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Abstract

Internet sites such as YouTube represent important changes in the way in which video content can be delivered. YouTube lets viewers access videos on demand and makes it easy for them to share videos with others. The unique nature of on-demand user-supplied video content is of particular interest to the electronic publishing community because of the relative ease with which videos can be produced, uploaded, and shared. Users are now active participants in the media distribution chain. Because users play an active role in the production, distribution, and receipt of YouTube’s media content (e.g., creating, sharing, and viewing), it is appropriate to examine YouTube use from an audience-centered perspective. One such approach is a theoretical framework called “uses and gratifications.” It is used in this study to look at how college students view and share news content on the YouTube Web site.

We found that different motives predicted watching and sharing different types of news-related content. Viewers of news in a more traditional format were doing so primarily for information reasons; viewers of news in comedy and satire formats were doing so primarily for entertainment. Interpersonal communication motives predicted sharing of news videos on YouTube. The results suggest that viewers may be driven by one set of motives for watching news clips on YouTube, and a different set of motives for sharing them.

Introduction

The proliferation of inexpensive video camera and computer-editing software has made it possible for individuals to produce video content, a portion of which is available for distribution on video-sharing Web sites such as YouTube. Much of the content on YouTube is of the homegrown, amateur video variety, but an important subset is produced by professionals (i.e., by the mainstream media and other organizations uploading content to reach the large online audience or by individuals who record and upload professional media content). Included in that subset are news videos. Some industry studies suggest that news clips are the most widely viewed videos in the category of professionally produced content (Vorhaus, 2007).

The estimated audience for YouTube in December 2007 was 64 million visitors (Nielsen Online Reports TopLine U.S. Data for November 2007, 2007). Nielsen Net Ratings suggest that the audience for YouTube mirrors the U.S. online population as a whole: 19% of them are between the ages of 18 and 34 (YouTube Demographics, 2007). That age group is attractive to advertisers, and so their media use is important to traditional news companies, which have long attempted to bring young news consumers into the fold—often without success.

But YouTube is more than a substitute for the traditional TV news delivery system. The diffusion of news depends on interpersonal communication as viewers tell their friends about interesting things they’ve watched or read. Because it is on the Web, YouTube adds an important component to traditional post-viewing activity that earlier forms of television did not have—the ability to share the videos and to replay them within one’s circle of family and friends.

In a more traditional media world, post-viewing activity was typically a discussion about a particularly interesting program around the office water cooler the following morning. In the social networking world, those discussions can take place around an infinite number of virtual water coolers.

Individual viewers are now an important part of the media distribution chain. This study examines the viewing of news video on YouTube to see if this online delivery system can be a vehicle for electronic publishing professionals to reach a key demographic with news and information. It further examines the impact of certain background characteristics and motives for viewing news-related videos on YouTube and sharing them with others.

Theoretical Grounding

Uses and Gratifications Motivation and Audience Orientation

In the new electronic-publishing environment, where individual users are playing a more active role in disseminating video (as well as written) content, researchers and practitioners should be aware of research conducted from an audience-centered perspective. Uses and gratifications is one such perspective.

Uses and gratifications is a social and psychological theory that suggests human communication behavior is driven by people’s needs and desires (e.g., Katz, Blumler, & Gurevitch, 1973, 1974; Rosengren, 1974). We communicate and use media to satisfy those needs and desires. Thus, uses and gratifications is more concerned with the functions that media serve for people than with what media do to people (e.g., Klapper, 1963; Rubin, 2002).

Specifically, uses and gratifications is an “audience-centered perspective that assumes (a) media behavior is purposive, goal-directed and motivated, (b) people select media content to satisfy their needs or desires, (c) social and psychological dispositions mediate that behavior, and (d) the ‘media compete with other forms of communication—or functional alternatives—such as interpersonal interaction for selection, attention and use’” (Rubin et al., 2003, p. 129).

Audience motivation is central to uses and gratifications research. Uses and gratifications researchers tap into more abstract concepts such as needs and desires through measurable constructs such as motives. Motives, in turn, guide communication behavior such as the selection of media and specific content. Specific motives have been linked to choosing media such as radio (Lazarsfeld & Field, 1946), newspaper (Waples, Berelson, & Bradshaw, 1940), television (Rubin, 1983), talk radio (Armstrong & Rubin, 1989), VCRs (Cohen, Levy, & Golden, 1988), the Internet and World Wide Web (Hanson & Hanson, 2006; Kaye & Johnson, 2002; Papacharissi & Rubin, 2000), and specific content such as entertainment fare (Haridakis, 2002; Perse, 1986) and news (Haridakis & Rubin, 2005; Palmgreen, Wenner, & Rayburn, 1980; Perse, 1990a). Recently, researchers have turned their attention to Web-based settings media (Lin, Salwen, & Abdulla, 2003; Tewksbury, 2003).

Although uses and gratifications theory suggests that people are goal-directed and purposive in their media use, such purposiveness is relative. For example, at times audience members actively seek information to satisfy their needs and desires (e.g., Levy & Windahl, 1984). At other times, they use media more passively for diversion, out of habit, or simply to pass the time. Such observations have led researchers to identify general viewer orientations toward media use to reflect links between motives, degree of activity, and attitudes toward a medium, toward its content, or toward both. Researchers have not agreed on the names for groups of motives, degree of activity, and attitudes toward a medium and its content. Rubin (2002) called the combination of more purposive motivation, greater activity (e.g., intentional, attentive, and involved use), and affinity for content “instrumental orientation.” He calls the combination of habitual or passive use and greater affinity for the medium “ritualized orientation.” Perse (1990b) called similar combinations “utilitarian” and “diversionary.”

Motives and broader media-use orientations are further influenced by the psychological and social contexts in which media use occurs (Rubin, 2002). For example, those with limited opportunities for social interaction may turn to the media for companionship and social activity (see, for example, Armstrong & Rubin, 1989; Papacharissi & Rubin, 2000). People may turn to the media to satisfy their need for useful information (Palmgreen et al., 1980). Accordingly, it is important to account for relevant social and psychological circumstances that may influence viewer motivation, activity, and attitudes when studying particular media-use contexts.

Background Characteristics

One personality trait that has been linked with motives for watching television (e.g., Haridakis & Rubin, 2003), perceptions derived from watching televised content (e.g., Wober & Gunter, 1982), and behavioral and attitudinal outcomes (Haridakis, 2002) is locus of control. It reflects people’s perceptions of their ability to control events in their lives. People who believe events in their lives are dictated largely by forces beyond their control (e.g., fate, chance) are said to be externally controlled. Those who believe that they control events in their lives are considered internally controlled. YouTube users can choose what to view, when they view it, and with whom to share it, suggesting that externally controlled viewers and internally controlled viewers may select and use YouTube differently.

Sensation seeking is another personality trait found in media effects research that reflects a person’s need for stimulation and relative tendency to approach rather than avoid novel stimuli. Sensation seeking and its individual dimensions (thrill seeking, experience seeking, disinhibition and boredom) have been linked to motives for watching violent media content (Haridakis, 2002; Krcmar & Greene, 1999) and lighter media content such as soap operas (e.g., Conway & Rubin, 1991). Users of YouTube have access to a wide variety of content—including videos of sensational or off-beat stories—and can access it and share it with others in a novel way. A user’s need for stimulation may affect what YouTube content is selected or shared.

In addition to the two personality characteristics of locus of control and sensation seeking, we examined two social characteristics of YouTube users: social activity and interpersonal interaction. By definition, social-networking environments like YouTube contain a social component. Recent research has found links between Internet users’ motivation for using the Internet, and interpersonal interaction (e.g., Papacharissi, 2002; Papacharissi & Rubin, 2000) and interpersonal relationship closeness (Pornsakulvanich, Haridakis, & Rubin, 2008). If general Internet use is linked to interpersonal interaction, then it is logical to assume that the use of a particular Internet function also will be linked to interpersonal interaction.

This study applies a uses and gratifications framework and considers how personality characteristics (i.e., locus of control and sensation seeking), social background factors (i.e., social activity and interpersonal interaction) and motives for using YouTube influence how and why the much-sought-after college-age cohort views and shares news videos.

Research Questions

Utilitarian motives such as surveillance and information seeking have long been associated with watching news (Palmgreen et al., 1980; Perse, 1990b). Researchers also have noted that computer-mediated communication is often used for relational communication (Papacharissi & Rubin, 2000; Walther, 1996; Wolfradt & Doll, 2001). This has been the case with social-networking sites in particular (Rapacki, 2007). Uses-and-gratifications research also has suggested that media selection and use, as well as the motives for selecting and using media, are influenced by a person’s social and psychological background characteristics (e.g., Haridakis, 2002; Rubin, 2002).

Accordingly, this study considers two broad research questions: (1) How background characteristics and motivation predict whether people will watch traditional and comedy-based news items on YouTube and (2) how these same factors predict whether people will share the content with others.

Methodology

Sample

Students in one of our classes comprised the sample ; the survey was handed out and completed during a single class period. Research and news reporting has suggested that college students tend to use the Internet in general (Morahan-Martin & Schumacher, 2000), and to access YouTube in particular (Hansell, 2006). The sample reflects a desired demographic for media companies and seemed appropriate for the exploratory nature of this study. A total of 291 questionnaires provided usable data. The sample was 33.9% men (coded 0) and 66.1 % women (coded 1). The mean age was 19.83 (SD = 0.47) years.

Measurement

The questionnaire measured the following variables:

  1. social and psychological antecedents (i.e., locus of control, sensation seeking, interpersonal interaction, social activities)
  2. motives for using YouTube
  3. how often subjects watched and shared news videos on YouTube

Locus of Control.

We measured locus of control with Levenson’s (1974) measure. Respondents rated their agreement with 12 statements (1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree) reflecting three dimensions of locus of control: powerful others control (e.g., “my life is chiefly controlled by powerful others”), chance control (e.g., “when I get what I want it’s usually because I’m lucky”), and internal control (e.g., “my life is determined by my own actions”). This has been a valid and reliable method of assessing level of locus of control in past research (Haridakis, 2002; Rubin, 1993). Responses to items reflecting external control were recoded. Therefore, higher scores evidenced greater internal control. Responses were summed and averaged to create the internal control index (M = 3.64, SD = 0.44, α = .72).

Sensation Seeking.

We measured sensation seeking with Form V of Zuckerman’s (1979) scale. This has been a widely used measure of risk-taking behavior in social science research (Krcmar & Greene, 1999). It is comprised of four subscales: thrill seeking, experience seeking, disinhibition, and boredom susceptibility. As in prior communication research (Conway & Rubin, 1991; Haridakis, 2002), respondents indicated their agreement (1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree) with sensation-seeking items. Items were summed and averaged to create indices for each dimension: thrill seeking (M = 3.19, SD = 0.87, α = .86), experience seeking (M = 3.01, SD = 0.69, α = .74), disinhibition (M = 2.96, SD = 0.81, α = .86), and boredom susceptibility (M = 2.73, SD = 0.53, α = .73).

Social Antecedents.

Two dimensions of a life-position measure adapted from prior research (Rubin & Rubin, 1982, 1986, 1989) were used to measure respondents’ levels of social activity and interpersonal interaction. Respondents rated their agreement (1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree) with five statements assessing their social activity (M = 3.53, SD = 0.68, α = .62) and five statements measuring their interpersonal interaction (M = 4.00, SD = 0.55, α = .58).

Motivation for Using YouTube.

We measured YouTube-use motivation with a 51-item scale adapted from previous research. Specifically, we adapted an Internet motives scale developed by Papacharissi and Rubin (2000), which was itself based on past measures of interpersonal communication motives, various media-use motives, and additional items specifically directed at Internet use (Rubin, 1981; Rubin, Perse, & Barbato, 1988). In response to focus-group discussions, we included three items reflecting arousal motivation and three items reflecting social interaction motivation. These six items were adapted from Rubin’s Television Viewing Motives Scale (Rubin, 1983).

Respondents were asked to indicate how much each of the 51 motive statements was like their own reasons for using YouTube (1 = not at all, 5 = exactly). Principal components factor analysis with varimax rotation was used to analyze the motive statements. Four factors, accounting for 67.62% of the total variance, were identified. Responses to items that loaded on each factor were summed and averaged to create indices of the respective viewing motives. The four factors were: leisure entertainment, interpersonal expression, information seeking, and companionship. Table 1 summarizes the results of the factor analysis.

YouTube Use.

We asked respondents to indicate how often (1 = never, 5 = very often) they used YouTube to watch traditional news videos such as segments of CNN, ABC, local newscasts or videos of actual events (M = 2.03, SD = 1.05) and comedy-related or satirical news videos such as The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, or monologues by Jay Leno or David Letterman (M = 2.77, SD = 1.35). We also asked respondents to indicate how often they shared traditional news videos (M = 1.76, SD = 1.04) and comedy-related news videos (M = 2.28, SD = 1.35).

Results

Using YouTube for News

Ninety-one percent of the students in the sample indicated they had watched at least one video on the YouTube Web site. The median amount of time spent watching YouTube is just under 15 minutes per typical week. Of the sample, 69% said they had watched at least some traditional-format news clips on YouTube; 74% indicated they had watched at least some comedy-format news. Many students shared what they watched: 42% said they shared traditional news stories; 57% said they shared comedy news. Fewer than 16% indicated they had uploaded original video clips to the YouTube site; fewer than 7% said they had uploaded clips that someone else had produced. The median number of clips viewed during a single visit to the site is between 1 and 2 irrespective of the content. The highest was 100. One subject reported sharing as many as 30 video clips in a week.

Motivation for Watching and Sharing YouTube

We used multiple regression analysis to assess the relevant contribution of motives and the other antecedent variables to predict the viewing and sharing of YouTube’s news content. The uses and gratifications model suggests that an individual’s background characteristics can influence motives for media use. Accordingly, variables were entered into the equations in the following conceptual order: first, user background characteristics, and second, user motives. We entered age and gender on a first step in the regression equations for purposes of control. Final results of the hierarchical regression analyses are summarized in table 2.

Watching Traditional News Videos

Demographic variables entered on the first step (age and gender) accounted for less than 1% of the variance in watching traditional news videos. Neither age nor gender was a predictor. Background characteristics (social activities, interpersonal interaction, locus of control, and sensation seeking) on step 2 increased the explained variance by 4.7%. The F change was not significant (p = .058). The only predictor was locus of control (β = −.16, p < .05). Entering the viewing motives on the third step added an additional 9% to the variance. The F change was significant (p < .001). Information-seeking motivation was a significant predictor of watching traditional news videos. Locus of control ceased to be a predictor at this step.

Accordingly, after all variables were entered, information-seeking motivation was the only significant contributor to the final equation (β = .25, p < .01). These results suggest, not surprisingly, that those who were seeking information were more likely than their counterparts to watch traditional news content on YouTube.

Watching Comedy News Videos

Age and gender accounted for 6.5% of the variance when entered on the first step. Male gender (β = −.25, p < .001) was a significant predictor.

Social activities, interpersonal interaction, locus of control, and sensation seeking, entered on the second step, increased the explained variance by 8%. The F change was significant (p < .01). Locus of control (β = −.14, p < .05) and social activities (β = .14, p < .05) were significant predictors.

Entering viewing motives on the third step added an additional 15.1% to the explained variance. The F change was significant (p < .001). Leisure entertainment motivation (β = .32, p < .001) was the only motive that predicted watching comedy news. Both locus of control and social activity ceased to be predictors.

Accordingly, significant contributors to the final equation were leisure entertainment motivation (β = .32, p < .001) and male gender (β = −.18, p < .01). These results suggest that males motivated by a desire for leisure entertainment were more likely than their counterparts in the study to watch comedy news videos on YouTube.

Sharing Traditional News Videos

Age and gender entered on the first step accounted for less than 1% of the variance in sharing traditional news video content. Neither was a predictor. Background variables entered on step 2 accounted for an additional 5.6% of the variance. The change in F was significant (p < .05). External locus of control (β = −.15, p < .05) was the only significant predictor.

“YouTube users who shared traditional news videos tended to do so for purposes of interpersonal expression.”

Entering motives increased explained variance by 5.5%. The F change was significant (p < .01), and sharing for interpersonal expression (β = .22, p < .01) was a significant predictor. Locus of control ceased to be a predictor. These results suggest that YouTube users who shared traditional news videos tended to do so for purposes of interpersonal expression.

Sharing Comedy News Videos

Age and gender accounted for 1.9% of the variance in comedy news video sharing. Male gender (β = −.13, p < .05) was a predictor. Social activities, interpersonal interaction, locus of control, and sensation seeking increased explained variance by 7%. Two sensation-seeking variables—disinhibition (β = −.21, p < .01) and experience seeking (β = .20, p < .01)—were predictors.

Entry of motivation factors (third step) increased explained variance by 23%, with a significant F change (p < .001). Leisure entertainment motivation (β = .30, p < .001) and interpersonal expression motivation (β = .28, p < .01) were significant predictors of sharing comedy news content. Thrill seeking (β = −.12, p < .05) also emerged as a predictor.

Accordingly, two motives (leisure entertainment and interpersonal expression) and one background characteristic (experience seeking) were significant positive contributors to the final equation. Two background characteristics (thrill seeking and disinhibition) were significant negative predictors.

Thus, participants most likely to share comedy news content were less disinhibited and less willing to engage in thrilling behavior (but more willing to engage in experience seeking) and tended to share this content for purposes of leisure entertainment and interpersonal expression.

YouTube as a Harbinger

“For electronic publishers, there are similarities between this phenomenon and the proliferation of desktop publishing of printed material a generation earlier.”

Internet sites such as YouTube represent important changes in the way video content, including news, will be delivered in the future. Viewers can access news on demand and play a more active role in the distribution channel by forwarding video clips to other people. In this study we focused on factors influencing viewing and sharing news videos. However, the growing role of the user in the distribution process has important implications for anyone engaged in electronic publishing. For electronic publishers, there are similarities between this phenomenon and the proliferation of desktop publishing of printed material a generation earlier. Inexpensive video recorders and cameras, coupled with easy-to-use editing software and the ability to deliver videos online, have democratized the creation and distribution of video. Mainstream media companies can no longer exert total control over the distribution of their own media content. It’s too soon to understand the long-term impact of this change on news and information viewership. It does suggest that viewing and sharing news videos are not mutually exclusive and that the number of gatekeepers is as infinite as the number of electronic water coolers around which viewers gather to chat.

We found important links between viewing and sharing news on YouTube and users’ motives for these two activities. Studies of television news viewing have suggested that information seeking and entertainment are important motives for watching television news (Perse, 1992). We found this to be the case with YouTube as well. These results suggest, at least for the young adults in this study, that motives for watching traditional and comedy-related news videos were similar to ones identified in previous news-viewing research. However, the types of videos available seem to have made a difference, too. Those who watched more traditional news content wanted information; those who watched news in comedy and satire formats wanted entertainment. This may answer the critics who are concerned that some viewers may not understand the difference between news and “news.” Participants in this study indicated they can tell one from the other. An optimist might see the results as support for the position that people are less likely to be swayed by the satire of Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert. A pessimist might point out that people still absorb information and form opinions about the news from the satirical programs—even when viewers tune in to be entertained.

These results also may support previous uses-and-gratifications arguments that people can use different communication channels as functional (Rosengren & Windahl, 1972) or co-equal (Rubin & Rubin, 1985) alternatives for satisfying their needs and desires. What researchers should examine more closely in future research is whether the opportunity to view mediated fare on demand, as permitted by YouTube, makes YouTube the preferred channel for such fare for some viewers. The on-demand nature of YouTube may make it more attractive than the traditional media for those viewers seeking the immediate satisfaction that instant access provides.

It is important to understand the nuances behind the viewing choices in this study. Factor analysis revealed that the entertainment motive stressed its leisure components, while items that emphasized the economy and convenience of information acquisition characterized the information motive.

The results also suggest that viewers may be driven by one set of motives for watching news clips on YouTube, but have a different set of motives for sharing them. The need for interpersonal expression was a predictor for sharing both categories of content. A nuanced reading of the motive is important here, too. The factors comprising the interpersonal motive stressed the need to express one’s self and to have a voice in the marketplace of information.

Uses and gratifications theory posits that viewer personality traits should be accounted for in studies of media use and effects. Our analysis of YouTube viewer motivation supports this. Specifically, disinhibition and thrill seeking were negative predictors of sharing comedy news content, while experience seeking, leisure entertainment, and interpersonal expression motivations were significant positive predictors. This suggests a rather informal way of sharing videos for entertainment and interpersonal expression among those who may be seeking experience, but otherwise are non–sensation seekers.

“Viewers of news are now part of the distribution chain.”

These findings are significant for media professionals and researchers alike. Video sites like YouTube give news organizations the opportunity to reach audiences through a secondary market of mouse clicks and forwarded e-mails, and viewers of news are now part of the distribution chain. The ability to tease out the motivations for that activity can play a part in identifying opinion leaders in the social networking spaces who will be attractive for media companies to know. The changes in video distribution are important for researchers also, as they struggle to understand the changing relationship between mass communication and interpersonal communication functions—particularly for media content that’s delivered on demand and through new social networks. The predictive strength of the motives found in this study suggest that the uses-and-gratifications approach, even though it emerged in a simpler media time, is still useful for understanding audiences’ media use and the confluence of background characteristics and audience activity that impact their use, and ultimately, the effects of that use.

Limitations of the Study and Future Research

Clearly these results have to be interpreted with caution. As we suggested earlier, YouTube, despite claims of a large number of users and the proliferation of content on the site, is a relatively new phenomenon with which users are still becoming acquainted. Thus, claims of its uses and effects for the general population cannot be made with confidence. Our sample of college students was not a group of heavy YouTube users and they had not yet developed strong motivations for using it. But it does provide a benchmark for future studies when YouTube becomes a more familiar medium.

Our results from this convenience sample should not be generalized to other populations of YouTube users. Future research should test these preliminary observations by including additional measures of audience activity to get a clearer picture of how active or passive YouTube use is. Research that assesses the level of viewing intention, attention, and involvement while viewing, and the amount of post-viewing interaction stimulated via sharing, is needed to evaluate use on an interactivity-passivity continuum.

“Getting information into the hands of the opinion leaders is important for the dissemination of mediated fare.”

In addition, further research should examine the role of a wider array of social and psychological background characteristics that will help researchers identify additional factors that could more fully explain how YouTube is used. The measures for this study were taken from prior research of television viewing and Internet use. Valid survey questions and measurement scales need to be developed for studying interactive and social-networked media. The existence of the social networks needs to be explored further, too. We know that getting information into the hands of the opinion leaders is important for the dissemination of mediated fare. Do YouTube users who tend to seek traditional news information share it for different interpersonal reasons than those who seek out more comedic news fare? Do those who are opinion leaders with respect to traditional news fare, in turn, tend to be recipients of comedic news or other entertainment fare from those who seek out that type of content? This study did not answer these questions, but suggests a framework for doing so.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the results of this study and the theoretical framework used should be considered to examine media use in other electronic-publishing contexts. We focused on YouTube because of its immense popularity and phenomenal rate of adoption by users. But the on-demand nature of YouTube is a salient feature in a host of other electronic-publishing contexts, all of which are new. Blogs, wikis, and user-generated comments posted to news stories from the traditional media are just some examples of this phenomenon in the printed (written) world. Photo sharing sites such as Flickr and audio and podcast aggregating sites such as iTunes expand the list to include other media. YouTube itself is not the only video-sharing Web site. Other sites include videos on the social networking MySpace and Facebook and on lesser-known sites such as Bolt and SingingFool. Each of these sites represents a form of electronic publishing in which users can connect with each other and create, edit, and share their own content. We believe that these phenomena expand the reach of electronic publishers by adding new creators, new distribution channels, and new messages to the mix. These facts make it all the more necessary to examine user-generated electronic publishing from as part of the electronic publishing landscape and to understand the background characteristics, motives, and use patterns of those who are part of the process.

Table 1: Primary factor loadings of motives
Factor 1 Factor 2 Factor 3 Factor 4
Because it amuses me .890 .172 .109 .051
Because it’s enjoyable .877 .122 .128 .024
Because it’s entertaining .877 .096 .097 .060
Because it’s fun to play around and check things .869 .089 .105 .037
When I have nothing better to do .837 .168 .051 .116
Because it passes the time away particularly when I’m bored .817 .159 .161 .151
Because it gives me something to occupy my time .804 .196 .204 .046
Just because it’s there .774 .230 .179 .140
Because I like to use it .765 .236 .277 .072
Because I can use it any time .705 .256 .326 .128
To see what’s out there .699 .193 .390 −.070
Because it’s just a habit, just something to do .679 .213 .260 .073
Because it’s something to do when friends come over .646 .339 .178 −.068
Because I can view material in videos online, and I don’t have to pay for them .642 .144 .345 −.024
Because it’s exciting .641 .314 .271 .186
Because it’s thrilling .614 .350 .348 .176
To belong to a group with the same interests as mine .121 .759 .171 .262
To participate in discussions .181 .757 .224 −.106
To give my input .258 .759 .189 −.103
To communicate with family and friends .158 .749 .137 .046
Because I enjoy answering other people’s questions .192 .724 .105 .280
To show others encouragement .218 .703 .125 .245
Because I can express myself freely .258 .665 .251 .154
To meet new people .046 .639 .029 .385
To help others .178 .624 .341 .161
So I can talk to other people about what’s going on .326 .608 .294 .047
To get more points of view .289 .601 .459 .088
Because it provides an interesting way to do research .239 .299 .724 .214
To keep up with current issues or events .196 .284 .720 .158
To get information for free .419 .329 .650 −.093
To search for information .318 .197 .647 .180
Because it’s easier to get information .452 .328 .625 −.076
Because it makes me feel less lonely .186 .398 .167 .756
So I won’t have to be alone .120 .447 .174 .716
Eigenvalue 10.49 6.82 3.87 1.81
% variance expained 30.84% 20.06% 11.38% 5.34%
Mean 2.68 1.35 1.83 1.26
SD 1.12 0.58 0.91 0.63
Cronbach’s alpha .96 .92 .87 r=.74
Note: Factor 1=leisure entertainment; factor 2=interpersonal expression; factor 3=information seeking and factor 4=companionship.
Table 2: Summary of final results when regressing news video viewing and sharing on audience background and motive variables
Traditional News Viewing Comedy News Viewing Traditional News Sharing Comedy News Sharing
Predictor variables Final β Final β Final β Final β
Step 1 Age .02 −.04 .05 −.03
Gender −.01 −.18** −.01 −.05
Step 2 Social activity .12 .09 .10 −.00
Interpersonal interaction .04 .09 .06 .09
Locus of control −.08 −.10 −.10 −.06
Thrill seeking −.02 −.06 −.07 −.12*
Disinhibition .03 −.02 .06 −.19**
Experience seeking .01 .08 .07 .18**
Boredom susceptibility −.03 .02 −.04 .06
Step 3 Motives
Leisure entertainment −.12 .32*** −.10 .30***
Information seeking .25** .04 .13 .06
Interpersonal expression .08 .15 .22* .28**
Companionship .13 −.08 −.03 −.08
Note: All betas are final betas on the last step of the regression. N = 291.
*p < .05
**p < .01
***p < .001.
Traditional news viewing (R = .38, R2 = .14, F(13, 274) = 3.44, p < .001)
Comedy news viewing (R = .55, R2 = .30, F(13, 274) = 9.16, p < .001)
Traditional news sharing (R = .34, R2 = .11 F(13, 274) = 2.67, p < .01)
Comedy news sharing (R = .57, R2 = .32, F(13, 273) = 9.83, p < .001).

Gary Hanson is an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Kent State University and a 25-year veteran of television news. From 1984 to 1997 he was News Director of WKBN, the CBS television affiliate in Youngstown, Ohio. He was Freedom and Responsibility Chair of the RTV-J Division of AEJMC, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, chairman of the Radio-Television News Directors Association, representing 3,800 broadcast and cable journalists around the world. His work with RTNDA included the chairmanship of the Education Liaison Committee, serving as the liaison between the industry association and the nation’s radio and television journalism education community. He won three National Association of Television Arts and Sciences Regional EMMY awards in the Cleveland region for his work as principal reporter on the WKBN-TV public affairs broadcast “Newswatch Sunday.” Prior to joining WKBN, he was news director of KXON-TV in Mitchell, South Dakota. He began his television career at WDAZ-TV in Grand Forks, North Dakota, in 1971. He earned a B.A. in Speech from the University of North Dakota in 1973. He can be reached at glhanson@kent.edu.

Paul Haridakis is an associate professor of Communication Studies at Kent State University. He teaches and conducts research in the areas of freedom of speech, media law and policy, and media uses and effects. His research is cross-disciplinary, appearing in journals and books in the fields of law, communication, political science, psychology, and justice studies. He can be reached at pharidak@kent.edu.

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