The (Mis)Informed Citizen: Indicators for Examining the Quality of Online News

April 18, 2019

Current discourses about the spread of misinformation tend to juxtapose misinformation with "quality" news — assuming that one is the opposite of the other and suggesting that, if we simply ensure people have better access to quality information, the harmful effects of misinformation will be mitigated. This paper introduces a new, multi-year project designed to test these assumptions, as well as to help us better understand the extent and impacts of people’s exposure to high-quality, low-quality, and mis- information in online political news. Tied to the first phase of the project, this paper lays out a series of potential quality reporting indicators rooted in normative, theoretical, and empirical literatures from journalism and media studies, political communication, and computer science. It then offers an initial set of expectations regarding the relationship between each of these indicators and misinformation, laying the groundwork for an empirical assessment of what quality news markers are predictive of misinformation itself.

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