The audience perceive news stories that quote social media sources less credible than stories that are based on, for example, stake-outs, write Sanne Kruikemeier and Sophie Lecheler, both of the University of Amsterdam. The authors conducted an online survey on 422 respondents, who were asked to evaluate the credibility of certain journalistic work processes.
Social media sources, namely Twitter and Facebook, were not seen as very credible. The credibility assessments improved slightly when the respondents were told the sources had been verified with “other information”, but in the case of social media sources the improvement was not substantial.
In comparison, sources like interviews, stake-outs, and press conferences were seen as quite credible information sources. The scenario presented to the respondents was related to producing a story on politics, so social media sources seem to devalue at least political journalism, the authors conclude.
The beneficial effects of verification should also be taken into account, Kruikemeier and Lecheler remark: letting the readers know about taken verification measures will increase the story’s credibility.
The article “News Consumer Perceptions of New Journalistic Sourcing Techniques” was published in the journal Journalism Studies. It is available online (abstract free).
Picture: Untitled by Hans, licence CC0 1.0.