Title

WEATHER EFFECTS ON LOCAL TELEVISION NEWSCASTS

Date of Award

Spring 2016

Degree Type

Essay

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Mary-Michelle Coleman Walsh

Abstract

This paper looks at the weather and how it impacts the language of local television newscasts. The study took 100 days of closed captioning data from ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC’s nighttime local newscast in the 17th largest television market in the United States (Cleveland, Ohio) and compared the data against weather measured by precipitation, temperature, and cloud cover. There were nights when the news was canceled due to national programming such as sporting events and award shows, so the sample for the four stations was (n=324) for the 100-day period. The study also looked at the proportions of negative and positive words used in local television newscasts. There was no significant difference between weather measured by precipitation, temperature, and cloud cover and the use of positive words. The data also showed that there was no significant difference between weather measured by precipitation and cloud cover and the use of negative words. The data did show that there was a significant difference between temperature and the usage of negative words with higher temperatures resulting in a higher usage of negative words. When looking at the proportions of negative and positive words, the data showed that the newscasts had a much higher use of positive words than negative words. Positive words had a nightly mean of 184.66 with a standard deviation of 41.39 and negative words had a nightly mean of 128.22 with a standard deviation of 27.62. The data showed that for all stations there was a balanced use of words with no stations using excessive amounts of positive words and not negative words or negative words and not positive words. The data did show that some stations used significantly more positive and negative words than their competitors.

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