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It is all Fake News! But what exactly is "fake news"? : An explorative study on the definitions of "fake news" and why news consumers perceive a news article as "fake news".

Dijs, R. (2019) It is all Fake News! But what exactly is "fake news"? : An explorative study on the definitions of "fake news" and why news consumers perceive a news article as "fake news".

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Abstract:The term “fake news” has become well-known in the last few years and due to its widespread usage it has become a buzzword. The main problem with “fake news” lies in its definition. Scientists and journalists define “fake news” in different manners, as do news consumers. A clear and distinct definition of “fake news” is missing, as is what news consumers perceive as “fake news”. Based on a literature review, four types of “fake news”, parody, satire, fabrication, and manipulation, are explained and used to analyse what news consumers perceive as “fake news”. In addition, due to the divergent media landscape, there are different types of news consumers, traditionalists, multi-channel users, net-newsers, and disengaged, that use various media channels to consume the news. To analyse any potential differences between the different types of news consumers and to what extent they recognise “fake news”, the category of genuine news is also included. In this study, how “fake news” is perceived is investigated, what news consumers perceive as “fake news” and if there are potential differences between the different types of news consumers and to what extent these types recognize “fake news”. A mixed methods approach via Q-methodology and semi-structured interviews was used to measure what is perceived as “fake news”. Twenty news articles, based on the four types of “fake news” and genuine news, were created and used to analyse which type of category is perceived as “fake news”. The results show that the respondents (N = 21) defined “fake news” in different manners, such as misinformation, satire, news that is funny, or manipulated content. Respondents did agree on what they perceived as “fake news” as one type of “fake news”, parody, was consistently reported as such. Respondents gave various arguments on why they identified the parody articles as “fake news” and the most used arguments were a conflicting frame of reference and information in the article that clashed with the prior knowledge of the respondent. No statistical differences were found between the various types of news consumers in recognising “fake news”. Overall, it is concluded that news consumers perceive “fake news” as news that does not fit their own frame of reference or they have prior knowledge that clashes with the information in the news article and is therefore perceived as false. Further research is needed to identify a distinct and singular definition of “fake news” and it is suggested that “fake news” deserves more thorough research about the possible effects of “fake news”.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/77603
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