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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Cultivating credibility: a study of how news anchors establish trust Eisler, Karyn Lee


This thesis examines television news anchor credibility - cultivation . The establishment of trust is examined through its relationship to station identity and audience construction. Open-focused interviews with news anchors, news directors, producers and make-up artists in a major Canadian television market were conducted. I maintain that anchors' actions and looks can personify distinction and credibility when they reflect viewers' tastes and sensibilities . Perceptions of anchor trustworthiness are the key t o viewer loyalty decisions and station identity . I contend that credibility cultivation requires anchors' entry into a complex system of expressive control which is exercised through constraint and expectation. Institutional needs for trust and an audience, the constraints imposed by the medium, entertainment format and news genre, all contribute to the expressive standards which must be adhered to. The image demands are intensified when viewer reflexivity , continuity and trust needs are incorporated into an already rigid performance regimen. There is room, however, for anchors' authentic expressions which are integral to the construction of trust and necessary reflections of both station and viewer uniqueness. Findings suggest that anchors who cultivate the appearance of their own accessibility are likely to be trusted because they seem familiar , on some level , to typical citizens tuning in . I argue that while this image is currently in vogue, it is unlikely to be a permanent mode of trustworthy expression. Dominant styles and viewer loyalty patterns appear to undergo evolutionary transformations. Distrust of the friendly facade could arise from any number of unforseen cultural changes and through changing expectations that are prompted by anchors who continually negotiate the trustworthiness of their image with the audience.

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