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ERIC Number: ED309495
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1989-Aug-13
Pages: 24
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
The Shrinking Sound Bite: Two Decades of Stylistic Evolution in Television News.
Smith, William Edward
The 1988 presidential campaign provoked a flurry of popular press criticism directed at the heavy use by television news of short "sound bites" from candidates. A study examined the following questions: (1) Has the number of sound bites in network evening newscasts increased over the past 20 years? (2) Has the length of the average sound bite decreased over the same time period? (3) Has the proportion of newscast time devoted to sound bites changed? (4) If these changes have occurred, are the changes similar for campaign and non-campaign stories? (5) Has the amount of newscast time devoted to campaign coverage changed? and (6) Are the changes that have occurred correlated with technological developments? Abstracts and tapes of newscasts of the final full week of each presidential campaign from 1968 to 1988 were content analyzed. Results showed that the use of sound bites has nearly tripled over the past 20 years; that sound bites are getting shorter--in 1988 they were only one third as long as the average in 1968; that the proportion of time in the typical newscast devoted to sound bites decreased about nine percent from 1968 to 1988; that campaign stories tend to have considerably more sound bites than other domestic stories; that campaign news dominated the nightly news in the final week before the election in each of the years analyzed; and that technological changes have driven the trend to more, shorter sound bites. (Six tables of data are included and 17 references are attached.) (SR)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A