Testing the Impact of Masking Identity in News Accounts on Perceptions of Organizations and Risks

Patric R. Spence, Kenneth A. Lachlan, Renee Kaufmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The blurring of faces and masking of voices are common news production techniques, typically to conceal the identity of individuals providing information. However, little is known about the impact of these masking techniques on audience perceptions, especially in the context of organizational wrongdoing and public risk. Drawing from Exemplification Theory, the current study examined the effect of blurring and voice masking on risk perceptions, opinions of a culpable organization, and desire for additional information about the risk. Risk perceptions were greater when masking cues were applied, as were behavioral intention to avoid the risk in focus. These cues did not impact the perceptions of how widespread similar risks are, nor did they effect respondents’ perceptions of the organization responsible. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed, along with the need for future research examining the use of and effects of identity masking on audience perceptions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-39
Number of pages21
JournalElectronic News
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • crisis communication
  • heuristics
  • news
  • risk communication
  • television news

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Communication


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