Mass Communication and Society 2002 Abstracts

Mass Communication and Society Division

The Credibility of Newspapers, Television News, and Online News • Rasha A. Abdulla, Bruce Garrison, Michael Salwen, Paul Driscoll, and Denise Casey, Miami • This exploratory study analyzes the components of credibility of news from newspapers, television, and online news. A national telephone survey of 536 adults was conducted in February 2002. Respondents evaluated the credibility of newspapers, television news, and online news using a variation of Gaziano and McGrath’s 12-item Likert-type news credibility scale. While there were similarities in how each medium was perceived, the study also revealed some fundamental differences. Respondents evaluated newspaper and television news credibility more similarly than they did online news credibility.

Looking for an Agenda: Meta Analytic Review of the Literature on Political Advertising and Issue Learning • Soontae An and Hyun Seung Jin, Kansas State University • Meta analytic review of the literature on political advertising and issue learning reveals why the effect of political advertising appears to be inconsistent and why care is needed in generalizing from different types of studies. The research method (experimental vs. survey), the level of election (presidential election vs. lower-level election), and advertising measurement (recall measure vs. attention or exposure measure) were the factors causing seemingly inconsistent results.

Modeling the Development of International Knowledge and Attitudes • Christopher E. Beaudoin, Indiana-Bloomington • Via a national telephone survey of 467 adults, the current study attempts to model the development of knowledge and attitudes about China and Great Britain. Two well-fitting structural equation models indicate that international general knowledge appears to be predicted by individual (education and international interest), societal (attitudes toward new immigrants), and mediated (international news use) influences. In contrast, international episodic knowledge is predicted by only individual (education and international interest) and mediated (international news use) influences.

Talking the Talk & Walking the Walk: The Mass Media and Social Capital in Towns and Cities • Christopher E. Beaudoin, Indiana-Bloomington • The current study defines social capital in terms of four attitudinal and four behavioral measures. It then asks whether these measures differ in towns (population less than 20,000) and cities (population around 2 million). A telephone survey of adults in two towns and two cities in one Midwestern state allows for the testing of 1) patterns and levels of social capital, and 2) relationships with news and entertainment media use. Contrary to expectation, social capital levels were higher in cities than towns.

Must See TV or ESPN: Entertainment and Sports Media Exposure and Body Image Distortion in College Women • Kimberly L. Bissell and Peiqin Zhou, Alabama • Many studies offer clear evidence that exposure to TDP (thinness depicting and promoting) media leads to distorted body image perceptions in school-age females and college women. Only recently have researchers broadened the TDP media definition to include sports media. This study compared women’s exposure to two types of media entertainment and sports mediaÑand looked for possible associations with body image distortions and eating disorders. Exposure to “thin-ideal” television was a significant predictor of four dimensions of disordered eating for women of all races.

A Content Analysis of Farm Safety Health Messages: Challenging Assumptions of Current Health Communication Theory on the Use of Fear and Empathy Appeals in the Mass Media • Rose G. Campbell, Butler University • This content analysis of farm safety messages assesses the extent to which fear appeals (based on the Extended Parallel Process Model [EPPM]; Witte, (1992) also contain elements that facilitate empathic arousal (1997, 1999, 2000). Twenty-five percent of health messages containing all four EPPM elements also contain all five Empathy elements. These findings raise questions about the spuriousness of both EPPM and empathy studies that fail to assess other elements that may be responsible for risk judgments and behavioral effects.

Third Person Perception and School Violence • John Chapin, Penn State University and Grace Coleman, Crisis Center North • The study is the first of its kind to study third-person perception within the context of school violence. Linkages to the health psychology literature (optimistic bias) provide the basis for further understanding of adolescents’ perceptions of school violence and the influence of media violence in their lives. Results from a survey of 1,500 middle school and high school students suggest third-person perception regarding media violence decreases with age, and is influenced by perceived reality of media violence, optimistic bias, and knowledge of real world youth violence.

Preventive or Punitive? A Case Study on the Third-Person Effects and SupportfFor Media Censorship • Stella Chih-Yun Chia, Kerr-hsin Lu and Douglas M. McLeod, Wisconsin-Madison • This study investigates the third-person perception and individualsÕ support for media censorship with both preventive and punitive explanations in the context of a controversial sexual VCD that infringed on a public figure’s privacy. The preventive explanation views individuals’ support for censorship as a preventive action to protect others from threatening media effects; the punitive explanation argues that individualsÕ favorable attitudes toward media censorship show their intention to penalize the media for the harm they have done to the subject of the negative communication.

Black and White Perpetrators and Victims on TV News Psychological Reactions to the Race of Victims and Criminals Portrayed on Television News • Travis L. Dixon, Michigan • The current study assessed television news viewers’ psychological reactions after exposure to a crime story in which a Black, White or race unidentified criminal is suspected of killing a White, Black or race unidentified victim. Participants were exposed to a crime story embedded in a newscast in a 3 (Victim Race – Black, White, or Race Unidentified) X 3 (Perpetrator Race – Black, White, or Race Unidentified) X 2 (Racism – High, Low) X 2 (News Viewing – Heavy, Light) factorial design.

Alcohol Advertising Exposure and Perceptions: Links with Alcohol Expectancies and Drinking or Intention to Drink in Teens and Young Adults • Kenneth Fleming and Esther Thorson, Missouri and Charles Atkins, Michigan State University • This study tests a mediation model of alcohol advertising effects that argues drinking or intention to drink is related to amount and type of alcohol advertising one is exposed to, as mediated by perceptual responses to the advertising and expectancies about alcohol. The model was tested using survey data of two important age cohorts, teenagers aged 12 to 20 and young adults 21 to 29. The findings show there was a good fit between the data and a model that suggests the impact of alcohol advertising exposure on drinking is mediated by alcohol advertising attitudes and positive alcohol expectancies.

Embryonic Stem Cell Research and Newspapers Nationwide: A Community Structure Analysis • Daniella Gratale, Christina Steer, John C. Pollock, Ph.D., Megan Deacon, Katie Huber and Bill Hults, The College of New Jersey • This study uses a “community structure approach” to explore the connection between city characteristics and nationwide newspaper coverage of embryonic stem cell research. A sample of 350 articles, chosen from 21 newspapers across the nation, were coded for “prominence” and article “direction” (favorable, unfavorable, or neutral). The results were combined to calculate a single-score “Media Vector” for each newspaper. Pearson and regression analysis revealed that three variables accounted for 85% of the variance: “health care access” (number of physicians per 100,000 residents); “stakeholders” (% Catholic and % Republican), and “media access” (% cable-subscribers).

Evaluating the Credibility of Online Information: A test of source and advertising influence • Jennifer Greer, Jane Baughman, Patricia Cunningham-Wong, Ethnie Groves Catherine McCarthy, Megan Myers, and Cindy Petterson, Nevada-Reno • An experimental design examined whether source or advertising credibility influence perceived credibility of an online news story. It was hypothesized that, in the absence of a brand-name news source, subjects would look to advertising as a secondary cue. While source credibility was significantly tied to their ratings of the story, advertising credibility was not. Further, subjects paid little attention to the ads, even though the comprised at least a third of the page.

Achieving the Men’s Health Look: College Males’ Attitudes and Behaviors Regarding the Lean and Toned Body Ideal • Magdala Peixoto and Kim Walsh-Childers, Florida • Studies suggest two trends: the male body ideal disseminated in the media is becoming more muscular, and body dissatisfaction and weight control and muscle building behaviors are increasing among young men. This study explored the possible relationship between these trends through focus groups with college males. Results suggest young men are aware of the lean and toned mediated ideal and are engaging in weight control and/or muscle building behaviors in an effort to approximate it.

An Ideological Race between Journalistic Values and Corporate Interests on the Information Superhighway: NBC News’ Web Coverage of a GE-related Incident • Tien-tsung Lee, Ph.D. Washington State University and Kuang-Kuo Chang Michigan State University • The impact of media mergers, or the concentration of media ownership, has been a popular subject in mass communication research. Some observers argue that one of the implications of the increase of corporate ownership is that news organizations may lose their autonomy and objectivity while covering their parent corporations. The present research theorizes that journalistic professionalism may be able to overcome such pressure. The coverage of an accident involving GE — which owns NBC — on the websites of eight major U.S. news organizations, was analyzed.

Motivating Turnout Counter-Endorsement Third-Person Effects, Campaign Negativity, and Voting • Glenn Leshner, Lance Holbert, and Tae-Il Yoon; Missouri-Columbia • This study analyzed the respective behavioral effects of campaign negativity and third-person perceptions fostered by counter-attitudinal issue endorsements on voting. The context for this study involved a survey during an off-off-year statewide ballot initiative, which would have granted individuals the right to carry a concealed weapon. We found that endorsements that run counter to voters’ stated positions on this issue created third-person perceptions, and that these perceptions had a positive influence on actual voting.

Bypassing The Middleman: The Impact Of Web Use On The Public Perception Of Physicians • Wilson Lowery, Mississippi State University and William B. Anderson, Louisiana State University • This study asks if today’s physicians are losing some of their authority when faced with clients who are empowered with online knowledge. Findings suggest that heavy Web users are less likely to see physicians as exclusive holders of health information. The study also explores the degree of use of online health information and predictors of this use. Finding show substantial use of the Web for health information and that age, education level, employment and income level are the dominant predictors.

Peer and Social Influence on Opinion Expression: Combining the Theories of Planned Behavior and the Spiral of Silence • Kurt Neuwirth, Cincinnati, Edward Fredrick, Southern Mississippi, Jocye M Wolburg, Marquette University • This study uses the Theory of Planned Behavior and Spiral of Silence to explore the role of peer and social influence on communicative acts related to drinking behavior. Results of the study suggest that a person’s own attitude and sense of self-efficacy are important influences on willingness to communicate about drinking. The study also found that peers, and to a lessor extent perceptions of majority attitudes, were associated with willingness to voice an opinion.

Less Influenced Than Who, Exactly? The Role Of Stereotyping In Third-Person Perception Of Effects Of Media Violence • Erica Scharrer, University of Massachusetts • The third-person perception as it relates to the issue of television violence is examined via survey responses of 624 adults from three regions in the United States. Respondents are asked to specify which social groups they deem most susceptible to negative media influence. Results suggest that unfavorable stereotypes of certain marginalized social groups (e.g., people of color, urban residents) may help shape perceptions of who is perceived to be more negatively influenced by media violence than others.

The Influence of News Coverage On Gulf War Syndrome • Robert L. Stevenson, North Carolina-Chapel Hill • This paper considers whether news coverage of Gulf War Syndrome (GWS) had any influence on calls made to a Department of Defense hotline from the time the hotline was introduced in early 1994 until 1999. News coverage is measured by the total number of words published in two major national newspaper, the Washington Post and USA Today, and the word equivalents presented on the evening newscasts of the three commercial networks and CNN Headline News during the same five-year period. Granger Causality regression is used, among other techniques, to test the assertion that media coverage was a factor in the proliferation of a strange illness that medical authorities could not define or find a cause of.

Cancer Information on the Web: Gross Characteristics and Readability • Craig W. Trumbo, Missouri • This project is an exploratory investigation of the WebÕs content on cancer. This paper reports the results of the first of two components of this study: the overall characteristics of this public resource, including an examination of the contentÕs readability.

Disruptive and Cooperative Interruptions in Prime Time Television Fiction: The Role of Gender, Status, and Topic • Xiaoquan Zhao, Pennsylvania and Walter Gantz, Indiana University • Speech characteristics of male and female characters in fictional television have received only scant attention in media content research. A content analysis of prime time television revealed that male characters were more likely to initiate disruptive interruptions than female characters while female characters were more likely to use cooperative interruptions than male characters. Such differences, however, were moderated by status differential between interactants and topic of conversation.

Soliciting and Expressing Social Support Over the Internet: An Investigation of On-line Eating Disorder Support Groups • Kristen L. Campbell, Miami • Using a longitudinal and systematic sample of 490 postings, this study analyzed the themes, the type of social support, and the strategies used to solicit social support provided on the top five Yahoo! eating disorder discussion boards. Optimal matching theory, the notion that it is possible to attribute stressful events to social supportive behavior in order to find the most favorable match, led to the formulation of two hypothesis. Both were supported.

“American Taliban:” A Framing Content Analysis of the U.S. Press Coverage of John Walker Lindh • Shao-Chun Cheng, Ohio University • Employing quantitative framing content analysis, this study examined the U. S. news media’s coverage of John Walker Lindh, the so-called “American Taliban.” During the three-month sampling period, 95 articles were taken from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Time and Newsweek were content analyzed. The results found that the U. S. news media primarily framed John Walker Lindh’s story as a political/legal incident, and the most often used frame was “political/legal negative” frame.

Third-Person and First-Person Perceptions Of Smokers And Non-Smokers: Effects Of Attitudes Toward Smoking And Involvement In Smoking On Perceived Influences Of Anti-Smoking Public Service Announcements • Youjin Choi, Missouri and Mijong Chae, Florida • This study examined effects of attitudes toward smoking and involvement in smoking on perceived influences of anti-smoking public service announcements (PSAs). The hypotheses were that people who have negative attitudes toward smoking perceive a larger influence of the PSAs on themselves than others, and those who have positive attitudes toward smoking perceive a smaller influence of the PSAs on themselves than others.

Communicating in the Aftermath of a Crisis: Lessons Learned from 9/11 • Terence (Terry) Flynn, Syracuse University • The terrorist attacks in New York and Washington in September 2001 were devastating examples of how a crisis can strike at the heart and soul of an organization. Crisis management literature provides the basis for understanding the steps that organizations should take but provides limited empirical evidence of what organizational variables contribute to the successful management of a crisis event. This study uses, for the first time, three indexes to measure organizational leadership, preparedness and demand during crises.

Political Elites, News Media, and the Rhetoric of U.S. National Identity Since September 11 • John Hutcheson, David Domke, Andre Billeaudeaux, and Philip Garland, Washington • Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 it has been common for U.S. leaders to publicly articulate themes of American national identity. We argue that this national identity rhetoric has been at the heart of the governmentÕs mobilization campaign to unite the American public in support of the war on terrorism. Using content analysis of Time magazine, this study examines specific communication strategies employed by government leaders to galvanize public sentiment and promote national unity.

“Laugh Away Your Mistrust”: Revisiting the Relationship between Friendship Sitcom Viewing and Social Trust • Jong-Eun Roselyn Lee, Pennsylvania • While television entertainment is blamed for decline in social capital, a series of recent studies have produced consistent findings that suggest friendship sitcoms have positive effects on social trust. This research re-examines and elaborates the association by testing possible interaction effects between sitcom viewing and demographic characteristics on social trust. The analyses find income and race have significant interaction effects with sitcom viewing, illustrating that the relationship between sitcom viewing and social trust may vary across different demographic segments.

Media Coverage of Mexican Immigration into the United States: A Community Structure Approach • Guinevere Lehman, Daniella Gratale, Nicholas Stine and Patrick Snyder, The College of New Jersey • This study uses a “community structure approach” to examine the relationship between specific city demographics and newspaper coverage of immigration into the United States. A sample of 280 newspaper articles, published between 10/29/93 and 9/11/01, and chosen from 14 newspapers across the nation, were coded for “prominence” and article direction (favorable, unfavorable, or neutral). The results were combined to calculate a single-score “Media Vector” for each newspaper.

Stimulus or Outcome: An Operant Conditioning Explanation of Threat Messages’ Effectiveness • Yulian Li, Minnesota • This experimental study investigates the effects of outcome and threat on attitudes and behavioral intention. Applying the cardinal rule of operant conditioning that human behaviors are largely controlled by outcomes, this study finds that the high or pleasant outcome is consistently more effective than the low or unpleasant outcome in increasing subjectsÕ attitude toward object, attitude toward behavior and behavioral intention. Threat is found to have little impact.

Effects of the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack on U.S. Press Coverage • Jensen Moore, Samantha Kemming and Betsy Neibergall and David P. Fan, Minnesota • This study investigated effects of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on U.S. press coverage before and after the event. Analysis focused on two of the terrorists’ goals – peace in Palestine and respect for the Muslim faith – as articulated in Osama bin Laden’s October 7, 2001 statement. Coverage was assessed using a computer-based content analysis program that categorized/evaluated text. Findings indicated that terrorists did change U.S. print media.

The Internet Comes to Radiotown: Media Use 40 Years After Schramm • Jay Newell, Michigan State University • Forty years ago Wilbur Schramm collected data on the media use habits of children in what may have been the last town in North America not to have television. This present research returns to Schramm’s “Radiotown” to explore the current media use habits of the now adult subjects of Schramm’s study. Televisions, radios and computers are ubiquitous among Schramm’s former subjects, and the use of the devices is nearly constant. Findings are compared with key aspects of three theories: uses and gratifications, diffusion of innovation and social cognitive theory.

Intensity and Goal Dimensions of Internet Dependency Relations: A Media System Dependency Theory Perspective • Padmini Patwardhan and Jin Yang, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale • Using a cross sectional email survey of 166 respondents randomly drawn from the faculty, staff and student population at a large mid-western university in the United States, this study examined individual-media relations in the online environment. Intensity and goal dimensions of individual Internet relations were explored from a micro-level Media System Dependency theory perspective. Some demographic antecedents of Internet Dependency Relations were also investigated.

Framing Mental Illness: The Trial of Andrew Goldstein • Elaine Sieff, North Carolina at Chapel Hill • Portrayals of mental illness in the mass media have been historically negative and inaccurate. Using framing analysis, this research attempts to understand the portrayal of schizophrenia in reports of a particular event involving an individual diagnosed with schizophrenia. Differences in the coverage between three newspapers, and the frames used were observed. Although efforts to promote more understanding of mental illness were observed; the coverage is often negative and stereotypical in nature.

Privacy In A State Of War: The Effect Of The Events Of September 11 On Media Privacy Framing • J. Richard Stevens, Texas at Austin • Privacy can be expressed in the mass media in different ways. An analysis of the use of privacy frames in the New York Times in the 16-week period surrounding the events of September 11 attempted to measure their impact on the framing of privacy. The study found a dramatic increase in the number of frames advocating increased access to individuals following Sept. 11, while the number of frames advocating less access remained relatively unchanged.

The Enactment of JournalistsÕ Role Conceptions • Tim P. Vos, Syracuse • This study tests the assumption that journalistsÕ role conceptions are reflected in how journalists write news stories. A survey of journalists was conducted to establish individual role conceptions. The findings are compared to a content analysis of those same journalists’ news content. The results indicate that role conceptions are not a reliable predictor of how news stories are written.

Framing Social Responsibility: Media Coverage of Nike Sweatshops from 1996 to 1998 • Ning Wang, Syracuse University • This paper tried to detect media frames in the coverage of Nike sweatshop issue during 1996 to 1998. Content analysis was done with 116 articles extracted from Lexis-Nexis database. The results revealed a clear trace of framing as: the workers in distant Asian countries were almost unheard of, this issue has not much government involvement, there were not many ordinary people concerned, the whole issue is primarily the charge and counter-charge between Nike and non-governmental organizations, and Nike’s promise to change was welcomed and credited.

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