People’s perceptions of local newspapers are shaped by both personal characteristics and social environments. Masahiro Yamamoto, of the University at Albany and, Seungahn Nah, of the University of Oregon, studied the credibility of local newspapers in the United States by conducting a survey in a south-eastern state.
The researchers found that conservative ideology, newspaper use, social trust, and political trust are significantly related to credibility of local papers. For example, people who read a newspaper a lot also tend to find the newspaper credible.
Structural pluralism of a county – i.e. how differentiated the social community of an area is, including division of labor and heterogeneity – decreases perceived credibility. In other words, the more pluralistic the community is, the less credible the local newspapers seem.
The authors conclude that credibility judgments are a multilevel phenomenon which cannot be reduced to only personal characteristics.
The article ”A Multilevel Examination of Local Newspaper Credibility” was published in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly and is available online (free access).
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