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Assessing information needs: a case study of journalists

David Nicholas (Department of Information Science, City University, Northampton Square, London, EC1V OHB)
Helen Martin (Chief Librarian, The Guardian, 119 Farringdon Road, London, EC1R 3ER)

Aslib Proceedings

ISSN: 0001-253X

Article publication date: 1 February 1997


A structure for analysing information needs is outlined. The purpose of the structure is to enable data on users to be collected in a systematic and routine manner. The form of analysis is demonstrated through a consideration of the information needs of newspaper journalists — a group for which user surveys are lacking. The aspects of information need considered are: subject, nature, function, viewpoint, authority, quantity, quality, place of origin, speed of delivery, and processing/packaging. Considered as well are the barriers to meeting information needs — training, time, resources, access and information overload. The library's role in meeting information needs is also assessed. The data used to illustrate the structure are taken from interviews with journalists. Journalists have a need for large volumes of information, for very current and authoritative information, and they require their information very quickly. They are generally very well provided for in terms of information systems, sources and channels; the key problem they face is a shortage of time. Shifts in newspaper coverage, the harsh economic climate newspapers find themselves in and the information flood unleashed by IT, are changing journalists' information requirements and information seeking behaviour.


Nicholas, D. and Martin, H. (1997), "Assessing information needs: a case study of journalists", Aslib Proceedings, Vol. 49 No. 2, pp. 43-52.




Copyright © 1997, MCB UP Limited