Notepad: Conservatives, Media Credibility, and Journalistic Norms

During the next nine months, my blog will become a notepad of sorts for my research at the University of Toronto as a Journalism Fellow.

Tonight's reading, is "A Multilevel Examination of Local Newspaper Credibility" from the Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 95, no. 1 (March 2018): 76–95.  (Free access article)

The study sent out 4,000 survey questionnaires, received 1,154 completed responses, and asked a series of questions which determined the political demographics of respondents who answered the survey's questions regarding trust in local media.

The survey found that conservatives distrust newspapers more than liberals, and this distrust increases among those who are more deeply conservative. Interestingly, the survey did not find a significant difference in trust based upon party affliation - this being an American survey, party affiliation is Republican versus Democrat. "The measure of party affiliation was not significantly related to local
newspaper credibility", the authors write.

The authors make an interesting argument for why "conservative ideology was
negatively related to local newspaper credibility":

As part of journalistic norms, news presents alternative ideas that may challenge established values. People with strong conservative stands, who tend to embrace the status quo, may find such patterns of news coverage as the consistent presence of a liberal agenda and bias, which may impact their credibility judgments.

I hadn't thought of the challenge of gaining trust with conservatives in this context before.

The survey was conducted in 2009, and much as changed in both our political discourse, how people consume news, and just how "local" local "newspapers" actually are after another decade of layoffs and newspaper chain consolidations.

Yamamoto, Masahiro, and Seungahn Nah. “A Multilevel Examination of Local Newspaper Credibility.” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 95, no. 1 (March 2018): 76–95.