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Audience understandings of disinformation: navigating news media through a prism of pragmatic scepticism
Journalism, Start page: 146488492211142
Swansea University Author: Ceri Hughes
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DOI (Published version): 10.1177/14648849221114244
The content and effects of disinformation have become a focal point in communication studies over recent years. But how media audiences themselves interpret the meaning of disinformation and mitigate the risks it poses to their understanding of the world have remained largely understudied. This arti...
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The content and effects of disinformation have become a focal point in communication studies over recent years. But how media audiences themselves interpret the meaning of disinformation and mitigate the risks it poses to their understanding of the world have remained largely understudied. This article draws upon a UK-based focus group study that examines how people conceptualise disinformation, and the ways this informs their engagement with news media. Our findings revealed that common definitions of disinformation go beyond ‘fake news’ and conspiracy theories to include an array of phenomena, such as biased news, political spin and misrepresented information. Far from simply not trusting information sources or being passive recipients of disinformation, we argue that audiences have developed a pragmatic scepticism in their relationship with media across different platforms, which reflects a critical reading of news media both as texts and institutions.
disinformation, news audiences, media trust, media scepticism, focus groups
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
This was supported by Arts and Humanities Research Council, grant number (AH/ S012508/1).