General election news coverage: What engages audiences down the ballot
April 1 2017
This report from The Engaging News Project and the American Press Institute and funded by the Democracy Fund reveals some very interesting news reading habits among audiences in the run-up to the 2016 general election. Some key findings: Articles about corruption garnered the most page views and social referrals during the 2016 election, and articles mentioning issues and strategy received fewer page views and referrals than those that did not. Plus, economic topics like jobs and trade were not prominent on the local news agenda, despite their role in animating many of the voters who supported Donald Trump in the presidential election.
While the situation is improving, men continue to outnumber women in the media field in 2017, according to the latest Status of Women in the U.S. Media Report from the Women’s Media Center. One example: There are now an unprecedented number of minority female TV news directors, but these numbers still don’t reflect the U.S. population as a whole.
Processing political misinformation: Comprehending the Trump phenomenon
March 1 2017
This study in Royal Society Open Science examines both true and false statements Donald Trump made during the 2016 Republican primary. Findings reveal that correcting Trump’s false statements did lead people—across political ideologies—to change their minds about those statements. However, knowing statements were false did not decrease the likelihood of voting for Trump among Trump supporters or other Republicans.
Does engagement in advocacy hurt the credibility of scientists? Results from a randomized national survey experiment
February 27 2017
This study, published in Environmental Communication, reveals that participating in advocacy does not undermine the credibility of scientists or the scientific community. However, “even if people do not object to scientists engaging in advocacy per se (as opposed to refraining from advocacy), they still may object to a specific position that is advocated.”
Same beds, different dreams? Charitable foundations and newsroom independence in the Global South
February 1 2017
This report from the Center for International Media Assistance at the National Endowment for Democracy investigates what happens when foundations underwrite news content in the Global South. Among other findings, it uncovers a clear need for agreed-upon standards and guidelines for maintaining editorial independence.
Journalism that stands apart: The New York Times report of the 2020 Group
January 15 2017
The New York Times reflects on what’s working now and what must change in order to ensure its sustainability: “Why must we change? Because our ambitions are grand: to prove that there is a digital model for original, time-consuming, boots-on-the-ground, expert reporting that the world needs. For all the progress we have made, we still have not built a digital business large enough on its own to support a newsroom that can fulfill our ambitions. To secure our future, we need to expand substantially our number of subscribers by 2020.”
Exploring the impact of formats on audience metrics
January 1 2017
Digital analytics company Parse.ly takes a look at how audiences engage with content across multiple media formats. Video turns out to be the least engaging, while long-form content is most likely to attract and engage new users and drive growth.
Data shows that using science in an argument just makes people more partisan
December 23 2016
Yale behavioral economist Dan Kahan’s research reveals that the use of reason is more likely to increase partisan beliefs than to reduce them, for liberals and conservatives alike. Kahan has also found that people with greater scientific intelligence are actually more likely to take partisan positions on unfamiliar subjects. In contrast, those are less likely to take partisan positions tend to demonstrate higher levels of “scientific curiosity.”
Neural correlates of maintaining one’s political beliefs in the face of counterevidence
December 23 2016
Using neuroimaging, scientists from UCLA and Project Reason set out to uncover what happens in the brain when strongly held political convictions are challenged. They found that these kinds of challenges produced increased activity in the default mode network, which is associated with self-identity, as well as in the amygdala, which is associated with negative emotions. These results indicate that our brains process information that relates to our firmly held beliefs differently from the way they process other information—which may provide insight for those seeking to correct misinformation and change minds.
Narrative style influences citation frequency in climate change science
December 15 2016
In a study of 732 climate change-related abstracts from 19 journals, researchers from the University of Washington discovered that abstracts written in a more narrative style garnered more citations, and that influential journals were more likely to include studies written in a narrative style. These results indicate that “writing in a more narrative style increases the uptake and influence of articles in climate literature, and perhaps in scientific literature more broadly.”
Analytic activism: Digital listening and the new political strategy
December 1 2016
A new book from George Washington University Professor David Karpf—Analytic Activism: Digital Listening and the New Political Strategy—shares the results of the first major academic study of how advocacy organizations are using organized digital “listening” analytic tools and strategies to increase their impact. While organizations such as Change.org and Upworthy have been effective in using these methods to shape political narratives on social media and inspire digital citizen engagement, Karpf notes that there are some drawbacks as well.
Advancing the story: The next chapter in media impact
November 12 2016
See video highlights from the Norman Lear Center and the Paley Center for Media’s November 2016 event exploring how technology and storytelling can increase engagement with social issues. In one presentation, Johanna Blakely describes how to “connect the dots between media exposure and social or political action.”