Do People Believe What They See on TV?

My initial search was not a good one. I always seem to have trouble with your journal assignments because I never know where to start. This time was no different from the last, I couldn’t think of where to start. I put in stuff about college students and TV and nothing caught my eye. As all searches do, it got off on a tangent and I came across this article that is getting written up. (Cappella and Tsfati, 2003) It interested me because I am one of the many who think that there is more to the story than what is reported on the news. Either that or maybe there is a biased opinion coming out of the reported story. My chosen sub-discipline was the mass media and this relates because this is an article about the mass media and how much people buy into the message that is getting sent.

The authors of my article are Yariv Tsfati and Joseph N. Cappella. The article is trying to find out if there is a direct relation between skepticism toward the media and audience exposure patterns. This article is an example of primary research. The authors came up with three hypotheses for this experiment. The three are; mainstream media skepticism will be associated with lower nonmainstream news exposure, mainstream media skepticism will be associated with higher nonmanstream news exposure, and skepticism will be associated with news media diets: the higher the nonmainstream component in audiences’ media diets.

The participants in the experiment were asked a number of questions and included four of Graziano and McGrath’s News Credibility Scale items. They had an item asking whether the media care more about being first to report a story, and an item asking whether the media help society or get in the way of society solving it’s problems. The respondents were also questioned about the degree of which they trust the media to report the news fairly and the amount of confidence they have in the people running the institutions of the press. The main data set used in the study came from the Electronic Dialogue (ED) project, done during the course of the American national elections of 2000. The ED project was a unique web-based research method that involved a series of Internet surveys and electronic political discussions made to investigate the effects of participation in electronic deliberate forums on various opinions and attitudes. The participants of this study were part of a random sample of the American population whose families were offered WebTV units in return for weekly completion of Internet surveys.

They found that media skepticism was negatively and significantly associated with national television news exposure and with exposure to daily newspapers. The effects of skepticism on local and cable television news were both negative, but the effects of media exposure to political talk radio and political information on the internet were both positive.

The two articles weren’t incredibly hard to find. I had chosen two completely different articles, but I couldn’t locate them on the E-Journal locator or in the UTSA stacks. I tried to find another three or four articles and finally came across these two. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but it wasn’t easy by a long shot. The first of the two articles (Bennett, Flickinger, and Rhine, 2001) was very similar to the article that I first read. This article is an analysis of Americans’ opinions of the news media’s fairness in covering public affairs. This article helped Cappella and Tsfati by giving them a closely related study to look at. With this closely related study, they were able to come up with their hypotheses. This article had a major influence the current article because they were so closely related. Without Bennett, Flickinger and Rhine’s article Cappella and Tsfati wouldn’t have been able to have such an educated hypothesis.

The second article (Johnson and Kaye) surveyed politically interested web users online to examine whether they view web publications as credible as their traditionally delivered counterparts do. This is also an enormously important article to the current article. It finds out how the world thinks of online (nonmainstream) media. In the study, it was found that people actually find the web based news more credible than the mainstream news. This could’ve been what inspired the Cappella and Tsfati to do their study.

I’ve learned quite a bit about how the world views the media. I was never one to challenge what I was told, so I never really questioned the media. What things I do research (mainly sports) always seem to check out with alternative outlets. I’ve also learned that there are articles out there that are almost the exact same study with only a slight difference. It doesn’t seem like much to me but I’m sure it’s a bigger than I think it is. I could use this process in future research assignments to help me get a better background of the main article I’m researching. The strengths of “mining” reference list for sources are that they provide a good base for what you are reading. The limitations are that an article could’ve been used for a very specific point in the paper that might not have a significant bearing on the rest of the article.

Cappella, J. N. & Tsfati, Y. (2003) Do People Watch what they trust?
Communication Research, 30, 504-529. [Electronic Version] Retrieved from Proquest database, March 10, 2004

Bennett, S. E., Flickinger, R. S., & Rhine, S. L. Assessing Americans opinions About theNews Media’s Fairness in 1996 and 1998. Political Communication, 18,163-182 [Electronic version] Retrieved from Proquest database, April 1, 2004

Johnson, T. J., & Kaye, B. K. Cruising is Believing? Comparing Internet and TraditionalSources on Media Credibility Measures. Journalism and Mass CommunicationQuarterly, 75, 325-340 [Electronic Version] Retrieved from Proquest database,April 1, 2004

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