Source attribution and perceptual effects.

Authors: Matthews, J.

Pages: 85-96

Publisher: ISLC

ISBN: 978-605-86867-0-0


Following a string of recent controversies involving journalists and their sources, public awareness in the UK of sourcing and sourcing practices has increased. There are, however, only a handful of studies that have considered how source attribution may affect audiences’ evaluation of the quality or objectivity of news. This paper examines the influence of source attribution upon perceptions of news credibility. It reports the initial findings of a media experiment designed to test the effect of attributing information to different institutional sources on two component measures of credibility: participants’ assessment of the believability and accuracy of news. Using a between-subjects design (n=147), participants were presented with one of four versions of the same news story, manipulated to attribute key information to different institutional sources. The data indicates that the effect of source attribution, as a subtle or nuanced variation in content, is limited and that attitudinal characteristics are more significant determinants of audiences’ perceptions of news credibility. Specifically, the findings show significant relationships between trust in the media, concern over the issue reported and participants’ assessment of the believability and accuracy of news.

Source: Manual

Preferred by: Jamie Matthews