Returning to the issue of credibility, here‘s another article from the JCMC, by William P. Cassidy, with the title “Online News Credibility: An Examination of the Perception of Newspaper Journalists.”
Taking advantage of a sociology of news framework, Cassidy surveyed how online and offline journalists viewed “Internet news information”. The answer: it is viewed as “moderately credible.” Here, credibility was defined as a 4-dimensional construct, comprising fairness, believability, accuracy and comprehensiveness. Respondents were asked to rate these factors on a 7-point Likert-type scale (eg. 1 = not at all fair, 7 = extremely fair). Scores were summed up, and thus “Internet news information” in general received a credibility index of 17.15 (on a scale thus ranging from 4 to 28).
In addition, online journalists rated the credibility of online news sources significantly higher (19.05) than journalists who mostly work for the print media (16.57); and the moderate credibility score points, according to Cassidy, to a growing acceptance of the net as a credible information source among professional journalists. The article also cites detailed statistics on how demographical and other factors correlate with the respondents’ perception of credibility, which, if you’re conducting research into this field, you might find interesting.
I, for one, can only think of the point with which I concluded the previous entry on this blog. For about two years, I could officially consider myself as a journalist, having worked for the Budapest Business Journal and the Hungarian edition of the American Entrepreneur magazine. I was wondering how I would have rated “Internet news sources”, had I been asked by Cassidy. I would have given 4 points out of 7 to all the factors, neither agreeing nor disagreeing with any kind of qualifying statement about these news sources; because I don’t believe that the hugely varied and extremely large multitude of online sources could be meaningfully represented by a single number on a scale. Had he asked me about specific sources, the answer would have been quite different.