Eike Mark Rinke
The impact of sound-bite journalism on public argument

Journal of Communication, 2016: 66, issue 4, pp. 625-645
ISSN: 0021-9916 (print); 1460-2466 (online)

The rise of sound-bite news is one of the most widely bemoaned findings in political communication research. Yet, the detrimental effects of this trend have been more assumed than demonstrated. This study examines one consequence of sound-bite journalism: the creation of incomplete argument, in which speakers presenting their political position in the news do not also justify it. Drawing on data about television news in Germany, Russia, and the United States, it shows that shrinking sound bites consistently reduce the probability of opinion justification across widely differing national contexts. Sound-bite journalism emerges as harmful to television news' ability to produce public justification.