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Are 'Sensational' News Stories More Likely to Trigger Viewers' Emotions than Non-Sensational News Stories? A Content Analysis of British TV News

ISI: Are 'Sensational' News Stories More Likely to Trigger Viewers' Emotions than Non-Sensational News Stories? A Content Analysis of British TV News

BARRIE GUNTER., RODRIGO URIBE B.

2007 - European Journal of Communication - Vol. 22, Nº2, Pp 207 - 228

Abstract

This article considers whether `sensational' news stories are intrinsically more likely to elicit emotional responses in audiences than other TV news stories. The research analyses a sample of British televised news in respect of empirically validated attributes, to identify the presence of particular content elements that audience research has shown to possess emotion-eliciting capabilities. The results show that news stories traditionally classified as `sensational' — a term that implies a dramatic and therefore emotion-arousing imperative — do not necessarily contain more emotionally arousing features than other types of news story. Only crime stories (among the most frequently occurring `sensational' news categories) and, to a limited extent, political stories (a classic `non-sensational' news topic) provide clear manifestations of the presence of high and low emotion-laden attributes. Moreover, those topics containing more emotion-laden material are not the same over time or across public and commercial TV channels.

Keywords

content analysis, emotionality, sensationalism, tabloidization, television news. 

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