125-157 - Issues & Studie s 45, no. 2 (June 2009): 125-157....

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June2009 125 Issues & Studies © 45, no. 2 (June 2009): 125-157. Factors Affecting Viewers' Perceptions of Sensationalism in Television News: A Survey Study in Taiwan T AI -L I W ANG AND A KIBA A. C OHEN Using national survey data, this study examines factors that affect Taiwanese television viewers' perceptions of sensationalism in TV news. Findings indicate that TV formal features, channel selection, motivations for watching TV news, and viewers' demographics are significant factors that influence viewers' perceptions of sensationalism. Compared to other news topics, "gossip" was identified as the most sensational news topic. Concerning TV news formal features, the more audio, visual, and editing production features in the programs, the more sensational the news was perceived to be. In addition, cable news viewers perceive news content as more sensational than viewers of terrestrial television. Finally, informa- tion-oriented, older, and more highly educated viewers tend to perceive television news as more sensational. This paper further discusses the more universal implications of these findings. K EYWORDS : sensationalism; tabloid news; television news; audience re- search. T AI -L I W ANG ( ) is an associate professor in the Graduate Institute of Journalism, National Taiwan University. Her research focuses on sensationalism and tabloidization in news, television news and media effects, and web communication. Professor Wang can be reached at <[email protected]>. A KIBA OHEN is aprofessor in the Departmentof Communication, Tel Aviv University, Israel. His main research interests are global television news, news and cognition, and mobile telephony. Professor Cohen can be reached at <[email protected]>. © Institute of International Relations, National Chengchi University, Taipei, Taiwan (ROC).
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ISSUES & STUDIES 126 June 2009 * * * For the last few decades, the topic of sensationalism in news re- porting has aroused fierce public debate. 1 Summarizing from the previous literature, the sensationalization of news can be defined as the displacement of socially significant stories by "tabloid" news topics and the use of flamboyant production styles that overpower substantive in- formation. The media perform a democratizing function in contemporary societies, because they inform the public about communal affairs and provide the basic information people need to make electoral decisions. This is particularly applicable to TV news which over the last fifty years has become the primary news source for the generalpublic. If sensational news content occupies too much time in news programs, there will be less time for the substantial information a citizen needs to be truly informed. As a consequence, sensationalism is believed to harm the media's demo- cratic functions in societies in which the media are essentially market- driven.
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This note was uploaded on 07/21/2011 for the course BUS 10001 taught by Professor All during the Spring '11 term at Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology.

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125-157 - Issues & Studie s 45, no. 2 (June 2009): 125-157....

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