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How we assess news quality

Feb 25, 2023

News reporting is one of the most heavily scrutinized forms of media, in terms of quality.  And rightfully so. Declining news quality continues to exacerbate, if not prompt, many of the democratic, public health and environmental crisis we face globally.  This issue’s persistence is  largely due to how difficult it is to define and evaluate news quality. In the following paper, researchers at the University of Hoehnheim in Germany have laid out the ways in which people are able to accurately assess news quality, and the ways in which they are lacking. One of the most helpful parts of this exercise is the comprehensive framework they’ve developed to explain the many, and often overlooked, dimensions of news quality.

While a bit dated, we find this study is extremely helpful when it comes to wrapping our minds around what it means to provide high quality news reporting. It visualizes how much effort it truly takes to do this work responsibly, and the many ways in which cable news programs, content farms, and social media accounts fall short. Credible, balanced news is an unbelievably precious resource. Our willingness to settle for lesser, cheaper substitutes continues to deteriorate our personal and societal wellbeing.

ACTION ITEM:

  • Identify the top 3 news sources you turn to most often.
  • Review the following framework and ask yourself how confidently you believe each source meets the criteria below..
  • For areas you’re unsure of, dive deeper into the outlet’s background and practices.
  • For every news source that falls short, *ESPECIALLY when it comes to accuracy, ethics and impartiality*, we urge to replace with a resource with a strong factual and balance score using the Ad Fontes Media Bias Chart.

READ FULL PAPER: News Quality from the Recipients’ Perspective

KEY FRAMEWORK:

Six quality dimensions + criteria

Figure 1 Normative quality dimensions and criteria (based on own literature review)

JOURNAL: Journalism Studies

AUTHORS:

  • Juliane Urban , University of Hoehnheim
  • Wolfgang Schweiger, University of Hoehnheim

COMPETING INTERESTS: Not stated or referenced

FUNDING: This work was supported by the German Research Foundation

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