The Effect of Facebook on Parasocial Interaction in Local News
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News agenciesâ ratings often hinge on the relationships their anchors build with viewers. Strong feelings of parasocial interaction, or these on-sided â relationshipsâ audiences feel with on-screen media figures, have been found to be a strong predictor of media use. Local news stations have long been challenged with ways to encourage these feelings of parasocial interaction. With local news ratings consistently falling, news agencies must consider new ways to gain untapped markets and have begun reaching out to young adults. One way news agencies are attempting to do so is by utilizing social media websites like Facebook. The current study aims to explore the effects of Facebook on college-aged participants (N = 143) viewing a local newscast. Specifically, this study examines whether a brief exposure to a news anchorâ s Facebook profile can increase feelings of parasocial interaction with the anchor. Results indicate that while brief exposure to an anchorâ s Facebook page does not influence feelings of parasocial interaction, strong feelings of interpersonal attraction play a significant role in developing parasocial relationships. Future research and implications are also discussed.
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