The Watchdog Press in the Doghouse: A Comparative Study of Attitudes about Accountability Journalism, Trust in News, and News Avoidance

Antonis Kalogeropoulos, Benjamin Toff, Richard Fletcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The watchdog role has been one of the most widely discussed normative functions of the press. In this study, we examine the public’s attitudes toward the news media’s watchdog performance and how they correlate with trust in news and news avoidance, two important phenomena for democracy and the health of the public sphere. We further examine how individual predispositions (e.g. political interest, ideology) and contextual variables (e.g. press freedom) moderate these relationships. Based on data from the 2019 Reuters Institute Digital News Report, and controlling for a range of factors, we find that across 38 countries, watchdog performance evaluations are positively associated with trust in news but that they are also positively associated with higher levels of news avoidance. Last, we find that evaluations of media in other functions like helping citizens understand the most important topics of the day and choosing relevant topics were more strongly associated to trust in news and lower news avoidance levels than watchdog performance evaluations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Press/Politics
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was supported by Google UK as part of the Google News Initiative.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.

Keywords

  • comparative
  • news avoidance
  • survey
  • trust
  • watchdog journalism

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