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A narrative solution: The relationship between solutions journalism, narrative transportation, and news trust

by Kathryn Thier, Jesse Abdenour, Brent Walth, and Nicole Dahmen

Lack of trust is a paramount problem facing journalism. Solutions reporting, which focuses on credible responses to societal problems, could help improve news trust. In addition, narrative journalism has been associated with several positive outcomes. This study tested the novel idea that solutions stories and narrative transportation can positively impact news trust and story-specific beliefs. A 2 (story frame) × 3 (story topic) between-subjects factorial design experiment with a representative sample of US adults (N = 608) was used to test these relationships. Participants who read solutions stories and who were more transported had greater faith that the articles they read were fair and truthful and also indicated greater agreement with story-specific beliefs. However, analyses indicated that transportation did not act as a mediator between solutions stories and the outcome variables. Findings suggest that crafting engaging journalism stories including solutions could be good for the industry and for democracy.

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