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Credibility perceptions of journalists in different media April 5, 2008

Posted by Robert Rich in symposium.
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Sue Robinson from the University of Wisconsin-Madison presented her paper “A Mediated, Interactive Call to Action: Audience Perceptions of Credibility and Authority for a Times Journalist in Print vs. Online”.

Robinson launched a web experiment using the columns, videos and blog of New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof, who focuses often on the ongoing genocide in Darfur. Her findings indicated that all participants of the study thought Kristof was credible.

However, the level of credibility was different based on which form of Kristof’s work participants were reading. In text, almost half of the participants found Kristof to be the most credible character in the story, but in the video, the participants found Kristof to be the least credible of all the characters, saying that he was “annoying,” “sensational,” “arrogant,” and “only a reporter who was probably not 100% kowledgeable in the area.”

In the columns, Kristof was often referenced as a primary source expert, and comments referenced the events in Darfur. In the video, he was judged moreso as a secondary source, and references were to the coverage of the events in Darfur.

Also, participants who read the column and were then asked to blog were more likely to support Kristof’s call to action. Those who participated in the blog were more likely to use personalized calls to action, as compared to those who did not blog.

“The column is still very powerful,” Robinson said.

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