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

Cushion, Stephen ORCID:, Morani, Marina ORCID:, Kyriakidou, Maria ORCID: and Soo, Nikki ORCID: 2022. Why media systems matter: A fact-checking study of UK television news during the Coronavirus pandemic. Digital Journalism 10 (5) , pp. 698-716. 10.1080/21670811.2021.1965490

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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: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Additional Information: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, 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: 04 Jan 2023 02:42

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