On the News Value of Peace Journalism - Results of an experimental
According to news
value research, the decision on whether a news article should be published
and subsequently will be read by the audience is dependent on the news
factors of the relevant events. Examples of news factors are negativity,
simplification and personification. Peace journalistic works often differ
from some of these criteria in trying to describe the events in all their
complexity and without focussing on negative events, considering structural
topics as well. But are they therefore less worth being published?
On the basis of an experimental study, the following article demonstrates
how peace journalism can be accepted by the reader, despite contradicting
some of the theories of news value research. Furthermore it describes
the impact of constructive coverage on the readers' mental models of the
conflict and the relationship between the two results.
In the following study, news articles on three different events in former
Yugoslavia were presented to a sample of n = 128 subjects, representative
for the German quality press with respect to age and level of education.
The experimental material consisted of three original moderately escalation
oriented articles of a German quality newspaper (Die Welt, Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung, Süddeutsche Zeitung), that is to say one for
each of the three events, and three different modifications of each original:
(a) with moderately de-escalation oriented framing, (b) with strongly
de-escalation oriented framing, and (c) with increased escalation oriented
framing of the events.
Each subject had to read one text version on each of the three events
and subsequently renarrate the content of the articles in their own words.
In addition, a questionnaire concerning the acceptance, credibility, balance,
news content, evaluation and entertaining function of the texts had to
be completed. The subjects' mental models of the events were reconstructed
by means of quantitative content analysis.
The results of this study advocate the publication of peace journalistic
articles. De-escalation oriented text versions were in no case accepted
to a lesser degree than the original ones and the de-escalation oriented
framing of the conflicts had an impact on the participants' mental models.
On the author:
Monika Spohrs, born 1965 in Eppstein/ Germany. 1999-2006 studies of Psychology
und Media Science at the University of Konstanz, Germany. Since 2002 member
of the Peace Research Group at the University of Konstanz. Special areas
of interest: Experimental reception research. Recent publications: Reception
and acceptance of constructive conflict coverage - Design of an experimental
Study (with Ute Annabring, 2004); Glaubwürdigkeit und Attraktivität
von eskalations- und deeskalationsorientierten Nachrichtentexten (with
Burkhard Bläsi, Susanne Jaeger and Wilhelm Kempf, 2005).
of Psychology, University of Konstanz, D-78457 Konstanz, Germany.