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The effect of journalists’ reactions to media-critical user comments

Patricia Cruz

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The article “Trust through Transparency? How Journalistic Reactions to Media-Critical User Comments Affect Quality Perceptions and Behavior Intentions” by Fabian Prochazka from University of Erfurt and Magdalena Obermaier from LMU Munich investigated the effect of journalistic engagement with critical user comments through an online experiment.

Media criticism in user comments usually centers on two core accusations, as revealed in research dating back to the 1950s. The accusations are the criticism of hasty work and criticism of lack of integrity in journalism. The accusers of the first category allege that journalists make mistakes due to lack of resources, while the the second category is suspicion of intentional manipulation and lack of balance and fairness.

This paper also focused on criticism that can be classified in the above mentioned two categories. The authors hypothesize that criticism on lack of integrity has a stronger effect on perceptions of quality, as it is harder to fix as it involves systematic political or economic influences.

The study was conducted in Germany via a 2x2x2 experiment. Participants were presented with a Facebook post by a fictitious German newspaper ‘Aktuelle Rundschau’ along with a fact sheet about the newspaper and an interview with the editor-in-chief. The post was about the willingness of citizens to change their habits to reduce carbon emissions. Below the post, there was a critical user comment, either accusing the newspaper of hasty work or alleging lack of integrity – being a mouthpiece for the government.

In the post, there was also either an admission of the mistake: saying that the article should state that young people ought to change their habits, or a denial: not agreeing with the criticism and presenting an explanation for it. In addition, the editorial staff either presented explanations on why the mistake occurred or why there was no mistake. 

To further increase the validity of the study, there were also control groups of participants, one group that was presented only the post with no comments and one that was presented with the post and the criticism but no response. There were a total of 1115 participants. 

The perceived quality of the media brand was measured with 11 items, the behavioral intentions such as chatting with friends or writing criticism of the newspaper with 5 items, and the cynicism toward media with 7 items. The participants answered numerically in a Likert-type scale to the claims in the items. 

In regards to media-cynical participants, the criticism had an effect of reducing perceived brand quality further. However, non-cynical participants rated the quality better after the critical comments. The authors note that this shows that pre-existing attituded affect how criticism is perceived.

Both admitting and denying the mistake in the comments have an effect on mitigating the criticism’s effect, as both showed an increase in brand perception. Denying the mistake worked regardless of the level of media cynicism, but admitting worked only for media cynics. However, lack of reaction led to worst perception among all participants. 

The transparent explanations on why the mistake did occur or why it did not unconditionally increased the perceived brand quality, regardless of admitting or denying and not dependent on media cynicism. This suggests that transparency is a valid strategy in the online environment. 

The authors note some limitations. First, the sample was relatively highly educated. Second, the accusations in the comments were rather mild. Third, the authors deliberately used a fictitious brand and did not provide the original article. This had the upside of investigating the effect of comments independently, but the downside was that the participants had to rate something they knew very little about.

The article “Trust through Transparency? How Journalistic Reactions to Media-Critical User Comments Affect Quality Perceptions and Behavior Intentions” by Fabian Prochazka and Magdalena Obermaier is in Digital Journalism. (open access).

Picture: Unsplash.

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Journalism

The Top Journalism Websites for News and Analysis”

Alice Trout

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Journalism plays an essential role in keeping the public informed about current events and issues. The internet has made it easier than ever to access a wide range of news and analysis from reputable sources. Here are some of the best journalism sites for keeping up-to-date on the latest happenings around the world:

  1. The New York Times (www.nytimes.com) – The New York Times is a well-respected newspaper that has been in operation for over 150 years. It offers a wide range of news and analysis on politics, business, technology, and culture.
  2. The Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com) – The Washington Post is another well-respected newspaper that has been in operation for over 150 years. It offers in-depth coverage of national and international news, as well as commentary on politics, business, and more.
  3. The Guardian (www.theguardian.com) – The Guardian is a British newspaper that offers a wide range of news and analysis on politics, business, technology, and culture. It has a strong reputation for investigative journalism and has won numerous awards.
  4. BBC News (www.bbc.com/news) – BBC News is the online news division of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). It offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events.
  5. Al Jazeera (www.aljazeera.com) – Al Jazeera is a Qatari news organization that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events. It has a strong reputation for its coverage of the Middle East and North Africa.
  6. Reuters (www.reuters.com) – Reuters is a global news organization that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events. It has a strong reputation for its coverage of business and financial news.
  7. CNN (www.cnn.com) – CNN is a global news organization that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events. It has a strong reputation for its coverage of breaking news and live events.
  8. The Economist (www.economist.com) – The Economist is a British magazine that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events, with a focus on economics and politics.
  9. The Atlantic (www.theatlantic.com) – The Atlantic is an American magazine that offers a wide range of news and analysis on international, national, and regional events, with a focus on politics, culture, and technology.
  10. ProPublica (www.propublica.org) – ProPublica is a non-profit organization that focuses on investigative journalism. It has a strong reputation for its coverage of politics, business, and social issues.

Guest blogging is a highly effective marketing strategy that every business should be utilizing. By purchasing PR publications, you can increase traffic and establish authority.

These are just a few examples of the many great journalism websites that are available. Whether you’re looking for breaking news, in-depth analysis, or a particular perspective on current events, these sites are an excellent starting point.

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Journalism

The Ethics of Healthcare Advertising: Balancing the Right to Information with the Risk of Deception

Alice Trout

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Healthcare advertising has the potential to inform and educate the public about important medical treatments and products, but it must be done in an ethical and responsible manner. On one hand, the public has the right to access information about healthcare options that may improve their quality of life or save their lives. On the other hand, there is a risk that healthcare advertising could deceive or mislead consumers, leading to negative consequences for both the companies and the public.

One issue with healthcare advertising is the promotion of prescription drugs for off-label use. Off-label use refers to the use of a drug for a purpose that has not been approved by the regulatory agency, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States. While it is not illegal for doctors to prescribe drugs for off-label use, it is illegal for pharmaceutical companies to promote drugs for off-label use. This is because the FDA has not determined that the drug is safe and effective for the unapproved use.

Unfortunately, some pharmaceutical companies have been known to engage in off-label promotion in order to increase sales. This can be harmful to patients, as they may be prescribed a drug that has not been thoroughly tested for the specific condition they are suffering from. In some cases, off-label use of a drug can even be dangerous.

Another issue with healthcare advertising is the use of exaggerated or misleading claims. This can include making false or unproven statements about the effectiveness of a drug or treatment, or downplaying the risks and side effects. Such practices can lead to consumers making informed decisions about their healthcare, and can also harm the reputation of the healthcare industry as a whole.

In order to strike a balance between the right to information and the risk of deception, it is important for both regulatory agencies and the healthcare industry to prioritize ethical practices in healthcare advertising. This can include measures such as strict oversight by regulatory agencies, clear guidelines for the approval and review of advertising materials, and campaigns to educate the public about how to evaluate and interpret healthcare advertising. By taking these steps, we can ensure that the public has access to accurate and reliable information about healthcare options, while also protecting against deceptive practices that can harm both consumers and the healthcare industry.

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Journalism

Supporting Startup Founders’ Mental Health: The Importance of Prioritizing Well-Being in the Fast-Paced Startup World

Alice Trout

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As the startup world continues to thrive and grow, it’s important to recognize that the fast-paced, high-stress environment can take a toll on the mental health of founders and employees. In fact, research has shown that entrepreneurs are at a higher risk for mental health issues such as anxiety and depression compared to the general population.

One key factor that contributes to this risk is the pressure to succeed and the fear of failure that can come with starting and running a business. Additionally, the long hours and lack of work-life balance that are often associated with the startup world can also contribute to mental health challenges.

It’s essential that startups prioritize the mental health of their founders and employees, not only for the well-being of the individual, but also for the overall success of the business. Research has shown that mental health issues can negatively impact productivity and decision-making, which can have serious consequences for a company.

There are a few steps that startups can take to support the mental health of their team members:

  1. Encourage open communication and create a safe space for employees to talk about their mental health concerns.
  2. Offer resources such as counseling and mental health benefits to employees.
  3. Foster a culture of self-care by promoting healthy habits such as regular exercise and proper nutrition.
  4. Set boundaries and encourage work-life balance to prevent burnout.

For those not ready to go to the doctor or looking for support, mental health startups Europe offer help through apps.

It’s important to remember that mental health is just as important as physical health, and it’s crucial that startups prioritize the well-being of their founders and employees. By taking steps to support the mental health of their team, startups can create a positive and healthy work environment that leads to success for both the business and its employees.

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