Every year, the U.S. Department of Defense spends millions of dollars and countless man-hours to inform military service members through internal Public Affairs products (e.g. newspapers, magazines, newsletters, broadcasts and Internet Web sites). The primary goal of these information sources is to augment or provide information to service members concerning overall policy issues affecting the particular branch of service, local command or installation policies and issues, and services available to audience members by virtue of their military service. All of these resources and efforts are predicated on the notion that a well-informed audience has higher morale (greater job-satisfaction) and is more capable of performing their war-time and peace-time missions.

Additionally, job-satisfaction is presumed to translate into greater retention, further strengthening the ability of the military to perform its war-time and peace-time missions. When seen in this light, internal information products are seen as force-multipliers, making the whole of the military greater than the sum of its parts. However, we are aware of no accurate study that measures how well internal information products penetrate the audiences they target, nor how credible those who are consuming these internal information products view these products with regard to the aforementioned issues. Undoubtedly attempt to gather this information; however, these types of surveys are most often flawed in their ability to reach all of the potential audience members. Audience surveys require active responses, which certainly skew the responses in that only those consuming the individual products will respond and of those, the individuals most likely and motivated to respond will do so because of an intensity of feeling about the medium – either positively or negatively.

Of paramount concern for the U.S. military is the importance of understanding whether internal information sources reach the audience for which they are intended. This keeps the branches constantly evaluating the effectiveness of their expenditures. Also, understanding how credible this information is perceived by the audience members who consume these media products, and how this affects audience member satisfaction, and whether this impacts retention, is vital to determine whether these expenditures are worth the resources spent producing them. This study attempts to answer some of these questions in a scientific manner. This study employs Uses and Gratifications theory and dual-processing theories to posit predictions about which communication forms or venues Air Force members choose, how Air Force members process the information they consume, and how credible they deem these communication forms.


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Literature Review
Capstone Team 03D2