Why Media Genre Matters

Broadcast organizations continually adapt their programs on various media platforms. And audience expectations of those platforms are constantly shifting. Looking through the lens of ‘participation’, we assess how people understand the affordances of different media platforms and home in on audience motivations for choosing particular stories.

by Jena Barchas-LichtensteinJohn Fraser
Apr 9, 2019

Key Findings

This study reflects on the ways that news production has changed over time, and the needs of early career adult audiences. It looks at genre, defined as the set of formal features and structures that shape expectations about communication, and situates it in the context of young adults’ STEM news habits. We find that young adults are drawn to stories that are clear examples of their particular genres. Though this study focuses on STEM news, our findings suggest that subject area may be incidental to the story’s appeal. As long as the story is structured in a way that meets the audiences' expectations, they are more likely to find the story interesting. For example, they may prefer stories that they think are “gross, cute, funny, or just plain weird.”

Let’s Put It to Work

For news organizations:

  • Package news content using the specific expectations attached to the target medium. For example, expectations for social media videos and broadcast pieces are different. A broadcast piece, for instance, is expected to include an anchor’s introduction, follow a certain scripted narrative arc, and run for several minutes. Social media stories on the other hand are pithier, use humor, and have immediate visual appeal.
  • Though this study focuses on STEM news, our findings regarding genre are applicable to news production practices in general. It may also be valuable to use our research process to analyze the news habits of other types of audiences.

Photo by Patrick Reichboth on Unsplash

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