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1- Upworthy is on to something: How stories with positive emotions impact newsreader attitudes and engagement

Conference presentationsManuscripts under review
Paper to be presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Southeast Colloquium, Baton Rouge, LA. (2016)

Abstract

The media’s constant supply of negative news has contributed to audience decline, and journalists are experimenting with more constructive story formats to engage readers. This experiment examined the presence and placement of positive emotions in news stories. Results showed that news stories with positive emotions influenced readers’ affect, attitudes, and engagement. Results further suggested it is possible to evoke positive emotions even in inherently negative stories without participants perceiving the story to be less valuable.

2- Constructive journalism: An introduction and practical guide for applying positive psychology techniques to news production

Conference presentationsManuscripts under review
Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, San Francisco.

Abstract

We propose to expand the boundaries of the news process by introducing, defining and subsequently coining the interdisciplinary concept of constructive journalism as an emerging form of journalism that involves applying positive psychology techniques to news processes and production in an effort to create productive and engaging coverage, while holding true to journalism’s core functions. First, we review the critical issues in journalism that highlight the need for this approach. Next, we coin constructive journalism and situate the concept in the field. Finally, we outline techniques by which constructive journalism can be practiced, including the psychological frameworks supporting these applications. Overall, this essay suggests a needed direction for journalism by means of constructive reporting which aims to positively impact journalism’s diminished reputation and weary news audiences.

3- Solutions journalism: The effects of including solution information in news stories about social problems

Conference presentationsManuscripts under review
Paper presented at the International Communication Association annual conference, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Abstract

The media contribute to compassion fatigue — or a public apathetic to human tragedy — in part by failing to present solutions to the social problems ubiquitous in today’s conflict-based news coverage. Journalism practitioners are attempting to lessen compassion fatigue and engage readers by writing solution-focused news stories. This study experimentally tested the effects of including solution information in news stories on readers’ feelings, attitudes, and behaviors. Results revealed that when writing a news story about a social problem, mentioning an effective solution to the problem did not impact readers’ behavioral intentions or actual behaviors, but it did cause readers to report favorable attitudes toward the news article and to feel less negative than when no solution or an ineffective solution was presented. This suggests that solutions journalism might mitigate some harmful effects of negative, conflict-based news, but might not inspire action. More work needs to be done before sweeping claims can be made about the impact of solutions journalism.

4- Effects of positive stereotypes of gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals on news consumers’ attitudes and tendency to stereotype

Conference presentationsManuscripts under review
Karen McIntyre, Rhonda Gibson
Paper presented at the International Communication Association annual conference, Fukuoka, Japan.

Abstract

With issues related to sexual orientation at the forefront of public consciousness and policy debates, media depictions of sexual minorities are commonplace. There is ongoing pressure to avoid negative stereotypes, yet positive stereotypical depictions and descriptions of GLB individuals continue. This study focused on the effects of positive stereotypes of sexual minorities in news stories. Results of an experiment confirm previous research in regard to awareness of and affective reaction to positive stereotypes. Some results are also in line with past research that reveal the insidious nature of positive stereotypes.

5- Motivating news audiences: Shock them or provide them with solutions?

Conference presentationsJournal articles
Karen McIntyre, Meghan Sobel
Communication and Society, 29(1), (In press). Paper also presented at the International Communication Association annual conference, Fukuoka, Japan (2016)

Abstract

Despite the well-established power of the media to shape public perceptions of social problems, compassion fatigue is believed to run rampant. So what does it take for someone to be compelled to act after reading a story or seeing an image of a prominent issue? This study, a 3-by-2 between subjects experiment, examined the effects of two journalistic techniques — shocking audiences into action with offensive stories or inspiring them to act with solution-based stories – in the context of sex trafficking. Results revealed that neither shock nor solutions stories led to increased empathy for trafficked individuals, greater understanding of the issue, increased desire to share the story or increased desire to act, but that readers of solutions stories felt more positive and were more likely to read similar stories about the issue. This suggests that solution-focused news stories might be at least somewhat more engaging than shocking and offensive stories.

6- How the news media might contribute to increasing acceptance of same-sex marriage

Conference presentations
Paper to be presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Southeast Colloquium, Baton Rouge, LA. (2016)

Evidence shows that Americans have become considerably more accepting of same-sex marriage in the past quarter century. This paper discusses how the news media might have contributed to this change. Following Shoemaker and Reese’s (2013) hierarchy of influences model, this paper argues that same-sex marriage coverage was likely influenced by increasing acceptance of same-sex marriage by individual journalists, changing newsroom routines, and shifting societal ideologies.

7- The contextualist function: U.S. newspaper journalists value social responsibility

Conference presentationsJournal articles
Karen McIntyre, Nicole Dahmen, Jesse Abdenour
Paper presented at the Association for the Education of Journalism and Mass Communication annual conference, Minneapolis.

A survey (N = 1318) evaluated US newspaper journalists’ attitudes toward contextual reporting – stories that go beyond the immediacy of the news and contribute to societal well-being. Results indicated that journalists highly value professional roles associated with contextual reporting. Responses revealed new journalistic role functions, including the ‘Contextualist’, who placed high value on being socially responsible and accurately portraying the world. Analyses showed that younger journalists and female journalists highly valued three genres of contextual reporting: constructive journalism, solutions journalism, and restorative narrative. Additionally, a journalist’s belief in activist values such as setting the political agenda and pointing to possible solutions predicted more favorable views of all three forms of contextual journalism, while belief in an adversarial attitude predicted less favorable views of restorative narrative.

8- Covering gun violence: U.S. Journalists’ perceptions of how the media report on mass shootings

Conference presentationsManuscripts under review
Nicole Dahmen, Jesse Abdenour, Karen McIntyre, & Krystal Noga-Styron
To be presented at the International Communication Association annual meeting, San Diego

Using data from a national survey of U.S. newspaper journalists (N = 1,318), this study examines attitudes toward news coverage of mass shootings. The study also considers how individual characteristics, journalistic routines, and organizational attributes influence these attitudes. Participants generally agreed that coverage has become routine. Journalists were largely supportive of coverage of perpetrators, but were hesitant to agree that coverage contributes to “copycat” shootings. Regarding attitude influences, a participant’s age was generally the strongest predictor. A journalist’s role perception, meanwhile, was the most powerful determinant of attitudes toward victim/survivor coverage. Findings also indicate differences in attitude according to job title and coverage beat. As a whole, findings indicate that traditional libertarian ideas about mass shooting coverage are still prevalent; however, journalists also want to see more comprehensive reporting, including coverage of solutions and community resilience.

9- Do journalists facilitate a visionary debate among US presidential candidates? Content analysis reveals temporal orientation of debate questions

Conference presentationsManuscripts under review
Karen McIntyre, Cathrine Gyldensted
Paper presented at the Association for the Education of Journalism and Mass Communication annual conference, Minneapolis.

Applying the psychological concept of prospection — or imagining possible futures — to political journalism, a content analysis examined questions asked during U.S. presidential debates. Half of debate questions asked from 1960 to 2012 focused on the present, one-third focused on the future, and 12% focused on the past. Members of the public were more likely than journalists to ask future-oriented questions. The percentage of future-oriented questions also related to the specific election cycle and which news organization hosted the debate.

10- Positive news makes readers feel good: How using a “silver-lining” approach to negative news can attract audiences

Conference presentationsJournal articles
Karen McIntyre, Rhonda Gibson
Southern Communication Journal. DOI: 10.1080/1041794X.2016.1171892


newspaper

Abstract

After decades of criticism that the media publish too much negative news and during a time of declining news audiences, some media outlets have dedicated themselves to publishing only happy, upbeat stories. The current experiment examined the positive news industry by testing the effects of three types of story valence – positive, negative, and silver lining – on readers’ affect, story enjoyment, perceived well-being, knowledge acquisition, and sharing intentions. The authors additionally looked at hard vs. soft news stories. Results suggest that, among all types of stories, valence plays a significant role in readers’ affect, in that positive news makes readers feel good. In addition, findings suggest that the silver-lining story – one that highlights a positive outcome of a negative event – may present a practical way for media outlets to maintain the time-honored surveillance function of negative news yet also reap the affective benefits of positive news.

 

11- Positive news websites and extroversion: Motives, preferences, and sharing behavior among American and British readers

Conference presentationsManuscripts under review
Karen McIntyre, Meghan Sobel
Presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Montreal, Canada, August 2014

***This paper won the Top Student Paper Award at the annual meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in Montreal, Canada (August, 2014)

positive news

Abstract
Personality and nationality have been known to influence media choices. This study examined the relationship between respondents’ level of extroversion and their motivations, story preferences, and sharing behavior in regard to consuming positive news on a “good news” website. A survey of 1,114 positive news consumers from the U.S. and the U.K. was conducted. Results revealed that extroversion was more strongly associated with the information-seeking motive than the social utility or mood management motives. Extroverts were more likely than introverts to share stories with a wider group of people, although sharing medium was found to be more important than audience size. Finally, positive news readers were most likely to both view and share the stories they considered to be the happiest, and extroversion moderated this relationship. Differences between American and British readers are discussed.

12- Drone journalism: Exploring the potential privacy invasions of using unmanned aircraft to gather news

Conference presentationsJournal articles
Karen McIntyre
Newspaper Research Journal (2015), 36(2), 158-169. Also presented at the national annual meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Washington D.C., August 2013


drone bot

Abstract

This paper examines how drones are regulated and how journalists might operate drones without invading people’s privacy. It analyzes court decisions in existing surreptitious newsgathering and aerial surveillance cases that courts might rely upon to decide future cases in which journalists use drones intrusively. Based on these cases, this paper suggests the ways drone journalism might invade a person’s privacy and offers guidelines to journalists considering the use of unmanned aircraft to gather news.

 

13- The effects of online news package structure on attitude, attention, and comprehension

Conference presentationsJournal articles
Karen McIntyre, Spencer Barnes, and Laura Ruel
Electronic News (in press). Also presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Montreal, Canada, August 2014


Coal: A Love Story website

Abstract
Research has shown that website structure can impact storytelling. This study examined the effects of two online news packages’ website designs – a multiple-page, nonlinear, click-through design and a single-page, linear, scroll-through design – on users’ attitudes toward the website, factual and structural comprehension of site content, and attention to the site. Results of a 2×2 between-subjects experiment revealed that both types of comprehension were influenced by the interaction between website design and attention. Among participants who spent at least 10 minutes browsing, users were better able to recognize facts after looking at the scroll-through site, but they showed a deeper understanding of content after looking at the click-through site. Theoretical and practical implications for storytelling are discussed.

14- The evolution of social media from 1969 to 2013: A change in competition and a trend toward complementary, niche sites

Conference presentationsJournal articles
Karen McIntyre
Journal of Social Media in Society (2014), 3(2), 5-25. Also presented at the annual meeting of the American Journalism Historians Association, New Orleans, LA, September 2013


social media icons

Abstract

How did social media begin, and where is it going? Will a new social network conquer Facebook? In order to speculate about the future, the evolution of social media from 1969 to 2013 – a topic that scholars have yet to explore – is examined. Through a textual analysis, the historical development and downfall of influential social media platforms is traced and a discussion of how media evolution theories applied along the way are provided. Results indicate early social media platforms competed with each other directly and marketed to the general population, largely supporting the functional equivalence theory of media evolution. Around the turn of the century, however, social networks experienced a theoretical shift. Sites competed less with each other and more for audience time and attention. Simultaneously, platforms started targeting niche populations – a change that may support the future of social media as an industry supporting the complementary and niche theories of media evolution.

 

15- MOOCs in the humanities: Can they reach underprivileged students?

Conference presentationsJournal articles
Suzannah Evans, Karen McIntyre
Convergence (2014). Also presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Washington D.C., August 2013


MOOC logo

Abstract

Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have been heralded as a democratizing force bringing higher education to the world’s neediest students. But do MOOCs effectively confront the well-documented challenges of online education for underprivileged students? This textual analysis examines MOOC offerings in the humanities and finds that courses are designed for relatively well-prepared students, not underprivileged students.

 

16- What makes “good” news newsworthy?

Conference presentationsJournal articles
Karen McIntyre
Communication Research Reports (in press). Also resented at the annual meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Montreal, Canada, August 2014


positive news

Abstract
A content analysis was conducted to determine the news values in stories of five websites dedicated to publishing positive news. News values in stories from a traditional news site – the New York Times Online – were also measured to provide a baseline comparison. Results indicated that a majority of stories from the “good” news sites were entertaining and emotional, whereas a majority of the New York Times stories involved authority figures and conflict. These findings suggest the content producers of good news websites emphasize different news values than content producers of a traditional news site.