments 5 1.3 Bills (description or text) 4 1 Online chat capability 4 1 Facts about the home district or state 4 1 Grants procured by the member 4 1 Member’s voting record 4 1 Testimony from hearings 3 0.8 Member’s committee assignments 3 0.8 that are attractive to journalists. The fact that so many offices make an effort to have online newsrooms suggests the importance that members of Congress already place on this new way of reaching journalists. Looking specifically at the types of features included in online newsrooms gives us a better understanding of how members are trying to gain news cover- age through this medium. Our analysis demonstrates that the items inside the newsrooms were mostly other forms of direct communication or traditional methods of attracting journalists that had been organized and posted online (see Table 1). This was especially true for the key items that dominated the content. Press releases, the ubiquitous and time-tested method of gaining news coverage, were unequivocally the most common feature found, appearing in more than 96 percent of the newsrooms. Speeches given by the member—either during a Downloaded from http://hij.sagepub.com at University of the West of Scotland on October 7, 2008
  10. 10. Lipinski, Neddenriep / Using “New” Media 15 public function or during official business in Congress—were a distant second and were present in 38.6 percent of the newsrooms. Newspaper columns or op- ed pieces written by the member rounded out the top three items and were pres- ent 36.1 percent of the time. It was foreseeable that these items would be preva- lent given that members have historically relied on them to garner media atten- tion and to cultivate support among voters. Members are continuing to utilize these mainstays, and they are trying to get more mileage out of them by posting them online in hopes of reaping more interest from journalists. There were only two features that we found in online newsrooms that are dependent on new technology. One gives journalists the opportunity to sign up to receive periodic e-mails that contain press releases, newsletters, or alerts that might be of interest to journalists covering the member. Only forty-six mem- bers (11.8 percent of those with online newsrooms) have Web sites that contain such a feature, but as e-mail becomes more prevalent and accessible, it is likely to increase in importance. The other feature that relies on Internet technology is the opportunity to participate in online chats with the member. Only four mem- bers make this available for journalists. Again, use of this feature may increase with advances in technology that make this more practicable. The overall pattern of media-friendly features found in the online newsrooms fits with what we would expect from the use of a technology that is in an early stage of development. Members are using the Internet to enhance the old ways that they sought media attention, just as they are using it to enhance the old methods of direct communication to constituents. In addition, we found wide variance across sites in the content of the online newsrooms designed for jour- nalists, just as others have found wide variance in the content of Web sites intended for constituents. We expect that as this use of the Internet develops, there will be more standardization in the newsrooms and greater use of new technological innovations. Our final step was to analyze a few of the factors that we believed would explain some of the variance among legislators in regard to the level of media friendliness of their Web sites. We tested our expectation that senators would put more effort than House members into making their site attractive to journal- ists. Our data show that 87 percent of senators maintained online newsrooms while only 70.5 percent of representatives did (see Table 2). This difference between the chambers was statistically significant (and measures of association indicated that the strength of the relationship was fairly strong).9 Senators also tend to put more effort into their newsrooms as measured by the greater num- ber of features.On average,senators have 4.36 items in their newsrooms in com- parison to 3.10 items for House members; this difference is also statistically sig- nificant (t[389] = –5.015, p < .01). These discrepancies between the chambers probably occur because senators are more likely to seek news coverage and journalists are more likely to want to Downloaded from http://hij.sagepub.com at University of the West of Scotland on October 7, 2008
  11. 11. 16 Press/Politics 9(1) Winter 2004 Table 2 Presence of online newsrooms by chamber House Senate Total Online Newsroom Present % n % n % n Yes 70.5 304 87 87 73.6 391 No 29.5 127 13 13 26.4 140 Total 100 431 100 100 100 531 Note: χ2 (1, N = 531) = 11.336, p < .01 (one-tailed); Yule’s Q = 0.473. cover senators.Senators are more attractive to the news media because they gen- erally have more power than representatives. This power inequality results because there are only 100 senators (as compared to 435 House members), sen- ators sit on more committees than representatives, and Senate rules give each of its members a greater ability to affect the legislative process on the chamber floor. The more power an individual has, the more attractive he or she is to the news media. In many media markets, senators are also more likely to be attrac- tive to journalists because their actions are relevant to all of the potential audi- ence, as opposed to House members who may represent only a portion of the market. In addition, senators are more likely to seek media attention; a good number aspire to become president (outside power goal), and many seek to use their power to move policy (policy goal). For these reasons, senators have greater incentives to make their Web sites attractive to journalists, and journal- ists have greater incentives to visit senators’ Web pages; this, in turn, encourages the senators to improve their online newsrooms. In other words, a cycle based on the unique needs of senators and journalists spurs senators to put more effort into constructing media-friendly Web sites. Based on prior research, we suspected that Republicans may put more effort than Democrats into having media-friendly Web sites.While we found 76.3 per- cent of the Republicans maintaining online newsrooms compared to 70.9 per- cent of their Democratic counterparts,this difference was not statistically signif- icant. Our other indicator yielded a similar finding with Republicans, on average, displaying 3.45 items inside their online newsrooms while Democrats typically displayed 3.31 items. When we consider the two chambers separately, however,there is a partisan difference.Republicans in the House are significantly more likely to have an online newsroom (75.6 percent to 65.4 percent, p < .05), while in the Senate, Democrats are more likely to do so (94.0 percent to 79.6 percent, p < .05) (see Table 3). These findings suggest that among individual members, Republicans are not clearly “ahead” of Democrats in using the Web to reach journalists but that there are intrachamber partisan differences that may be attributable to the efforts of party leaders. This result demonstrates the need for Downloaded from http://hij.sagepub.com at University of the West of Scotland on October 7, 2008
  12. 12. Lipinski, Neddenriep / Using “New” Media 17 Table 3 Presence of online newsrooms by party and chamber House House Senate Senate Republicans Democrats Republicans Democrats Online Newsroom Present % n % n % n % n Yes 75.6 167 65.4 136 79.6 39 94.0 47 No 24.4 54 34.6 72 20.4 10 6.0 3 Total 100 221 100 208 100 49 100 50 Note: For House: χ2 (1, n = 429) = 5.354, p < .05 (one-tailed); Yule’s Q = –0.242. For Senate: χ2 (1, n = 99) = 4.504, p < .05 (one-tailed); Yule’s Q = 0.601. Independents were treated as missing data. further study of the technological leadership exhibited by the parties in each chamber. Finally, we surmised that younger members would be more likely to use new technologies because they came of age when computers were becoming more prevalent. Dividing all members into five age groups—younger than 40, 40 to 49, 50 to 59, 60 to 69, and older than 69—indicates that there are no remarkable differences across these groups when comparing members’ usage of online newsrooms. Similar evidence emerged when we looked for a connection between age and the number of features within the newsrooms. Relying on the same five age groups, we found that each group’s average fell somewhere between 3.27 and 3.55 features, and a one-way ANOVA verified that the differ- ences between these means were not statistically significant. Splitting the cham- bers, we found similar results regarding age in the House. In the Senate, though, there was a downward trend in the percentage of members who had an online newsroom as we move up the age categories (see Table 4). However, the small differences and small number of senators in each category produce results that are not statistically significant. The lack of striking age differences perhaps reflects the growing awareness of the importance of the Internet. It appears that even the elder statesmen in Congress realize that their Web site has tremendous potential as a communication tool, and they are now employing staffers who know how to construct and maintain Web pages that reflect this. Conclusion The Internet has been viewed primarily as a threat to traditional news media, but it can also complement the old media by facilitating the work of journalists. While other scholars have shown how members of Congress take advantage of the Internet to send unmediated messages, our analysis reveals that they also Downloaded from http://hij.sagepub.com at University of the West of Scotland on October 7, 2008
  13. 13. 18 Press/Politics 9(1) Winter 2004 Table 4 Presence of online newsroom by age in Senate ≤ 39 Years 40–49 Years 50–59 Years 60–69 Years ≥ 70 Years Online Newsroom Present % n % n % n % n % n Yes 0 0 91.7 11 88.6 31 86.8 33 80 12 No 0 0 8.3 1 11.4 4 13.2 5 20 3 Total 0 0 100 12 100 35 100 38 100 15 Note: χ2 (4, n = 100) = 0.564; Cramer’s V = 0.033. recognize that this new medium can aid journalists and hence can serve as a good medium for attracting news coverage. But use of the Web for this purpose is still developing, as demonstrated by the wide variance in the media-friendly content of these sites and the small number of features made available on most. Nearly all of the items within the newsrooms were simply traditional forms of communica- tion that had been posted online in an organized manner. This is typical usage of a new mode of communication; as time passes, we expect we will see more Internet-only features in online newsrooms and the uniformity across congres- sional offices will increase. We also were able to demonstrate some of the factors that explain the vari- ance among members in the media friendliness of their Web sites. Our data revealed that senators were more likely than House members to put the effort into making their sites media friendly. This can be accounted for by the fact that fundamental differences between the chambers result in senators’having greater incentives to seek media coverage and journalists having more reasons to cover senators. In contrast, we found mixed evidence for the propositions that a mem- ber’s age and party affiliation influence his or her use of online technologies, which may reflect the proliferation of newer technologies into our society. But there is still more work to be done in this area, including analysis of many other factors that may explain variation among members in their use of online news- rooms. We are presently working on a study of the potential impact of race, gen- der, ideology, seniority, electoral security, district median income, and leader- ship position on the media friendliness of members’ Web sites. As time goes on, it will be essential for scholars to continue exploring the use and development of this important link between old and new media. Acknowledgments We would like to thank David Houston for his assistance on this article. Pro- fessor Lipinski would also like to thank Paul Herrnson and the Center for Downloaded from http://hij.sagepub.com at University of the West of Scotland on October 7, 2008
  14. 14. Lipinski, Neddenriep / Using “New” Media 19 American Politics and Citizenship at the University of Maryland for support during a visiting research fellowship. Notes 1. We would like to thank Clyde Brown and Herbert Waltzer for the inspiring the idea of applying such a measurement to political Web sites and for supplying the phrase “media friendly.” 2. There are scholars who claim that the news media serve too much as direct conduits for rep- resentatives rather than mediating (see Bagdikian 1974), while others provide evidence to the contrary (see Tidmarch and Pitney 1985);we will leave those arguments aside for now. 3. For example, the congressional frank can be used only to send mail within a member’s district/state. Also, members can spend public funds to travel back to their district/state to give a speech, but they cannot spend this money to travel elsewhere. 4. Again, we leave aside claims that journalists shill for members of Congress. 5. Adler et al. (1998) also found that more vulnerable members were more likely to solicit casework on their Web sites, demonstrating that content can be affected by the reelection goal. 6. Unfortunately, both the aforementioned studies were limited in their explanatory capacity because they either had a low response rate or an extremely small number of responses. The Middleberg and Ross study, according to Hachigian and Hallahan (2003), mustered only a 10-percent response rate, while the Congressional Management Foundation based its con- clusions on the responses from only thirty-one reporters. 7. Our N dropped from 535 to 531 once we took into account vacant seats and Jackson’s unique situation. 8. The thirty-six labels revealed by our content analysis included the following: Breaking News, Communications, For the Press, Hot News, In the News, In the Press, Issues & News, Latest News, Media, Media Corner, Media Information, Media Services, News, News Archive, News Briefs, Newscenter, News & Commentary, News Flash, News & Information, News & Media, News & Press, News Room, News Stand, News Update, News & Views, Press Box, Press Corner, Press Desk, Press Gallery, Press & More, Press & News, Press Office, Press Room, Press Shop, Press Statements, and Recent News. 9. Even though we are considering an entire population and not just a sample, we include mea- sures of statistical significance. We do this for two reasons: First, we want to expand the inferences we make beyond the exact point in time when the content analysis was per- formed; second, these measures provide a good point of comparison regarding the size of the differences we find between populations. References Adler, E. Scott, Chariti E. Gent, and Cary B. Overmeyer. 1998. “The Homestyle Homepage: Legislator Use of the World Wide Web for Constituency Contact.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 23(4):585-97. Bagdikian, Ben H. 1974. “Congress and the Media: Partners in Propaganda.” Columbia Journalism Review (January/February): 3-10. Brown, Clyde, and Herbert Waltzer. 2001. “Organized Interest Lobbying of the Press: The Case of the Vanishing Advertorials.” Presented at the annual meeting of the Southern Political Sci- ence Association, Atlanta, GA. Downloaded from http://hij.sagepub.com at University of the West of Scotland on October 7, 2008
  15. 15. 20 Press/Politics 9(1) Winter 2004 Callahan, Christopher. 2002. A Journalist’s Guide to the Internet:The Net as a Reporting Tool. 2nd Edi- tion. New York: Allyn & Bacon. Callison, Coy. 2003. “Media Relations and the Internet: How Fortune 500 Company Web Sites Assist Journalists in News Gathering.” Public Relations Review 29(1):29-41. Congressional Management Foundation. 2002. Congress Online:Assessing and Improving Capitol Hill Web Sites. Washington, DC: Congress Online Project. Retrieved July 22, 2003, from http:www.congressonlineproject.org/webstudy2003.html. Congressional Management Foundation. 2003. Congress Online 2003: Turning the Corner on the Information Age. Retrieved July 22, 2003, from http://www.congressonlineproject.org/ webstudy2002.html. Cook, Timothy E. 1988. “Press Secretaries and Media Strategies in the House of Representa- tives: Deciding Whom to Pursue.” American Journal of Political Science 32(4):1047-1069. Coyne, Kara Pernice, and Jakob Nielsen. 2003. “Designing Websites to Maximize Press Rela- tions: Executive Summary.” Retrieved July 22, 2003, from http://www.nngroup.com/ reports/pr/summary.html. Davis, Richard. 1992. The Press and American Politics: The New Mediator. New York: Longman. Davis, Richard. 1999. The Web of Politics:The Internet’s Impact on the American Political System. New York: Oxford University Press. Fenno, Richard F., Jr. 1973. Congressmen in Committees. Boston: Little, Brown. Hachigian, David, and Kirk Hallahan. 2003. “Perceptions of Public Relations Web Sites by Com- puter Industry Journalists.” Public Relations Review 29(1):43-62. Hess, Stephen. 1991. Live from Capitol Hill! Studies of Congress and the Media. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution. Kimball, Penn. 1994. Downsizing the News. Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center. Owen, Diana, Richard Davis, and Vincent James Strickler. 1999. “Congress and the Internet.” Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics 4(2):10-29. Public Relations Tactics. 2000. “What a Journalist Wants.” Public Relations Tactics 7(8):4. Robinson, Michael J. 1981. “Three Faces of Congressional Media.” In The New Congress, ed. Thomas Mann and Norman J. Ornstein. Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute. Schattschneider, E. E. 1960. The Semisovereign People:A Realist’s View of Democracy in America. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Tidmarch, Charles M., and John J. Pitney. 1985. “Covering Congress.” Polity 27:463-83. Vinson, C. Danielle. 2002. Local Media Coverage of Congress and Its Members: Through Local Eyes. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton. Vocus, Inc. 2002. “The Ten Essential Elements of an Online Newsroom.” Retrieved July 22, 2003, from http://www.vocus.com/TenElements/. Biographical Notes Daniel Lipinski is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Tennessee. He received his Ph.D. from Duke University in 1998. He has published numerous articles including most recently “What Happens When House Members ‘Run with Congress’? The Electoral Consequences of Institutional Loyalty”(Legislative Studies Quarterly 2003).His book Congressional Communication:Content and Consequence examines the strategic messages that mem- bers of Congress send to their constituents and will be published in 2004 by the University of Michigan Press. Downloaded from http://hij.sagepub.com at University of the West of Scotland on October 7, 2008
  16. 16. Lipinski, Neddenriep / Using “New” Media 21 Address: Department of Political Science, University of Tennessee, 1001 McClung Tower, Knoxville, TN 37996-0410; phone: (865) 974-7186; fax: (865) 974-7037; e-mail: dlipinsk@ utk.edu. Gregory Neddenriep earned his J.D. from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in 1999. He is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Tennessee where he is writing a dissertation about how race relations within city councils affect the substantive representation of minority interests. Address: Department of Political Science, University of Tennessee, 1001 McClung Tower, Knoxville, TN 37996-0410; phone: (402) 894-4897; e-mail: gneddenr@utk.edu. Downloaded from http://hij.sagepub.com at University of the West of Scotland on October 7, 2008

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