Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Watch Where You're Cutting

Interesting story from Wired that should be a reminder for anybody who edits a broadcast news piece:
Research suggests that people are far more empathic when stories are told in a linear way, without quick shot-to-shot edits. In a 1996 Empirical Studies of the Arts paper, researchers showed three versions of an ostensibly tear-jerking story to 120 test subjects. "Subjects had significantly more favorable impressions of the victimized female protagonist than of her male opponent only when the story structure was linear," they concluded.

A review of tabloid news formats in the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media found that jarring, rapid-fire visual storytelling produced a physiological arousal led to better recall of what was seen, but only if the original subject matter was dull. If it was already arousing, tabloid storytelling appeared to produce a cognitive overload that actually prevented stories from sinking in.
Reporters and editors, we all know producers who insist on a story running no more than 1:15, something which contributes to the problem. When you have a highly emotional subject, you're going to have to lobby for more. Don't worry about fitting it into 1:15. If the subject is compelling, your viewers will hang around a little longer, even if we all have short attention spans.

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