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ERIC Number: ED141817
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1976-May
Reference Count: N/A
Cloaked Attribution--What Does It Mean to News Readers? ANPA News Research Bulletin. No. 1.
Culbertson, Hugh M.; Somerick, Nancy
A study was conducted to determine how people react to unnamed or veiled news sources in newspaper articles. A group of 283 persons, chosen at random from three contrasting communities, was asked to read two articles dealing with different topics, one with sources quoted by name and one with euphemisms ("a White House spokesman,""a city official") substituted for names. Respondents rated the stories on perceived level of accuracy and truthfulness and on level of reader interest and then answered questions dealing with views about attribution practice. The study revealed that, on the whole, people were suspicious of cloaked news sources viewed in the abstract. However, veiled attribution apparently does not lead to cynicism about the news media, as no differences were found between named and unnamed sources as they affected a story's overall believability. A great many respondents felt that the typical veiled news source is rather knowledgeable, that veiled attribution reflects a source's need for secrecy in most cases, and that "leaks" are, on balance, a good thing. People of higher social and educational status were highly aware of factors that might lead one to doubt the credibility of unnamed sources, but they were especially apt to see a need for news "leaks" in our society. (GW)
Publication Type: Journal Articles
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: American Newspaper Publishers Association, Washington, DC.