News Storytelling Through Images: Examining the Effects of Narratives and Visuals in News Coverage of Issues

Michail Vafeiadis, Jiangxue (Ashley) Han, Fuyuan Shen


This study examined the effects of narratives and visuals in the news coverage of the issue of growing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the agriculture industry. A 2 (evidence type: narrative vs. nonnarrative) × 2 (presentation format: visual vs. nonvisual) between-subjects online experiment was conducted whereby participants read different versions of the manipulated news reports. Results suggested that narratives had significant main effects on transportation and sympathy. Visuals significantly increased transportation and sympathy for those exposed to the nonnarrative message. Follow-up analyses revealed a significant serial mediation between evidence type and issue attitudes via transportation and sympathy. Sympathy was a significant mediator of the effect of presentation format on issue attitudes. The results suggest that news narratives can persuade through transportation and sympathy when conveying information about sensitive topics.


narratives, visuals, transportation, sympathy, news

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