754   Individual paper

Transformation of the Media Landscape: Infotainment versus Expository Narrations for Communicating Science in Online Videos

Author: Lloyd Davis
University of Otago, New Zealand

Society is undergoing a transformation in the way people consume media: increasingly we are using online on-demand videos, accessed mostly on mobile devices. The fastest growing segment of online videos about science is User Generated Content (UGC) that uses an infotainment style of delivery, and these videos are proving significantly more popular than professionally generated content that traditionally uses an expository style of narration. Here, we test the effect of an infotainment or expository narration for: (i) engaging viewers and (ii) enhancing their understanding of science.

We produced two identical videos about climate change save for their style of narration: each contained the same information, but one had an infotainment narration; the other, an expository narration. The narrations were available in English and Spanish. We tested 870 participants (419 English; 451 Spanish), who were directed to a website to undertake a survey in which they were randomly presented with either the infotainment or expository version of the video.

We found viewers were significantly more likely to believe the expository narration and liked it significantly more than the infotainment version. This held true for English and Spanish viewers, irrespective of their age, sex, or online viewing habits. However, viewers without a university education liked the infotainment version significantly more. 

Notably, viewers of the infotainment video performed significantly better at recalling information than did those watching the expository version, and this relationship was consistent regardless of where the information was given throughout the videos.

In conclusion, the dramatic rise of UGC and its reliance on infotainment is a cultural phenomenon. While generally perceived as less authoritative than traditional expository narrations, the focus on infotainment may actually prove advantageous for science communication by increasing information recall for all viewers and increasing engagement with science by one of the hardest publics to reach: those without a university education.

Co-author: Bienvenido León
University of Navarra, Spain

Co-author: Michael Bourk
Gulf University for Science and Technology, Kuwait

Co-author: Wiebke Finkler
University of Otago, New Zealand

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