The project studies journalists’ concrete judgments, handling of sources and data, and their overall knowledge-producing activities in distinct stages of the news production process that ultimately lead to news publishing.
The overall research question is: How are the epistemological practices of news journalism—presumed to provide factual and reliable public information—shaped by changes in digital news production? The project studies journalists’ concrete judgments, handling of sources and data, and their overall knowledge-producing activities in distinct stages of the news production process that ultimately lead to news publishing. Oscar Westlund leads the project, and works with Mats Ekström, Amanda Ramslöv and Seth C Lewis. The project began field work at MittMedia in Sweden in 2018, and in 2020 we study SVT.
More about the project
News journalism is one of the most influential knowledge-producing institutions in society. Researchers have warned that basic requirements of fact-checking are seriously threatened—consequences of diminished human resources and ever-faster publishing in competitive and increasingly digital media environments. However, the digital technologies shaping contemporary journalism have also created new opportunities for the processing of news, such as in large-scale data analysis and citizen participation.
Altogether, it remains an open and critical question: In the digital era, is knowledge production in news journalism becoming better or worse? Acknowledging the strong pressures facing institutions of journalism, are they really able to maintain news journalism marked by high quality and credibility? More precisely, this study investigates how contemporary changes affect the epistemologies of news journalism.
We use the concept of epistemology to refer to the norms, standards, and methods that determine how journalists know what they know. Moreover, epistemology here refers to how—in different kinds of news journalism and in distinct stages of the news production process—journalists make assessments of facts and sources, and altogether determine what is required for the news to be sufficiently correct and reliable for publication.