ERIC Number: ED284249
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987-Aug
Reference Count: 0
Audience Perspectives on the News: Assessing Their Complexity and Conceptual Frames.
McLeod, Jack M.; And Others
A study investigated audience news comprehension, focusing on objective knowledge questions measuring "acquaintance with" as contrasted to "knowledge of" as indexed by cognitive complexity and the frames of cognitive structure. A single continuing story--the Tax Reform bill that was moving through the United States Congress at the time of data collection--was selected as an issue salient enough to be at least somewhat familiar to almost all respondents but also complex enough to elicit a variety of interpretations. Subjects, 567 Wisconsin adults, interviewed by telephone in 1986, responded to a series of open-ended questions that allowed them ample opportunity to discuss tax reform and that covered the general areas of perceived effects, actors, and causes. Results indicated that many respondents saw the issue of tax reform in nonobvious ways, thinking more about the law's impact on society or the economy as a whole than in terms of their own "pocketbook." Results also yielded the surprisingly weak relationship of complexity and education. Findings showed a stronger partisan identification than might have been expected, given the nonpartisan nature of the issue under consideration. Strength of partisanship and strength of independence were strongly related to both complexity and certain frames, particularly party frames and social benefits. Findings suggested that structural variables have a greater impact on knowledge than on complexity, and may operate indirectly via media choice and patterns of media use and information processing strategies. (References and tables of data are appended.) (NKA)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Audience Response; Media Use; News Topics
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (70th, San Antonio, TX, August 1-4, 1987).