Annabell Halfmann, Helena Dech, Jana Riemann, Leonie Schlenker, Hartmut Wessler
Moving closer to the action: How viewers’ experiences of eyewitness videos in TV news influence the trustworthiness of the reports

Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 2019: 96, issue 2, pp. 367–384
ISSN: 1077-6990 (print); 2161-430X (online)

This study develops and tests a theoretical model of viewers’ experiences of eyewitness videos (EWVs) in TV news reports and the resulting effects on perceived trustworthiness. It builds on qualitative research suggesting that the visual characteristics of EWVs cause specific effects, namely feelings of presence and empathy as well as perceptions of authenticity and bias. By conducting an online experiment (N = 328), it was tested whether embedding an EWV in a report about the Ukraine conflict influences perceived trustworthiness of the report through these four mediating effects. The results confirm that presence, empathy, and perceived bias served as mediators.