Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mass Communication

Document Type



Before the Telecommunications Act of 1996, station ownership was highly restricted to ensure that owners could not dominate in any one market nor own more than a handful of stations across all markets. The Act deregulated station ownership, redefining the role of the station owner from a financial supporter of public communication to an aggressive competitor in the television marketplace. With nearly three quarters of Americans citing local television and digital journalism as their top sources for information, this study serves two purposes: (1) to confirm the existence of storytelling as a professional, value-driven journalistic behavior in local television news and (2) to discuss the current state of the storytelling norm within the context of the larger crisis of journalism. The data from this dissertation come from four methodological approaches to the study of local television news: (1) observations of 18 days of news packaging inside ten local television newsrooms across seven companies and six markets, (2) qualitative comparisons of 32 cases of news packaging for the 6:00 pm newscasts that aired during the observation days, (3) two content analyses of each of the television and web products published in connection to the 32 cases and (4) 62 long-form, semi-structured interviews with the managers, producers, reporters and photographers responsible for those 32 cases. Findings indicate that journalistic norms are indeed vulnerable to corporate demands in particular when combined with a lack of meaningful managerial support. These data show that storytelling in local television news is a performance compromised by the search for economies of scale, where whether an event is covered is primarily the decision of people other than those who determine how an event should be covered.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Miller, Andrea