Joan Schleuder, Alice White, and Glen Cameron’s study looks at if nightly news broadcast bumpers and teasers act as primes to prepare viewers to pay more attention to certain stories when they air. The study also examines whether or not viewers remember information better when it is presented in stories that are primed compared to stories that are not primed.
According to the article, “bumpers” are defined as “previews or some of the stories that will be covered during the broadcast.” “Teasers” are defined as previews occurring just before commercials that “tease” viewers and show them stories that will follow the commercials.
The study discusses priming in the context of the spreading activation theory. This theory views the mind as a “network of thoughts, feelings, and prior memories interconnected by associative pathways.”
The study’s hypotheses were: “Mean reaction time will be slower (indicating higher attention) to news stories that have been double-primed primed with teasers, or primed with bumpers than to stories that have not been primed,” and “Visual and verbal recognition scores will be higher for stories that have been double-primed, primed with teasers, or primed with bumpers than for stories that have not been primed.”
Forty-six University of Texas undergraduate communications students participated in the study for course credit. Subjects were divided into two groups of 23 students each. Both groups watched three 20-minute newscasts containing bumpers and primes. After each newscast, visual and verbal recognition tests were given. One of the groups was also given a secondary task while watching the newscasts which consisted of pressing a button as fast as possible every time they heard a tone. Attention, visual memory, and verbal memory were all measured.
Results showed a priming effect in bumped and teased stories compared to stories without bumps or teasers. Teased stories received the most viewer attention and were remembered better than the other primes and no-primed stories. Results showed bumpers and teasers help viewers remember verbal components of stories, but they do not help viewers remember visual components.
The article makes me wonder if I’m truly watching the news or just passively watching the news. As with broadcast, so much of the story is visual (packages, clips, etc…). And with more and more news being on the Internet, users can watch their news (like broadcast), read their news (like newspapers), or listen to their news (like radio). All of these worlds come together online.
I believe it would be interesting to find research on how online news components (interactive graphics, videos, etc…) prime users or affect how much they remember about a particular story.
Schleuder, J., White, A., & Cameron, G. (1993, Fall 93). Priming effects of television news bumpers and teasers on attention and memory. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 37(4), 437
While the article focused on the large scale newspaper, I believe it’s important to remember there are smaller papers all over the country (and world) who are dealing with or who have dealt with some of the same issues faced by the New York Times. There’s the mix of the young programmers who haven’t been out of college more than 5 years with the veteran journalists and editors who will often tell you what things were like “back in their day.”
Just when people began to turn their backs to the Times, these young programmers turned the paper into something that said, “Don’t pull the plug on me, yet. There’s still life left in here.”
David Carr, a blogger for the Times sums up many of the feelings felt by papers going digital: “This notion of ‘Let’s give it a whirl’—that’s not how we act in our analog iteration. In our digital iteration, there’s a willingness to make big bets and shoot them down if they don’t work. And yet it’s all very deadly serious. Other print websites can innovate because nobody’s watching. Here, everybody’s watching.” Yes, everybody was watching the Times, but more people are beginning to peg a closer eye on other newspapers, whether large scale or small town.
Aron Pilhofer, one of the first team members that helped turn the Times around, says at the end of the article he hopes the Times can excite “online readers about the value of reportage, engaging them deeply in the Times’ specific brand of journalism—perhaps even so much that they might want to pay for it.” And pay for it, they do. The Times now offers various levels of digital subscriptions.
The team that turned the Times around definitely did something right. However, not all newspapers have been so fortunate, and there are plenty out there who are still facing this uphill struggle. There are also those who keep resisting the changes of going digital. I hope those who are trying continue to try and, in time, embrace moving to the digital age of journalism and not resist the changes. Look to the Times as an example. And for those papers out there who are struggling more than ever and are continuing to resist the movement, well, all I can say is if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Let’s start with Jezebel. I don’t know if any of you actively read Jezebel, but I’ve followed off and on since it launched in 2007. (I mean, come on. With a tag line of “Celebrity, Sex, Fashion for Women” how could you not follow the site?) Anyways, I had never put much thought into the origins of the site, other than I knew it was related to Gizmodo (which is another good site). I found Tkacik’s article very interesting because of the her ties to Jezebel.
One point that especially stood out to me was this bit from Tkacik on the subject of her blogs at Jezebel: “But the real revelation, to me at least, was that the readers who came for Faith Hill returned for posts about the Iranian insurgency, the foreclosure crisis, military contracting, campaign finance, corporate malfeasance, the global food crisis—essentially whatever I found outrageous or absurd or interesting on a given day.”
Tkacik goes on to say, “This enabled me to more honestly confront feminist pieties and hypocrisies, write more vividly and confidently, and perhaps even challenge the stereotypes about ‘women who write about shit that happened to them.'”
Andrew Sullivan (Tkacik even mentions Sullivan in her article) also gives an insight to blogging in his article, Why I Blog. With tomorrow (or today depending on when I get this submitted) being September 11, it’s interesting to look at what Sullivan wrote regarding 9/11. He says, “On my blog, my readers and I experienced 9/11 together, in real time. I can look back and see not just how I responded to the event, but how I responded to it at 3:47 that afternoon. And at 9:46 that night. There is a vividness to this immediacy that cannot be rivaled by print.”
Blogs offer so many different avenues than traditional print media. No, not all blogs are journalistic in nature, but there are a lot that are journalistic. Sullivan points out one of the greatest things about blogs is that the readers are instantly a part of the conversation with the author. How many times have you picked up a newspaper and had immediate access to the reporter after reading the story? I’d guess never. And if you do want to “comment” you have to write a letter to the editor where it will be edited before publication. Blogs aren’t like that. You get to say what you want when you want. It becomes personal (Sullivan likens the relationship between blogger and readers to a friendship).
More personal is more humanizing. Tkacik makes an excellent point in regard to making journalism personal. She says, “By humanizing journalism, we maybe can begin to develop a mutual trust between reader and writer that would benefit both.”
Tkacik was able to write about things close to her and form a “brand” without giving up too much of who she really was. She saw the darker side of journalism where reporters cater to the advertisers and parent companies and let themselves become too absorbed in that world. I agree with her statement about training journalists to use their own experiences to help share the news. When we share news with friends and family, don’t we always incorporate some little personal tid bit?
Tkacik also admits the incorporation of experience and storytelling is “a lot easier to do with the creative liberties afforded by a blog…”
Blogs aren’t going anywhere. They’re here to stay. They’re here to skirt the line of pure information and opinion. They’re here to engage conversation. Sure, journalism still isn’t quite sure how to handle blogs, but I believe it’s getting a better idea of how they fit into the overall journalistic picture.
Yes, I realize the list was posted in 2009, but that doesn’t mean the sites on the list are any less valuable in the world of Multimedia Journalism. I haven’t had the opportunity to view each site listed in depth. However, I did glance through duckrabbit, and it may be something I start checking regularly along with the Interactive Narratives.
Oh, and are you looking for more of Phillip Toledano’s story about his family from my last post? Check this out.