Handle with Care: How Exemplars Affect the Perceived Appeal and Informativeness of News Stories

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Abstract

Journalists often include exemplars in their reporting to produce news that is perceived as appealing and informative. In this paper, we ask the question whether the audience perceives news with ordinary citizens as exemplars as more appealing and informative, as argued by the journalists. Relying on two survey experiments based on samples representative of the adult Danish population, we show that news stories with exemplars are perceived as more appealing, but we also see a tendency toward lower levels of perceived informativeness. In addition, we also document that effects of exemplars depend on the characteristics of the exemplars, and the characteristics of the news audience. In a concluding section, we discuss the implications of our findings for journalism practice and future research.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournalism Studies
Volume21
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)1146-1165
ISSN1461-670X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Exemplars
  • human interest
  • media effects
  • news
  • news quality
  • sources

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