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«13TH INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC RELATIONS RESEARCH CONFERENCE “Ethical Issues for Public Relations Practice in a Multicultural World” Holiday Inn ...»

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Measures Journalistic Behavior. Bloggers’ journalistic behavior was measured using a total of six items related to solving the food security problem. Specifically, journalistic behavior was measured by asking how often (1=rarely; 5=very often) they (1) wrote their comments or opinions on the food security problem, (2) edited or summarized the information related to the problem, (3) checked facts when they posted the articles related with the problem, (4) collected errors in posting the articles related with the problem on their blogs, (5) visited the location of events to report about the problem on their blogs, and (6) monitored or watched the mass media’s reporting on the problem. 15 Issue Involvement. Issue Involvement was measured by determining the perceived effect of an issue on self-relevance and importance. A 3-item questionnaire asking about the food security problem was designed to measure levels of issue involvement. Specifically, issue involvement was measured by asking (1=rarely; 5=very strongly) the (1) frequency of thought on, (2) personal relevance with, and (3) importance of the food security problem.

Blog Self-efficacy. Measurement of blog self-efficacy assessed respondents’ belief, confidence, and volition to solve the problem using their blogs. For example, blog self-efficacy was measured by asking (1= not at all; 5 = very likely); (1) ‘If you are using the blog to solve the food security problem, do you believe yourself that that you are capable of executing a behavior required to produce certain outcomes?’ (2) ‘If you use blogs to solve the problem, are you confident that you are capable of executing a behavior required to produce certain outcomes?’ and (3) ‘If you use blogs to solve the problem, do you have strong volition to execute the behavior required to produce certain outcomes in spite of interruption from other groups?’ Situational theory’s variables: Problem recognition was measured by asking (1=rarely;

5=very often) the extent to which individuals recognize a problem facing them: the frequency of 14 The Chinese milk and infant formula adulterated with melamine led to kidney stones and other renal failure, especially among young children, and nearly 300,000 people had become ill, with more than 50,000 infant hospitalizations and six infant deaths (Branigan, 2008) 15 Journalistic behaviors’ items was parceled into three sets of item to reduce the dimensionality and number of parameters estimated, resulting in more stable parameter estimates and proper solutions of model fit.

604 thought on the food security problem. Constrained recognition was measured by asking (1=none;

5=great deal) the respondents whether they believed they could do anything personally that would make a difference in the way the issue is handled. Level of involvement was measured by asking to what extent (1=rarely; 5=very strongly) the respondents see a connection between themselves and the issue, and to what extent the respondents believe the issue has affected them. Information seeking was measured by asking (1= not at all; 5=very likely) (1) how likely the respondents will subscribe to an Internet news site to receive the information when the Internet news site distributes important food security information to its subscribers, (2) how likely the respondents would seek the information related to the issue in the mass media (TV, radio, and newspapers), and (3) how often they discussed the issue with their family and (4) friends. Information processing was measured by asking (1=rarely; 5=very often) (1) how often they watch, read, and listen the food security issue from the media, (2) to what extent they recall hearing or reading about the food security issue from the media, and (3) how much attention the respondents will pay to the food security issue as reported by the mass media.

Results

Measurement Models In SEM, the survey data were analyzed in two ways: checking the validity of the measurement and testing the path model’s goodness of fits. First, as confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) can be used to check the validity of the measurement (McDonald & Ho, 2002), this study used confirmatory factor analysis to assure that the latent variables in situational theory and the BPS model are exclusive with each other, and that the indicators were loading solely on the expected variable. The results, as shown in Table 1, revealed that the indicators load on their latent variables, and fall clearly into six factors explained by the six variables. The original theoretical division of six latent variables is thus strongly supported.

605

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In addition, measurement models were evaluated using goodness of fit measures to check whether the model’s items on the corresponding scale represented the same latent variable. To examine the goodness-of-fit of the measurement models for situational theory and the BPS model, this study used the chi-square test, the comparative fit index (CFI), the Tucker-Lewis index (TLI), and the root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA); the values of CFI and TLI are recommended greater than.9; RMSEA accepted less than.08 corresponds to an acceptable fit, which generally used in SEM studies (McDonald & Ho, 2002).

The results indicate the measurement models of situational theory and the BPS model had acceptable fit measures. Specifically, the measurement model for situational theory has an acceptable fit measures (χ2=66.785, df=13, p.001, CFI=.973, TLI=.956, RMSEA=.068). In BPS model, it has also good fit measures (χ2=53.556, df=24, p.001, CFI=.992, TLI=.989, RMSEA=.037). Although the chi-square value is unacceptable, it cannot be taken definitively 606 because of its sensitivity to sample size (McDonald & Ho, 2002). Other values of CFI, TLI, and RMSEA, which are insensitive to sample size, are strongly considered to be acceptable. Hence, the path model for the BPS was examined next.





Path Model and Hypotheses Testing Finally, analyzing the path models of situational theory and the BPS with the method of maximum likelihood, research hypotheses were tested. Technically, in SEM, a hypothesized model produces an estimated population covariance matrix. This matrix examines the extent to which the proposed estimated population covariance can fit into the sample covariance matrix, estimating as the difference between the discrepancy functions for the measurement model and the structural model (McDonald & Ho, 2002). Most of all, H1 was tested by the goodness-of-fit indices in the path model of situational theory analysis. H2 and H3 were tested in the same way the fit of the path model of the BPS to the sample data was evaluated. For H4, one-way ANOVA was used to demonstrate the distinctions between an active blogger public and other publics in their degree of journalistic behavior.

Regarding H1, H2, and H3, the evaluation results of path models for situational theory and the BPS produced four kinds of structural model fit indices, as shown in Table 2.

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H1 is to prove situational theory’s limitation in segmenting public in the blog context; it is estimated that the path model of situational theory will have an unacceptable fit. As shown in Table 2, supporting H1, situational theory lacked acceptable path model fits (χ2=685.679, df=33, p.001, CFI=.697, TLI=.632, RMSEA=.159). The path model for situational theory indicated a poor fit in that there is a substantial proportion of variance in the data not explained by the model.

Corresponding with the arguments for situational theory’s limitations in the blog context, the weak path model fits in SEM underscores situational theory’s failure to represent the substantial phenomenon of the blogging context. Thus, H1 was accepted.

H2 and H3, testing the direct effects of issue involvement and blog self-efficacy on journalistic behavior, were evaluated by the statistical significance of independently estimated coefficients in the path model of the BPS. Before testing these hypotheses, the path model was confirmed by the Q-plot of standardized residuals which characterized by points falling approximately on a line.

Also, as shown in Table 2, the goodness of fit indices of the BPS model was examined. The results had a good fit to test our hypotheses (χ2=115.267, df=25, p.001, CFI=.977, TLI=.967, RMSEA=.064).

Figure 3 presents the results of the path model equation. This path model consists of three latent variables: issue involvement, blog self-efficacy, and journalistic behavior. This causal model indicated that issue involvement positively and significantly predicts an increase in journalistic behavior. The value.23 is the standardized coefficient for the strong positive direct effects of issue involvement on journalistic behavior, supporting H2 (p.001). Likewise, blog self-efficacy had a 607 significant positive association with journalistic behavior; the standardized coefficient of.32 represents a strong positive effect of blog self-efficacy on journalistic behavior, supporting H3 (p.001). These results mean bloggers with high issue involvement and blog self-efficacy are more likely to behave journalistically in the blogosphere.

Figure 3 Results of the path model of BPS.

Note: Parameter estimates are standardized path coefficients; ***p.001.

Lastly, regarding H4, the active blogger public of the BPS model will exhibit a higher degree of journalistic behaviors than other publics. One-way ANOVA used to test for difference between blogger publics reinforces this finding. The analyses revealed a significant main effect in two 2 independent variables on the dependent variable (F(891, 3)= 36.671, p 0.001, η = 0.110). In the additional results of the follow-up test, Bonferroni post-hoc was employed to compare the active public with each other group’s mean of journalistic behavior yielded a significant difference between active blogger publics and other publics (p.01), which strongly supported H4.

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represent a different paradigm in media use, they, through re-creation of shared experiences, can behave journalistically. In this background, the present study theoretically proposes a new blogger public segmentation model. The proposed model, the BPS model, posits that bloggers’ substantial influence on issue activation must be gauged as journalistic behavior; and both their issue involvement and blog self-efficacy variables are estimated to increase of their journalistic behaviors. In this model, bloggers are typologized as active, constrained, latent, or routine publics.

In sum, this article aims to disprove the applicability of situational theory to the blog situation, and to propose and verify a new model to segment blogger publics. This is demonstrated using the food security issue Korea experienced in 2008. Analysis of the data collected from 895 online surveys garnered from Korean bloggers is summarized as follows.

First, this study reveals that situational theory is ineffective in the blog context. In a structural equation model approach, the path model of situational theory has no acceptable model fit indices.

This implies situational theory fails to effectively classify blogger publics. As estimated, bloggers go beyond the boundary of traditional public segmentation theory; situational theory has limits in covering bloggers’ journalistic attributions and the source of their motivation to act journalistically in the blogosphere. Briefly, this article suggests that since bloggers become part of journalism in certain situations, situation theory misplaces the public at the “end” of the journalistic process. This ignores the blogger’s role as an active producer of information, rather than a passive recipient.

Second, the proposed hypothetical BPS model has been empirically verified. The BPS model has good model fit indices in SEM analyses and the four types of publics by the BPS model also have different levels of journalistic behaviors. The BPS model has good indices, and active blogger publics have higher level of journalistic behaviors than other types of bloggers. In total, this indicates the proposed model represents well the phenomenon of the blogosphere.

As a whole, this study proposes and verifies a new public segmentation model for bloggers, attempting to move away from the use of mass communication approaches. These results have implications in both theory and practice. In theory, these results suggest that to identify the emergence of new publics in the blogosphere, public relations researchers need to move beyond the traditional approach in which a public refers to a group of individuals who can be understood as mere users of media. In a scientific way, the structural equation model approach also helps examine an argument for situational theory’s limitations. To be more proactive, the researchers need to view the new publics in the blogosphere as emergent through the creation and re-creation of shared information embedded in journalistic practices.



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