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On Target or Off the Mark: A Content Analysis of Air Force News Release Usage in Prestige and Air Force-Related Newspapers During Operation Northern Watch

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Master's thesis

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This study evaluated the use of information contained in U.S. Air Force news releases about Operation Northern Watch by three national newspapers -- the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Air Force Times from January 1, 1997 to December 31, 1999. The purpose of the study was posed as a research question To what degree did the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Air Force Times use information provided in U.S. Air Force news releases regarding Operation Northern Watch The research involved a content analysis in the context of a case study, examining news articles from Section A of the two prestige newspapers and all news articles filling the news hole in the Air Force-related newspaper. News releases and articles were compared to determine whether certain releases could have generated particular articles. If a match was found, the release and article were paired and coded. All of the releases examined contained a positive tone. Nearly 60 of the articles examined contained a positive tone, 21 were balanced, and less than 15 were negative. All releases were hard news, and all but one was past-oriented. Most of the articles were hard news and past-oriented. Most articles in the prestige newspapers used minimal information from the news releases, while the Air Force Times used minimal and significant information equally. Nearly half of the articles examined used sources outside the Air Force, but inside the Department of Defense. Less than 60 of all articles examined were found to contain very high accuracy, meaning all of the five Ws who, what, where, when, and why provided in the release were present and correct in the articles.

Subject Categories:

  • Administration and Management
  • Information Science
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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