Crisis, Credibility, and the Press: A Priming Model of News Evaluation

Erik P. Bucy, Paul D’Angelo, Nichole M. Bauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


This paper develops a model of press-priming in which public evaluations of press performance are examined in the context of media scandals where news organizations through their own ethical lapses become the subject and conduit of priming effects. We argue that judgments about the press during a crisis depend on the activation of standing attitudes toward press freedom and media responsibility, which come into play with close attention to ongoing developments. Our model is tested with original survey data collected around two salient press scandals in Britain, one involving the now-defunct News of the World tabloid, the other the storied British Broadcasting Corporation. Support for the model is found. In the aftermath of a press crisis, attitudes toward press freedom and media responsibility are situationally activated by the unique attributes of each scandal, and these attitudes shape evaluations of credibility and support for regulation. Implications for improved understanding of the news evaluation process are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-475
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Press/Politics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 27 2014


  • BBC Jimmy Savile scandal
  • News of the World
  • media attitudes
  • media credibility
  • media priming
  • phone hacking scandal
  • press crisis
  • support for regulation


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