Academic journal article Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media

The Effect of News Teasers in Processing TV News

Academic journal article Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media

The Effect of News Teasers in Processing TV News

Article excerpt

In commercial broadcasting, attempts to maintain a positive audience flow play a critical role in television station programming strategies. One of the strategies frequently used by network affiliates is to maximize the lead-in effects of national programming to local news (Eastman, 1993). Promos featuring national program on-air talent or network anchorpersons to endorse the quality of the local newscast have been used commonly to enhance this lead-in effect.

Some stations have applied this strategy a step further, developing news pieces that tie in with content from national programs that precede local evening newscasts. The ABC affiliate in central New York, for example, produced such a news story daily, and the piece was featured and promoted in advance to carry viewers over to the station's news. Part of the carry-over process involved news teasers, which were inserted in the commercial breaks of the lead-in program. These teasers were usually presented in visual form and related to the topics discussed in the program to highlight the relevance between the program and the local newscasts. For example, if teenage pregnancy was the topic of the show preceding the newscast, a news story about the local teen pregnancy problem would be featured in the local newscast, and a news teaser containing a visual clip from the news story (emphasizing connections between the show topic and the news story) would be used to promote the local newscast. The news teasers were employed to serve as cues for the upcoming news stories and to appeal to viewer interest sustained from the preceding program. Interest may be an important factor for viewer selection, but it may not guarantee learning or retention of the information. Since TV is the most recognized source for news (Comstock, 1989; Robinson & Levy, 1986), it is important to make TV newscasts more comprehensible and memorable for the public.

The effectiveness of the newscast in enhancing viewer information learning has long been an area for research, and an extensive literature has been devoted to exploring types of presentation features that may facilitate or improve the information learned from TV news (e.g., Brosius, 1991; Graber, 1990; Son, Reese, & Davie, 1987). Nevertheless, little research has examined the effects of the by-product of newscasts--news teasers. This raises the following questions: Can the findings of newscast research be applied to news teasers? Can a 15-second news teaser make a difference in facilitating or improving viewer information processing? If it does, are specific types of news teasers more effective than others? In order to answer these questions, this study explored the role of news teasers in processing TV news as well as examined the effectiveness of different types of news teasers in improving information retention and understanding.

News Teasers

In a news teaser, a news anchorperson describes or previews an upcoming news item. The major function of news teasers is to appeal to viewer interest and entice them to stay tuned for an upcoming story (Schleuder, White, & Cameron, 1993). However, as a by-product of newscasts, news teasers may also serve an informative function. To learn whether news teasers achieve this intention, Schleuder and White (1989) studied news teasers embedded in the newscast segments of NBC, CBS, and ABC news and found that viewers "paid more moment to moment attention to news stories that had been teased" (p. 23). In addition, viewers remembered the verbal aspects of the teased news stories better than those of stories that had not been teased.

Schleuder and White's (1989) study was one of the few studies that examine the effects of news teasers. Cameron, Schleuder, and Thorson (1991) explored the effect of news teasers in processing commercials. They found that news teasers moderately enhance the effect of segmenting commercial breaks into discrete units that then evidence a primacy effect for the verbal recognition of the first commercial and a recency effect for the visual recognition of the last commercial. …

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