“It’s a Battle You Are Never Going to Win”: Perspectives from Journalists in Four Countries on How Digital Media Platforms Undermine Trust in News

Amy A. Ross Arguedas, Sumitra Badrinathan, Camila Mont’Alverne, Benjamin Toff, Richard Fletcher, Rasmus Kleis Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

The growing prominence of platforms in news consumption has raised scholarly concerns about potential impacts on trust in news, which has declined in many countries. However, less is known about how journalists themselves perceive this relationship, which matters for understanding how they use these technologies. In this paper, we draw on 85 interviews with news workers from four countries in both the Global North and South to examine journalists’ narratives—as metajournalistic discourse—about how platforms impact trust in news. We find that practitioners across all environments express mostly critical ideas about platforms vis-à-vis trust on two different levels. First, they describ platforms as disruptive to journalistic practices in ways that strain traditional norms on which trust is based. Second, they discuss platforms as altering the contexts in which journalistic texts and discourses about journalism circulate, weakening the profession’s authority. Despite these reservations, most continue relying on platforms to reach audiences, highlighting the complex choices they must make in an increasingly platform-dominated media environment. As discourses connecting journalistic practice and meaning, these narratives speak to tensions within journalism as a profession around appropriate norms and practices, and challenges to the profession’s claims to authority.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1821-1840
Number of pages20
JournalJournalism Studies
Volume23
Issue number14
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Meta Journalism Project (CTR00730). This research was possible thanks to the journalists, senior editors, and other news workers who generously shared their time and perspectives with us. We express our sincerest gratitude to them. We would also like to thank the anonymous reviewers and the editor for their valuable feedback, which greatly strengthened this paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Keywords

  • Trust in news
  • comparative research
  • journalistic narratives
  • journalists
  • metajournalistic discourse
  • platforms

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