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Effects of exemplification in magazine journalism on the perception of social issues

Collection:
Agricultural Communications Documentation Center (ACDC)
Contributor:
Gibson, Rhonda (main author), Perkins, Joseph W., Jr. (author), Sundar, S. Shyam (author), Zillmann, Dolf (author)
Format:
Report
Publication Date:
1994
Published:
USA
Location:
Agricultural Communications Documentation Center, Funk Library, University of Illinois Box: 98
Subject Term:
communication analysis, communication research, evaluation, farm families, journalism, knowledge, news releases, perceptions
Notes:
James F. Evans Collection, Mimeographed, 1994. 32 p. Paper presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Convention in Atlanta, GA, August 10-13, 1994., A news report on the plight of some family farmers, presented in magazine format, was manipulated to create versions differing in the degree of precision of general information (precise, imprecise) and in the use of exemplifying case histories and testimonials (selective, mixed, representative). Precise information consisted of quantitative data from pertinent research. Imprecise information consisted of qualitative assertions. Selective exemplification featured only cases consistent with the focus of the report. Representative exemplification featured a distribution of consistent and inconsistent cases in proportion with their distribution in the population. Mixed exemplification featured a balanced distribution of consistent and inconsistent cases. In two experiments, respondents reported their own views of the issue at different times after reading (no delay, two week/one week delay). In both investigations, the accuracy of estimates of failing farms was found to be highest for representative and lowest for selective exemplification, with mixed exemplification achieving an intermediate degree of accuracy. This effect of exemplar distributions was stable over time (i.e., over the two/one week period). Also in both investigations, the effect of the precision of general information proved negligible. Regarding the report itself, the three versions of exemplification were not considered differently informative. However, selective exemplification was deemed more distressing to read than representative exemplification. (original)