Credibility in context : addressing audiences, objectivity, and branding in contemporary news credibility research
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This study employs an experimental design to test the effects of branding,presence of opinion, and gender on news credibility. A history of credibility theory in social science research is explored in order to contextualize investigation of truth and objectivity in the contemporary fragmented news landscapes. The goal is to contribute to the academic methodologies employed in the exploration of credibility in news as well as make practical suggestions to news makers. Results of the empirical methods in this thesis showed that belief in the news organization from a pretest was positively correlated with the credibility ratings of the individual story conditions but previously held beliefs about story topic were not. Neutral stories were rated higher in terms of credibility than those with opinion statements regardless of brand or belief in the news institution. A scale for personal acceptance of opinion in news is proposed to provide credibility theorists a way to unobtrusively measure predilection for opinion news. While no differences in gender were found using the newly-proposed scale, an individual’s propensity to trust was positively correlated with acceptance of opinion in news. Audience specialization in news should lead to specialized studies of credibility, particularly the roles of gender information processing in relation to objectivity, opinion, and credibility.