Date of Award

August 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Media Studies

First Advisor

Xiaoxia Cao

Committee Members

Richard Popp, Hayeon Song


Advertisements, News Images, Online News


The news and advertising industries have a symbiotic relationship. News media bring audiences to advertisers, and advertisers provide the necessary funding for the survival of the news media. This inseparable relationship between the news and advertising industries continues to exist in the era of the Internet when various newly developed techniques are used to attract online newsreaders' attention. This raises the questions of whether exposure to online news and advertisements simultaneously has a negative impact on acquiring information from the news and whether the negative impact, if there is any, can be mitigated by motivating newsreaders to engage in news reading through including news images that attract newsreaders' attention.

To answer theses question, an online experiment was conducted. It had a 3 (Online Advertisements: None vs. Static Banners vs. Animated Banners) X 2 (News Images: None vs. Human Suffering) between-subject design. The findings indicate that online advertisements may reduce readers' attention to news. Moreover, they suggest that news images depicting human suffering may mitigate the negative effect of online advertisements on news processing under some circumstances. Simultaneously processing news images and online advertisements may also cause cognitive overload that suppresses news processing. This implies that including news images increases knowledge acquisition only to the extent that newsreaders have enough resources available to process the information from news. From practical perspectives, the findings shed light on what news reporters and editors may consider when designing online news websites.