Journalism, Trust, and Credibility

Authored by: Arjen van Dalen

The Handbook of Journalism Studies

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138052888
eBook ISBN: 9781315167497
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315167497-23

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Abstract

At the heart of concerns about the functions that journalism fulfills in society are worries about the trustworthiness of the press and credibility of public information. To fulfill a watchdog function vis-à-vis political institutions, the media need legitimacy, which they derive from public trust. To accomplish the information function, the press needs to provide the public with credible information about important societal and political developments. Acknowledging the importance of trust in journalism, researchers, and commentators have expressed concerns about declining levels of trust in the mainstream news media. This decline in trust has been most clearly observed in the United States (Gronke & Cook, 2007; Ladd, 2011) but is also present in other parts of the world (Hanitzsch, van Dalen, & Steindl, 2018). The absence of trusted mainstream media creates a climate where there is no agreement on what trustworthy information is. In such a climate, fake news, conspiracy theories, and misinformation might be perceived as just as credible as information from the mass media (Szostek, 2018).

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