PUBLIC ASSESSMENT OF THE CREDIBILITY OF SOCIAL MEDIA VERSUS CONVENTIONAL MEDIA
|JOURNALISM AND MASS COMMUNICATION|
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In the previous years when only the traditional media; print, radio and television existed, people relied only on them for information. Now with the advent of social media, people’s attention are shifting from the conventional media to social media. The public now perceives information from these media differently with regards to credibility.
Unlike before, people now rush to social networks such as; Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Blogs and applications such as WhatsApp to get the latest information. With the social media anyone can disseminate information which gives room for fake and unreliable information as opposed to the traditional media where information was edited and confirmed credible before publication.
This has questioned the credibility of social media information. Despite these doubts ,others especially young people still prefer to go to these social networks for information as they assume it’s credible because it’s a free platform. Meanwhile, the older generation would prefer the conventional media because they believe it is more credible since it passes through different hands before publication. This as well varies according to their exposures and perceptions.
According to (Kiousis 2001) there is yet another dimension of understanding credibility. Possible factors that might affect perceptions of news credibility are interpersonal news discussions and use of media . If individuals have motives in exposing to the medium other than just providing information, this knowledge itself will heavily influence their exposure and evaluation decisions (Johnson 1984).
Still, (Kiousis2001) mentions that , medium credibility has focused on the delivery channel of content more than senders of the content.
On the other hand, findings of (Kiousis 2001) suggested that people mostly are doubtful about the received information from online, newspapers, and television news, but news papers have been rated with high credibility followed by online and television news respectively.
Flanagin and Metzger (2000) mentioned that internet information is considered as credible as the information obtained from radio, TV and magazines, but not more credible than information from newspapers.
Over the years, scholars have empirically tracked trends on public’s opinion about the credibility of different media platforms and factors influencing public perception. While earlier investigations conducted in the pre-internet era shows that perception of media credibility is majorly influenced by media literacy and demographic factors like; age, gender, and level of education,( Mulder,1981; Robinson and Kohut 1988), studies on subject matter, since the advent of digital media have shown that media credibility perception among the public are contingent upon factors such as; interpersonal discussions, media use (Bucy 2003, Kiousis, 2001 ),media exposure ( Tsfati and Cappella , 2003; Wantu and Hu, 1994), political ideology and partisanship ( Lee, 2010), and religious disposition ( Golan and Anita Day 2010).
Therefor, this study aims at investigating public assessment on which media is more credible and why they prefer one to the other. This will go a long way to add to the knowledge other scholars have acquired on social media versus conventional media credibility.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The prevalence of social media usage and the circulation of unverified but at times critical information is a major concern, most especially when the issues circulated affects political stability, security, health, and other matters of life and death.
There is a challenge among users in discerning which piece of information is credible and which is not. Most users do not have ways of assessing the credibility of information ( Edogor, Jonah , and Ojo,2015).
More often than not, the source of information is not indicated for the user, especially in cases where the information is shared via a chain of networks through social media. This study attempts to investigate the rate at which individuals are exposed to social media and conventional media contents and how credible they think those contents are.
Always when a new medium arises, it affects on existing media (Liu, 2003). Concerns in the newspaper industry, rising number of people turning to radio for news and then about the number relying on television, made arising studies of the credibility of a medium (Johnson and Kaye, 2004).
Eastin(2001) argue the advent of information and communication technology (ICT) especially the internet is giving some impact on our daily life . The explosive growth of the internet since the 1980s has been far faster than the growth of any other communication medium, faster than the spread of the telephone, radio,television or even cellular telephones(Fogg et al…,2001).
This growth has been possible largely because of the open processes that have supported the development of the internet technologies and the administration of internet resources ( Lu and Andrews, 2006).
In general since the late 1990s when the internet began providing new interactive environment of information that allowed users to seek information and communicate with others in ways never before possible, the concept of credibility has revived considerable attention ( Hiligoss and Kiech, 2008).
Penetration and growing reliance on the internet has also motivated researchers to study the credibility of online news in compare to traditional media ( Lu and Andrews, 2006) .
Internet news is abundant and easily available nowadays ( Lu and Andrews,2006). So many readers are getting the opportunity to get information via the internet instead of traditional ways( Eastin, 2001).
Due to the nature of the internet such as the anonymity of sender location, the role of sender,and even identity of a sender, there are a few barriers stopping people from publishing on the internet.
These matters often lead to concerns about fabricated or false quotations and other type of information counterfeit ( Fogg ,2003). However, the amount of information on the internet currently is increasing tremendously and it has become a massive information store house, and there are many different type of information sources available through the online media and traditional media.
But this creates a possibility for false information, thereby potentially perceived credibility away from a proper care ( Eastin ,2001). In sum, in today’s environment of digital media, the rapid rise of the internet has created some questions like; is the publishing in traditional media better and more credible than posting a webpage on the internet? Based on these questions, past studies on media credibility may help to understand the relative credibility of internet as a new medium ( Metzger, Flanagin, Eyal, Lemus, and Mc Cann, 2003).
However, studies conducted in different countries have arrived at different conclusions about the internet credibility. But a few studies conducted in the West have reported that the internet was taking its place alongside TV or newspapers ( Lu and Andrews, 2006).
Flanagin and Metzger (2001) also argued that a large part of media credibility studies focused on traditional media, but these studies have either neglected the internet and worldwide web.
However, many people rely on online media for information, but it is not still certain if online media meet people’s expectations. Despite of the fact that there is a serious concern about misinformation on the internet, but online audiences are increasing( Hiligoss and Rieh, 2008), and when people are using online media, they must place some reliance on it (Fogg, 2003).
Therefore, the credibility of online and traditional media is becoming an increasingly important topic to understand in the field of communication and various studies in different countries have reported different results about the internet credibility (Lu and Andrews, 2006).
However, the internet has become a major source of news and information in recent years. But because of privacy issues, content accuracy, reliability and other related concerns, some observers have predicted a trouble for online news in future (Abdulla, Garrison, Salwen, Driscoll and Casey, 2002). Generally, because past researchers revealed that people are less likely to rely on the media they do nkt perceive as credible. Therefore, credibility is crucial for the internet (Johnson and Kaye, 1998).
1.2 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1)1Which media content is the public more exposed to?
2) How does the public assess social media and conventional media credibility?
3) What does the public use to measure credibility?
1) To investigate public assessment of social media versus conventional media credibility
2) To look at how the public sees social media and conventional media
3) To examine what the public use to measure credibility of social media and conventional media