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Why media systems matter: A fact-checking study of UK television news during the Coronavirus pandemic

Cushion, Stephen, Morani, Marina, Kyriakidou, Maria and Soo, Nikki 2021. Why media systems matter: A fact-checking study of UK television news during the Coronavirus pandemic. Digital Journalism 10.1080/21670811.2021.1965490

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Abstract

Academic attention towards the effectiveness of fact-checking often centres on how receptive people are to the correction of news. But many studies do not take into account audience expectations of fact-checking or their engagement with news generally in the context of a national media system or its political culture. Our study makes an intervention into debates about fact-checking by focussing on the effectiveness this type of journalism has with audiences who were attentive to the news in the UK’s media system during a key point in a major health crisis. Drawing on a six-week news diary study (N = 200) during the coronavirus pandemic, our study concluded that the UK’s impartial media ecology and public service ethos creates an environment where audiences are largely receptive to journalists’ fact-checking and countering misinformation. Yet our content analysis of television news (N = 1259) during the pandemic found most broadcasters did not regularly challenge or question the government’s decision-making. We argue that since audiences favoured robust forms of journalistic scrutiny, broadcasters could more prominently fact-check claims and question dubious statements without undermining trust in journalism. We recommend scholars should pay more attention to understanding the audience reception of fact-checking across different media and political systems.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: In Press
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Additional Information: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher: Routledge
ISSN: 2167-0811
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 22 September 2021
Last Modified: 22 Sep 2021 14:45
URI: http://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/144321

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