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Equal Trust: An Experiment Exploring the Impact of Interactivity and Sources on Individuals' Perceptions of Credibility for Online News Stories
Unformatted Document Text:  14 fictitious Web page was created by a professional Web designer to display it. The story was primarily selected because it contained pictures and video (with sound) of the announcement being made that could be used to produce different multimedia versions of it. The story appeared on a generic news Web site to eliminate preconceived opinions of known news Web sites such as CNN. In all conditions, the content and design of the page was kept constant, except for the changes in the independent variables, which are explained below. The two main independent variables for this study were interactivity and source identification. As mentioned in the literature review, several studies asserted that multimedia content is a primary indicator of interactivity (e.g., Sims, 1995). As a consequence, interactivity was operationalized as the amount of multimedia content available in news stories. Three levels of this variable were produced: text only for the low condition, text and pictures (including a photo gallery) for the moderate condition, and text, pictures and video (in the form of a video player) for the high condition. For manipulation of the source variable, the primary focus of the study was on identification. That is, would the presence of an identified source influence how people judged stories? Source identification was operationalized by manipulating the story byline. Two conditions were produced for this variable: stories with no byline (low in source identification) and stories with a byline (high in source identification). In total, six conditions of the story were presented to participants. They were: (1) no byline and text only (n=18); (2) byline and text only (n=18); (3) no byline and text & pictures (n=20); (4) byline and text & pictures (n=23); (5) no byline and text, pictures, & video (n=23); and (6) byline and text, pictures, & video (n=19).

Authors: Kiousis, Spiro.
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background image
14
fictitious Web page was created by a professional Web designer to display it. The story
was primarily selected because it contained pictures and video (with sound) of the
announcement being made that could be used to produce different multimedia versions of
it. The story appeared on a generic news Web site to eliminate preconceived opinions of
known news Web sites such as CNN. In all conditions, the content and design of the
page was kept constant, except for the changes in the independent variables, which are
explained below.
The two main independent variables for this study were interactivity and source
identification.
As mentioned in the literature review, several studies asserted that
multimedia content is a primary indicator of interactivity (e.g., Sims, 1995). As a
consequence, interactivity was operationalized as the amount of multimedia content
available in news stories. Three levels of this variable were produced: text only for the
low condition, text and pictures (including a photo gallery) for the moderate condition,
and text, pictures and video (in the form of a video player) for the high condition.
For manipulation of the source variable, the primary focus of the study was on
identification. That is, would the presence of an identified source influence how people
judged stories? Source identification was operationalized by manipulating the story
byline. Two conditions were produced for this variable: stories with no byline (low in
source identification) and stories with a byline (high in source identification). In total, six
conditions of the story were presented to participants. They were: (1) no byline and text
only (n=18); (2) byline and text only (n=18); (3) no byline and text & pictures (n=20); (4)
byline and text & pictures (n=23); (5) no byline and text, pictures, & video (n=23); and
(6) byline and text, pictures, & video (n=19).


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