West Texas newspaper editors' use of news determinants when covering water-related issues
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Water is a precious resource to everyone, but in an economy that is agriculturally based water determines the livelihood of many farmers and ranchers as well as the quality of life for other residents. It is essential for the general public to receive accurate educational information about current water-related situations and issues from their local news sources. This study sought to examine West Texas newspaper editor’s use of news determinants when covering water-related issues by: (1) describing newspaper editors based on demographic variables, (2) describing editors use of the news determinants timeliness, local, and importance when covering various water issues, (3) describing the perceptions and behavior newspaper editors as they relate to reporting water-related issues to their readers and (4) determining if there are any relationships between the variables within the study. Editors used an online survey to rank 12 specific water-related issues for the news determinants, local, timely and importance. A total of 24 of 26 editors from the newspapers that were surveyed responded, resulting in a 91.6 response rate. Farm/ranch consumption of water was marked the highest impact to their readers for local, timely and importance, while recreational water use was marked the lowest for the three determinants. The researcher also found that the editors used the news determinants consistently for each issue meaning they could have had trouble distinguishing between each news determinant. The results of this study will help researchers disseminate completed water research more effectively and efficiently to news outlets. Editors will benefit from this study because it will help them to better provide current water quantity related information to their readership.