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Finding a way to transform MU’s School of Journalism into a think tank for the news and advertising industry has been the main research goal for Esther Thorson, who serves as Professor, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Research, and Director of Research for the Reynolds Journalism Institute. Her first major effort, in collaboration with Margaret Duffy, was to address the news and advertising crisis caused by the “digital revolution,” reacting to the reality that newspaper and television audiences have been plummeting as consumers and advertisers alike are shifting toward the Internet and other new media technologies.
Thorson highlights a few examples of how the model is being used for newspaper, television, and radio organizations. Working with two newspapers in the South, they are designing a series of phone and Internet surveys to test the wants and needs of audience members in terms of four variables. The results will help them adapt to the changing environment. They have also been working with Minnesota Public Radio to apply the media choice model to a radio medium. In this situation they are figuring out how to make the public radio station “a forum for community discussion about significant issues.” Working with WHO-TV in Des Moines, Iowa, Thorson and Duffy are trying to find a way to drive traffic from broadcast television shows to the station’s website.