Journal article

Journalism, the pressures of verification and notions of post-truth in civil society

News media Journalism Social media
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‘Post-truth’ was not a new concept when it was selected as the international word of the year (2016) by Oxford Dictionaries. In the context of communications research, scholars were discussing journalism in the ‘post-factual’ age some thirty years ago (Ettema 1987). In the digital era, journalistic practice itself has changed; stories are generated by a multiplicity of actors in a participative and interactive way. This paper contemplates the nature of journalists’ information practices in the 21st century and relates these to the roles of information and social media in civil society. The methodology draws on the findings of pilot research studies investigating journalists’ information practices in the digital realm (Martin 2014; 2015) and investigates the pressures of verification. The author posits that that we are ostensibly living in a ‘post-truth’ society largely due to the impact of changes in the news milieu in the digital age. With so many diverse voices in the mix, it is increasingly difficult for citizens to separate fact from fiction; journalists thus have a role as verifiers. It is crucial for information consumers (citizenry) to have the requisite skills and knowledge to critically evaluate media content and deal with information and communication overload.

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