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Subject: AEJ 05 ChenY PR A Study of Journalists Perception of Candidates Websites and Their Relationships with the Campaign Organization in Taiwans 2004 Presidential Election
From: Elliott Parker <[log in to unmask]>
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Date:Mon, 6 Feb 2006 14:28:38 -0500
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This paper was presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and
Mass Communication in San Antonio, Texas August 2005.
         If you have questions about this paper, please contact the author
directly. If you have questions about the archives, email
rakyat [ at ] eparker.org. For an explanation of the subject line, 
send email to
[log in to unmask] with just the four words, "get help info aejmc," in the
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(Feb 2006)
Thank you.
Elliott Parker
====================================================================

A Study of Journalists' Perception of Candidates' Websites and
Their Relationships with the Campaign Organization in
Taiwan's 2004 Presidential Election




Yi-Ning Katherine Chen

Associate Professor
Department of Advertising
National Cheng-chi University
Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China

E-mail: [log in to unmask]
Tel: 8862-29393091 ext. 88013





Submitted to the Public Relations Division of the Association for 
Education in Journalism and Mass Communication for the 2005 Annual 
Conference, San Antonio, TX


A Study of Journalists' Perception of Candidates' Websites and
Their Relationships with the Campaign Organization in
Taiwan's 2004 Presidential Election


Abstract

This investigation is designed to gain insight into what the 
perceptions are for journalists in using a candidate's website as a 
news gathering tool. Drawing upon the somewhat limited research to 
date, this study also seeks to explore how journalists' perception of 
the websites affects their relationships with the campaign 
organization. The results show that the some of the perceptions of 
such websites, as related to the relationship components, suggest 
that a candidate's website may enhance this relationship.


Keywords: journalists, presidential election in Taiwan, relationship, 
candidate's website













A Study of Journalists' Perception of Candidates' Websites and
Their Relationships with the Campaign Organization in
Taiwan's 2004 Presidential Election


Introduction
Political campaign practitioners have widely adopted website 
technology to communicate with their key constituents, including 
journalists. Political campaign professionals can use the Internet to 
reach audiences anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 
At the same time, a growing number of journalists now use the World 
Wide Web as an information gathering tool. Journalists cite the scope 
and depth of information as among the most appealing reasons, as well 
as the speed at which information can be retrieved. One researcher 
argues that the Internet has vastly improved the efficiency and 
effectiveness of reporting (Garrison, 2000). Journalists can quickly 
find newsmakers, conduct background research about businesses, 
organizations, and individuals, identify new story ideas, and locate 
public and private information stored in digital format. The current 
technologies of the news media make newsgathering and production more 
efficient, faster, and cost-effective. They also enhance news 
producers' creativity and encourage new approaches to old tasks.
Ever since the 1996 presidential campaign, the Internet has been 
examined as a means of political information exchange in Taiwan. 
Today, most political leaders have begun to convey their message over 
the Internet. Most have established websites where information on a 
candidate's background, issue statements, and supporters, and as well 
as daily campaign information, can be obtained.
Some attention has been paid to the implications of on-line 
campaigning for the voters, but little attention has been given to 
how candidates' campaign websites affect the reporters' information 
gathering routines during the campaign. In addition, the adoption of 
website technology seems to have changed the relationship between 
political campaign practitioners and journalists. Websites are not 
viewed as a replacement for face-to-face communication, but as a way 
to strengthen relationships that already exist (Hill & White, 2000). 
Capps (1993) argued that "public relations is and always will be 
about human relationships" and "the personal touch." However, he 
concluded that technology can be integrated into a press-the-flesh 
environment, and that Internet communication can include a "personal 
touch" that makes public relations effective.
This investigation is designed to gain insights into what factors 
when using a candidate's website influence journalists' relationship 
with the campaign organization. Drawing upon the somewhat limited 
research to date about journalists' use of the Internet in a 
political campaign, this study seeks to explore how journalists' 
perceptions of a candidate's website affect the journalists' 
relationship with the campaign organization. Practitioners should 
benefit from a better understanding of how reporters use websites and 
perceive the relationship-building role of the Internet in their work.

LITERATURE REVIEW
Websites as Routine Newsgathering Sources
Researchers have estimated that as much as 80% of news content is 
influenced by public relations sources (Aronoff, 1976). In a survey, 
journalists acknowledged using public relations materials in news 
stories "all the time" (3.1%), "often" (21.1%), "sometimes" (48.1%), 
"very rarely (20.7%), or "never (5.3%). Content analysis has 
indicated how public relations materials are utilized by journalists 
(Eilts, 1990). According to another survey, most U.S. journalists 
(98%) have daily Internet access and spend about fifteen hours a week 
online for their work (Middleberg & Ross, 2000), and most public 
relations practitioners (99%) access and use the Internet to support 
public relations objectives (Ryan, M., 1999). Practitioners now 
develop electronic newsletters and use the Internet to deliver 
information to journalists. Journalists use news releases and press 
kits placed on the Internet and gather information there, too. It 
seems that newsrooms are making a serious commitment to the use of 
the Internet as a tool for gathering news (Garrison, 2003a). 
Journalists using the Internet have expressed concern for the quality 
of websites when gathering information. Journalists perceive success 
in using the Web when they fond information they seek, especially 
when it has been a challenge to locate. They seek background 
information and what they consider to be difficult-to-find 
information (Garrison, 2003b).
Empirical studies on the Internet's impact over this online 
relationship between practitioners and journalists are limited, and 
only a few articles in practitioner-oriented journals have shown 
either optimism or skepticism regarding the Internet and public 
relations. Most of them argue that an "Internet presence" has changed 
the conditions under which practitioners create fast and confidential 
communication, enabling dialogue relationships with journalists. 
Others have suggested that the value and effectiveness of using the 
technology are mixed. Practitioners pride themselves on the personal 
touch, and journalists prefer face-to face communication.

Relationships in Public Relations
Ledingham and Bruning (1998) first defined the organization-public 
relationship as "the state that exists between an organization and 
its key public, in which the actions of either entity impact the 
economic, social, political and (or) cultural well-being of the other 
entity" (Ledingham & Bruning, 1998). Relationship management also can 
be defined as "the development, maintenance, growth, and nurturing of 
mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their 
significant publics" (Thomlison, 2000).
Ferguson suggested that public relations practitioners use the 
following tools to evaluate the quality of an organization's 
relationship with the public:  dynamic versus static, open versus 
closed, mutual satisfaction, distribution of power, mutual 
understanding, and agreement and consensus (Ferguson, 1984). L.A. 
Grunig & Ehling (1992) proposed reciprocity, trust, credibility, 
mutual legitimacy, openness, mutual satisfaction, and mutual 
understanding as the key elements of the organization-public 
relationship. Legingham and Bruning (1998) advocated five 
organizational-public relationship indicators: open communication, 
the level of trust, the level of involvement, involvement in the 
communities, and long-term commitment. J. E. Grunig and Huang (2000) 
advised of some indicators to maintain relationships and to evaluate 
public-organizational relationships. They suggested five relationship 
features:  trust, control mutuality, commitment, communal 
relationship, and satisfaction. In a cross-cultural study on 
measuring organization-public relationship in Taiwan, Huang (2001) 
added an additional dimension reflecting eastern culture:  renqing 
"favor" and mianzi "face".
     Organization-public relationships include both economic and 
humanistic aspects. From an economic standpoint, it is important to 
meet stakeholders' expectations for maintaining favorable 
relationships. Comparing expectation and satisfaction becomes a 
critical dimension of organizational-public relationships (Ledingham 
& Bruning & Wilson, 1999). The organization has to offer products or 
services that go beyond the desired level of satisfaction so as to 
obtain continued instrumental benefits (Thomlison, 2000). However, 
loyalty to the organization involves more than economic costs and 
benefits. The public's decision-making includes emotional 
inclination, schema, and attitudinal preferences (Thomlison, 2000).
People sometimes choose products, because they feel comfortable 
through continued use. Loyalty can explain this humanistic view. 
Loyalty represents a long-term, committed, and emotional response, 
resulting in a positive view of the actions and activities of an 
organization (Fournier, 1998). Thus, public relations practitioners 
should consider both aspects of relationships (economic and 
humanistic) to build favorable relationships with the public, by 
offering quality products or services beyond the public's expectation 
level and fostering committed relationships through empathic 
interchange (Jo & Kim, 2003).

Web and Organization-public Relationship
Kent and Taylor (1998) argued that the organization facilitates 
relationship building with the public through the Internet by 
emphasizing more dialogue and communication. Relationships between 
the public and organizations can be created, adapted and changed 
through the Internet, too. As such, reporters who rely on campaign 
websites more find out that a more favorable relationship should be 
built up between the organization and the reporters. However, 
reporters who are running the campaign beat are always under great 
time pressure. What are the attributes of a website that satisfy 
their needs? If they do choose to use the Internet as an information 
gathering tool, then what are the attributes of a website that will 
enhance their relationships with the campaign organization?
It is quite clear that websites have been adopted as a tool for news 
gathering, yet we know little about the actual experiences of the 
journalists in covering campaign stories in Taiwan's 2004 
presidential election. To contribute to our understanding about how 
journalists use campaign websites, this research questions 
journalists on two major areas about campaign website use:  their 
reliance on the campaign website and how their relationships with the 
campaign organization affected their website use.

Research Questions and hypothesis
If websites have become an integral part of newsgathering routines, 
then the adoption of them might be evidenced in a variety of ways. 
Aside from the hours of website usage by journalists, routines can be 
measured in terms of the levels of perceived personal reliance upon 
the websites. The higher the level of reliance is, the more the 
websites might be considered to have become a conventional part of 
the complex process of newsgathering. These assumptions led to this 
study's first research question.

RQ1: Compared with all the traditional newsgathering channels, how do 
journalists rely on a candidate's website for news information gathering?

If websites are viewed as valuable information subsidies, then a 
second major area of investigation can be centered on journalists' 
perceptions of a candidate's websites. Simply put, information 
subsidies are more likely to be used when the website is perceived as 
being valuable or providing useful, timely, and informative 
information. These assumptions lead to the second research question.

RQ2: What are the journalists' perceptions about candidates' websites?

A review of the previous literature makes it possible to posit the 
following hypothesis.

H1: The better the reporters perceive the campaign websites to be, 
the more favorable relationships are built up between the reporters 
and the campaign organization.

Methods
     The survey herein was conducted via the Internet. Through an 
email we informed each reporter who was assigned to run one of the 
two campaign-camp beats that we will have an on-line survey wanting 
to investigate how reporters used campaign websites for information 
gathering during Taiwan's 2004 presidential election. A list of the 
reporters was obtained from the journalist clubs of the Democratic 
Progressive Party and the Kuomintang (the 2 opposing political 
entities). The survey was distributed from March 21 (one day after 
the voting day) through April 5,[1] via an email containing an 
embedded link to a survey site. Respondents were assigned a unique 
web address so that each participant could complete the survey only 
once. Follow-up emails were sent to non-respondents three days after 
each initial e-mail distribution. The cover e-mail guaranteed 
confidentiality. Questionnaire items for measuring personal reliance 
are developed from Hachigian & Hallahan (2003). Items for measuring 
organization-public relationship are developed from Grunig & Huang 
(2000) and Huang (2001). The unit of analysis is the journalist.
For most of the questions, the respondents are asked to react to a 
series of statements using a 7-point scale to which they could answer 
on a continuum from strongly agree to strongly disagree. Separately, 
a battery of semantic differential items examines journalists' 
perceptions about the candidates' website content in general. Key 
demographic data are collected at the end of the survey, including 
hours of use on the Internet (on and off the job), age, gender, media 
type, and education.

Findings
The surveys were mailed three times via the Internet. We received 41 
usable surveys, representing a 36% response rate. The demographics of 
the respondents were well distributed. There were 16 male and 25 
female reporters. The mean age was 33.6 years old (SD=5.1). 
Ninety-one percent of the journalists held bachelor degrees, and the 
rest had master's degrees. Journalists reported that they spent a 
mean average of 4.4 hours (M=266.4 minutes, SD=123.5) a day on the 
Internet at work, while they spent 0.7 hours a day on the Internet 
outside of work.
The dependent variables are measured through the instruments 
developed by Hon and J. E. Grunig (1999), Huang (2001), and Kim 
(2001; see Appendix A). The questions primarily measure the extent to 
which reporters perceive the current relationship with the campaign 
organizations. Hon and J. E. Grunig (1999) proposed six indices of 
relationship: trust, control mutuality, satisfaction, communal 
relationships, and exchange relationships. Trust represents the 
organization's soundness in terms of integrity, competence, and 
dependability. Control mutuality focuses on the power balance in the 
relationship. Kim (2001) identified additional dimensions of 
relationships from factor analyses and suggested that local 
(community) involvement and reputation can be a measure of the 
relationship between the organization and its publics. Community 
involvement represents the linkage between the organization and the 
local community. Reputation involves the organization's invisible 
assets related to cognitive images. For the purpose of this study, we 
convert community involvement to media involvement, because the 
reporters in a way can be seen as being a community.
Regarding the reliability check for the dependent measures - trust 
(.81), control mutuality (.79), commitment (.70), satisfaction (.83), 
communal relationship (.75), exchange relationship (.74), media 
community involvement (.82), reputation (.75), and face and favor 
(.77) - all showed appropriate Cronbach's as.
Research question 1 focuses on a comparison of all the newsgathering 
channels, as well as how journalists rely on a candidate's website 
for news information gathering. Respondents are asked to respond how 
often they used the sources of the information. The candidates' 
campaign websites were rated as the least used as the preferred 
communication channel to receive information (Table 1). The 
traditional channels of telephone, press conference, and face-to-face 
interviews with sources rated as being most often used. When 
responding to the degree to which journalists relied on campaign 
websites in their routine newsgathering activities, every respondent 
reported that they visited the campaign websites at least once a day 
beginning from when they were assigned to run the campaign beat, and 
they spent a mean average of 1.96 hours (M=117.8 minutes, SD=38.17 ) 
a week on a candidate's website.




Table 1.  Journalists' reliance on various communication channels for 
newsgathering (7=strongly agree, 1=strongly 
disagree) 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             !
       
   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             !
       
   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             !
       
   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             !
       
   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             !
       
   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             !
       
   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             !
       
   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             !
       
   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             !
       
   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             !
       
   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             !
       
   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             !
       
   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             !
       
   

Mean
SD
Phone
5.59
1.43
Face to face
6.14
1.01
News releases
4.59
1.61
Campaign websites
2.95
1.14
Press conference
6.02
1.19


Research question 2 queries about what the perceptions of the 
journalists are about candidates' websites. Table 2 reports the 
results of the battery of statements to which journalists responded 
their perception of a candidate's website. Perhaps the most telling 
finding relates to the overall moderate level of the responses. None 
of the mean scores exceeded 6 on a 7-point scale.
Conducting a factor analysis (see Appendix B) and reliability checks, 
four of the items form a reliable index of the operational function 
evaluation on the website (M = 4.65) and include the statements:  "I 
feel the candidate's website is well structured" (M=4.53), "I feel 
the candidate's website is easy to use" (M=4.73), "I feel the 
candidate's website is easy to browse" (M=4.92), and "The website 
provides updated information" (M=4.39). Four of the items form a 
reliable index of news source evaluation on the website (M = 2.92) 
and include the statements: "I feel the candidate's website is a good 
information source" (M=2.69), "The content on the website meets the 
needs of journalists" (M=2.85), "I used the candidate's website to 
find information that is not accessible through other sources" 
(M=2.73), and "The information on the website is complete" (M=3.41). 
Three of the items form a reliable index of news writing dependency 
on the website (M =3.45) and include the statements:  "When I am 
writing a story, I visit the website to see if there is any 
information updated" (M=3.05), "Before the deadline, I'll visit the 
website for further information" (M=3.44), and "Before I start to 
write a story, I'll visit the website for information" (M=3.85). 
Three of the items form a reliable index of trustworthiness of the 
website (M =4.07) and include the statements:  "The information on 
the website is accurate" (M=3.54), "The information on the website is 
believable" (M=4.17), and "The information on the website is 
reliable" (M=4.51). Five of the items form a reliable index of the 
website being economical (M =) and include the statements:  "I feel 
the information on the website is relevant to the campaign" (M=5.20), 
"Journalists save money when using the candidate's website as a 
source of information for reporting about the campaign" (M=3.05), "I 
feel the candidate's website is efficient," (M=3.95), "Journalists 
save time when using the candidate's website as a source of 
information for reporting about the campaign," (M=3.99), and "The 
news releases on the candidate's website are useful" (M=4.05).






















Table 2.  Journalist's perception of a candidate's website (7= 
strongly agree, 1=strongly disagree)
Items
Mean
SD
Range
A. Operational function evaluation (Cronbach's a=.90)
4.65
1.30
1-7
I feel the candidate's website is well structured
4.53
1.52
1-7
I feel the candidate's website is easy to use
4.73
1.58
1-7
I feel the candidate's website is easy to browse
4.92
1.14
1-7
The website provides updated information
4.39
1.63
1-7
B. News source evaluation (Cronbach's a=.81)
2.92
1.21
1-7
I feel candidate's website is a good information source
2.69
1.23
1-7
The content on the website meets the needs of journalists
2.85
1.39
1-7
I used the candidate's website to find information that is not 
accessible through other sources
2.73
1.55
1-7
The information on the website is complete
3.41
1.83
1-7
C. Newswriting dependency (Cronbach's a=87)
3.45
1.65
1-7
When I am writing a story, I visit the website to see if there is any 
information updated
3.05
1.67
1-7
Before the deadline, I'll visit the website for further information
3.44
1.92
1-7
Before I start to write a story, I'll visit the website for information
3.85
1.93
1-7
D. Trustworthiness of the website (Cronbach's a=.91)
4.07
1.58
1-7
The information on the website is accurate
3.54
1.75
1-7
The information on the website is believable
4.17
1.69
1-7
The information on the website is reliable
4.51
1.68
1-7
E. Being economical (Cronbach's a=.82)
4.03
1.33
1-7
I feel the information on the website is relevant to the campaign
5.20
1.65
1-7
Journalists save money when using the candidate's website as a source 
of information for reporting about the campaign
3.05
1.70
1-7
I feel the candidate's website is efficient
3.95
1.70
1-7
Journalists save time when using the candidate's website as a source 
of information for reporting about the campaign
3.90
1.66
1-7
The news releases on the candidate's website is useful
4.05
1.97
1-7

We also intended to understand how the individual characteristics of 
journalists might influence their use and perception of a candidate's 
website. Female reporters spend more time on a candidate's website 
than male reporters (t=1.02, p< .05). Age is negatively related to 
time spent on a candidate's website (r= -.46, p< .01). For gender and 
age, there are no significant relationships for perception of a 
candidate's website perception and time spent on the Internet on and 
off the job. We did not analyze the education impact, because in the 
only two educational levels in the sample, only three of the 41 
respondents had a master's degree.
Hypothesis 1 predicts that the better the reporters perceive the 
campaign websites to be, the more favorable the relationships will be 
built between the reporters and the campaign organization. Each 
measure is subjected to a multiple regression analysis. In each case, 
the potential confounds - total hours of use, hours used on the job, 
hours of Internet use off the job, and age - are entered as the first 
block in the regression model. The key scale measures discerned from 
the survey questions are then used as possible explanatory variables 
and are entered as a second block in the stepwise procedure. The 
scale measures thus entered include:  evaluation of operational 
function, evaluation of website as an information source, newswriting 
dependency, trustworthiness of the website, and economical benefits. 
In reporting the findings in Table 3, non-significant results for 
each of the four regression models are omitted.

Trust
The regression results for this item (see Table 3a) suggest that 
three variables significantly explain the pattern of scores for this 
measure. Internet hours used off the job and website as an 
information source evaluation are both negatively related to the 
trustworthiness of the campaign organization. However, 
trustworthiness of the website is positively related to trust. 
Together, the three items explain about 50% of the variance in the model.

Control mutuality
The regression results for this item (see Table 3b) suggest that only 
two variables significantly explain the pattern of scores for this 
measure. Operational function evaluation is positively related to 
control mutuality, but website as an information source evaluation is 
negatively related. Together, the two items explain about 16% of the 
variance in the model.

Commitment
The regression results for this item (see Table 3c) suggest that 
three variables significantly explain the pattern of scores for this 
measure. Education and Internet hours used off the job are negatively 
related to commitment, but operational function evaluation is 
positively related to commitment. Together, the three items explain 
about 25% of the variance in the model.

Satisfaction
The regression results for this item (see Table 3d) suggest that five 
variables significantly explain the pattern of scores for this 
measure. Education, Internet hours used off the job, and website as 
an information source are all negatively related to satisfaction. 
However, operational function evaluation and evaluation of a 
website's economical benefits are positively related. Together, the 
five items explain about 23% of the variance in the model.

Communal relationship
The regression results for this item (see Table 3e) suggest that five 
variables significantly explain the pattern of scores for this 
measure. Age, hours spent on the campaign website, and 
trustworthiness of the website are all negatively related to communal 
relationship. However, months working in the press and newswriting 
dependency are positively related. Together, the five items explain 
about 46% of the variance in the model.

Exchange relationship
The regression results for this item (see Table 3f) suggest that 
three variables significantly explain the pattern of scores for this 
measure. Age is positively related to exchange relationship. Website 
as an information source and newswriting dependency are negatively 
related. Together, the three items explain about 27% of the variance 
in the model.

Media involvement
The regression results for this item (see Table 3g) suggest that five 
variables significantly explain the pattern of scores for this 
measure. Education, Internet hours used off the job, website as an 
information source, and newswriting dependency are negatively related 
to media involvement. Evaluation of economical benefits is positively 
related to media involvement. The five items together explain about 
22% of the model's variance.

Face and favor
The regression results for this item (see Table 3i) suggest that only 
two variables significantly explain the pattern of scores for this 
measure. Education is negatively   related to face and favor. 
Evaluation of economical benefits is positively related to face and 
favor. Together, the two items explain about 31% of the variance in the model.

Table 3.  Multiple regression analysis of relationship measures

SE
Beta
T
p
(a) Trust
(r = .71, r = .50, df = 13,27, F = 5.04, p = .000)
Internet hours used off the job
-.02
.01
-.38
-2.86
.008
Evaluation of the website as an information source
-.37
.17
-.38
-2.24
.033
Trustworthiness of the website
.55
.17
.51
3.32
.003
Constant
30.86
17.66
1.75
.092
(b) Control Mutuality
(r = .40, r = .16, df = 13,27, F = 1.21, p = .322)
Operational function evaluation
.45
.21
.51
2.21
.036
Evaluation of the website as an information source
-.49
.23
-.53
-2.09
.046
Constant
43.74
24.87
1.76
.090
(c) Commitment
(r = .50, r = .25, df = 13,27, F = 3.47, p = .003)
      Education
-4.52
1.62
-.51
-2.80
.009
Internet hours used off the job
-.01
.003
-.39
-2.61
.015
Operational function evaluation
.42
.08
.89
4.98
.000
Constant
26.19
10.19
2.57
.016
(d) Satisfaction
(r = .48, r = .23, df = 13,27, F = 3.36, p = .005)
      Education
-8.82
3.19
-.52
-2.77
.010
Internet hours used off the job
-.02
.01
-.52
-3.36
.002
      Operational function evaluation
.56
.17
.61
3.38
.002
Evaluation of the website as an information source
-.57
.19
-.60
-3.03
.005
Evaluation of a website's economical benefits
.32
.10
.46
3.29
.003
      Constant
70.34
20.11
3.50
.002
(e) Communal relationship
(r = .68, r = .46, df = 13,27, F = 7.21, p = .000)
      Age
-.29
.12
-.43
-2.40
.024
Months working in the press
.02
.01
.33
2.50
.019
Hours spent on the campaign organization website
-.04
.02
-.43
-2.37
.025
Newswriting dependency
.41
.11
.47
3.71
.001
Trustworthiness of the website
-.42
.11
-.52
-3.90
.001
      Constant
41.45
11.53
3.60
.001


Table 3 (cont'd).  Multiple regression analysis of relationship measures


SE
Beta
T
p
(f) Exchange relationship
(r = .52, r = .27, df = 13,27, F = 3.89, p = .001)
      Age
-.50
.16
-.72
.3.21
.003
      Evaluation of the website as an information source
-.39
.14
-.52
-2.77
.01
      Newswriting dependency
-.35
.14
-.41
-2.47
.02
      Constant
42.92
15.13
2.84
.009
(g) Media involvement
(r = .46, r = .22, df = 13,27, F = 3.50, p = .003)
      Education
-5.77
2.21
-.48
-.2.61
.015
Internet hours used off the job
-.01
.00
-.35
-2.31
.029
      Evaluation of the website as an information source
-.37
.13
-.55
-2.83
.009
      Newswriting dependency
-.32
.14
-.39
-2.34
.027
Evaluation of a website's economical benefits
.28
.07
.58
4.21
.000
      Constant
44.27
13.93
3.18
.004
(h) Reputation
(r = .48, r = .23, df = 13,27, F = .857, p = .603)
      Constant
4.98
20.53
.24
.810
(i) Face and Favor
(r = .56, r = .31, df = 13,27, F = 2.16, p = .044)
      Education
-8.91
3.71
-.50
-2.40
.023
Evaluation of a website's economical benefits
.32
.11
.447
2.82
.009
      Constant
73.99
23.39
3.16
.004
A hierarchical regression procedure is used, with the limit set at p= 
.05. Variables entered in the first block for each regression model 
are:  sex, age, education, months working in the press, months 
running for the campaign beat, total hours of Internet use, Internet 
hours used on the job, Internet hours used off the job, time spent on 
the candidate's website. Variables entered in second block 
are:  evaluation of a campaign website operation function, evaluation 
of a campaign website as a news source, campaign website reliance for 
newswriting, trustworthiness of the campaign website, evaluation of a 
campaign website being cost-effective.


Discussion
By examining the relationship between the perception of the 
candidate's website and the perception toward relational components, 
this study advances an understanding of how a campaign organization 
might take better advantage of its website by focusing on 
journalists' perceptions of this important new communication 
technology. Websites have taken their own place in the media 
relations mix used by public relations practitioners. However, this 
study suggests that websites have a long way to go before being 
accepted by journalists as newsgathering tools. The findings suggest 
that journalists were moderately reliant upon them during the 
campaign. Traditional news information gathering channels, such as 
news releases, face-to face interviews, and phone interviews, are 
still preferred. Since they still did not rely upon websites much, a 
website can hardly be seen as a major relationship building or 
maintenance mechanism for practitioners.
 From the perspective of relationship building, the results show that 
an operational function evaluation is positively related to control 
mutuality, commitment, and satisfaction. The evaluation of a web site 
as an information source shows it to be negatively related to trust, 
control mutuality, satisfaction, exchange relationship, and media 
involvement. Newswriting dependency is positively related to communal 
relationship, but negatively related to exchange relationship and 
media involvement. Trustworthiness of the website is positively 
related to trust, but negatively related to communal relationship. 
The economical benefits of a website are positively related to
satisfaction, media involvement, and face and favor.
The summary of the regression results seems to go partially against 
our hypothesis, which is that the better the journalists perceive a 
candidate's website to be, the more the favorable relationship is 
that they have toward the campaign organization. Taking a closer 
look, however, we find that an operational function evaluation, 
trustworthiness of the website, and economical benefits all predict 
the relational components as we expected. Only the predictions from 
news writing dependency and the website as an information source 
evaluation are not all supported. For example, the negative 
relationships between a website as an information source and trust, 
control mutuality, satisfaction, and media involvement are contrary 
to our expectations. The negative relationship between newswriting 
dependency and media involvement is also not what we had hoped for.
We should not be surprised at the above findings, because a 
candidate's website seems not to be a major news information 
gathering tool, as in Table 1. It may be the case that journalists 
have positive attitudes toward the campaign organization itself 
during the routines of traditional information gathering and news 
writing, such as face to face interviews or phone interviews, and as 
such it might not be necessary for these reporters to rely on the 
website as much as those who have less positive relationships with 
the organization. Since Table 1 already shows that journalists saw a 
candidate' website as the last informational gathering channel, we 
believe that this attitude affected the relationship building 
functions of the website. If the website indeed were the most 
important tool, then this would lead us to believe that news writing 
dependency and the website as an information source will be like the 
three other independent variables, operational function evaluation, 
trustworthiness of the website, and economical benefits, which 
enhance journalists' relationship with the campaign organization.
This new medium may enhance some of the relationship components 
positively, but the findings suggest that simply relying upon a 
candidate's website cannot guarantee good relationships between a 
campaign organization and journalists.

LIMITATIONS
As is the case with many other studies, this investigation raises new 
questions. The present study, constrained by its research design, has 
the following limitations:
1.	This study at the beginning was constrained by the availability of 
the respondents. The sample size is very small. Some of the reporters 
took a short leave right after the election. If there had been more 
reporters participating, we could compare the relationships between 
types of media and website perception, and how they influence the 
relationships toward the organization.
3.	The frequencies, the intensity, and the valence of personal 
contacts with the campaign organization should be investigated and 
used as control variables for predicting the relationship measures. 
It is natural for a reporter who previously had a very good 
relationship with the organization to rely less upon a candidate's website.


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Appendix A:
Relationship Assessment Items
Trust
1. This campaign organization treats people like me fairly and justly.
2. Whenever this campaign organization makes an important decision, I 
know it will be concerned about people like me.
3. This campaign organization can be relied upon to keep its promises.
4. I believe that this campaign organization takes the opinions of 
people like me into account when making decisions.
5. This campaign organization has the ability to accomplish what it 
says it will do.
6. Sound principles seem to guide this campaign organization's behavior.

Control Mutuality
1. This campaign organization and people like me are attentive to 
what each other says.
2. This campaign organization believes the opinions of people like me 
are legitimate.
3. In dealing with people like me, this campaign organization has a 
tendency to throw its weight around.
4. This campaign organization really listens to what people like me 
have to say.
5. The management of this campaign organization gives people like me 
enough say in the decision-making process.

Commitment
1. I feel that this campaign organization is trying to maintain a 
long-term commitment to people like me.
2. I can see that this campaign organization wants to maintain a 
relationship with people like me.
3. There is a long-lasting bond between this campaign organization 
and people like me.
4. Compared to other campaign organizations, I value my relationship 
with this organization a lot more.
5. I would rather work together with this campaign organization than not.

Satisfaction
1. I am happy with this campaign organization.
2. Both the campaign organization and people like me benefit from the 
relationship.
3. Most people like me are happy in their interactions with this 
campaign organization.
4. Generally speaking, I am pleased with the relationship this 
campaign organization has established with people like me.
5. Most journalists enjoy dealing with this campaign organization.

Communal Relationships
1. This campaign organization does not especially enjoy giving others aid.
2. This campaign organization is very concerned about the welfare of 
people like me.
3. I feel that this campaign organization takes advantage of people 
who are vulnerable.
4. I think that the campaign organization succeeds by stepping on other people.

Exchange Relationships
1. Whenever this campaign organization gives or offers something to 
people like me, it generally expects something in return.
2. Even though people like me have had a relationship with this 
campaign organization, it still expects something in return whenever 
it offers ms a favor.
3. This campaign organization will compromise with people like me 
when it knows that it will gain something.
4. This campaign organization takes care of people who are likely to 
reward the organization.

Media Involvement
1. The campaign organization seems to be the kind of organization 
that invests in the community.
2. I am aware that the campaign organization is involved in the 
journalists' community.
3. I think that the campaign organization is very dynamic in 
maintaining a good relationship with the journalists' community.

Reputation
1. The campaign organization has the ability to attract, develop, and 
keep talented people.
2. The campaign organization uses visibility and invisible assets 
very effectively.
3. The campaign organization is innovative in its corporate culture.
4. The campaign organization is financially sound enough to help others.

Face and Favor
1. Given a conflict situation, the campaign organization will 
consider the quanxi between us.
2. When I have a favor to ask, the campaign organization will give me 
face and render its help.
3. In certain conditions, the campaign organization will do the 
face-work for me.
4. Given a situation of disagreement, the campaign organization will 
not let me lose face.






APPENDIX B:

Factor Analysis for Journalists' Perception of a Candidate's Website
Rotated Component Matrix
Items
Operational  function evaluation
News source evaluation
News writing dependency
Trustworthiness of the website
Economical benefits
I feel the candidate's website is well structured
.851
I feel the candidate's website is easy to use
.850
.343
I feel the candidate's website is easy to browse
.831
The website provides updated information
.771
.371
I feel the candidate's website is a good information source
.
.878
The content on the website meets the needs of journalists
.784
I used the candidate's website to find information that is not 
accessible through other sources
.581
The information on the website is complete
.311
.572
When I am writing a story, I visit the website to see if there is any 
information updated
.894
Before a deadline, I'll visit the website for further information
.845
Before I start to write a story, I'll visit the website for information
.793
.397
The information on the website is accurate
.842
The information on the website is believable
.805
The information on the website is reliable
.323
.694
I feel the information on the website is relevant to the campaign
.395
.699
Journalists save money when using a candidate's website as a source 
of information for reporting about the campaign
.343
.673
I feel the candidate's website is efficient
.480
.596
Journalists save time when using a candidate's website as a source of 
information for reporting about the campaign
.420
.539
The news releases on the candidate's website are useful
.343
.317
.423
Note. The extraction method is the principal component analysis. The 
rotation method is Varimax with Kaiser normalization. The factor 
loadings of blanks are less than .3, which are considered to be low 
factor loadings. The bold figures are the highest loadings.

[1]  T

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