The influence of sensationalist features in television news stories on perceived news quality and perceived sensationalism of viewers in different age groups

Mariska Kleemans, Paul G. J. Hendriks Vettehen, Johannes W. J. Beentjes, Rob Eisinga


This study investigates whether the decreased trust in news media can be explained by the increase in sensationalism in news. To this end, an experiment was conducted in which viewers (N = 288) evaluated sensationalist versus non-sensationalist television news in terms of perceived news quality and perceived sensationalism. Each participant watched four television news stories that varied in the presence of two categories of sensationalism: arousing content and tabloid packaging. Findings showed that sensationalist television news tends to be more negatively evaluated than non-sensationalist news. In addition, critical views on arousing content appeared to be particularly visible among young and middle-aged adults. These findings suggest that the rise of sensationalist news could be an explanation of the declining trust in news media that is witnessed in a number of countries.


sensationalism; arousing content; tabloid packaging; news performance

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Copyright (c) 2018 Mariska Kleemans, Paul G. J. Hendriks, Johannes W. J. Beentjes, Rob Eisinga

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Studies in Communication Sciences | ISSN: 1424-4896