Research Proposal: The Consumption and Credibility of Social Media News

The ‘fake news’ phenomenon was brought to the forefront of conversation during and after the 2016 US Presidential Election, particularly in President Trump’s first address as President. It brought more awareness to the authenticity of what news sources were saying, and in effect, the trust in truthful journalism was and remains, threatened.

I found that calling out news sources across the world and claiming that they are either ‘fake news’ or that the stories they produced are ‘fake news’, to be interesting in todays media climate – where we aren’t restrained to print news but rather have an abundance of sources literally at our fingertips 24/7. It made me question the news sources that I heavily rely on to keep up to date and informed – Were they telling the truth? Was anyone fact-checking them? and even more importantly, what were the news sources that I consumed on a daily basis?

This made me realise that I rely on social media for majority, if not all, of my news intake. Particularly, I rely on the Facebook posts by various news organisations, radio shows, other media companies and even particular individuals. I don’t buy Newspapers nor do I have a subscription to well-known and reputable news outlets. Yet, I trust some internet sources – I trust people whom I have no idea on their education, their work experience or even their sources for the information they publish, to deliver me the news of the day. Despite this, I still feel as though I can differentiate between authentic and dishonest news.
The idea of ‘fake news’ made me question why I trust the social media news posts over purchasing a daily newspaper written by professional journalists who have probably jumped through various hoops to have that article published.

This sparked an idea for the BCM212 Research Project: How has social media affected the consumption and credibility of news for millennials?

I want to discover not only what other millennials are using as their news sources, but also why they trust those sources. How can we tell what social media sources are credible, and separate them from those that aren’t? Do we even consider credibility when we consume an online article?

To do this, I plan on creating a qualitative survey that will enlist the BCM212 cohort to explain their interaction with the news: What sources they use, why they choose these sources and how they spot a ‘fake news’ source or article. I will also conduct a few interviews to grasp a greater understanding of the exact sources of news that some individuals access, and their process of authenticating these sources. Furthermore, I will undergo individual study to find other similar research that has been undertaken and academic articles to support or contradict any of my findings through this research project.


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