The finding that high-involved consumers use all media to gather information about all Air Force issues could be the most significant finding of this survey for communication scholars. One of the implications of this particular finding is that high involved consumers of media may actually be more issue driven in their choice and consumption of media than they are communication form driven. This is a significant break from traditional thought about high involved consumers of mass media. Determining if this is the case could be an area of great interest for communication scholars studying motivation of media consumption.
This finding with regard to the Air Force Times as mentioned above also held true with the low involved media consumers. While the survey results did not fully support our prediction about which media venues low involved consumers chose, these results showed that low involved consumers of media were not significantly less likely or more likely to orient media consumption toward Air Force specific information sources such as base newspapers, Air Force Web sites and commander’s access channel. Still, as with most of our findings with high-involved media consumers, low involved consumers were found to use the Air Force Times less frequently than other media sources, even in regards to base policy issues which high-involved consumers reported using as a significant source. Low involved consumers of media were found to use significantly less media across the spectrum of media choices. Since none of the mediated communication forums were used more frequently by low-involved consumers, the question that arises from these results for communication professionals is how to reach members of this audience? No easy answers are readily apparent, but perhaps further study can illuminate viable ways of consistently increasing involvement for this audience.
Turning from general findings to our specific hypotheses, statistical results of the survey did not fully support our prediction that high involved consumers would focus more of their media consumption choices toward Air Force specific information products with regard to Air Force policy issues or local command issues (H1). High involved media consumers did orient media consumption to these internal information mediums, but also oriented their media consumption to all other mediated communication forms as well. This was true of high involved consumers with regard to Air Force family services issues (H3) and may be indicative of a failure to distinguish between the types of information – Air Force policy issues, local command issues and family issues. Particularly puzzling in high involved members with regard to family issues, and perhaps further evidence of failure to differentiate, was the finding that Airman magazine was viewed as a very credible source.
Our hypothesis with regard to low involved consumers of mass media were also not fully supported with regard to Air Force policy issues and local command issues (H2), or with regard to information about Air Force family services (H4). This may serve to further suggest the inability for consumers across involvement levels to differentiate between types of Air Force information. More about this will be addressed in the next section.
Statistical analysis of the data compiled through the survey did, however, support our hypotheses’ with regard to consumer’s view of Air Force internal information sources and Air Force specific information sources as credible in all categories (Air Force policy, local command policy and family services). With regard to Air Force policy issues (H5), the most credible communication form was perceived by Air Force members to be the base newspaper, followed by online sources and network television news. For local command issues (H5) the base newspaper was again found to be the most credible, followed by the Air Force Times, Air Force Web Sites, radio and network television news. Communication forms seen as not credible included local television news and general online news services. With regard to Air Force family service issues (H6) the most credible sources of information was again found to be the base newspaper, followed by local television news. The obvious standout in issues of credibility concerning the Air Force was found to be the base newspaper across all consumers. This gets to the heart of our original question as to how our internal information sources are seen by their intended audiences. This should lend credibility to the services’ resource expenditures on internal information sources.
With regard to the research questions posed in this study, the data gathered through the survey showed only a borderline significance of the consumption or use of Air Force Web Sites and satisfaction with Air Force service (RQ1). All other information sources were not found to significantly impact self reported levels of satisfaction with Air Force service. With regards to continued service commitment (RQ2), patterns of use, credibility of communication forms and even levels of satisfaction were not significant predictors of individual likelihood of continued service in the Air Force past the current term of enlistment.
The significance of this particular finding should not be overlooked. Taking communication forms as an independent predictor of people’s satisfaction with the Air Force, or as a predictor of intention to reenlist, expects much more from communication forms than they are probably capable of delivering or can be reasonably expected. Much more is at play here than how an Air Force member uses mediated communication forms, or how they view these communication forms. In fact, the only prediction of intention to reenlist in the Air Force turned out to be a demographic variable – whether the member was married or not.
Given what little we know about how internal information products are used and processed by military audiences this study does provide greater insight into the subject than traditional surveys done by installations regarding their internal publications. While much is left open to further examination, these results provide a foundation for future investigation into patterns of media usage and effects of that usage on issues of satisfaction and retention. Perhaps further studies will more clearly define a need and utility for differentiating the instrumental uses of different types of internal information communication forms. By differentiating these communication forms in the minds of their consumers, perhaps the consumers will find these communication forms more relevant to their particular needs. Worth revisiting is the initial finding that was highlighted at the beginning of this section – more high-involved consumers of communication forms viewed all communication forms as significantly credible. While this doesn’t have direct implications for our research or study, it does provide interesting insight into the idea of how individuals process messages and communication forms. Perhaps worth investigating in another context is whether high-involved consumers view all media as credible when searching for specific issue information, focusing their attention on the issue and actively processing all information from all of the communication forums they come across.
Attempting to determine how internal information products are attended to and consumed by members of the internal audience is crucial in determining how effective these products are at reaching this audience. With so many resources in terms of financial expenditures and man-hours spent in producing these products, it is imperative to know how effective these efforts are. Each service recognizes this and incorporates this into policy by mandating periodical surveys of their newspapers and broadcasts; however those surveys are flawed in requiring a high level of investment on the part of the consumer to return these surveys. Consequently, these surveys can be argued to take into account the outliers on both extremes of satisfaction and ignore the vast population of users who are generally satisfied or not dissatisfied enough to want to take the time to respond. Surveys similar to this, with modification to minimize limitations mentioned earlier, could provide a more picture of how effective our overall internal information communication strategies are and provide direction for future endeavors.
Capstone Team 03D2