Searching for Truth in Fragmented Spaces: Chat Apps and Verification in News Production

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Since their emergence in 2011, mobile chat applications have gained massive user bases and given enterprising reporters a new challenge: verify truth in a set of fragmented public and private digital conversations involving journalists and audiences. This fragmentation fosters an intimacy and frankness among participants that, for journalists privy to these conversations, can deepen reporting and enhance storytelling. However, the closed nature of so many conversations means that notions of truth are highly contextual. For those who wish for a shared set of facts, chat apps pose troubling questions, such as: How can widely held truths endure as a rapidly growing form of communication encourages further political polarization and fragmentation of conversations, interpretations, and notions of truth? This chapter explores these questions, drawing on a study of 30+ interviews with reporters at major news organizations, examining the ways that reporters have used chat apps to verify claims in coverage of political unrest.

Keywords: journalism, truth, chat applications, social media, news production, verification, socio-technical system
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSocial Media and Journalism’s Search for Truth
EditorsJames E. Katz
PublisherOxford University Press
StatePublished - 2019


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