Headline Format Influences Evaluation of, but Not Engagement with, Environmental News

Kristina Janét, Othello Richards, Asheley R. Landrum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Sparked by a collaboration between academic researchers and science media professionals, this study sought to test three commonly used headline formats that vary based on whether (and, if so, how) important information is left out of a headline to encourage participants to read the corresponding article; these formats are traditionally-formatted headlines, forward-referencing headlines, and question-based headlines. Although headline format did not influence story selection or engagement, it did influence participants evaluations of both the headline's and the story's credibility (question-based headlines were viewed as the least credible). Moreover, individuals’ science curiosity and political views predicted their engagement with environmental stories as well as their views about the credibility of the headline and story. Thus, headline formats appear to play a significant role in audience's perceptions of online news stories, and science news professionals ought to consider the effects different formats have on readers.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournalism Practice
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Environmental news
  • Headlines
  • Political party
  • Science communication‌
  • Science curiosity
  • Science journalism

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