Changes in Wording of Cutlines Fail To Reduce Photographs' Offensiveness

Fedler, Fred; Counts, Tim; Hightower, Paul
December 1982
Journalism Quarterly;Winter82, Vol. 59 Issue 4, p633
Academic Journal
The authors isolated 22 variables which have concerned editors and readers or which seemed likely to affect their responses to controversial photographs. One photograph illustrating each variable was shown to 83 respondents; however, the cutline information accompanying those photographs varied from group to group. Overall, there were no significant differences in the reactions of respondents who received the different cutlines, indicating that readers responded to the photographs themselves, and that the photographs' meaning and impact were not significantly changed by the words used to describe them. Readers were most disturbed by photographs showing human suffering, injuries and death. Women considered the photographs less tasteful, less likable and more offensive than men. However, the respondents' normal media usage did not affect their reactions to the photographs.


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