The Journalistic Preference for Extreme Exemplars: Educational Socialization, Psychological Biases, or Editorial Policy?

Lene Aarøe*, Kim Andersen, Morten Skovsgaard, Flemming Tait Svith, Rasmus Schmøkel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Exemplars are central in news reporting. However, extreme negative exemplars can bias citizens' factual perceptions and attributions of political responsibility. Nonetheless, our knowledge of the factors shaping journalistic preferences for including exemplars in news stories is limited. We investigate the extent to which educational socialization, psychological biases, and editorial policy shape journalistic preferences for extreme negative exemplars. We field large-scale survey experiments to a population sample of journalism students, a nationally representative sample of citizens, and a representative sample of "young people"and obtain evaluations of news value, newsworthiness, and behavioral measures of the actual write-up of news articles. We find significant support for the role of editorial policy and limited support for the role of educational socialization and psychological biases. In a time where economic pressures and the proliferation of digital media potentially lead editors to prioritize clickbait, these findings suggest that structural biases in news coverage may be aggravated.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Communication
Volume74
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)48-62
ISSN0021-9916
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024

Keywords

  • Exemplars
  • editorial policy
  • journalistic socialization
  • psychological biases
  • survey experiment

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