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Role of graphics in readers' access and retention of online news stories

Mustaffa, Normah 2006. Role of graphics in readers' access and retention of online news stories. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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There is evidence that pictures in text serve various functions, with a potential impact on attention, affect, and cognition. Research on how people read news stories has shown that text accompanied with threatening or negative images influenced readers to read news stories compared to news without pictures. Other research, e.g., by Educational Psychologists, has shown that pictures which explain the text content (here called information graphics) can help people remember that content. So two issues arise, both of which are addressed in this thesis. One is whether information graphics would also encourage people to read the story, and the other is whether the more emotional graphics (here called human interest pictures) would also help retention, perhaps by increasing the reader's motivation. These issues were explored across three experiments in which 88 students participated. The first experiment presented four news stories in a controlled order and confirmed the beneficial effect of information graphics on retention, and suggested that human interest pictures could be equally effective. The second experiment let readers choose the order of reading the news stories and found information graphics increased retention more than human interest pictures, which were better remembered than news stories with no pictures, but picture category had no effect on the order in which stories were read. The third experiment let readers choose only two of the stories and found human interest pictures increased the likelihood that people would choose to read a news story, compared with information graphics. The differences among the experimental findings were attributed to variations in methodology. It can be concluded that human interest pictures and information graphics are most effective for different purposes, and that online news stories could usefully incorporate more pictures. The implications for future developments in digital communications are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
ISBN: 9781303171147
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2016 23:14

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