I. Research Questions
1. How does advertising money affect the reported of news in print news media such as newspapers?
2. How do advertisers mediate the demands of the advertisers while maintaining true to the objectivity of the news they report?
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The extent to which the advertising directors will allow unethical demands from advertisers to influence the news content will be in proportion to the extent that the profit/revenue will be affected. The three hypotheses are as follows:
First, the ad directors at small newspapers will be more likely to adopt unethical practices in response to advertiser pressure.
Second, ad directors at chained-owned newspapers will be more likely to adopt unethical practices in response to advertiser pressure.
Third, ad directors at chain-owned newspapers with smaller circulations will be more likely to adopt unethical practices in response to advertiser pressure.
II. Type of Experimental Design
This experiment involved the use of qualitative research gained through questionnaires and responses to scenarios devised by the research team. The sample was a group of advertising directors of four sizes of newspapers based on circulation. The sample was a random sample of 400 newspapers from the country.
III. Procedure Used
The researchers developed four scenarios that suggested an unethical request by an advertiser. The first two were requests to accommodate advertisers by running a photograph or a special story that featured the logo of the product or company. The first one asked that a special story about summer lawn maintenance feature the advertiser’s information. The second one asked that a local baseball team’s logo be featured in a photograph. The second two scenarios were requests to actually “kill” a story or to allow the advertisers to contribute to the actual content of the story.
The third scenario was about a local restaurant owner who wrote his own restaurant review and wanted it included in a restaurant feature story just as he wrote it. The last scenario involved a car dealership owner who was arrested. He threatened to pull his substantial advertising if the paper ran the story. The second two scenarios are considered to be more unethical than the first two, though all four are considered unethical to some degree.
IV. Independent variable, dependent variable, and confounding/extraneous variables if any;
Independent Variables – the size of the circulation and whether the paper is chain-owned
Dependent Variables – the decision to appease the advertisers
V. Randomization (how did they assign individuals to the groups, based on what?);
The groups were determined by the size of the paper’s circulation and whether or not the newspaper was part of a chain. The groups are defined as follows:
independently owned newspapers with small circulation – up to 25,000 subscribers
independently owned newspapers with large circulation – over 25,000 subscribers
chain-owned newspapers with small circulation – up to 25,000 subscribers
chain-owned newspapers with large circulation – over 25,000 subscribers
Soontae, A & Bergen, L. (2007). Advertiser Pressure on Daily Newspapers. Journal of Advertising. 36.2: 111-122.
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