Constructive Journalism: The Effects of Positive Emotions and Solution Information in News Stories Public Deposited

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  • August 12, 2022
  • McIntyre, Karen
    • Affiliation: Hussman School of Journalism and Media, Mass Communication Graduate Program
  • The purpose of this dissertation is both to advance the understanding of journalism's impact on psychological well-being and to expand the boundaries of the news process by introducing and testing the interdisciplinary concept of constructive journalism. Constructive journalism is an emerging form of journalism that applies techniques from the field of positive psychology to news work in an effort to create more productive, engaging news stories while remaining committed to journalism's core functions. This approach offers a way to rehabilitate journalism, given the field's steady stream of negative, conflict-based news that has resulted in weary news audiences, among other undesirable effects. Exploring the concept of constructive journalism, this dissertation tested, through experimental designs, two constructive journalism techniques grounded in the psychology literature - evoking positive emotions in news stories and including solution information in news stories. Study 1 found that individuals who experienced positive emotions while reading a news story felt better, had more favorable attitudes toward the story, and reported stronger intentions to engage in some pro-social behaviors than those who experienced negative emotions while reading a new story. Study 2 examined the impact of solution information in news stories and found that mentioning an effective solution to a social problem caused readers to feel good and like the news story, but did not impact readers' behavioral intentions or actual behaviors. These findings offer some support for the implementation of constructive journalism while cautioning that more research is needed. Limitations and future research are discussed, as well as theoretical and professional implications. This dissertation calls for further examination of constructive journalism by academic scholars and continued consideration by practitioners. Practical information is provided on how journalists can take a more active role in shaping their news stories in ways that both inform and empower their audiences.
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Riffe, Daniel
  • Gyldensted, Cathrine
  • Gibson, Rhonda
  • Barnes, Spencer
  • Gall Myrick, Jessica
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2015
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
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