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Audio and visual characteristics of television news broadcasting: their effects on opinion change

Kline, Stephen (1977) Audio and visual characteristics of television news broadcasting: their effects on opinion change. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The audio-visual character of television was used as the conceptual focus of this examination of television news broadcasting. The research comprised both a macro and micro level analysis. On the macro level, a study was undertaken to examine the influences of the cultural context of broadcasting with special reference to the structure of television and its news organizations upon the formats and content of television news programmes. A comparative content analysis was carried out of the principle evening newscast during one fortnight of news broadcast by the public and the private broadcast networks, in Britain and Canada, and the NBC in the United States. A special "code" was developed for this purpose which would categorize not only content but also format, with a special emphasis on the relative role of the commentary and the visuals. Comparison between the countries revealed differences in both content and format, pointing to different cultural emphasis upon specific issues. Differences in the formats used in the news revealed a greater trend to entertainment values - particularly the use of the action visuals and the newsreader in the more commercialised cultural settings. Within Canada and Britain, those differences between the public and private sectors which did occur, had to do with the style of news presentation, not with its contents, pointing to the standardization of production within the news organization under the conditions of competition and inter-dependence inherent in the structure of broadcasting in these countries. The micro level study examined the effects of the visual and auditory components of the news story by means of an experimental study. A BBC type newscast about demonstrations was systematically varied in six experimental conditions to examine the relative effects and their interactions of modality, consistency or inconsistency between the modalities and of content bias on retention and opinion change. Specifically designed verb/visual techniques of measuring the impression and the visual retention of the event were used. The results showed that viewers shifted their opinions in the direction of the story bias. Visual information increased the impact of the commentary and had its effects principally on the affective component of the opinion. Where visual information and commentary were at variance, the visuals had greater impact on the affective component, with the commentary influencing the cognitive or belief component more. The research points to the need to extend the concept of bias beyond that traditionally used in communication research, not only beyond content to style of presentation, but also to an examination of the different cultural and organizational factors within the industry in which lead to variations in the emphasis upon the visual element within news programmes.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 1977 Stephen Kline
Library of Congress subject classification: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
Sets: Departments > Sociology
Supervisor: Himmelweit, Hilde

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