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ERIC Number: ED361678
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1993-Aug
Pages: 25
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Does Shorter Mean Easier to Understand? A Study of Comprehension of USA Today Information Stories.
Botta, Renee; And Others
A study tested the notion that information stories in "USA Today" are more readable because its editors shorten them by leaving out background details. It also examined whether readers comprehend as much from stories written in "USA Today" style as they do from stories written in the more traditional "New York Times" style. For the Readability Study seven readability formulas were applied to two stories reported in both papers. For the Reader Comprehension Study, 166 undergraduate subjects read either the "New York Times" or the "USA Today" versions of the stories. Results of the readability measures showed that both versions of the stories were at or above college level, but only the Fog index significantly discriminated between the versions of the stories, finding the "USA Today" version more readable in terms of sentence length and complexity. The comprehension study results showed that readers of the "USA Today" stories comprehend significantly less than do readers of the same stories in "New York Times" style. In contrast to arguments of "USA Today" editors, multiple regressions showed that newspaper use was negatively related to comprehension of "USA Today" stories. However, frequent and attentive reading of "hard news" stories is a predictor of better comprehension for "USA Today" stories, while "soft news" stories were related to better comprehension for "New York Times" stories. Findings suggest that "USA Today" editors may be placing reader comprehension at risk when they shorten analysis pieces by leaving out background. (Three tables of data are included; 19 references are attached.) (Author/RS)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A