ISSN 1016-1007 GPN2005600032
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頁數:1﹣47 查證或不查,這是個問題:報社記者查證日常新聞的多重考量 To Verify or Not To Verify, That is the Question: Newspaper Journalists’ Considerations of Daily News Verification
研究論文
作者(中)
江靜之
作者(英)
Chin-Chih, Chiang
關鍵詞(中)
日常新聞查證、未來導向、查證成本、消息來源可信度、情境、新聞文類
關鍵詞(英)
context, daily news verification, expense of verification, future-oriented, news genre, source credibility
中文摘要
有鑑於過去研究偏向忽略日常新聞查證的複雜與動態情境,本研究透過25位在報社服務之政治、司法及財經記者的深度訪談資料,探究記者製作日常文字新聞時,決定查證與否的情境考量。首先,本研究指出記者是在查證成本、新聞效益與查證不足的風險中權衡輕重。當新聞效益越強,查證不足的風險越大,記者採取查證行動的可能性越高;查證成本越低,甚至低到無須考慮,「查證」便成為記者蒐集資料過程中的一環。其次,本研究強調查證行動的未來導向,記者不但藉此發展新聞,更能累積其情境與領域知識,以及對權威消息來源可信度的感知,降低未來的查證成本,並提升日後的查證效率。最後,本研究分析記者考慮是否查證日常新聞的四個主要情境要素:「日常新聞文類的限制與資源」、「訊息內容的主、客觀偏向」、「消息來源的權威性高低」及「訊息是否符合記者已知」,指出這些看起來個別獨立的因素,其實是記者在前述情境下,多方考量的結果。
英文摘要
Verification is a core value of professional journalism, and especially in the digital age it adds significance to professional journalists. Canter (2014) found that local British journalists regarded themselves as “verifiers of news”, yet according to previous publications, journalists in daily news production neither spend much time nor put lots of effort into verifying like the public expects. There are several reasons for that - namely, journalists do not have enough financial and time resources, they are familiar with and trust their sources, and what journalists need is relatively accurate information and not an absolute truth. Despite that, journalists do not ignore the importance of news verification, as they still verify while producing daily news.

Journalists in theory should verify the source of the content and the content itself independently (Brandtzaeg, Lüders, Spangenberg, Rath-Wiggins & Følstad, 2016, p. 325), but in daily news production, source verification is the key (Barnoy & Reich, 2020; Rauchfleisch, Artho, Metag, Post & Schäfer, 2017). Furthermore, because journalists rely heavily on their regular authoritative sources in daily news production, source credibility becomes a practical mechanism that helps them decide whether or not to verify (Reich, 2011a). However, Reich (2011b) also pointed out that source credibility does not fully explain why journalists decide to cross-check their information.

A review of the literature on this topic indicates that when journalists decide whether to verify or not, they tend to consider three major contextual factors: news genre constraints, content characteristics, and source authority and credibility. However, it is worth noting that a journalist’s decision is not only context-dependent, but also highly dynamic. Until now, there has been scant research on how journalists consider the interwoven contexts and how they regard news verification as a future-oriented task. Therefore, by focusing on daily news production, this study aims to explore journalists’ practical consideration of multiple contexts when they decide whether to verify or not.

The data of this study comes from a research project that aims to examine, in daily news production, how journalists decide to verify, their consideration and verification practices, and how news organizations establish their verification routines and norms. We conducted in-depth interviews with 30 editorial supervisors and journalists specializing in politics, judiciary, or finance in Taiwan’s four major newspapers. All interviews were conducted between the middle of April 2018 and the beginning of July 2019. Each interview was approximately 2 hours in length, and all were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim.

The purpose of this study is to explore in daily news production the journalists’ consideration and decision about whether to verify or not, and so we focused on the data from the 25 interviewed journalists. The interviewees were asked to classify the information which they decide to use in their news articles into three types: the information they have to verify, information that does not need verification, and the information they could decide either way. The researcher then asked them to give examples of each information type to elaborate on their reasons and the various contexts they took into consideration.

There are three main findings in this article as follows. First, this study reveals that journalists’ decision about whether to verify is based on weighing the expense of verification (time, cognitive processing, and interpersonal pressures), the benefit of the news (importance or impact of the news), and the risk of lacking full verification (it might cause a negative impact on society, their news organization, and the journalists themselves). Therefore, the higher benefit and risk a news article has, the higher the probability is that journalists will start verifying. On the other hand, when the expense of verifying is negligible, journalists are inclined to regard news verification as part of information gathering and proceed with verification while gathering information.

Second, in addition to news genre constraints, source authority, and content characteristics influencing journalists’ decision about verifying or not, this study finds that journalists tend not to verify content if it is similar to previously acquired information. Furthermore, this study emphasizes that the contextual factors are not independent, but interwoven and affected by the expense of verification, the impact of the news, and the risk of lacking full verification as mentioned above. For example, in daily news production, one of the reasons, as stated in previous literature, that journalists skip verifying the information offered by their authoritative sources is the sources’ authority and credibility. However, there are four other practical considerations as follows: (1) Journalists tend to believe that authoritative sources will avoid the negative impact of offering incorrect or fake information to journalists. If journalists can use authoritative sources’ names in news articles, it will especially transfer the responsibility of verification to the source, and journalists can avoid the risk of being sued and being accused of lacking verification. (2) With limited time, the authoritative source might be the only one that journalists can reach for help to verify. (3) The information that authoritative sources provide to all journalists is not exclusive, and it can always be used with the sources’ names, and so the news benefit and risks are low. (4) Journalists do not verify news that is beneficial to authoritative sources, because both its newsworthiness and its risk are low, and it might contribute to developing a good relationship with the authoritative sources. 

Third, this study emphasizes that verification, as an action, is future-oriented. We find that journalists might continue verifying even after some news articles have been published. This is because, in the process of news verification, journalists can continue to develop news stories as well as accumulate their domain and situational knowledge, especially their perception of authoritative sources’ authority and credibility. All such factors can help them to reduce the expense of verification in the future.

Our findings contribute to new knowledge on how journalists regard news verification as a future-oriented task and how journalists consider multiple contexts when they decide whether to verify or not. We suggest future research could explore the impact of field characteristics and journalists’ experiences on journalists’ verification decisions or use discourse analysis to study how journalists specializing in different fields employ discourse techniques to construct evidence.
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2022/ 夏
No.52
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