The Effect of News Teasers in Processing News on Television
Past researches on cognitive effects of news teasers (or news previews) were mainly focused on the viewer attention and memory performance (e. g. Scheuder & White, 1989; Cameron, Shleuder, & Thorson, 1991; Schleduder, White & Camerson, 1993), but little research has been conducted to examine the effects of the by-product of newscasts-news teasers.
Chang’s paper aimed at filling the gap between previous researches by exploring the role of news teasers in processing television news and examining the effectiveness of different news teasers in improving information retention and comprehension.
Chang found that the presence of a news teaser in the preceding TV program enhanced viewer’s recall and comprehension of the news story teased. Additionally, the presence of a program reference in the news teaser demonstrated a significant impact on viewer’s comprehension of the news whilst presentation format of the news teaser did not have any effect.
According to the priming effect and schema theory, priming is a natural process of the spreading activating particular connections in memory (Berkowitz & Rogers, 1986) and it is used to explain the effects of news previews on viewer’s attention and memory status (Schleuder, White, & Cameron, 1993). In addition, Schemata are mental structures that people use to organize their knowledge, make sense of an event and provide a framework for future understanding.
With the use of a program reference in a news teaser will not only enhance spreading activation process, but serve a cue emphasizing the connection between program and upcoming news story. Therefore, Chang’s study contended and showed that program-referred teasers have stronger priming effects on viewer’s recall and comprehension. Chang’s findings are particular useful in amplifying the agenda setting effect by leveraging on the relationship between preceding program, news teasers and the following news feature.
Common examples of such application include but not limited to socio-educational messages such as safe sex, safe driving, and campaigns against drugs, smoking and driving after alcohol consumption. A situational drama can first mention how drug taking ruined the life of a fictional character, following by a news teaser in the commercial break extracting remarkable scenes from the upcoming news program, then the news feature itself. The interaction between the three elements within such a short period of time not only could reinforce the message to be conveyed, but also deepened viewer’s impression on the issue.
The most severe weakness of Chang’s study is that it employed a simulated newscast and news teasers instead of naturally occurring ones. Besides, the external validity of Chang’s research is weak given the TV viewing session was conducted in a laboratory setting with all participants being students. Despite the above limitations, Chang’s study does provide new insights for practitioners to adopt in improving audience flow in broadcasting.