By exploring the social features of contemporary fact-checking this study aims to increase our understanding of fact-checking as a genre and shed light on some of the aspects that underpin the communication that fact-checkers engage in.
By analyzing one snapshot of early COVID-19 coverage by three well-known fact-checkers and another one six months later, this study explores fact-checking as a genre. The material was examined for recurrent characteristics and the findings were categorized into corresponding themes that emerged through an open coding process.
Three aspects were found to underpin a contemporary fact-checking genre. Firstly, the fact-checkers strive to facilitate accessibility. Secondly, the notion of building trust underlies the way fact-checkers promote themselves. Thirdly, fact-checking is underpinned by a pedagogical aspect. While the values and beliefs that are known to characterize traditional news media discourses are predominant in the construction of a fact-checking genre, fact-checkers also draw on conceptions typically found within academia to enact professional practices.
Contemporary fact-checking is still a fairly unexplored topic of research. This is particularly the case outside the field of journalism and media studies. This study complements earlier research from the perspective of information studies by exploring how fact-checking practices impact the communication and production of news in society.
The author would like to thank her supervisors Professor Isto Huvila and Associate Professor Ulrika Kjellman at Uppsala University and Professor Jutta Haider at Borås University.
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