Setting the stage for the reader

Author: Glen L. Bleske

Publication: Schematic Frames and Reader Learning: The Effect of Headlines, paper presented to the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication 1995 convention, available in the AEJMC archive.

Headlines help readers recall information from stories and affect the way readers organize that information, according to a study by Bleske.

In a 1992 experiment, Bleske had groups of students read four news stories some with headlines, some without headlines then tested their recall in two ways. Students who received stories with headlines scored significantly higher on a multiple-choice test about the stories than students who did not receive headlines. Students who received no headline also remembered stories in different ways than students who received headlines.

Asked to write down what they recalled about the stories, students who got no headlines tended to focus on the people in the story if there were people or the narrative of the story if it contained few people. Students who received stories with headlines, in contrast, tended to reflect in what they wrote the angle on the story that the headline had used.

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