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Bumpers and Teasers

October 14, 2012 Leave a comment

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.

-MM

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

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If you can’t beat them, Join them.

September 11, 2012 1 comment

In Emily Nussbaum‘s article, The New Journalism: Goosing the Gray Lady, she follows the almost down fall of the New York Times and the changes to move toward the digital age of journalism.

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.

-MM

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