Justifying the news: The role of evidence in daily reporting

Zvi Reich, Aviv Barnoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Reliance on evidence is highly desired in disciplines such as science and law. However, the extent to which daily reporters use it to corroborate or refute sources’ say-so is disputed. To explore how evidence is built into stories in ways that are not entirely obvious from the manifest content, we studied the involvement of evidence in a sample of stories, published by leading print and online Israeli news outlets, using reconstruction interviews with the reporters who authored them. Findings indicate that reliance on evidence is an established news reporting routine found in 42 percent of the items. It is used significantly more often under epistemically-challenging circumstances (conflicts over facts, risky publications and unscheduled events) that attract extra reporting efforts (more sources per item, more verifications and longer reporting hours). To systematize reliance on evidence – as other disciplines strive to – news reporting must move further in their evidentiary genealogy, developing a unified system of guidelines on how all types of evidence should be admitted, evaluated and implemented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-40
Number of pages19
JournalJournalism
Volume24
Issue number1
Early online date23 Sep 2021
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023

Keywords

  • News reporting
  • epistemology
  • evidence
  • evidentiary objects
  • information

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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