Journalistic transparency can promote message credibility, Peifer, Meisinger study finds
Journalistic transparency can promote message credibility and news engagement, assistant professor Jason Peifer and doctoral student Jared Meisinger found in a study published in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly.
Peifer and Meisinger explore the influence of journalistic transparency on engagement with news sources in “The Value of Explaining the Process: How Journalistic Transparency and Perceptions of News Media Importance Can (Sometimes) Foster Message Credibility and Engagement Intentions.”
The study used an experimental design with randomized exposure to a transparency element in news content and contrasting source attribution on national and regional news. The study offered evidence that transparency increased credibility and indirectly increased news engagement.
Transparency’s effect did not vary by source attribution and was demonstrated with only one of the two stories featured in the study, which highlights how transparency initiatives can sometimes be effective. However, transparency does not appear to be a solution alone for the challenges of declining news trust and engagement, the study found.
The study was supported by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s Emerging Scholars Program. The project was also partially supported by IU’s Arts and Humanities Council and the New Frontiers in the Arts & Humanities Program.