Conceptualizing television news interpretation by its viewers: The concept of interpretive complexity
SourceCommunications, 30, 3, (2005), pp. 269-291
Article / Letter to editor
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In recent years many scholars seem to agree that viewers' interpretations play a prominent role in the influence of television news. However, a clear concept of 'interpretation' is still missing. This article proposes to conceptualize interpretation as the 'representation' of a news item as constructed and reported by a news viewer. More specifically, we look at this representation in terms of its complexity. Two aspects are important: first, the fundamental elements viewers use in their interpretation (differentiation), and second, how the viewer relates these elements to one another on a more abstract level (integration). Together, differentiation and integration represent the complexity of the viewer's interpretation of a television news item. The article provides definitions of these concepts and argues that interpretive complexity can be useful in studying the influence of television news. It concludes by outlining research questions in the field of television news using interpretive complexity.
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