(Inter)actively watching distant suffering on the news

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Abstract/Poster in proceedingAcademicpeer-review


    Today there is a wide variety of news genres, news sources and ways of watching the news for media users, both on- and offline. In addition, contemporary media outlets are more inviting and encouraging to (inter)act with audiences than ever before. This study is interested into how this plethora of options for (actively) watching and consuming the news resonates with the audience’s views towards and reactions to images of distant suffering. Previous audience research on distant suffering tends to focus either on television audience, or on Internet users (cf. Von Engelhardt & Jansz 2014; Kyriakidou 2015; Scott 2014). This study aims to look into the combined use of both television and internet by audiences in Flanders, the Northern Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. For this purpose, twelve focus groups (N=72) are currently being conducted with a wide variety of people from Flanders who were asked about their use of television and internet for news consumption in relation to their (mediated) experience of distant suffering. Consequently, respondents were interviewed about their thoughts on images of distant suffering, both on- and offline and how they assess the many options for (public) (inter)action with these images (and if so, how do they interact?). The first result of this study is a grounded analysis, informed by concepts from social- and moral psychology (cf. Loewenstein & Small 2007; Haidt 2001; Ross & Nisbett 1991; Trope & Liberman 2010) that reflects on how the experience of distance and the use of increasingly interactive media can play a role in people’s everyday moral and ethical considerations towards distant suffering.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationWatching distant suffering on the news
    Place of PublicationAmsterdam, The Netherlands
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Feb 2016


    • media users
    • focus groups
    • interactive media
    • distant suffering
    • moralities


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