of Problem
To look at these questions a qualitative approach will be used to first analyze the effect of the independent variable on the dependent variable.  The independent variable will be the three media channels by which the strategic message is conveyed.  The dependent variable is the public’s retention of command messages.  The three channels used will be radio, television and newspaper.  This paper will study the problem in a controlled environment.  For this study, a convenience sample of 102 persons is taken from the city of Omaha, Nebraska.  Omaha is the community surrounding Offutt Air Force Base.  The scenario involves the reported rape of a female minor by two Air Force members. The retention rate of the public will be seen through the analysis of data collected with a post-test survey.

According to United States Census Bureau (1997) information, the population of Omaha is 341,128.  The participants of the study were chosen from a group of the population aged 25 to 44, which makes up 31 percent of the population.  The sample was chosen after performing a public segment matrix (see Appendix A for public segment matrix).  The results of the matrix are used to help target the information to the correct audience, i.e. find out what information will affect certain segments of the population.  This population was chosen as a target because they represent the largest segment of Omaha’s population.  Also, these members would be most affected because they would be interested in the safety of their own children who were of the same age as the victim.

A strategic message concerning the hypothetical rape of a minor is written in the form of a news release.  The message has three strategic themes:  (1) military expressing empathy for the victim’s family;  (2) base officials working in conjunction with local authorities to solve the case; and (3) telling the public that the military is committed to upholding a positive relationship with the community (see Appendix B). This release should be an agreed upon format by public affairs professionals.  The release should contain information the representatives agree are necessary to create a competent message for the scenario.  The PA office must gain the support of the local media outlets to participate in the study.  The news release is then given to representatives of the news media that reach the largest publics in those mediums.  The media are tasked with taking the message and crafting a story which would then be captured by their particular medium. The message will be prepared according to the limits reflected by the choice of channel.  For example, the average television news story is two minutes in length, a news report on radio is 45 seconds, and a newspaper story takes up as much space as an editor allows it. 

In order to assess the degrees of strategic messages retention, a post-test survey using a five point Likert scale (Sommer & Sommer, 1997) is used. The test will be administered to the Omaha participants listed above.  The survey  (see Appendix C) measures the amount of information the audience retains from a chosen media channel. The self-administered questionnaire is used to “ensure standardization of measurement in that all respondents are asked precisely the same questions in the same manner, thereby eliminating the potential for interview bias” (Sommer & Sommer, 1997, p. 147). 

Rather than pulling lots to determine the grouping of subjects, the subjects themselves are asked to select the channel they wish to receive the message through and then were divided into groups A through C.   If the participants tend to gravitate to one specific channel then the researcher will randomly assign participants to the groups that still require representation. Group A is shown the message though a taped television “newscast.” Group B hears the message through a pre-taped radio broadcast piped into the test room.  Group C is given the front page of a newspaper to read.  All messages are imbedded in the media channels.  Groups A and B were instructed to watch or listen to their respected medium for 10 minutes.  Group C was instructed to read all articles on the front page.  The subject’s exposure to the message is covert, not overt in nature. At no time will they be aware of the nature of the message they are being screened for. After receiving the message, the participants fill out a post-test survey to determine the audience’s retention of the strategic message.  After completing the survey the participants are debriefed as a group.

 The survey consists of eight questions. Seven of the questions measure ordinal data on a Likert-type scale, measuring five levels of agreement. (Sommer & Sommer, 1997).  One question provides nominal data in the form identification of the media channel used.  A factorial analysis to determine if the scale is uni-dimensional will be conducted.  If the scale is determined to be uni-dimensional, then the scores will be combined for each group.  A one-way analysis of variance will be used to determine if a significant difference exists among the independent variables. 

Top of page